September 2, 2010
Today we woke up and hung out in the apartment until we all got transported (very. slowly) over to the Bina David center for our first orientation activity. We had a bunch of people from Bina, the secular yeshiva, the reform people that are helping our program, and Masa (which is pronounced mah-SAH, not masa like casa, oops!) to tell us how excited they are that we’re in Israel! It was slightly repetitive, but still nice. Then we filled out some paperwork, and I found out the program will get my visa for me! JOY OF JOYS, WONDER OF WONDERS. I love these people. Then we had falafel for lunch, and hopped on the bus to head down to the Kibbutz.
The bus ride was super long, like 4 hours. When I got on, I saw a guy with a huge rifle sitting in one of the front seats. I was surprised, but I recovered quickly. I did think it was strange that they didn’t tell us we were having an armed guard on our bus, and I wondered if that was just so typical for any tour bus in Israel that they didn’t think we’d even notice. At one of our rest stops, there were a couple of buses of soldiers that were getting food. It was so weird to see a flood of people in sand colored uniforms with these GIANT guns just walking around, eating fried chicken, super casual. I guess it will be a common sight around here, since soldiers are everywhere, but it’s still weird seeing these massive guns.
One thing we talked about at one of our rest stops was how weird it is to be illiterate here. It’s not just that I can’t speak or understand, but I can’t read anything. When we were looking for towels for Sara, we were all saying it would be much easier if we could read the stores’ signs to see what they sold. Hopefully that will come quickly.
Finally, after dark, we arrived at the Kibbutz, which is called Kibbutz Ketura. We are staying in really nice apartments, 3 or 4 to a room. We were greeted by this guy David, who one of the girls described as Woody Allen’s lost cousin. He is from New York (as he calls it, a small village on the eastern part of America), and has lived on the Kibbutz for 30 years. We talked a little about the Kibbutz and then had dinner (more pita! But this time with meat options) and one girl brought out her guitar and played for us. It was really nice just sitting outside, looking at the stars, hearing music. Very peaceful. Very Kibbutz style.
After a while, we went down to the pub, which apparently rotates nights on all the local Kibbutzes. Five of us sat at a table, and it turned out that three of the girls were really interested in doing refugee work, either as lawyers or advocates or whatever. So we talked a lot about that, which I thought was really interesting. We also talked about life, our future plans, politics, grad schools, etc. It was great to be sitting around listening to American pop music (Lady Gaga, what up) in a pub on a kibbutz in the middle of nowhere Israel talking about all these profound things. It reminded me of some of the conversations we’d have at dinner at MHC, so that was awesome.
After the pub, we came home to bed. I feel like I bonded a lot with my roommates for the week, Allyson from Cincinatti and Tiffany from Sonoma. Tiffany is in Coexistence, so that’s nice. Right after we went to bed, one girl from the program stumbled into our room, dead drunk, and it took us a while to get her back to her room, but it all turned out right in the end. Man, so drunk. It was pretty hilarious.