Shavei Israel ‘Zoomed’ to Australia

Shavei Israel ‘Zoomed’ to Australia

Way back in January, a Melbourne, Australia-based student-run organization called Zooz reached out to Shavei Israel about having someone speak to their students about Lost and Hidden Jews. Our March date was pushed off, as so many other things were due to coronavirus and other related complicating circumstances.

The organization, which targets university aged Jewish students and provides them with opportunities for meaningful engagement in Judaism, Israel and the wider community, stayed in touch with Shavei and together were determined to make the event happen.

As every year, Zooz hosts its very own Tikkun Leil Shavuot learning night for students but also their families or anyone who wants to join, and hosts a large range of speaker from a variety of organizations. Usually they conduct the night at someone’s house in Melbourne, Australia however given the coronavirus-related restrictions there they converted the whole program to Zoom and as such have taken the opportunity to source speakers from all over the world including Israel and the USA, which truly enhanced the night.

They did, however, face an obstacle in that usually the night is held on the holiday itself and to accommodate observant members they moved the day so it did not collide with the technological restrictions which would usually come with Shavuot. The virtual event was run with 4 different sessions running concurrently in each time slot so people could choose which Zoom session they attended and five time slots running from 8.00pm to 12am Melbourne time, Overall that was 20 speakers for everyone to choose from! 

Although originally planned for March, we were thrilled that our own Laura Ben-David was able to be included in the Tikkun program which had much further reach to a larger audience. 

At least 40 people attended Laura’s session and the feedback was fabulous! Here is a sampling:

“It was truly heartwarming to hear the work that Laura and Shavei Israel were dedicated to; in both expanding our understanding of Jewish nationhood and peoplehood, and enabling the lost tribe, who have remained so true to their understanding of Judaism, the opportunity to finally fulfil their yearn for Zion.” ~Aran

“Laura’s passion and eagerness to tell us the Bnei Menashe story has significantly influenced my understanding of Jewish traditions and cultures around the world.” ~Alex

“I had no knowledge of the Bnei Menashe tribe and was really interested to hear from Laura and learn about their history and future in Israel. What I found extremely fascinating was their persistence and tenacity to get to Israel, but also the process they had to go through to make Aliyah (proving their Judaism). Laura’s photos were great and added lots to the narration. I would love to know more about how their experience in Israel has differed from when they were in India.” ~Amy

“Appreciated the photos and videos included in the Zoom presentation as it made the Bnei Menashe story a lot more real!” ~Klara


Would you like to bring a Shavei Israel speaker to your community or organization? Whether virtual or actual, feel free to reach out anytime!

Screenshot of Laura Ben-David’s Zoom session for Zooz