Sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time. I’ve spent the past couple of months on the kibbutz finishing up my courses and just living life in general. But I leave here in 5 days and I’m not happy about it. I am excited to go home for sure. I miss my friends and family but I have also grown attached to living here. More to come in the next few days about posts I wanted to write and didn’t get around to it – I promise.
Category Archives: Israel
I just finished watching the movie The Bubble. It is a love story of sorts – with a few twists. In just the first five minutes you have an Israeli soldier meeting a Palestinian man. The soldier tries to help deliver a baby at the checkpoint. Baby born a still-birth. Palestinian and soldier fall in love. Oh and by the way, the soldier is a man too.
It is a great movie. Stop reading this and go watch it.
I don’t believe in wars. I don’t believe in killing. The only war I want to fight is a war against fear. The fear of Arabs. The fear of Israelis. Of Iraqis, Afghanis, Americans, Blacks, Whites. Of gays, of straights, the fear of the right-wing, the fear of the left-wing. I want to rage the most stupendous war against fear without ever shedding one drop of blood. Tears will rage down like rivers as we realize that we are all one family. The cries that scream out in the night will be cries of apology for a time when we needlessly put up boundaries between us. Children will be dumbstruck with the history we tell of a time when there was an ‘us-vs.-them’ mentality throughout the world.
That is the only type of war I want to wage.
It is strange – and appropriate – that I write this on the 4th of July. America was founded by outcasts seeking a life away from oppression. Maybe we can all shed this oppression of fear we place on ourselves. Wouldn’t that be the best present we could give our country … no, not our country – our world … and ourselves.
Shabbat on the Kibbutz
We Jews are lucky enough to have a holiday every single week. The Sabbath is a time for rest and relaxation, a time for friends and family, and a time to pause and reflect. We certainly get all that here on Kibbutz Lotan. Shabbat starts just like in most places: families gather together in their homes, light the candles and say the prayers together. Maybe the children are blessed as well or a song or two sung. Then, some of the families come down to the moadon, the kibbutz’s synagogue. The all Hebrew service is a typical reform service lasting about one hour. Some melodies are familiar and some are new to me.
After services, you can really feel the festive atmosphere of the Sabbath. The whole community has gathered in the main square, children are running around on the large lawn and the air is full of conversations. We all enter the chadar ochel together and take our seats around the tables. As a community, we sing ha’motzi and ha’gafen. Then, each week, a festive meal is had. Bread, salad, rice, beans, vegetables, chicken (or vegi alternative), not to mention the ‘excellent‘ wine (you know it is excellent because it says so in its name – think manischewitz wine in the ‘States). The table is full of food and if by some chance a plate runs out, there is always more in the kitchen. There is something special in the air when the whole community is gathered together for one meal a week.
Once the dinner is over, the moadon is opened again for tea, coffee, and cake. More conversations are had, more lounging out in the chairs with a stuffed belly, more kids running around, just like after any holiday meal. Then, one by one, people start to head home. No alarms are set, no last-minute touch ups on the reports due soon. And almost the whole community sleeps in on Saturday morning, thankful for the day of rest given us every week. How lucky are we?
For the next few blog posts, I’m going to focus on kibbutz life a bit more. Today, I want to talk about this “life on hold” feeling. That phrase has been tossed around a few times by many different walks of life here in this tiny community.
I was talking to Matan, my host-family brother, during one of the holiday ceremonies. He is currently in the military performing his required service and only gets to come home on the occasional weekend or holiday. So we briefly talked about his service, a little bit about the kibbutz and then I moved onto the holiday we were celebrating. I mentioned to him that it was nice to have life on hold, meaning only that I was happy not to have to worry about my coursework or much of anything else during that particular moment in time. But his first reaction was something like life on the kibbutz – life on hold – wasn’t a good thing for him. I got the feeling of a kid who grew up in a small town (understatement for this community of about 150), that is still tethered to this place. He is excited to see the world, to explore, to experience new things. But he is also still brought back by his love for his family. I don’t think he would be happy moving back here and starting his life within the gates.
Life on hold isn’t always a negative thing though. I’ve heard that many people who come through the kibbutz or Bustan neighborhood (other than the hippies/eco-freak-os) are people who are lost and searching for themselves. This place offers a refuge for them. They can put a pause button on life, take a deep breathe or two, and figure out where to go next. And what a great place to do just that! They can reconnect to the earth, put in an honest day’s worth of labor, keep their belly full and, with just a little effort, make some good friendships. Once they figure out their next step in life, they can leave the kibbutz and not be any worse off, more confident with their plans in life.
For me, I can see clearly both the cons and pros of a life on hold. I can’t count how many times I have thought about the night I sat on the railroad tracks with my high school friends and said, “When I get out of Brandon, I will NEVER come back to this place! I’m going to hit the road and never look in the mirror.” I wanted nothing to due with having a life on hold. But I also recognize that, to some degree, I came here to figure out my next steps. I wasn’t going to stay in Tampa forever and the sunsets here beat out Dale Mabry Highway any day. I hope I can use this time to figure things out.
Starting life back up can be hard too. The goodbyes here are tough. Your whole life revolves around mostly the same people day in and day out. When someone leaves, you can’t help but think about them and the hole that is missing in the community fabric. The volunteers and people who pass through are easy to relate to and easy to build lasting bonds with. I know for sure I’m missing two friends who have both left in the past month more than I thought I would.
With all that said, it is important to say (or me at least) that for some, life isn’t on hold. This is life. Families are raised here; spouses have passed on; children grow, learn, graduate and move away. Careers blossom and change. Vacations are had and adventures are shared. I guess it is all just a matter of perspective.
This pretty much sums up a good chunk of the course I’m on.
I know I should make a post about the Jewish holiday that just ended, Shavuot, but … I’m not going to (right now?). Sorry Rabbi Torop.
Instead I’m going to list off a bunch of thoughts from today:
– Cats making either a mating call or fight call should NOT be louder than the sound of the goat milk pumper machine when I’m standing RIGHT next to it. I swear these beasts are on Viagra.
– Despite not wanting to go milk the goats today, I had a great time. 6 births when we got there (one still-born). 4 babies to be bottle feed (I can’t help but think of my future niece Salah Rose, but hopefully not as hairy). 2 more babies born while we milked. All in all not to bad, even with having to climb the platform and move the dumb goats who don’t move all the way down.
– New hammock in the moa-dome (hangout place in the neighborhood)!
– I made a simple water purifier out of rocks and sand in a bucket. But then Mike broke my heart by telling me I can’t purify my piss with just that. Maybe I’ll still try it out and have Tal test it. (Just wanted to see if you’re reading this :p )
– Laundry is all done. This actually should be a post unto itself. I use the Eco bike laundry machine, no electricity. Anyone interested in reading about that?
– Pool is open!!!! Yay!!
– Most of the neighborhood garden beds are weeded… Most.
– Room is swept and clean!
– Beard is coming back!
I think that about covers it. I’m still waiting to hear what you want to know about from my experiences here. What would you want to read about?
So first off, I want to open up the option for a little more conversation on this blog. If you have questions or topics you want covered, send me an email! It is M.Freincle at gmail dot com. I am really excited about this and if you really spark a great convo, I might even send you a postcard from Israel!
Second, and perhaps the most importantly – I belong to the best congregation EVER! I got an awesome care package from Congregation Beth Shalom of Brandon. They sent me loads of yummy candy, a kick butt T-shirt from Mitzvah Day, a card and a hello paper signed by a whole bunch of folks. It was a total surprise for me when I got back to the kibbutz from the Bedouin village this past week.
Speaking of Bedouin villages … that really deserves a post all on its own. But I leave tomorrow AM for Bethlehem and the West Bank/Palestine. I will try to include it in the post I write when I get back.