Thursday, 25 November 2010

End of Kibbutz, First week at KARMIEL

I haven’t written in a week so this is a particularly long one. I don't really expect you to read the whole thing but just have a glance over.

Our Thursday afternoon Ulpan session on Kibbutz Lotan consisted of translating some rather bizarre Israeli songs into English and eating the BEST peanut butter and chocolate chip home baked cookies and banana and chocolate chip cake. It may have been slightly to do with our extreme lack of home cooked food but, I kid you not, it truly felt like the most amazing food ever. We hopped on the bus back to Yahel to do some last minute preparation and planning for the Sikkum Seminar that Tamara, Rio, Alexa and I were running. Just to explain, during orientation we each had to sign up in fours or fives to run one of the various communal weekends throughout the year. I signed up for the sikkum of the kibbutz period which was just before we split up into our option groups for the next 3 months. It was intended to be a reflection on what we had learnt/done during our month of kibbutz and also a lot of mushy stuff about the group splitting up. As Mitzvah day nearly corresponded with our weekend we really wanted to and pushed to do a project to be involved but the Israeli version of it was running something in the north and we were in the south and for various other tochnit-esque reasons we unfortunately decided It wasn't feasible. On Thursday evening we did a communal country themed cook-off. Using vastly limited resources each room had to cook something in the theme of Cuba, Ireland, Mexico, England, USA, Morocco, Italy, China, Japan &Israel. It was a surprisingly successful evening with some truly fantastic cooking, we had everything from sushi and stir fry to cheesy chips and felafel. It was kind of amazing to look at the massive spread of food we made laid out across three picnic tables and everyone sitting together or the grass dressed up according to their country. The evening ended with another game of the infamous lap tag. In case I haven’t explained before, lap-tag basically consists of sitting in a circle in pairs one behind another. One person doesn't have a partner and calls the name of two other people on the inner circle. Those two people have to try and each be the first the touch the callers foot. The problem is that their partners behind have to physically try and stop them. It has more complicated rules but that is the basic gist of this rather amusing, NFTY born game.

Sushi makers

Rachel Elf

My Room

Me and fellow Sikkum Sem organisers; Tamara, Rio and Alexa
Friday November 19th / יום ו' י"ג כסלוSIKKUM SEMINAR:
8:30              Wake up and Communal Breakfast
9:00              Hagar’s Ma’amad Hagar
9:30              Feedback Haim
11:00            Intro to the seminar Haim
11:30            What have we learnt in the last month? Grabiner, Tamara, Rio, Alexa
13:00            Lunch
14:00            What is Jewish identity for us????  Haim
15:00            Shabbat Prep/ Chill Out
17:15            Hagar Session Hagar
18:00            Kabbalat Shabbat – Grabiner, Tamara, Elf, Miriam
19:30            Aruhat Erev Shabbat- Rosh Meal: Leo, Tanya
21:00            Oneg Shabbat – Gavi, Emily D, Laurence, Dan
22:30            Star-Gazing (Optional)/ Scary Stories

Shabbat 20th November / יום שבת י"ד כסלו
09:45            Shabbat Shacharit w/ Torah Reading: Alexa, Sofi, Flora, Lizzie > Torah Reading: Aaron, Rio
11:15            Kiddush
11:30            Parashat Hashavua Zara, Rio
12:15            Lunch (bagels) - Rosh Meal: Ethan, Rebecca
13:15            How do we take our Jewish Identity onwards – what do we do with it? How do we become "Shlichim" and turn our Jewishness into Leadership? Haim
14:45            Free time
17:15            Seudah Shlishit – Josh, Ayla, Sarah, Rachel Stock
18:00            Havdallah – Grabiner, Tamara, Rio, Alexa
18:20            Sikum of Shabbat Shlichut – Grabiner, Tamara, Rio, Alexa
19:00            Closing Ceremony/Evening Surprise - Grabiner,  Tamara, Rio, Alexa

Although I don't want to say much about the weekend, there are a few events I feel I should mention. I hope my brothers notice the lovely optimum timed gap on Saturday afternoon...that's all I’m going to say. I would also like to write up the poem I wrote with the other organisers of the weekend that we read at kabbalat shabbat. It was inspired by the American's 'To be a NFTY-ite' which we found out later was inspired by a different poem 'To be a Jew'.

To Be a Shnattie

To be a Shnattie
To have felt like 8months was a really long time
To have felt like 8 months wasn't nearly long enough
To refuse to believe that one month has already passed

To be a Shnattie
To be constantly eating some kind of cereal
To find yourself in the markoleet even when you're not hungry
To spend your room budget and not even care

To be a Shnattie
To have never felt this happy before
To have wanted to bottle a moment and make it last forever
To have fallen in love with 32 amazing individuals

To be a Shnattie
To have cried because even Shnatties have ups and downs
To talk to that one person who can give you hope again
To have been both the crier and the shoulder to cry on

To be a Shnattie
To be really excited about getting pizzur
To get pizzur and be underwhelmed because its newt actually enough to buy you lunch
To talk about it for days afterward

To be a Shnattie
To now that you should go to bed because you need to be awake tomorrow
To stay up late chatting on the grass anyway
To know that you can always sleep next year

To be a Shnattie
To have been really excited for your first 'egged' bus journey
To have had the worst four hours of your life
To have missed the Yahel bus stop

To be a Shnattie
To have formed opinions about people before shnat properly began
To have made a great friend in someone you never thought you’d get on with
To have changed your opinions

To be a Shnattie
To love Ma'amadim, even though you're not quite sure of your own beliefs
To well up during Hariyu
To feel a sense of community like never before

To be a Shnattie
To have not known what a Pomello was before we got to Yahel
To still not know if you like them one month later
To be facebook friends with Pablo the Pomello

To be a Shnattie
To dance the night away to Hebrew songs you don't even know
To have the best nights out and the worst mornings after
To find yourself in crazy situations

To be a Shnattie
To have first dreaded folding the 7000 date bags
To have finished the pile and felt like we won a war
To have come together and worked as one

To be a Shnattie
To have chanted ASEPHA at every possible occasion
To have hated the reality of three in one day
To have secretly loved the controversy

To be a Shnattie
To have been unsure what Netzer meant to you before Keshet Seminar
To have realised why you came on Shnat
To have never been so proud

To be a Shnattie
To have argued, talked, laughed and sung more in one month than you have in a lifetime
To be passionate about things you didn't realise you had an opinion about
To have lived every day to the full

To be a Shnattie
To realise that this is your family
To realised that this is only the beginning
To realise this is where you belong

Sunday morning we rolled out of our beds, did a final room and kibbutz sweep for belongings, piled EVERYTHING onto the coach (including all the leftover food) and headed off to options. There was a slightly sticky moment when it was debatable as to whether everyone’s accumulated belongings would actually fit onto the bus but luckily...and did. We dropped the two kibutzniks off at their new home Kibbutz Lotan and departed for Jerusalem. Four and a half hours later we arrived in Jerusalem. We had forty five minutes for a final lunch together before some extremely tearful farewells and the Karmiel bunch climbing back onto the bus. Before you decide to think we are pathetic, please consider for a moment that we went from spending twenty four hours and day, seven days a week with each other, to not seeing some people for two weeks, it wasn't exactly an easy adjustment. We arrived in Karmiel to discover we had a (surprisingly) lovely house with a little garden and 5 different size bedrooms for the 15 of us. We had already decided to keep a kosher house (although the definition of that was, as we discovered later, a little shaky in some peoples minds) so we had a brief meeting, ordered pizza and went to bed.

On Monday morning we had a 'treasure hunt' in the area around where we live to get to know it before ending up at the ….... for a meeting with the Mayor of Karmiel and one of the security advisers. Later that afternoon we had a meeting discussing our hike in two weeks time and discovered unfortunately that we are visiting pretty much all the same places we visited on trip days at Yahel. We also discussed our host families as originally we had decided to all be with different families but as there weren't enough it ended up that only three people could be by themselves and everyone else was to go in pairs. Knowing myself I realised there was no way I would learn any ivrit if I had another English speaking person to rely on so I thankfully managed to get put with a family by myself. As it turned out, my host 'sister', Noy, went on one of the RSY tours this year and is absolutely lovely. On Monday evening I met her and her mother who were both extremely welcoming and friendly and arranged to go with her mother and sister to see the Ga'adna ceremony she would be in on Wednesday night. Ga'adna is a week long army training session that the 16-year-olds do several of before they actually go into the army.

On Tuesday we visited the children's village. This was an amazing place where something like 22o foster children live with foster families. They are families from Karmiel, most with their own children, who decided to move to the village just to look after the children. Our madricha Galit's family had four kids of their own and did exactly this. There is also a school for children in the village to help them 'close the gap' between what they know and what a child their age should know before they join the main schools. Following this we visited the Muslim school in the village across the road from Karmiel, 'Majd el Krum'. We sat in a meeting with the principal and teachers to discuss ideas for the four days that we will be volunteering there and the various sessions we would be running. Some people decided they weren't entirely comfortable at the school or with the idea of volunteering there and so are choosing to do other things when the rest of the group goes there. After lunch we went to meet the Selah group. This Is a group of Russian teenagers between the ages of 16 and 20 who have made Aliyah and are on a program at the absorption center in karmiel. It was a slightly odd meeting of forced conversation and singing together but was an interesting experience and will hopefully be slightly easier at our next organised event together.

On Wednesday morning we visited some of the various places we might be volunteering. We briefly looked at a club for young people with disabilities and at the Eco farm. We had a proper session at the center which provides for and allows people between the ages of 18 and 30 to do work appropriate to their ability and get paid for it. It was an amazing place and quite humbling to visit. The idea that as teenagers we spend such a significant amount of time wanting to look pretty and buy clothes and arguing about the most ridiculous things when in reality- and as much of a cliché as this is I am still going to say it because it was one of the first times I fully appreciated what it means- we very rarely appreciate how ridiculously lucky we are. After this rather sobering experience we went for a very brief training session on teaching English at the high schools and elementary schools. At 4.30 that afternoon I was picked up by my host mother. I went with her, her daughter and her mother and father to the watch Noy, my host sister in the Ga'adna ceremony. It was a totally different side of the army to see hundreds of mothers and fathers of these 15/16 year olds, already waiting for their time to come. Although we spend a lot of time (especially on Netzer) discussing the relevance and importance of the conflict surrounding the army, it really highlighted to me how diverse the emotions of the families are. My host mother tried to explain to me that although what they had done was hard, it was really a nice thing. They face the reality of what is to come with such understanding and so little resentment. After the ceremony, Noy still had one more night of her session so my host family decided to take me home for dinner anyway. On the way back we drove passed some of the Arab villages which my host mum pointed out. When I asked her if they ever went there she actually responded that they rarely did and that there had been a recent incident which meant relations were particularly bad at the moment. I found this extremely interesting because only days before we had been led to believe that the situation between the villages was vastly improved. At home I chopped salad and made toasted cheese sandwiches with Noy's nine year old sister who has far better English than I do Hebrew. At the very least if I learn no ivrit I will help her improve her English. I must add that I was only allowed to help make dinner when it was made clear that I should feel completely and utterly at home in there house and feel free to do as I pleased. They really are such a lovely family and it is so nice to spend some time in a pleasant family environment.

This morning we had a three hour chinuch session on 'Makum ba Galil' with American Reform Rabbi, Mark Rosenstein. We discussed what Zionism was, what a Jewish state was and what being Jewish was.

Living in a house with 12 other girls and 2 boys has been an interesting experience to begin with. Although originally agreeing on a kosher house (with a separate set of plastic dishes for those who really had to mix milk and meat) people have had a bizarre amount of trouble with understanding this and apparently would like to revisit the idea at the next asefah. Given that we don't have a dishwasher that works, I am extremely adverse to eating of the plates people who clearly don't wash up properly have used to eat meat on. My view is that if people do decide they can't cope with keeping kosher (which I have to say I think is pretty ridiculous) then the fallback has to be keeping a vegetarian household. If this isn't the case it will mean that at least four people will be unable to eat anything in the house. Another interesting aspect of this living arrangement is the two showers for 15 people and the lack of bathroom space in the morning. I have resorted to going to the downstairs loo to brush my teeth and put my contact lenses in the the morning, it's such a trek!.

Pretty much everything of what I have seen of Karmiel tells me it is a truly incredible place. It is almost a model city. They do so much good here everywhere and everywhere we go people are leading by example. If only people in other countries could see the way these people deal with difficult situations and help those in need every day, they really could learn a lot. 

1 comment:

  1. Keep them coming - a really good read! xxx