Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Israel: Life on the Kibbutz

Shalom from Israel, Bush! I arrived early on Christmas morning, a bleary-eyed but eagerly present for Karmit, who flew in a week earlier for some quality time with her parents in Rosh Pinah, in the far North and East of the country.

We are guests of the Ophir family at Kibbutz Mishmar Ha'Emeq, which I heard described as "conservatively communist." In other words, this Kibbutz has mostly held fast to the collectivist way of living of the original Kibbutz movement.

As visitors, we are entitled to free room and board. In no other sense, however, are we a part of this community. We do none of the work, and aside from the Ophir's, the Kibbutzniks do not greet us in the pathways or speak to us in the dining hall. In this, one of the few havens of communal living (all for one, one for all!) accessible to outsiders, I feel pretty isolated. Other contradictions abound. While most Kibbutzniks have no real need to ever leave home, their exports (agricultural netting, used by companies as large as John Deere) are cast widely, bringing in impressive profits that keep the Kibbutz afloat. Full participation in global economics preserves the internal socialist order.

I've been having a great time here, Bush. As promised, the food in Israel is tremendous. I paid for dinner for five of us in the lovely winery town of Zichron Jacob. Sweet potatos with tahini, woody Cabernet, penne with beet sauce and homemade bread with butter that actually tastes like butter. Eyal's Hebrew-speaking sister, Efrat, ate with us, and to make her feel a bit more at ease with me I tried to speak as much Hebrew as possible, which meant spastically repeating the very few phrases I know, such as "Ani raq mavin Ivrit" (I only understand Hebrew.) Either Efrat finds me hilarious or genuinely retarded.

Because Karmit's mother is seriously ill, much of Kar's time will be spent in nearby Ram Bam hospital, which has a lovely view of the Mediterranean and the ancient streets of Haifa. I am learning to drive the route between the Kibbutz and the hospital so that I can give Eyal some relief from shuttling Karmit and her sister Adi back and forth several times a day.

So long for now, Bush. I hear that in my absence you are continuing with furrowed brow to puzzle out your next move in Iraq. As you ruminate, please consider the following advice, attributed to Buddha: Hatred can only be stilled by non-hatred.


PK said...

What a lovely picture Cardozo. Hope Karmit's Mother gets better soon, will say a prayer for her. I would imagine they don't speak to you as they don't want you to 'rub off' on them:). I like the Buddhas advice, be nice if Bush took it. Have a wonderful vacation Cardozo!

Anonymous said...

haha that was a funny blogg to read! i visit this kibbutz all the time. i was born there as well, and whats funny is that i was there on the 27.december 2006 as well.. maybe i saw you?? although i have no idea how you look like haha

Anonymous said...

I was interested to read about your feelings of being a visitor in a kibbutz. I have the same situation in the past and in the near future. I mean being invited to stay in a member's home. I have been wondering about the position of such visitors. I don't know if I could eat in the dining hall (even by paying) or if I could repay the kibbutz by doing some work. I know volunteering is a bit of a different deal than being a visitor of a member. This is a subject I would like to hear more about, of other people's experiences. Nice that you blogged about it. I wish you well.