Nitzan Menagem – chair of the German branch of the Jewish left-wing youth movement Hashomer Hatzair and founder of the educational initiative ROSBOT and Joanna Matera – psychologist focused on social cognition and intergroup relations – met online during the 2020 Humanity in Action Poland Fellowship/Academy of Human Rights. They connected instantly and Joanna was impressed by Nitzan broad ranging experience, competence and enthusiasm for critical thinking and non-formal education. This inspired their friendship and project-collaboration!
Nitzan extended an invitation to Joanna to join in her Action Project, an online seminar for activists and educators from Germany and Poland which was held ahead of the 2021 Passover holiday. The participants could sign up for three working groups to learn more about the Jewish Women’s Movement, Judaism in East Germany and Contemporary Secular Jewish Life. The findings of each working group were then published in the form of educational brochures. The workshops were based on peer education in the spirit of socialist and social democratic values.
To promote the release of the “Jewish Lives in Germany” booklet produced collaboratively at the March seminar, Nitzan planned to hold a networking event in July 2021 for everyone involved in educational outreach. Once again she invited Joanna to be part of the team in charge of putting together an even larger international seminar. This time Joanna was responsible for contacting organizations and individuals from Poland who might have been interested in participating and cooperating, logistics of organizing the event itself, co-planning activities on site, leading exercises in the seminar workshops and contributing to the final report.
The 5-day long event which took place at the Kurt Löwenstein Seminar House included a diverse group of participants from Poland, Israel, Germany and Georgia. The main objectives of the seminar were networking, sharing of good practices, promoting social solidarity and dialogue. The discussions covered topics related to political education, producing educational materials for youth, activism and socialist values. One of the highlights of the program was a trip to Berlin, during which they visited historically important points on the map of Berlin, such as the Jewish Museum, the monument commemorating the Rosenstrasse protest or the place where the women’s prison was located (where Rosa Luxemburg was held captive, among others).
During the seminar there was also an “Open day” where participants presented the work of the organizations they were involved with, as well as a series of workshops/lectures /meetings on topics where they felt they wanted to share their knowledge. It was a collaborative effort from the start, with participants involved in every aspect of the programming. The day ended with a screening of the educational film “Mazel Tov CocktailCocktail” followed by a discussion.
Joanna believes the event wouldn’t be such a success if it wasn’t for the atmosphere of openness and engagement on part of the participants, which fostered fruitful discussions on political, educational and activist issues.
Mark your calendars for August 2022, as Nitzan and Joanna are already planning another edition!