Monday, February 15, 2010

Getting Adjusted to Kibbutz

Friday was spent finishing the last bit of unpacking and organizing that needed to be done before getting ready for Shabbat.

Our 1st Shabbat on Kibbutz was amazing. We started Friday night with Kabbalat Shabbat and Mariv in our Moadon. This Moadon will be our hang out place until Pesach so tomorrow during Yom Nativ (instead of Erev Nativ during 1st semester) we are going to decorate and make it feel like home. After tiffilot which were upbeat we headed to the Hadar Ochel for dinner. Dinner was a better that what we are used to at Beit Nativ so that was a great welcome. We then headed back to the Moadon for our 1st tisch, and while there was no Marzipan rugelach we did have Ein Tzurim chocolate croissants which will delicious. 

Shabbat morning we headed back to the Moadon for tiffilot which were short (around 2 hours) and I also read torah. Lunch was earlier then what we are used to, and while it was good I was not that hungry due to it only being 11:30. After lunch we had the head of the kitchen speak to us a bit about the Parasha and connecting it to his life story including his alyiah to Israel which was quite interesting. Shabbat afternoon I sat outside on the grass, playing games, reading and just hanging out with everyone. The weather was just right and I look forward to the weeks and months ahead of sitting outside. It was then time for Seudah Shlishit, Mariv and Havdalah and afterwards we had time to change before meeting back in the Moadon for the moment we have all been waiting for-finding out our jobs. I found out that I will be working in the Gan which is what I wanted to do, in order to gain the experience and hopefully learn different varieties of teaching. The rest of Saturday night was spent relaxing and getting a good night sleep for our 1st day of work.

Sunday I was very excited because I have been looking forward to the time that I can finally give back to Israel and the Kibbutz. After breakfast, the 6 of us working in the Gan were told that on the Kibbutz there are 5 different Ganim ranging in ages from newborns to age 5+ and we would be split up among them. I ended up with 2-3 years which I was fine with because I had worked with the same age group at camp during the summer. The 1st day was a bit hard due to the language barrier but I still had a great day. After work I had some down time before a BBQ dinner which was ok.

Monday was a better day in the Gan because my Hebrew was getting better and I also knew the routine a bit. As well due to my skill at learning names, I knew all the kids names and they also had warmed up to me a lot more so it was easier playing with all of them. Overall it was another great day and I'm looking forward to the months ahead and I can't wait to improve my Hebrew even more. Monday evening we did laundry for the first time on kibbutz which was fine but prior to doing so we had to label all our clothing with our laundry number, mine is 834.

Tuesday was our first Yom Nativ. We spent it choosing programs for our upcoming Yom Nativ's as well as decorating our Moadon to make it more of our home. Some of the Yom Nativ's that we have
coming up are: Yom Culture, Yom Handicap and much more along with programs that will be planned for Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron.  

Wednesday and Thursday were regular work days and I started adjusting and figuring out the routine and now at the end of the 1st week I feel that I will for sure enjoy my time in the Gan and working with the teachers and children.

As Shabbat is coming upon us I look forward to another restful Shabbat as well as Sunday, which is my good friend Max Marmer's brother's wedding that I was invited to and I'm sure I will have lots of stories to share.

The next few months will probably go very quickly but I will take advantage of every moment. Over Purim we have leadership seminar, then we have a week break for Pesach and in the beginning of May we have northern tiyul. 

Until next time,



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nativ Brings the Bad Weather

Thursday morning began our tiyul throughout the Negev which would end next week on kibbutz.  So Thursday despite hail and a minute of snow falling we started the drive down to Ein Gedi for hiking. However when we got there, our staff told us that do to flash floods and unstable ground warnings we would not be hiking but had the option to either hike Masada or go to the Ein Gedi spa and I chose the latter. I chose not go into the sea because it was cold and I had cuts, but it was relaxing and I got some reading and napping done.  When we were done we headed to the Bedouin tents but on the way we saw something that you do not see every day in Israel; roads being covered but loads of water and the rivers gushing with water. We were also told that with all this rain Israel has had lately some of the places we walked on dessert survival were covered with water. When we arrived at the tents we put our stuff down and then took camel and donkey rides which was a lot of fun despite my legs hurting the next day. We then enjoyed the traditional Bedouin hospitality drinking coffee and tea and learning about the Bedouin lifestyle which is very interesting. Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious dinner with rice, meatballs, salads, pita and more. Since it was cold and we were also very tired we layered up, had a nice bonfire and then headed to bed early to the sound of rain. On a side note, this was probably one of the best ways to spend my birthday.

Friday morning after a very restful night we woke up to a rainbow which you do not see every day in southern Israel. After tiffilot and a great breakfast, despite the heavy rain we started on our way. Throughout this tiyul we got to choose which hike we wanted to do as well as some of the other activities, so I chose to go to the colored sands in the   Machtesh Ha-gadol. When we got there it was quite cold and due to the rain it was more like colored mud then sand but it was still beautiful. It was then onto Kibbutz Ketura where we were staying for Shabbat and Sunday. After we got ready for Shabbat we took a tour of the kibbutz and learned a bit about Ketura. Kibbutz Ketura is one of the few kibbutzim left that are not privatized as well one of the only kibbutzim which does not have a religious affiliation which was interesting to see. Afterwards we had tiffilot, a delicious dinner and a tisch before heading to bed early.

Shabbat morning after tiffilot which were the usual and before lunch we has 3 different options of activities and I chose "Kibbutz Values in Practice". Throughout this activity we learned about the democratic governing system at Ketura and then split into groups and got a case that was brought before the Kibbutz council and had to come up with an answer about what we would do in the situation. Throughout this session and the tour the previous day it made me really think about Kibbutzim and their values and beliefs. After lunch, rest time and the conclusion of Shabbat we had 2 choices of evening activities and I went to one of the neighboring Kibbutz’s, Kibbutz Lotan to participate in some holistic exercises. Over the course of the evening we learned Shiatsu and a form of Tai Chi. It was a very relaxing evening and I learned some techniques that I might be able to use in the future.

Sunday instead of taking a hike in the mountains behind the Kibbutz, I chose to participate in a Desert Art Workshop looking at poetry. We started by looking at various poets and their poems and the various styles that they used. Then we had time to sit where ever we wanted to around the kibbutz and write. If you would like to see my poem, contact me. After the other art groups presented and we had lunch we had free time before heading to have some of the most fun we have had on Nativ. After a 10 minute hike we arrived at the Kasui Sand Dunes where for the afternoon we frolicked and rolled around in the dunes which had the softest sand I've ever felt. When we got back to the kibbutz we had more free time before enjoying a great BBQ dinner. That evening/early morning we had the option at 1:30 AM to watch the Superbowl but I decided to get sleep.

Monday morning we left Ketura, and I chose to go to Park Timna. Timna used to be a site that the Egyptians and Midianites mined copper at many years ago. We started off with a short movie about Timna and then started our drive through the park. We saw most of it from the bus but we did get off at one point at walked around for a bit and even walked through some of the ancient mining shafts which was cool. In the afternoon we headed to Eilat and were supposed to go on a boat ride but due to a possible storm that was brewing in the sea it got canceled but we got other options and I chose to go to Kings City which is a biblical amusement park. It is a very small with only 4 'rides' but it was still a fun afternoon. When we got back to the hotel we got our rooms and then got money to get dinner on our own. Josh, Becca and I went to Big Apple Pizza which was quite delicious and then walked around the boardwalk for a bit before heading to bed early.

Tuesday was our last true day of tiyul and we started the morning with hikes and I chose a hike through the Red Canyon. It was great to finally be hiking after the previous days of not really hiking. The hike was pretty easy with a few hard parts; as well the scenery was great and the weather was perfect for hiking. After going back to the hotel to change and rest we went to the Haleluyah restaurant for lunch and we were supposed to head to the beach for some optional water activities but it got cancelled due to the winds again. So instead we just hung out with each other before dinner at the hotel. After dinner we had the night off so I went back to the boardwalk and mall to do some last minute shopping before heading back to the hotel to pack and get a good night of sleep.

Wednesday was a day that I could not believe had finally arrived-it was the day we were moving to kibbutz. After saying goodbye to all my friends heading to Yerchaum we started our drive with a stop in Be'er Sheva for a mumps booster shot due to the recent outbreak. When we arrived at kibbutz we unpacked and had dinner which was very good which was a sign that hopefully all our other meals would as be just as great, before heading to bed early.

Thursday we got a tour of part of the kibbutz which was nice to start seeing part of our home for the next 3 months.  As well we received our numbers which will be used in the Chadar Ochel to get food as well as for the laundry, so my number is 611. The rest of the day was devoted to finish unpacking, organizing our rooms and some of my friends and I went to Tzomet Kastina where we picked up some things that we needed.

I have already started to feel that Kibbutz Ein Tzurim is becoming a home for me as well as carven 10B, A.K.A Abe Lincoln’s Log Cabin with my roommate Ari and our carven mates: Sami and Kay.

Here are the pictures from the tiyul.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Looking Through Various Lenses

After a spending our last Shabbat in Jerusalem for now, we started on Sunday The Israel Today Seminar (ITS). The premise of these 3 days was to expose us to different issues, and open our eyes to sites that we might not know about. Also on Monday and Tuesday we had some options to choose from to allow everyone to hopefully learn about something that they understand.


Sunday we started of the day and the seminar with a lecture on Israeli current issues with Jeff Barack who is an editor/journalist for various newspapers (check out his credentials here). He spoke to us about the vast amounts of Arab and Haredim who are affecting various aspects of Israeli society such as education, politics, welfare programs and Israel's reputation. He was not that captivating of a speaker but did make me think about the future of Israel with these two groups of people being a larger part of the future voters due to the high birth right. Afterwards we went to The Begin Centre which is devoted to the life of Menachem Begin. The museum was split into different rooms each showcasing a different period of time in his life which was shown through videos. It was a very interesting museum because I did not know a lot about his life so I feel that the center did a great job explaining his life. After The Begin Centre and a bit of rest time we had a panel discussion about the IDF with 3 of our staff members and two Americans who had joined the army. Even though I do not plan on joining the army it was a very interesting discussion and I learned a lot about the various jobs, challenges and more in the army. That evening we had time to relax, pack and hang out with our friends


Monday morning was our first day of options and I chose to learn about Israel and the environment. We first visited the Hava & Adam Ecological Farm which focuses on education and sustainability. We first got a tour of the farm and got to see how they have built their farm in a green manner using mud and manure as walls, compost toilets and more. They also have a solar panel for energy and many other aspects that make this a very ecological farm. After our tour we got a chance to make our own lavender oil even grinding our own lavender and I'm looking forward to using it. We then went to The Ayalon Recycling Park and learned about the process of garbage disposal and what the plant is doing in order to minimize the amount of garbage that is sent down to the main site in the Negev. Probably the most interesting part was the visitor's center where most of the furniture and decorations is made out of recycled materials (chairs out of slides, garbage cans and signs made out of old furniture etc.). After our tour there we went to the Holon Cinematheque to see the Israeli movie "Lost Islands". It was a movie made in 2008 about two twin boys growing up in the 1980's in Israel and their families. Throughout the movie the characters learned about love to one another and a significant other, loyalty and attempting to fulfill ones dreams without giving up to much. Personally I thought it was a very well done movie, using great background sounds and making us laugh throughout most of the movie. For dinner that evening we went to the Azrieli Mall in Tell Aviv and I had a great Chinese food dinner.


Tuesday was our second day of choices and I chose to learn about Israel and politics. We started off the day by taking a tour of the Israeli Supreme Court. The building is just 20 years old and is a beautiful and stunning building with great views and lots of symbolism throughout. While there we learned about the judicial system and the differences from the US judicial system and it was very interesting and we also got to see one of the courtrooms. Afterwards we went to the other youth hostel in Jerusalem for a session about the constitution or the lack thereof in Israel. We discussed the pros and cons of having one and then split up into groups discussing various topics that might be in a constitution such as symbols and the anthem. Our last stop of the afternoon was The Gush Katif Museum. This museum commemorates the disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and the lost of the settlements and lives there. Our guide had lived in the Gaza strip for 23 years and raised his family of 9 kids there so this for sure added a different level to our visit. Prior to visiting the museum and did not fully understand about the disengagement and its effects but throughout our time there I really got to see what the evacuation had done to all the families living. We learned about the buildup of the various settlements and saw pictures from prior to 2005 as well as pictures, videos and artifacts from during and after the disengagement. Our guide also told us his story of after the disengagement they were put up in a hotel in Jerusalem for what was supposed to be 10 days but turned out to be 7 months of hardship and he us told us that when some of friends had looked into their storage boxes a lot of their belonging were not useable. As well, the graves were dug up and reburied and beautiful homes, synagogues and Yeshivas were destroyed. The worst part is that the disengagement did not achieve much and many people are still not in a stable home almost 5 years later.


That evening was most likely one of the best so far on Nativ. We went to the Nalaga'at Canter to see the play "Not by Bread Alone." The show is about baking bread (kneading, raising and baking) and how you cannot live on bread alone but you also need love, company, to have dreams and more. The special thing about the actors is that they are deaf, blind or deaf and blind so it was very interesting how those could not speak signed to those who could speak to speak for them or they signed and a translator spoke what they were signing. Those who could speak spoke but they were blind so they had to rely on others to help them wither their sight. It was a wonderful thing to see everyone helping one another whether it was moving around on the stage or speaking. As well there was Hebrew, English and Russian subtitles as well as someone signing so really anyone could understand the play. Throughout the process of the play as mentioned before they baked bread so after the play was over we got to meet some of the actors and eat hot, fresh, baked bread which was delicious. The show and actors were truly amazing and inspiring and it made me realize that such simple things, sight and hearing, which I take for granted others are not so fortunate. At the Nalaga'at Centre there is also a café with deaf waiters and a restaurant called Black Out where you eat in the dark and has blind waiters. As you can see it was a great evening and a great way to end The Israel Today Seminar.


Wednesday morning was spent having orientation for Kibbutz learning about the job opportunities, meals and more. The afternoon we packed and enjoyed our last day in Jerusalem before leaving for Negev Tiyul.


Until then,