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Journal 9

We arrived on the kibbutz on Monday. Within a few hours the group was
invited to a bonfire with the local kibbutzniks.  This was the first time
I was able to actually connect with some Israeli Jews.  In Jerusalem we
spent most of our time studying and traveling to various National parks
(16 national parks in 3 days).  Working on the kibbutz this past week was
great.  Although many of the jobs we performed were minuscule and could
have been easily done with some power tools which they had...but it was a
good experience overall working side by side with people I had been sort
of distanced too.

At the end of our first week on the ibbutz we had a special Shabbat meal.
A rabbi from another secular kibbutz who had converted to the reformed
Judaism movement prepared an intimate and personal fellowship which
included himself, his wife, and our group of 32.  It is nice to have
someone who is genuinely interested in hearing your experiences and
beliefs who is at the same time totally different to you in some ways but
still able to relate to you and fellowship with you in way which is
impossible back home.  To have two groups of people from two different
religions come together in a kibbutz environment which is primarily
secular Jews and fellowship together is a once in a lifetime experience.

Throughout our 2 weeks on the kibbutz I also made some younger friends.  A
group of 12 and 13 year olds took interest in a group of us and we spent a
large part of the day and night playing soccer with them, picking fruit
from trees which we could only climb and then threw the fruit to them (not
very efficient) or just hung out with them.

Our last full day on the kibbutz we were able to get to know the elderly,
which is what afikim kibbutz is starting to only look like.  Sadly it is
only becoming a retirement home due to other interests of the young
people.  Anyway Andrew Moore and I were placed into a old British couple's
home for a little over an hour.  It was a riot.  Although very old and
docile on the surface these two old people had stories both sad and
hilarious.  They talked up a storm with us for the entire time we were
there and especially took an interest in Moore's plethora of old Movie and
Comedian knowledge.

My last day was not complete without a farewell get together with the
20-24 year old kibbutzniks who remembered some of the previous members
of the EMU middle-east cross cultural.  It was nice cap to the kibbutz.  Afikim
was the only place I was really able to relate to Israelis.  In Jerusalem and my
time during free travel didn't really present much time to interact and bond with
any Israelis.  My view of Jewish hospitality has also changed on the kibbutz
which was well deserved and thankfully was better than in Jerusalem's New
City-- it's a long story but just say there are these 4 guys looking
endlessly for a TV which has March Madness round 1 coverage...we find
it...then after 2 overtimes with 2 minutes left in the Boston College vs.
Pacific game someone turns the channel to a Maccabees sports station and
won't turn it back.  I held strong to my somewhat pacifist Anabaptist ways
but it was hard.

Overall the kibbutz was an enjoyable learning experience but I am
definitely looking forward to getting back to a more Arab culture like the
town of Nazareth.  That's all for now. Peace from the Middle East. I'll
see all of you in just a few weeks.

-Nathan Mishler