Tag Archives: Israel

A personal post mostly for me.

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.


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Scary things come out at night

I couldn’t sleep last night. The bombings kept me awake in this world of “military readiness”.

Throughout the day, as the other GAs and I sat in our classroom (which just so happens to also be an underground bomb shelter), I kept hearing rumblings. I have become accustomed to the random test bombings of the nearby IDF base. Usually, a few bombs every few days. But yesterday they sounded different. I had to ask two or three times, “Was that a bomb?” It was interesting to note the number of different responses: “No, its just the wind blowing down the stairwell.” “No, it’s probably someone working outside.” Almost always a “No, …”

But that night the noise continued. As we, one by one, went to bed and the sounds of the kibbutz slipped away into the darkness, the sounds of the Grim Reaper’s tools came starkly into reality.

I tried to tell myself that I was back home in Florida, sleeping away an afternoon storm. I could see a light show in my mind’s sky, accompanied by beautiful rolling thunder.

But I was yanked away from all that as the gunshots started. I had to give my mind a few seconds to wake back up. A series of fast short bursts. Thump thump thump thump thump. Silence. Thump thump thump thump thump thump. Silence again.

The automatic rifles began to exchange fire with some unknown target on the base. Every so often the bombings would return in crescendos of death.

I tried to get back to my summer storm. I told myself I was laying near the window sill. It was hailing now. The chunks of ice would be gone soon, banished the heat of an August day after the rain.

As I drifted away into sleep, soldiers continued to practice for war. What a shame we live in a world like this.

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Yom Ha’atzmaut

Happy birthday Israel! 64 years young and still kickin.  It is almost 2am so this is going to be a short, poorly written post. Highlights of Independence day in Israel:  BBQ all day long, adults dancing like they were school children again (and yes, they were at times dancing in a circle, all holding hands, interspersing with everyone rushing into the center and then back out again), great concert at the regional council, Lotan kibbutznics starting and owning the dancing at said concert, random people still BBQing at 11pm.

All politics aside, it is an amazing and extremely special  thing to have this Jewish state among the nations.  A people millennia old; conquered, despised, dispersed, killed, robbed, tortured, almost whipped out by genocide.  And yet here we are, a nation smaller in land mass than the US state of New Jersey.  A place for a people the world has time and again turned their backs on, a home to reestablish roots in.

It’s a crazy idea, this place I’m in.  Crazy beautiful.

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Just north of the eco-neighborhood sits the kibbutz’s goat area.  I think it has just under 200 heads.  Since this is a kibbutz, we in the G.A. are also expected to help the rest of the members one Shabbat a month with the necessities that have to be done on the day of rest.  Milking the goats is my toranut and I really enjoy it.

Usually, I just milk the goats and leave since that is all that is required.  If a lactating animal isn’t milked regularly, it starts to hurt as the process of the body shutting down milk production begins.  Since we don’t want animals to go through pain at our expense (we are using them for milk production), we have to milk the goats twice a day (the cows get milked three times a day).

A couple of weeks back, on one of my Saturday milkings, one kid (baby goat) in particular was doing very bad.  Only a day or two old, he was weak and unable to stand on his own.  The first milker (guy in charge during the shift), started bottle feeding him right away but said that the kid would probably be dead before we finished our shift.  Amazingly, as we finished the last group of hairy ladies, the kid was still breathing.  This time, I got to feed him.  I could feel every breath he took as he lay almost totally limp in my arms.  His head had to be supported in just the right way to make sure he could drink the milk but not choke when he tried to breathe.  His eyes were such a beautiful pale blue – the kind most young animals seem to have.  When he looked at me, the eyes were so longing, yearning for something; for life, for death, for the strength to carry on, for something.  The tiny baby drank almost an entire bottle before he had had enough.  Things started to look up.  We placed him back in the pin of newborns and his mother started to clean him – another great sign.  I thought for sure the little guy was going to pull through.

Unfortunately, foxes are a problem even here.  The kid, along with one other, were visited by Death under the cover of darkness that night.  Who knows what would have happened if he lived to see another day.  But the experience of nursing a limp, almost lifeless being back from near death was a profound one.

This week, I have had some free time in the afternoon and got to head over to the goat area to help bottle feed the new babies that are not quiet connecting to their mothers utters.  It is really enjoyable and as I milk these goats that are only days old, I can’t help but think of my brother and sister-in-law as they expect their own offspring soon.  The beauty of new life is just so … beautiful.


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What do you think about when you hear a siren?

Does it grab your attention? What is going on around me? Is there an ambulance behind me? Is there a police officer near by? Is the fire department is racing towards a raging inferno? A siren gets your attention.

Is it a warning? Maybe danger is lurking around. Maybe a bomb is flying towards a city. Maybe an 18 wheeler can’t stop in time to avoid hitting something or someone. Maybe a tsunami or flood is racing up from the depths. A siren warns you.

Is it compromise? You can have your quiet day tomorrow if you take warning today. You can make it to your dinner plans if you change your path at lunch. You will have tranquility soon, but not right now. A siren requires you to compromise from the norm.

Today is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. At 10:00am, all across Israel, for two complete minutes, sirens rang out. School children put their pencils down. Officer works stopped typing. Tractors in the fields and cars on the highway all stopped exactly where they were. City buses and taxis froze. And for 120 seconds, a nation remembered the 6 million Jews who were whipped out by hatred. They remembered to the sound of the siren.

A siren is a promise. A promise to mourn. A promise to remember. A promise to honor. A promise to survive. A promise to praise. A promise to believe. A promise to live. A promise of “never again.”


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First hitch hiking experience

I am now officially in the hitch hikers club. Yay! We had Friday off from classes so I decided to try my luck at getting to the closest city, Eilat.


Wouldn’t you pick this handsome beast up off the side of the road?????

Heading to the city I was picked up by a couple in the 35th car to pass by. The guy was raised on a kibbutz. They were heading to a yoga retreat at a dolphin rehab center. As we got close they offered to get me in for free, and since I didn’t have any plans I took them up on it. I’m glad I did because the normal entrance price was about 80 shekel I think. The views were amazing and I literally had dolphins swimming inches from my feet.












Getting back to the kibbutz was a little harder. It took me almost an hour until car number 50 stopped. He was a kibbutznic from the kibbutz just south of here. And I made it home in time for services and dinner.

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First post from Kibbutz Lotan

Shalom from Kibbutz Lotan!

I realize that my once a day goal for this blog isn’t going to happen. I downloaded an app for wordpress on my ipod to upload daily pictures with a brief description – if I can, I’ll post a daily photo.

So, where am I? For the next five months, I live in the Arava desert north of the city of Eilat. The eastern border of this kibbutz is the Israeli/Jordanian boarder. It has been made clear that we are not to, under any circumstance, cross the border. It is really interesting to realize that this community is like a watch post for the border of the country, complete with a gate to access the IDF patrolled boarder road.

If you want to send me mail or care packages (I love chocolate) my address is:

Michael Freincle
Green Apprenticeship
Kibbutz Lotan
D.N. Hevel Eilot
88855 Israel

Please do NOT send anything express mail. It takes longer and often incurs fees that I will have to pay. Just stick to regular speed mail.

I live on a kibbutz which for the most part is commune style living. The people who live here all share in the work that needs to be done. Some people work outside of the kibbutz – their paychecks, 100%, goes to the kibbutz. They have a direct democracy for deciding how to spend their budget (proposals are put forth by a manager, but the community then has final say). There is no rent and three meals are provided daily in a dining hall, chadar ochel in hebrew. Each person gets an allowance for personal spending. Each child gets a savings account for his/her undergraduate degree with money from the kibbutz funds added every month beginning at the age of thirteen. There is a ton of other really interesting things about kibbutz life that I’m learning from these kibbutzniks (people who live on kibbutz).

I am able to have guests/visitors if you want to come visit me! You are just asked to pay for any meals you eat while here. If/when you come to visit, you will be staying with me in my geodome made from mud and straw. They are surprisingly comfortable! And yes, they have electricity and lights. In this neighborhood, we use composting toilets. Really, you should think you are using a totally normal toilet with two exceptions: you don’t flush with water and you have to add a cup of chopped straw (found in a bowl right next to the toilet). The bathroom area has running water with sinks and showers. It is crazy amazing.

Ok that is all for now. Send me a letter or chocolate! Then come visit me, I’m here until the end of July!

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