This title, in my opinion really captures the feelings I've been having over the past week, Both while living on Kibbutz Ein Tsurim and working on Moshav Shitufi Massuot Yitzhak (A Moshav Shitufi is virtually identical to a kibbutz, except for lacking certain institutions such as a dining hall and a children's house), as I feel that I've really become part of the land of Israel by working the land and living on it.
I've really enjoyed getting into my job this past week, working in the parsley fields, moving around irrigation pipes, enjoying tractor rides and doing other jobs around the Moshav with 5 other nativers and our friendly supervisor Hanan. While I don't have much experience with outdoor work (except for mowing the lawn a few times when I was 12 years old), I'm really enjoying being outdoors and getting lots of exercise, as well as working with a group of fun people. The weather has been absoloutely beautiful, and so far, we've been almost done with work (since we start at 7:30 when the sun starts beating down!
I am also enjoying starting to become a part of the kibbutz lifestyle, as well as the beatiful surroundings that I live it (minus the smell that wafts over from the refet (cow stables) every so often! Every morning I wake up at the crack of dawn to attend Shacharit at 6 AM with the kibbutz. I then have a little time to relax and get ready for the day, before having breakfast in the Chadar Ochel, and getting our ride down the road for work. I get back at 2 and shower, leaving plenty of time to relax and hang out before Mincha, Dinner, which is held outside near our trailers, and Ma'ariv.
Now for a few words about Tuesday and the weekend, (and by that I mean Friday-Shabbat). Tuesday was our first Yom Nativ, which is one day a week (usually a Monday) when we come together and regroup from our seperate jobs the rest of the week. This week we spent the morning, after davening shacharit, in a group discussion about our transition from studying in Jerusalem to working on Kibbutz. after a delicious lunch in the Chadar Ochel, many of us boarded a bus together with the other two Nativ subgroups, for a day of Ramah activities in Jerusalem. We were first dropped of at the Dan Panorama Hotel, where Interviews were taking place, and I chatted for a few minutes and caught up with Amy Skopp Cooper, the director of Ramah Nyack. I then had a few hours to spare and walked up to the Fuchsberg Centre, where I washed a load of laundry, and then had the pleasure of going to the Conservative Yeshiva and studying Midrash with Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein, just like old times. The day ended with a dinner at Cafe Atara for all Ramah Nyack staff in Israel at Cafe Atara, a delicious dairy restaraunt down the street. It was nice to see people I hadn't seen since this past August, and towards the end of the meal, we even had a guest appearance by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjanin Netanyahu!
Friday was my first day off, and I think I ended up making pretty good use of it. I couldn't stop myself from still waking up early for tefillot, but I relaxed afterwards and waited until 8 to have breakfast. While I was eating I ran into my friends Josh and Phil, and I spent the rest of the morning chilling in their cabin, and celebrating Phil's 19th Birthday with him. A little before 12 we decided to go into Kiryat Malachi with our other friend Jacob, a development town of about 20,000 five mintues from Kibbutz. The four of us arrived there and after 2 minutes, found our first stop,Shawarma shel Shuki. We each got Shawarma in a Baguette, which was quite delicious and pretty filling. After lunch we walked around and checked out the town. We found a grocery store with pretty cheap prices, and I picked up a hebrew newspaper to read over shabbat.
Although some of us wanted to hold a Nativ minyan Friday night, I wanted to check out the Davening in the kibbutz beit knesset, and just as the sun was setting a little after 5 PM I walked with 3 friends towards the centre of the kibbutz and found seats. After mincha, everyone joined together in singing Yedid Nefesh, and then a man who was sitting in the row behind us with a beautiful voice went up to the amud and led a beautiful Carlebach kabbalat Shabbat. The whole congregation joined in the singing, and it was a very warm feeling to see that in many of the rows around us sat three generations of kibbutz members coming together to bring in Shabbat. It was definitely one of the most spiritual Shabbat services I had been to in a while. Between Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv a D'var Torah was given, which I'd like to quickly summarize here:
There are two mitzvot in the Parsha listed in a row, in one of which, not oppressing the orphaned and widowed God promises retribution against the one who violates it, and the second, not holding onto a lendee's posessions overnight, it is only stated that God will listen because he is merciful. Rashbam explains that the two different responses correspond to two legal categories, the first being the rule of law, and the second being going beyond the letter of the law. This was then connected to a description of the situation in Israel today, when many times the rule of law is not even followed in respect to social justice, let alone going beyond the letter. The person giving the d'var torah then went on to speak about an amazing organization called במעגלי צדק (in the cicles of justice), which was founded by religious zionists with a passion for democracy and social action. The have devolped a certificate called תו החברתי (social certification), which is posted in restaraunts and businesses which commit to paying their workers on time, treating the properly, and providing access for the handicapped, among other requirements. The Conservative movement is working on a similar oproject at the moment in North America, and I hope it will be as successful as this organization.
The service continued with Maariv, which was followed by another delicious Shabbat dinner like last week's. After Zemirot and Birkat Hamazon, I chatted with some friends, read, and got to bed early.
Shabbat morning we davened with the kibbutz, in what was aother quick (under two hours) Shabbat service. Lunch started at 10:30 and was very delicious and relaxing. We held an early mincha service around 12:30, which I got to lead, and I spent the rest of the afernoon reading and resting. We came back together for Seudah Shlishit,zemirot, maariv, and Havadalah, and we began Rosh Hodesh Adar!
Tommorow morning: Back to Shacharit at 6, breafast and work. Shavua Tov v'Hodesh Tov!