My name is Ronit Snir and I have been serving as the Secretary General of the Hashomer Hatzair Israeli movement for the past five years. I am proud to be the first woman serving in the position since Israel's War of Independence in 1948. I live in Harish, as a member of Kibbutz “Amitai”. We share communal way of a life with an educational mission. I am married to to Omri and mother of two children - Yotam (7.5) and Ayala (2.5).
I joined the movement when I was in the 6th grade and throughout the years was a member of a large group as part of Ken Yavne. I learned from a very young age that I am part of something bigger than just myself. I learned that I am part of a kvutza, a movement, a country, and a nation. I learned that I am responsible for my environment and that I can write my own story. I learned that I have the ability to choose between good and bad and the possibility to create a better social reality. My Jewish identity, the search for my family roots, my Zionism, my social and socialist outlook, my political worldview - were all shaped in the movement.
My work in the first month of the war:
When I speak about October 7th I speak about it in the utmost personal manner: Our movement has been hurt in the war. Our Kibbutzim have lost over 100 members, and a 100 more have been kidnapped into Gaza or are still missing, including babies, infants, and young members of the Movement. About 5000 people from our communities in the south have been evacuated to temporary housing, some having no home to which they can return.
On October 7th at 10 AM, I assembled the movement’s emergency team to assess the situation.There and then we made a decision that has been our compass – to support our communities wherever they are! Immediately, I headed to Eilat, a 5-hour drive south, to meet our communities upon their arrival.
It’s difficult to describe the looks of a terror-struck community on the surreal background of a luxury hotel lobby.. Adults crying and gathering in groups, children running around, deep existential fear…
The first thing we did was to create an educational framework for the children, in the hopes of bringing a piece of “normalcy” to their lives. We ran group activities, led by young madrichim wearing our blue shirt that they know so well.
This gave the parents some time to get organized, to have some space for themselves, to manage their struggle for the return of the hostages, and to grieve.
During the first week of war, 350,000 reserve duty soldiers were drafted. About one quarter of our staff movement was drafted, including men and women, and two of my closest staff-members in the Hanhaga. Nevertheless, we succeeded to establish the foundations of emergency communities in Eilat, in the Dead Sea, and in 10 other locations throughout Israel.
One week after the war began, I returned to Eilat and encountered a completely different reality: The deep sorrow was still there of course, yet there was also a new sense of life coming from the renewed routine. I met an 11-year-old boy telling me with excitement that he finally saw his 7-year-old sister smiling for the first time since the disaster.
I met a group of teenagers from Kibbutz Nir Oz – from which a quarter of the community were either murdered or kidnapped – organizing a community event for the whole kibbutz. I met 15-year-old movement madrichim from Kibbutz Nirim who decided that they want to lead the re-opening of the Ken in the hotel.
I saw with my own eyes how community resilience is rebuilt – step by step!
A message to the Shomeric community:
In the past few years Israel is suffering from a deep leadership crisis. The October 7th war came after 10 turbulent months in which we led the largest civil protest in the history of Israel.
We fought for our democracy while facing the most extreme government we have ever seen. Even before this war, there was a feeling that the foundations of our country are shaking and that we are at a difficult historical point.
The failure of October 7th severely deepened this crisis, leading people to compare it to the destruction of Jewish independence 2,000 years ago, calling it: “The downfall of the first Zionist home”.
Zionism holds within it a promise that in our own state Jews will be safe. But it also holds another promise- that Israel will be a model society "Hevrat Mofet"- a just and equal society for all.
From my point of view The October 7th massacre sends us back to our foundations - we deserve an entirely new and better leadership!
Israel cannot be only a Jewish shelter in the Middle East. A sober and realistic view of our security situation is that ultimately the only true way to defend ourselves, the only safe borders we can have, are the borders of peace.
The way out of this current crisis will be long and hard . Yet, we are strong and resilient people, and we will overcome this crisis and be a better society.
Israel needs a new story! A constructive story, a story that brings us together. Our story will be constructed by new “Chalutzim”: men and women who are willing to dedicate their lives to rebuilding the gutted system of our state and public services; who are willing to fight for democracy and equality for all, and educate the new generations in light of this new story.
This is the role we see for ourselves at Hashomer Hatzair in the coming decades, and I invite you, our partners from the world movement, to share this mission with us.