Friday, 29 October 2010

backlog of first week on kibbutz

Seeing as kibbutz has been so hectic and there has been limited internet connection I majorly flaked at writing for the last week. As a result of this, and to avoid falling even more behind, i'm just going to roughly outline the first couple of days and in more detail the last few. Apologies in advance for the lack of detail. Also the date on this particular post is not the date that I wrote it as I had no internet for a significant period of time so had to write it in word and up load it later.

Tuesday 19th October -
  • MASA Introduction
  • Bus Ride to Kibbutz Yahel-lots of sleep
  • Pomello Story-peace on the border
  • Yitzak Rabin Memorial Service-entirely in ivrit

  • Breakfast Together Outside-israeli cereal
  • Walking Tour of Kibbutz-we saw COWS
  • Shopping the the Kibbutz Supermarket-very stressful for many parties involved
  • Shakshuka cooking demonstration-using minimal resources
  • Cooking our own Dinners- omelette/scrambled eggs with red onion and cheese after discovering impossible to cook pasta in a slow cooker without a saucepan

  • 8 o'clock start at date packing factory -5 hours of sticking and folding date packet labels
  • lunch at 1
  • Hebrew Test- couldn’t answer a single question
  • more forms to fill out
  • Bus to Tel Aviv-4.5 hours!

Thursday Eve to Saturday Eve-lovely relaxing weekend with the parents

  • Breakfast with off milk-yum
  • Chinuch morning –
    • Rabbi Benji Session
    • Lior session -Beseder / Lo Beseder
  • Ulpan
  • Dinner

After my lovely rested weekend away Sunday morning started with a rather unpleasant surprise. My much awaited and coveted Special K was totally ruined by the stringy off milk that was all that remained in our fridge after shabbat. After this minor setback we began our very first chinuch morning on kibbutz. Rabbi Benji kicked off the first session with an introductory game and then a trigger picture of what most people claimed to be David and Goliath. He commented that his observation upon showing this picture to people in a variety of different cultures was that each culture interpreted it differently and it represented different and yet very similar stories. Another interesting fact was that the picture had been drawn with a couple on David's head. Interesting and somewhat in correct for the Jewish interpretation as Kippot were only invented long after the story itself is said to have taken place. An interesting (slightly more in context than I can remember) fact was that the Chabbad do not exist in Malawi. We moved on to discussing a story by Rabbi Nachman of Breslaw (lived in the Ukraine, died roughly 200 years ago). Supposedly some people are insulted by discussing these stories as in 1808 Rabbi Nachman decided to tell them because he claimed his disciples were too stupid to understand the concepts otherwise. Some people also travel to his grave every year on Rosh Hashanah as he claimed, and I quote, “I will yank you out of hell if you come to see me on Rosh Hashanah”...or so we were told. Another 'fun fact' is that he travelled for months and months to Israel and yet stayed only 4 minutes on the land. Rabbi Benji also commented that the statement 'Jews believe...' followed by anything is in fact an incorrect statement. We then looked at a specific story 'The Portrait'.
Linked to this we discussed the concepts that in order to understand something you have to laugh about it (and a rather controversial reference to the holocaust was made at this point). We also considered which king mentioned is G-d, what the story represents about humanity, G-d and the Jewish people. Rabbi Benji claimed that asking someone if they believe in G-d is the most personal question you can ask. Our second Chinuch session was run by Lior and we played 'Beseder, Lo Beseder'. This basically involved a list of words or topics being read out and everyone had to respond with only Beseder or Lo Beseder with no initial discussion or explanation. The list of words mentioned were:

  • Mobile phones
  • Aliyah
  • Capital punishment/death penalty
  • Reality TV
  • Christmas
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Brit Milah
  • Britney Spears
  • Jewish Educational
  • Gay Marriage
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Orthodoxy
  • Summer Camps
  • Separation Wall/Fence
  • Harry Potter
  • Refusing to recruit to the army
  • Abortion
  • Inter-marriage
  • Animal testing
  • An Arab prime minister in Israel
  • Euthanasia
  • Downloading Films off the internet
  • Releasing terrorist (murderers) in order to free captured soldiers

In the afternoon we had our very first Ulpan session. Thankfully I suddenly remembered a lot of the script letters I had already learnt (with Barney!) as we learn entirely in script. The lesson was good and I really feel like i'm going to at the very least give myself enough of a basis to learn more ivrit when in Karmiel. In the evening, after a dinner of RATTATOUILE (made entirely by myself and another girl in my room), we had our first Asefah of Shant Netzer. I felt slightly like it was a bit too early to have one and a lot of the issues brought up were time fillers or just pretty pointless.

Monday was split very simply into Uplan in the morning and 'Volunteering' in the afternoon. In Ulpan we are pretty much doing short sentences and plural words. Our first volunteering session in the place we will be for the next month was, to say the very least, an experience. We spent 3 hours in the mid day heat laying very large and dirty date nets into piles of 24 and then folding and tying them up. Give me label sticking any day!

This is just a backlog post and a bit of a mish mash so I will later update about Tuesday Wednesday and this weekend.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

End of Klita

I knew I shouldn’t have left it till Wednesday to write about as far back as Monday, the days here are so long and full its impossible to remember as far back as this morning. Having started Monday morning with what I remember was quite a heated debate on the Ideology of Netzer and who should be allowed to become a sniff, I can't now remember most of the specific details. I do however remember a particularly heated discussion which involved one of our educators (the same one I mentioned before) claiming that our ideology is what we do whilst I disputed that it was what we thought and believed in. One of the boys came out with the Latin root of the word..again which I can't now remember..thereby proving my original point. An argument I also had with this educator was the issue I had with his machon-bashing. As an ex-shnattie and one from Etgar he was consistently making (joking) comments about machon-niks betraying their movement and how much better Etgar was. After several days of this I decided to inform him that I thought it was contributing to creating an already inevitable divide and separating the group.

We then split into our groups for Karmiel, Shvil and Kibbutz to discuss how the time after Kibbutz would work. Due to my ultimate laziness (and of course many other reasons) I had already selected Karmiel as my option before I came. Two Madrichim, Galit and Miria, came to talk to us a little bit about UJIA in Karmiel and what we would be doing there. For those of you who don't know Karmiel is a small city located in the Beit HaKerem Valley which divides upper and lower Galilee. UJIA supports the entire communities in the Galliel, not just Jews. We were told that the 15 of us would be living together in (hopefully) a relatively big house with a garden. There are 13 girls and 2 boys. When we began to discuss what we would actually be doing whilst there, I totally threw out the idea of MDA because I started to get very overexcited. Our week would involve cooking for each other, practical Hebrew lessons (such as in the actual supermarket), volunteering, lectures,seminars, dinner with our host families and a Netzer evening each week. Our host families would be the families of the local kids we would be doing hikes and activities with-in Israel they call them CITs (Counsellors in Training). Each week we would each go to our individual host families for one night and spend the evening socialising and eating with them. The bit that I started to really look forward to was the volunteering options. They are divided into morning and afternoon choices and you can pretty much do as much or as little as you chose. For the morning (which is until two) you can chose to work in an Elementary school, a high school, or the Muslim school on the opposite side of the road. There is also the opportunity to work in the Soup Kitchen or with disabled people both in homes and in a supportive work environment. For the afternoons if you chose to you can do one-on-one Tutoring (maths for me) twice a week. A couple of times a month we will also help at the packing place where they pack a basket of Groceries for 4000 families every month. Working in the schools involves actually building and planning the lessons together with the teacher and having a lot of input into the work. After deciding I wanted to work in one of the school during the day (either of the high schools probably) and that I wanted to do maths tutoring in the evenings and maybe occasionally a couple of soup kitchen shifts, I then found out that one of the Madricha's husband is just starting a brand new ceramics and sculpture programme which they need help for-at this point I was literally buzzing!

We later had a peula on 'Shnat and the Big questions'. We basically had to brainstorm questions such as 'what kind of a leader am I?', 'what place does Israel have in my life?', 'who are my role models?', 'Where is god in my life?', 'What is Zionism to me?' etc and then had to pick a particular one to discuss further. I chose 'What place does Israel have in my life'. A discussion that developed into questioning the diaspora's voice in Israeli politics and the concept of being Zionist without making Aliyah.

Our closing tekkes was at the Ha'as Tayelet overlooking a beautifully lit up Jerusalem followed by a lovely Italian meal as a group for two peoples birthdays and our last night in Jerusalem. That evening I saw both Sophia, who is currently studying at Seminary inside the old city, and Steph who's on BA year course. My chat with Sophs was rather short as they are only allowed out the old city on a Monday night and not on Ben Yehuda street and they have a curfew!

Much later that evening, about 1 o'clock, the group decided to go to the kottel. Myself and two others went slightly later than the rest and got there to discover them fuming. Apparently they could not understand why, when approaching the wall drunk and dressed in short skirts and tank tops, a women got angry at them for being dressed immodestly and asked them to cover up or leave. They decided it was a massive scandal that “at the place they are supposed to feel most comfortable and holy they were made to feel uncomfortable”. Personally I believe that all religious aspects aside it is a simple question of respect to other people. If you wouldn’t go to a reform synagogue dressed like that, or even to a friends house for dinner, why would you go to somewhere that you claim is sacred. Even if you do feel like you should be comfortable in a such a place, it is a blatant disrespect of those around you. Modesty may be something that Orthodox Jews are obsessive about and known for but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a stand-alone concept itself. It is the same as being disrespectful in any holy or important place and it was quite clear that this dispute was a direct result of RSY's “we can question anything” approach because we are reform and was quite simply teenagers trying to feel like they were making a point just for the sake of it.

I was going to write about Tuesday and Wednesday as well now but we have to be up at 7 in the morning to work with the dates-fun times- so simply I’m going to apologise for the rushed incorrect and probably incoherent nature of this post and go to bed.

Night All

S x

Monday, 18 October 2010

First Parents Report

This is a copy of the Parents Report Leo and I wrote on Thursday evening

S x


Shnat Netzer North began when all the sniffim of Netzer were united at the opening tekkes (ceremony) on the promenade overlooking Jerusalem in the bright morning sun. As we looked upon the holy city we had a special opening ma'amad to welcome us to the programme and create an inviting atmosphere, shortly followed a typical Israeli breakfast-picnic style!

Having all travelled from miles afar we returned to our respective living quarters for a mid-morning shluf. A few hours later, with much restored sanity, we reconvened to commence חוףשנת and the week long opening Klita seminar. Our day continued with a getting-to-know the tzevet session, dinner and an inspirational discussion about our hopes, fears and expectations for the year ahead. Everyone then headed to bed full of curiosity, anticipation and excitement for what we could already tell would be an experience like no other.

On Thursday morning we rolled out of bed and began our day with another indulgent Israeli breakfast. Next came an interactive service focusing on new beginnings and our shared Netzer journey that had already begun. Later that day we delved into a fascinating and enriching discussion on Israel and Zionism, bringing to light some of the truly vibrant differences of opinions throughout the group. Our afternoon peula was 'Shnat and the big J', essentially exploring what Judaism meant to us and its link to Israel. Finally, that evening we learnt about each others different movements across the globe – sniffim, ending the day with an insight into the features of the various movements and how different they are whilst still uniting as NETZER.

Nearing the end of the Klita Orientation Seminar

As we near the end of the Klita Orientation Seminar I finally found a moment to look back on the past week. The last time I wrote was my very first night in Jerusalem and already its weird to see how much life has changed. When I compare the things I’ve done and the discussions I’ve had over the last week with what I would have been doing in London, I know I made the right decision to come.

Early Thursday morning we moved from Beit Shmuel to Beit Ben Yehuda which is on Roshav Ein Gedi. Unfortunately for me (and totally nothing to do with the amount of stuff in my suitcase) upon arrival the zip promptly fell apart.

Rather than mention every mundane security and technical discussion we had alongside peulot, I will instead briefly highlight some of the more interesting goings-on. On Thursday we had a fantastic peula on Israel/Zionism. Alongside appreciating the opportunity to have this kind of discussion amongst people with similar whilst very different views, It began to occur to me how interesting it would be when some of the vast differences in opinion (e.g. between the Liberal and Reform Shnatties) came into light during discussions. My group's personal discussion focused on the impact of the Haredi Jews on the opening of malls and public transport in Israel on Shabbat. As it stands no public buses run and the shopping malls get fined if they open. Some of the points made included the concept that Israel is a secular state and therefore the Haredi shouldn't necessarily have control of Shabbat. We also discussed that shopping/transport on Shabbat would not be compulsory even if available and could and should therefore be a personal choice. Also that being Israeli and Jewish are two different things and that you shouldn’t necessarily be forced to observe Jewish practices so strictly just because you are Israeli. Interestingly somebody pointed out that Haredi Jews are not really Zionist? And that Jewish observance feels more important in London as it brings you closer to Israel and this is therefore not necessary in Israel. We later had a discussion on 'Shnat and the big J' i.e. Shnat and Judaism run by an educator who I later discovered had a particular ability to take anything you say and intentionally twist it to the extreme to prove a point. It's a particularly frustrating and backward technique as it pretty much makes you have no desire to participate because he also refuses to let you justify a point after twisting it. Later that evening we had a Sniffim Introduction. This was basically an opportunity for each movement present to describe and explain the way their movement works. NFTY, RSY, LJY, Netzer Barcelona and Netzer Germany are the 5 movements that make up this years Shnat Netzer. All I'm going to say is NFTY is mahusive! And Netzer Spain have an amazing video on youtube which would make anyone want to go.

On Friday we went on a wander round Jerusalem and the old city with one of the Southern Shnatties pointing out interesting and relevant landmarks. Unfortunately for me, due to my complete and utter lack of a sense of direction, I could not recall a single place he recommended! That evening we went to Kol HaNeshama for Shabbat which was a slightly confusing but different experience to FRS Friday night services to say the least. After dinner our Oneg Shabbat was a typical RSY (or I should say Netzer) singsong and a little activity where everyone was given a balloon with someone’s name on and they had to make a card for that person and put it inside the balloon. Then we swapped balloons, popped them and read the messages.

Our Seuda and Havdala services on Saturday were some of the best I’ve ever participated in. I think to try and explain what we actually did now would be lose most of the atmosphere and what actually made it special so due to my literacy incompetence I won't even try. That afternoon the Southern Shnatties took us on a guided tour of Emek Refaim and down town Jerusalem. Again many really useful places pointed out, none of which I can remember.

Finally onto today. This morning we woke up ridiculously early to get an 08.15 bus to the Sataf (the forest). After a sleepy Ma'amad amidst the trees focused on the concept of 'We don't have to, we get to' we continued onto our afternoon of volunteering. Apparently somebody thought making us pile rocks into buckets in the midday heat was a good idea...not so much! After dinner one of the Tzevet led an Israel update, obviously resulting in much conflict and difference in opinion. Amongst the topics we discussed were Gilad Shalit, the division of men and women on more than 100 bus routes in Israel and the street segregation in the Haredi neighbourhood (and the old city on succot).

So here I am at 12.30 on Sunday night and on reviewing the week I don't honestly think I can explain how excited I am for the next few months. Its a great group of new people, an opportunity to discuss lots of controversial and interesting topics and a chance to spend time in places so different from home it's both exciting and terrifying at the same time....but I can't wait.

And on that note Laila Tov

Love to all

S x

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Day One

So as I have pretty much been awake for the last 36 hours this is just a quick touchdown to get my Israeli adventure blog rolling. After being deposited at the airport by mother (who promptly made a quick getaway) and a rather embarrassing rendition of the RSY Netzer Song in the middle of Heathrow Terminal 1, we embarked upon חוף שנט !

A rather uneventful flight (despite me having managed to get the worst seat on the entire plane) and a coach ride later saw us meeting the LJY, Nifty, Spanish and German Shnatties and continuing onto a morning ma'omad and breakfast overlooking Jerusalem in the beautiful sunshine. We then returned to the Etgar Flat at Beit Shmu'el for a early morning nap.

Our day progressed with many (slightly boring) introductory peulot and some rather more interesting discussions on Reform Zionism and the purpose of Shnat. After a very long and never ending day we said לילה-טוב and returned to Beit Shmu for bed. I write this sitting in the hallway whilst some crazy Israeli men are trying to make fridge magnets with peoples pictures on.

I promise to write more interesting things at a later date but I am officially falling asleep so off to bed

Goodnight All and לילה-טוב