Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not שלום But להיתראות

I can't not believe that I'm sitting here none months later on the plane home to Toronto writing one of my last blog postings (even though this will be posted when I get home). As you can probably tell from my blog, I have had a truly amazing year and one that I will not forget and I'm hoping that the friendships that I have formed will still be there in the years to come. But now on to how I spent my last day on Nativ 29!


After a morning of taking my last shower and packing almost everything, we as kibbutz walked to Ticho House for our kibbutz final banquet. The food that we had for lunch was very delicious with various pastas and salads and it was a great last meal in Israel. Before the banquet was over, speeches were given to and by Shosh and Nadiv and all of them were very touching and moving and really showed how much of a family we have become these past months and Yossi also gave a speech which was along the same lines. It was a very nice afternoon and an enjoyable way to conclude our time as Kibbutz 29. It was then back to Beit Nativ to have some down time and just hang out with all of my friends. At around 4:30 we all headed down to -3 for our final all Nativ banquet and that started with some great desserts and fruit from Holy Bagel but due to being so full from lunch I did not have that much to eat. We then headed into the auditorium where first speeches and gifts were given to Elkana and Yossi and just like the speeches earlier in the day, they really showed how close we have become with the two of them and how much of a friend they have become. Next Elkana gave his speech to us and then we watched the final Nativ video which Anna had put many hours into making and it was a great summary to a great year. Yossi then gave his final talk to all of us, where he thanked a bunch of people. It was then time to take everything out of our room, load the truck with our suitcases and then get on the buses to the airport.


Once we were at the airport, we all checked in to our flights and then before security we all hung out and waited for everyone. However we Canadians realized that we did not have much time until to our flight so we all started saying our tearful goodbyes and then it was through security and off to our flight. The flight itself was uneventful and I slept, watched The Princes and the Frog and just relaxed. The meals on the flight were so, so but due to being so hungry I ate almost everything. Once we landed in Toronto, I got through customs fine and then get my bags and somehow despite them weighing so much I got my bags and then walked/run out to my parents whom I was so happy to see.


Now sitting here finishing writing this on my couch at home, it feels weird to be home but at the same time I am very glad to see my family and friends here and it was great to sleep in my own bed last night. Now until June 13th, I will just be hanging around and catching up with friends and then I'm off to visit Sara and my Grandma before starting my summer job as a staff member on USY on Wheels.


So I don't know if this is the last blog posting, but if it turns out to be, then I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences over the course of the year and if you want to hear about anything just let me know.


Thanks for sticking with me throughout the year.





Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Tearful But Exciting Last Shabbat

Friday night began with all of walking down to Yemin Moshe, near the windmill and overlooking the old city and it was very fitting because this is where we davened on our first Shabbat in Israel so it was nice to come full circle. Tiffilot themselves where very nice with Yossi and Elkana leading but at the same time I was shedding some tears knowing that this coming week I will not be able to daven overlooking the old city of Jerusalem and tiffilot will not be as lively and spiritual. We then walked back to Beit Nativ for a not so delicious diner, but I know it will be much better next week. Finally to conclude the evening we held our last tisch which included some delicious Marzipan and lots of singing which last for about two hours.


Shabbat morning, I went to the Ashkenazic shul in Yemin Moshe and as always it was quick but nice and I've enjoyed going here due to the overlook of the old city as well for the services and the amazing Kiddush that they always have. At the end of shul they announced that Nativ was leaving and that we will be missed which was very nice of them to do and shows that we really do have some impact on those who we meet. When we got back to Beit Nativ, I read and took a nap before another not so great lunch and afterwards we had a final kibbutz program with Yossi where he asked as questions from, what is your favorite movie to what will you miss most about Israel. It was a thought provoking program and made lots of people, me included, cry by the end. The rest of the afternoon I played a final round of the amazing game Rhymation and then just read and relaxed. We then did Mincha which was fine and then Yossi had a final talk with us. He talked about what he believed in (he promised to do so last week on kibbutz), which was the sense of community. He discussed his grandparents and there community and then went on about how Nativ is like a community but we will be leaving and we will need to find that community next year on our college campuses. As well he talked about how life back home did not stop and how we will need to fit back into that community. By the end of his talk I was crying once again thinking about going home and all the changes. We then went upstairs for Seudah Shlishit which was ok and then we sang some slow songs to wind down Shabbat and once we started with " אם אשכחך ירושלים" I was a mess once again, but I'm glad that throughout all these tears this past weekend I have had so many friends to comfort me and to cry on. After a nice Ma'ariv (which I lead) and a great Havdalah, I went with Ari, Ben and Eric to Tito Bravo for dinner (got great Mac and Chesse) and then Ari and I walked down to Emek Refaim to meet up with Josh, Kay and Becca to walk around the area for a bit to take pictures. By that time it was around midnight so we walked back to Beit Nativ and I just hung out with all of my friends and enjoying my last night in Jerusalem and Israel.


Sunday has been and continues to be a very emotional day as it is the last day of Nativ and I will write all about that when I get home.




Friday, May 21, 2010

Completing The Holiday Cycle

Friday morning I chose to go to Gan one last time and once again the kids ran up to me and I enjoyed spending the morning there, and I realized once again how much I will miss the Gan and everyone there. The rest of the day prior to Shabbat was spent continuing to pack and cleaning up my room.


To begin our last Shabbat we started with a program which was centered on the NPR program, This I Believe. It began with first listing to a few of the essays that have been submitted to the program and then we had time to write our own. It was then time for a very nice Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma'ariv before our last Shabbat dinner on Kibbutz which was ok. Shabbat morning we had tiffilot before heading of one last time to my host mommy, Rivkah for lunch which was delicious and we got to meet some of her family. Shabbat afternoon I spent it relaxing, hanging out with my friends and reading before we had part two of our program. This part was each one of us reading our This I Believe essays and I really learned a lot about my fellow kibbutznicks and then we concluded Shabbat with Mincha, Seudah Shlishit, Ma'ariv and Havdalah.


Sunday was spent finalizing packing because later that day we loaded a truck with suitcases that we will not see until the airport and boxes/drawers of items that we are leaving to next year's Nativers. Later in the evening we held a 'banquet' to say thank you to our host families and to our bosses. It was very nice and I received a booklet of pictures that the kids had drawn which was very touching.


Monday morning after a very tearful goodbye we left Kibbutz for the last time and headed to Jerusalem for our final week in Israel. When we got back to Beit Nativ, we took our group picture and had lunch before moving back into our old room and had some down time before our final Kibbutz program. This program was sharing memories from the year in various art forms. So I chose photography and our theme was Jerusalem so we want out took a few pictures and then we all came back together to present. Monday night there was a Nativ talent show which for the most part was funny and another nice way to bring the year to a close.


Tuesday morning we were free and I went with some friends all of Jerusalem to pick up gifts and other things that we needed before we left and we also stopped at Holy Bagel for lunch. The rest of the day before chag was spent relaxing and getting ready. We started Shavuot with Mincha and Ma'ariv followed by a pretty decent dairy dinner (blintzes, lasagna, and cheesecake), we then had until 2 AM to go to various places around the city for different study sessions. I chose to first go to Beit Avi Chai to hear Dr. Micha Goodman talk about the meaning of humanity according to Maimonides "Guide to the Perplexed." It was a very interesting session and made me think a lot about what he was talking about. I then walked back to Moreshet Yisrael for a session by Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein and he taught about how to deal with the disagreement between science and the creation of the world. I also enjoyed this session a lot and it felt like being back in midrash class. I then took some time to relax and then from 2 AM-3:45 AM there were Nativ run study session and I taught with a friend about Ruth and conversion and there was a break in the middle for ice cream and cheesecake. At 4 AM we walked to Robinson's Arch/the Southern Wall for services. It was very nice to wear my tallit and tiffilot were nice but at times it was quite cold and because there were a lot of people it was hard to hear who was leading at times.


When services were over at 7:45 AM, I walked back with the 10 or so people who had stayed until the end and then had a bit of breakfast before heading to bed due to the past 23 hours without sleep. Once I got up, I had lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon reading, relaxing and napping, we then had Mincha, dinner and Ma'ariv to end chag. This was also as the title of my blog states, the concluding of celebrating every single holiday in Israel (pilgrimage let me celebrate the two summer holidays) and it was for sure very nice to be able to get the chance to celebrate each one in Israel. Wednesday night I went out with Ari to get a 2nd dinner at New Deli and then we hung out with some other friends on Ben Yehuda.


Thursday was a full day of programming and the morning was personally a waste of time, hearing about programs that are not relevant to the majority of us or programs that we have already heard about. The afternoon was probably the most amazing program ever. It started off with Yossi pretending that we were juniors and he showed us the Nativ promo video and then talked to us about why we should take a gap year as he or Nachum had done 2 years ago. He then explained the afternoon program which he told would be reflecting on the whole year. We were then sent down to -3 in groups and I was amazed with what I saw. They had converted all of -3 into all the various aspects of the past 9 months and we were given a journal with questions relating to each part of the year and we were given the whole afternoon to sit and go through it at our own pace. I loved how one of the best programs was sitting, writing and reflecting in quite for around 2 hours. Thursday night I went out for some delicious and filling soup (I got vegetable) and then hung out again on Ben Yehuda and surrounding area and I also got some ice cream.


Friday morning I got up and went to the shuk for the last time and picked up a plethora of items that I wanted to bring home in including marzipan and gummies. As I sit here writing this, I'm finishing getting things packed up and just enjoying my time here; I'm looking forward to my last Shabbat and then Sunday will be my final day in Israel which is bittersweet but I'm ready to come home.




Thursday, May 13, 2010

Completing Our Travels In Israel

Thursday was a very bittersweet day as it was the last official day of work. Work went as usual but before lunch all the kids and staff came together to say a few words and give me a gift from everyone.  The head teacher explained to the kids that I was leaving and asked if they wanted to say anything so some of them wished me good luck and to have a safe flight. The teachers then presented me with pajamas, a wooden keychain that says thank you and a Havdalah set from the bottle tree store and I gave the Gan a photo album with a bunch of the pictures that I had taken. It was very sweet and it made me take a step back and realize how much of an impact I have had over the past few months. Friday even though I had the day off I chose to go to Gan because I love it so much and they were celebrating one of the kids birthday. When I walked in most of the kids ran up to me, which reassured me how much of an impact I have made.

Shabbat was relaxing and I got to go to my host mommy for dinner which was nice and then the rest of Shabbat was spent reading and sleeping.

Sunday began our last tiyul of Nativ which would be touring the northern part of Israel.  After leaving Kibbutz we were supposed to go to a Druze village for lunch but we were told that due to violent protests we would not be going ( something had to go not according to plan- we're Nativ) and instead we drove to a national park and the Druze people brought the food. Lunch was quite delicious with laffa, rice, kabobs and more. We then continued on with our day and I chose to take a tour of Old Akko instead of hiking. In Old Akko we saw the remaining walls and cannons from the fighting days many years ago and we also just walked around the area and along the cost, while Elkana explained the history of the city.  It was a very nice city and I got to learn some new information and a good way to start tiyul. We then travelled to Rosh Hanikra and the youth hostel where we had dinner, ma'ariv and announcements before showering and heading to bed early.

Monday morning I chose to do the harder and longer hike due to not wanting to go to Tzfat again and I also wanted to challenge myself. So after about an hour drive we arrived at Nachal Merion which later on would change into Nachal Amud. The hike while long (about 6 hours give or take) was very scenic and beautiful and there was even a bit of flowing water at the beginning which was a bit of a shock. So while the hike was not that hard, towards the middle/end of the hike I started not feeling well due to the heat so the last bit was really tough but I got through it with the help of my friends and at the end I was really proud of myself for getting through and choosing to do the harder option. It was then off to Kibbutz Merom Golan for the evening where we had some free time to unwind and shower before dinner and our evening 'activity'. What the activity was, was Masa having us fill at a survey about gap year programs and various aspects. It was a very tedious survey and once I finished it was back to the room and to bed.

Tuesday morning I chose the easy options and that was a leisurely stroll through the Banias Nature Reserve (. It was a very nice walk through the reserve and we got to see a very nice waterfall and it was refreshing to feel the splash of the water because it was getting hot out. Afterwards we headed to Kfar Blum to go kayaking/ rafting down the Hatzbani and Jordan River. I chose to go rafting with Alex K., Reuben, Sami and Sara B. and it was a very nice trip down the river including a small rapid but at times the river was very congested so it was hard to go without getting splashed and there was also some obnoxious teens throwing mud at us. When we were done we had a delicious pizza lunch and then it was off to Katzrin and the Golan Heights Winery for an explanation of the wine making process, seeing the humongous wine cellar and getting to taste three different wines (a Gamla White Riesling, a Yarden Merlot and a Yarden Muscat) and we got to keep our wine glass (we'll see if it makes it home).   When we were done we headed to Karei Desha (where we stayed for archeological dig) to put our stuff down and then it was off to Tiberias for the evening and dinner.

Wednesday I chose the easy hike which was a rocky walk through the Upper Zavitan stream. It was a very easy hike but there were a lot of rocks that we had to climb over or on but that just made it more fun and there was also a nice pool of water and a waterfall along the way. When we finished we headed over to the Manara Cliff where some people took a ride on a slide along the cliff and then we all took a cable car ride up to the top of the cliff, looked around and then took a ride back down before heading back to Karei Desha. Once back we had a BBQ dinner before heading out to the Hamat Geder hot springs and I chose not to smell like sulfur ( a.k.a rotten eggs) so I just stuck my feet in my while sitting there I got a bee sting ( but I'm ok) so it was an eventful evening. One quick, cool thing to mention that while on the drive there and back while in Israel we were able to see both Syria and Jordan at the same time which was really cool because I don't think there are many places in Canada or the USA where you can drive along and see right across the fence or road into the other country where there is no border crossing.

Thursday was our last day of tiyul and we spent it at the Sahne Natural Pools. It was a very relaxing morning and a nice way to end tiyul and out travels throughout Israel with Nativ. We then headed back to Kibbutz where we had a dinner and I did some hand laundry and continued the process of packing. This weekend is our last on Kibbutz and I will try and make the most of it.


I did not take many pictures this tiyul but here are the ones I took.


Until next time,



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Standing Up For My Homeland

Last week on Tuesday and Wednesday we spent it in Be'er Sheva learning about the proper tools to advocate for Israel on college/university campuses next year. As well, Yossi talked to us about how we can choose how much or how little we advocate and get involved with Israel on campus but we will for sure be put in the spot light so we need to be prepared.

Tuesday morning was taught by Neil Lazarus and he began the morning by calling on various people and demanding them to justify different situations about Israel and its current situation (for example situations about settlements and the Gaza War). This was a great way to start of the two days and it made me really think about how I would answer if I was put on the spot. He then showed us the movie Crossing the Line: the Intifada Comes to Campus, about the situation that is happing on college campuses both in and out of the classroom. It was a huge eye opener and shocker and made me want to stand up for Israel even more next year. Neil then spent the rest of the morning going over tactics and strategies to help us advocate better and know when it is the right time to step in. In the afternoon, a woman named Michelle who is the director of Diaspora relations for an organization called Stand With US did a presentation more about how to advocate and also about how to deal with teachers or other faculty who are being anti-Israel. To end off the day we watched the documentary by Alan Dershowitz called the Case for Israel. Despite it being a late day and being tired, I still enjoyed the movie and I thought it did a good job of wrapping up the day with summarizing what we are advocating for by going over the issues Israel is facing and basically defending Israel. It was then back to Kibbutz for dinner and a relaxing evening.

Wednesday morning began with a presentation by Daivd Abitbol, one of the founders of the online magazine, Jewlicious, spoke to us about advocating for Israel via the internet. He went over how we can better use sites such as Facebook, YouTube to our advantage and the importance of using them for the right reasons and how to make sure our message gets across. We then had a presentation by Itamar Marcus, who works for the Palestinian Media Watch. He spent the time going over some very disturbing clips from Palestinian TV that instill hatred into children (for example the Palestinian Mickey Mouse, Farfur who death on the show was blamed on the Jews). He also showed us how they name schools, street names and more after Palestinian "martyrs" who are actually some of the worst suicide bombers during the intifada and how they wipe out Jewish History and Israel from the map. For the afternoon, Neil had planned a simulation activity where we become member of Nativety University and were assigned to different student groups (I become a member of the Palestinian Social Justice Group) and had to plan a week long set of activities for freshman week to endorse our group. We then set out planning our programs and we actually had to "call" the university to book rooms, security, catering, arts and booking speakers and singers etc (who were actually all our madrichim). This part of the simulation was the most frustrating aspects because having all 5 groups trying to call one person at the same time does not work so a large amount of the time was spent making the calls. As well throughout the afternoon we received texts saying that there was an attack on Muslims that was blamed on the Jews and there were death threats to Zionists. When we got all back together to share our week of activities, we analyzed how we could do things better and I learned a lot and Neil was very impressed. One thing that was stressed throughout the two days was that if you are not comfortable speaking in public there are many other ways to advocate for Israel such as through technology or planning programs and activities that show of Israel such as a fashion show.

Throughout these two days I learned a great deal and I hope to use these skills one way or another next year at McGill.

Saturday Night began the festive holiday of Lag BaOmer and the popular thing to do is to make bonfires, so for a little while Miriam and I walked around the Kibbutz and the surrounding area to see the various bonfires including one right behind my carven which lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Sunday in Gan we also made a bonfire and roasted marshmallows and potatoes and I also in the process got a minor burn (but I’m A-OK). Sunday evening all the young families on the Kibbutz had a bonfire so I went to it for a bit to see some of my kids from the Gan and then later in then we as Nativ, made another bonfire and we roasted marshmallows and just had a good time. 

This Tuesday we went to the closing MASA event in Jerusalem that included workshops and speakers to help us prepare for next year as well as hearing Bibi Netanyahu, Natan Sharansky and Hadag Nachash. We did not get there until the afternoon portion because the morning was dealing with Israel advocacy and Branding Israel which we had already dealt with. So the few sessions that we had were ok (not that interesting or helpful), and we also got to hear Natan Sharansky talk about his time in prison in Russia which was fascinating and he had such a great sense of humor. That evening after going through somewhat intense security we sat down for the closing session of the day. After a few brief introductions we got to hear from Prime Minster Bibi Netanyahu who was also a pretty good speaker (you can see his speech here) and then it was time for the concert by Hadag Nachash. This was definitely a great way to begin ending my year in Israel.

Tomorrow is my last day at work which will be a bittersweet day followed by the last open Shabbat and then Sunday we began Northern Tiyul followed by our last Shabbat on Kibbutz and then heading back to Jerusalem for our final week of Nativ. So as you can see we have a lot to do with very little time.

Until next time,