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Kibbutz Afikim

camera - link to photo gallery Photo Gallery (Kibbutz Afikim)

Kibbutz Afikim is a pretty laid-back place. The collective farm is a bit like a college campus sprawling along one bank of the Jordan River just south of the Sea of Galilee. Houses, apartments, offices, a cafeteria, a community centre, and assorted industrial and agricultural buildings are scattered apparently at random amidst a tangle of tree-lined footpaths and green spaces. People walk, or ride bicycles, or drive electric scooters at a leisurely pace; on Shabbat the playground by the dining hall his full of shouting children and their parents.

The kibbutzniks put us visiting students to work on jobs they ought to do but don't often get around to: raking leaves, cleaning up trash on kibbutz properties by the Sea of Galilee. Others of us planted bananas, helped in the dairy barns, baked cakes, or prepared kosher lunch for hundreds of people.

During classtime in the afternoon we listen to guest lecturers speaking about the Holocaust, the origins of the secular Jewish state in the kibbutz movement, the Arab/Israeli conflict, and secular Jewish culture. We also take Hebrew lessons, with varying success.

We also had lots of free time to spend catching up on assignments, playing Ultimate Frisbee or soccer, exercising in the kibbutz gym, reading, singing, and hanging out. It all added up to a very relaxing two weeks after months of running from place to place, a welcome rest.

- Jeremy Yoder