Sunday, March 15, 2009

Desert Spirituality

So. Thursday night we did indeed go out, with Bekah, her boyfriend Zach, me, Sarah, Emily and then our friend Aran joined too. We started out at Goldy's, which is quickly becoming our favorite bar, and I spent my entire budget for the night (read: all the cash i had left) on a HUGE mango margarita, which tasted good but completely failed at alcoholicness. *sigh*. live and learn, i guess. I wish i liked beer, it's about the only cheap alcohol here! Ah well. Anyways, when we got tired of Goldy's we went to check out another bar Zach remembered that he liked when he was here last, called Zoli's. They had free popcorn. and hookah, which i of course didn't do. Sarah and I left before the others' drinks had even gotten there, cuz we had to get up the next day, and we wandered a little bit before finding our way back to Ben Yehuda and familiar territory. Unfortunately, my emergency pee stop at McD's cost us the last 19 bus back to school, and we waited until after midnight for a bus to school; Em and the others actually got back faster because they took a cab, which confused the heck out of Emily when she got back to an empty room! Got back eventually, packed, talked to a very tipsy roommate, waited up for the boy before giving up and calling it a night around 2am.
Friday morning, got up 9:30ish to do final packing and brekkie and such before heading out with Sarah to the North Gate of the Student Village, where we waited and met some people before our bus showed up. Finally, we were off to the Arava Valley, and Kibbutz Yahel! It was a VERY long drive, with one half-hour and one hour-long stop, for food and such. I got to know two of the girls, Kyle (yes, Kyle's a girl, long story) and Tessa (Aussie! I love Aussies!), really well during lunch. they are awesome!
Finally we arrived at the kibbutz, and didn't even get off right away--instead, a guide and his young daughter got on the bus, and we proceeded to drive out to the pomelo fields. On the way, the guide gave us a talk on the history of the kibbutz (it's the first Reform kibbutz in Israel, founded 1977, RIGHT on the border with Jordan, etc) and then we got off the bus and learned about pomelos! They are quite an interesting fruit. And the field literally is bordered by a patrol road, a sandy road (to pick up footprints should anyone try and come over illegally), a barbed wire fence, then there's no-man's-land, then there's Jordan. He told us stories about throwing pomelos to the Jordanians over the fence, and some other cool things as well. Then he cut open a bunch of pomelos for us to try (and yes, i tried it! Not bad, though not something i'll go out of my way to have) and sent us off to pick some for ourselves if we so desired. Then we got back on the bus and headed back to the main kibbutz. We got our room assignments--I was with Sarah, Kyle, and a girl named Michelle--and after a little mix up we picked beds (top bunk, woot!) and i took a super-fast shower (a shame, cuz it was the nicest shower i've been able to use in a while) and then got ready for Shabbat. We had some mixer games first, including the human knot (very difficult in skirts...oy) and party quirks (a la Whose Line) and human bingo. Finally we headed off to the kibbutz synagogue, and had services led by Jessie, another Rothberg student who was on staff, and Harrison, one of the Hebrew Union College students on staff. The service was nice, similar to what I was used to at Hillel. After what felt like forever, we got to go to the dining hall (or cheder ochel, as they say here) for dinner. I was worried that there wouldnt be food for me, but i ended up devouring challah and two big pieces of chicken as well. After dinner, we had a little time to change into warmer clothes before our nighttime activity. I had packed unwisely and did not have much warm stuff, so i took a blanket from the closet and used that to keep myself warm! And a good thing too.
The night activity was a walk/hike up one of the smaller mountains in the desert outside the kibbutz. It was gorgeous albeit cold and a tad steep in places. the moon was so bright, you could almost not see the stars! On the way back down, they had us stop and put blindfolds on. The staff had us get into a long line holding hands, and led us down the hill a little ways more. Then we stopped, and the staff led us each to a spot on the ground and we sat down and Sydney, the other HUC student, led us in a thought exercise about G-d, spirituality, etc. After a few minutes of almost complete silence, Sydney had us take off the blindfolds and gave us another few silent minutes. Then we gathered in a circle to talk about how we felt with and without the blindfolds, how being in the desert made us feel, etc. It was very spiritually moving, very peaceful, and very awe-inspiring--the desert is such an amazing place, and the people make it flourish.
After that, we headed back to the kibbutz, had a few minutes free, then we had a bonfire. it was the HOTTEST bonfire i've ever experienced, and our sticks were so short that we couldnt even get close enough to melt our marshmallows without feeling like our hairs were being singed off. Must've been all that fresh air! it was fun, i had a great talk with the HUC rabbi, who's called Gingy for his red hair, about Ukraine and Boston and life and such. And i hung out with some people i hadn't talked to, and listened to Sarah, Harris, and Gabe play guitar and sing. Yeah. eventually went to bed.
Got up for breakfast at 9, had bread with chocolate spread and cereal and SHOKO B'SAKIT! aka the most delicious chocolate milk in the world, and completely worth the gastronomical side-affects it has on me due to my lactose intolerance (even WITH the pills...). After breakfast we had Shacharit, or morning prayers, and we had some chevruta (small group) torah study as well. This weekend was Shabbat Parah, or the sabbath of the cow, which tells the story of Moses coming down the mountain and finding that the Israelites were worshipping the Golden Calf. After services, we had a Q&A session with the HUC peeps, which was interesting, hearing about their very varied backgrounds and paths to rabbinical school. Then we had lunch--shnitzel! real shnitzel! Mmmmmmm...After lunch, we had menucha, or shabbos rest. i sat in the sun for a while and then took a nap in my bed. Then we headed out to see the cows--yes, you heard me, cows. Kibbutz Yahel not only grows dates, pomelos, peppers, cantaloupes and other veggies and fruits, they also have about 300 dairy cows. Gingy actually has a masters in...bovine something or other, and he taught us a lot about the cows we saw. We toured the milking shed, and got to pet some very new calves--so cute! Then we had meditation, which would have been better had it not been SO COLD. I couldnt focus on anything but how chilly i was. oh well. Finally we headed to dinner, which i wasnt really hungry for so i just had some bread and such, and then we packed up, did havdalah (closing ceremony of Shabbat) and loaded onto the bus for the ride back. I sat next to my new friend Tova, who is on Year Course (gap year before college) and is totally awesome. Talked, snoozed, etc...Wish i'd brought my iPod, but i forgotted. We had one stop for the bathroom, and eventually got home around 10:30. had to walk from the Kfar in the cold! no fun. Stayed up talking to Kimo and such until em got home around 11, went to bed around midnight and thus ended the weekend.
Today was a normal sunday, Art class talking about Abraham, a quick lunch, then off to my internship...except i missed the bus i normally take. it was cold out and i was not feeling good, so i treated myself to an Aroma hot chocolate (zomg best HC EVERRRRRRR) and waited 20 minutes for the next bus. my boss wasnt even there today, so it didn't matter that i was like 5 minutes late. I helped out in the baby room again, had a pretty good day, talked to that mom again about potentially babysitting right before Pesach (Passover), chatted a bit with some tourists from Oregon on my way out of the building, and was generally in a good mood. Got home, my computer had farted so i had to deal with that, then i spent a few hours talking to Kimo and my mommy, then took a very welcome shower and did some homework. V'zeyoo.
The end. Talk to you in a few days...

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