By: Romi Morales

In the last few months, within the framework of the Mazkirut Olamit, we have had several meetings to reflect on how the tnua will look in the twenty-second century. We have had talks and training with experts in generations X, Y, Z, millennials and others. We have listened to experts in analyzing future trends. We have researched and learned about new technology-based models and dedicated time to outlining thoughts on how to make our tnua a framework that offers a significant and relevant alternative one hundred years from now when everything in the world is handled through technology in the comfort of our homes. 

What we never imagined was that the future would be so close. The year 2020 started just like that—three months after it started, due to a global pandemic, it seems that humanity advanced one hundred years, without prior notice. Today, the majority of people in the world are faced with an unknown reality: study centers at all levels have been suspended; restaurants and cafes and shopping, culture, sport and entertainment centers have been closed, while only essential services are available to the citizens. And in this context, the kenim of Hanoar Hatzioni, with responsibility and courage, have also decided to close their doors to protect their chanichim from a possible and unnecessary contagion.

And while the entire world is trying to adapt their traditional daily lives into a virtual mode, trying in some way to assure a little certainty in this sea of uncertainties, the most essential question that we need to answer ourselves before we start to work is: What is the relevance of the tnua in times of coronavirus? To this question, I can think of some possible answers that I would like to share with you.

  1. Historical Relevance

Throughout the history of the tnua, our madrichim and madrichot have had to face difficult challenges: starting the tnua in Europe, Israel and Latin America; being a humanist alternative in horrifying contexts such as the Shoah; face and overcome wars both inside Israel and outside of it; dictatorships; and deep economic, political and institutional crises in different places in the world. In all these contexts, with conviction, leadership, commitment, responsibility and, above all, with a lot of love, the different generations of madrichim and madrichot have been profoundly “strong in body and brave in heart”, to overcome together each one of the challenges that were presented to them. Today is no different. Today hundreds of madrichim of Hanoar Hatzioni’s family are thinking and planning strategies to keep in touch with their chanichim, even through a screen.

We are part of a chain of madrichim who have managed to understand that, in times of crisis, while many think about how to continue gaining money (virtually) and how to transmit content (virtually), we continue to think about how to contribute to the human, ethical and moral development of our chanichim and chanichot (virtually). Because at the end of the day, it was always about that: how to be, do and offer our chanichim and chanichot what they need so that they can continue this chain. Because if there is something that history had taught us, it is that as much as the situation is complicated and the scene is discouraging, humanity will manage to get through this moment. 

And no less importantly, the youth will be at the forefront, with hope and optimism mobilizing the processes that will lead us to new and better directions. Our tnuot will be there to lead it.

  1. Ideological, Ethical and Moral Relevance

Maintaining an educational institution for nearly one hundred years in all the contexts previously mentioned is not trivial. A significant part of the success of our tnua is that it has a strong, significant and relevant enough worldview that allows extracting from it the necessary values, ideas and principles to respond assertively to every challenge that reality presents to us. These ideas frame our actions as educators within the heder peula and, more importantly, in life itself.

When analyzing the DNA of values that define Hanoar Hatzioni, we find “value of human life”, “solidarity”, “commitment”, “mutual support”, “responsibility”, “leadership”, “activism” and many others. And when I think about the situation that we as humanity are going through, I cannot be more proud to belong to this movement. I firmly believe that the values to which we educate are the foundation we need to repair the world. I fully trust that the madrichim and madrichot invest all the resources required and that are within their reach (time, energy, thought, dedication, etc.) to find the best way to continue educating and putting into practice each one of them, even in this primarily virtual era. 

In a world that advanced one hundred years overnight in technological terms but made a strong regression of one hundred years in terms of closing borders, identifying foreigners to isolate them and in which most countries decide to fight this war “alone” under the logic of “every man for himself”, the tnua is relevant in times of coronavirus because our essential values, ideas and principles are relevant. It will be even more so the day this storm passes because we will have to educate to heal the personal and social wounds caused. 

  1. Pedagogical Relevance

Much has been written about distance education, yet little has been written (and thought) about non-formal distance education. Also, here we have the opportunity to be and make a difference and set ourselves as an alternative. But for that, we need to understand the essence of the tnua’s success in general and the success of Hanoar Hatzioni’s family in particular; that is, what makes us special, unique, relevant. In my humble opinion, some of these elements are:

  • We are aware that our chanichim and chanichot are, first and foremost, human beings. Therefore, we respect and contribute to their growth and integral development, offering educational proposals that have been planned considering their emotions, feelings, sensations, thoughts, fears and desires. 
  • We give special importance to the central place of the chanichim and chanichot in the educational process that they carry out. Even if the connection between us is purely virtual, our concern is to offer educational proposals that will allow our chanichim to be active, primary actors in their educational task.
  • We are aware that technology is the means that allows us to fulfill all our objectives and goals and not an end itself. 
  • We wish to provide knowledge, abilities, tools and experience that allow developing critical and analytical thought, curiosity, creativity and collaborative work.
  • The content of our activities derives from the essential values, ideas and principles of our people, the Zionist heritage and the humanist-liberal-social paradigm. 
  • We strongly believe that everything that we have learned will be applied by our chaverim and chaverot to make this world better and humanity more just, equitable and caring.
  • We encourage our chanichim and chanichot to lead and be at the forefront; therefore, our education is based on ensuring that they acquire (content, knowledge), do (abilities), be (values) and continue (historical awareness). 

Different actors involved in the education of our chaverim may share some of these points, but we see all these elements as one unit. This is mostly what makes us relevant in the lives of our chanichim and chanichot, even in times of corona.

Therefore, to the question: What is the relevance of the tnua in times of Coronavirus? My answer is that the tnua is still equally relevant and will continue to be after the coronavirus as well. Because in the end, the tnua is the platform that allows the contact between madrichim and chanichim, and this contact (even a virtual one) is what allows us to create the necessary foundation for dreams to flourish. As Gabo Degen, general director of the tnua, says, “Hope nourishes the soul.” And what could be better than being a madrich in these days, to encourage our chanichim to dream big, and more importantly, when all this is over, accompany them to make those dreams come true.

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