Sunday, May 20, 2007

A time to cry, and a time to laugh עֵת לִבְכּוֹת וְעֵת לִשְׂחוֹק

A bittersweet final week on kibbutz…

It is so hard to think that tomorrow I will be leaving this beautiful place where I have lived, worked, and been a part of for the past three and a half months. For now I’ll reflect just on the past week, which was pretty packed with different exciting events, as well as time to say goodbye to our work and the kibbutz.

This past Tuesday was Nativ’s annual Yom Sport, where the three different Nativ tracks got to have fun outside in the sun while having a maccabiah like competition. The event took place in the city of Yeruham, located about 40 minutes south of Be’er Sheva, where one of the two other tracks of the program was living for the second part of the year (the other being in Be’er Sheva). After tefillot, we too the 1.5 hour drive down, and arrived around 10. After a short opening ceremonies in the city gym (ironically, donated by the Jewish community of Canada, along with many of the other buildings and parks in the city), we then split into different events where we competed by group. Nicely for me, there were a few non-sports competitions which I was able to compete in. First we had a jeopardy like trivia competition, which our group won in a landslide, followed by ‘human text twist,’ where we were each given a set of letters to hold up and see which group could make the most words out of. After the second competition, it was already time for lunch, and we had a delicious barbecue with hot dogs and hamburgers. After lunch, it was time to take the all Nativ group picture, which went off pretty well without too many hitches. After lunch, we participated in two more competitions. The first was a few different water games, including one where our Isreaeli staff members had their mouths filled with water and we had to try to make them laugh and spit out the water. The final event of the day was an apache relay, where each of us did a different task in the crazy race. My job was to paint some fences green, along with two other people in our group, which was actually one of the jobs that the Yeruham group did as their community service for the city. Although our group came in second place, the day was a great way to mark the end of our period down south, while also getting to see my friends lived and just have fun. We made it back to kibbutz around 7 in evening, and after a dairy dinner that Mike our madrich bought, it was time to switch gears and prepare for the joyous holiday of יום ירושלים, where we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, this year marking the 40th anniversary. I joined the kibbutz in the Beit Knesset for a festive Maariv service, which included special psalms and prayers. After tefuillot, I returned to my room and listened to a live recording of a concert called לך ירושלים which took place in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, and featured a cast of top Israeli artists from a variety of styles, to sing about the city, and although I only got to hear it on the internet, it was a beautiful medley and tribute to the city.

The next morning, davening was at 6 AM as usual, but included the Shabat פסוקי דזמרא, Hallel, and other additional prayers. We then had our second to last day of work in the fields. We drove out to the חווה (ranch) near Ashkelon, which is also owned by the Moshav and spent the morning planting signs marking the rows of an almond orchard that will be planted soon. The cool thing about doing it was that for a lot of the last month, the three girls who work in the fields with us, Sarah, Shoshana and Aviva, have been painting the signs, about six hundred in all, so it was very cool to be able to use the fruits of their labour. About 12:30, we returned to Massuot Yitzhak for lunch, and then back to kibbutz after showering and washing up, we boarded busses a little after 2:30 to drive up to Jerusalem and mark the holiday there. After stopping by Beit Nativ for a little while, we walked towards downtown to join a huge parade organized in honour of the event, with thousands of people marching from כיכר ציון to the Kotel. Although being in the parade was an interesting experience, especially to see the streets filled with Israeli flags, it was not without many aspects which I strongly disliked, first and foremost the pushing and shoving throughout. I was also upset that men and women were seperated partway through the march. Finally , the route for part of the parade went through the Damascus Gate and straight through the Moslem Quarter, and while I did not see an explicit problem with this, after talking with my friends, I realized that doing so can bring up some important moral and philosophical issues. The march ended at the Kotel, where I stopped for a few minutes, and then because I was short on time, walked to ben Yehuda with some friends and got a shawarma for dinner. We returned to kibbutz later that night, because the next day, on Thursday, would be our final day of work.

For our final day of work, we spent the first part stacking and putting away sprinklers and other irrigation equpment, since at this point of the year most of the crops switch over to drip irrigation. After taking a break, I ended the day spraying weed-killer next to one of the carrot fields. After a sad final lunch, our boss, Hanan, sat us down and gave us an emotional final talk, as well as a t-shirt and sweatshirt from the Moshav. I spent most of the afternoon packing, and was able to make a good deal of progress by the end of the day. Shortly after I returned from work, I had a great plesant surprise and got a knock on the door, which turned out to be one of the Gabbaim from the Kibbutz, asking if I could read the whole Parasha that shabbat. Although I only had less than two days to prepare, I agreed to do so, and immediately got to work learning it.

On Friday, after waking up for Shacharit as usual (since it was Rosh Chodesh, I got to read Torah, which went well), I went back to bed for a little while and relaxed for most of the morning. After lunch, I took a tiyul to Ashkelon with my friend Nehama, with the task of buying gits for our kibbutz families. In one of the malls there, we found a gift store, and I picked out a nice ברכת הבית for them. We got back to kibbutz around 3, and I spent most of the rest of the afternoon practising the Torah reading. After getting ready for Shabbat, our entire group came together outside our caravans on the grass with Mincha, Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv, which was truly a beautiful davening. I then had dinner in the Chadar Ochel with about half of our group, and later on that night had an oneg in honour of Shoshana's birthday.

The next morning, we davened with the kibbutz, and I had the honour of reading the entire Parashat Bamidbar. Although I did mess up a bit towards the end, I was still overwhelmed when I finished at how many people came up to me to wish a Yasher Koach. As one of the kibbutz members remarked to me Sunday morning, it was definitely an experience that I should keep with me forever. After musaf, Abbie and I ate with the Slaters, our host family, for the last time, and we had a very nice meal, conversation and D'var Torah. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I spent the bulk of the afternoon outside on the grass, reading, having a conversation with my madricha Yael, and having a chevruta with Josh to study Akdamut. At 6 in the evening, we davened mincha, had parashat hashavua, and ate a nice seudah shlishit, with some beautiful singing afterwards. A little later, we ended Shabbat with Maariv and Havdalah.

שבוע טוב!

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