As many of you know I spent the year after high school on the Hachsharat Bnei Akiva program on Kibbutz Be'erot Yitzchak. It was a program that got no respect, because it wasn't a yeshiva. But out of 20 participants, 8 are now living in Israel.
That's 40%. (Until September it was 35%) Not bad at all.
Although it wasn't full time learning, it was full time exposure to a unique way of Israeli life. There are far less kibbutzim now than there were then due to privatization and industrialization. But the kibbutz in general and (Be'erot Yitzchak in specific) made huge contributions (and sacrifices) so that the state of Israel would be established. On kibbutz, through my mishpacha Aaron (z"l) and Sarah HaLevi, I learned about the battles leading up to the 1948 War of Independence. Aaron was in the Palmach and was always pleased to tell me stories of the battles he fought. He fought in the the Negev and recalled the old Kibbutz Be'erot Yitzchak, which fell to the Egyptians. Many of his friends and comrades also fell in those battles. He and others later went on to re-establish Kibbutz Be'erot Yitzchak a stone's throw from the city of Petach Tikvah.
But enough with the history lesson. My point is that I learned a great deal that year on kibbutz. I learned about how modern day Israel rose from the ashes of the holocaust; I walked and hiked the length and breadth of this country; I learned why this land is so central to all our beliefs; I learned how to work and be responsible (well, I started to learn that anyway); and I learned how to milk a cow.
It was a program that involved community service, learning, working and getting to know Israel in a way that the existing Yeshiva programs didn't. The program definitely wasn't perfect and had its issues, but it was a unique and creative way of making our Judaism meaningful and establishing our love of Israel.
I can't speak for the others, but the program had a profound influence on me. But it must have affected at least 40% of the others. And my hunch is that it affected even those still living in the states.
So last night we had a reunion of sorts. We got together at our home here in Modiin. Two of those living here couldn't make it, but Rebecca was in from the states and came with her husband. Our madricha, Rachel and our bus driver, Asher, nahag par excellence, came. He himself is a child of the War of Independence--his father died trying to defend the original Kibbutz Be'erot Yitzchak.
We spent the evening looking at Jerry's albums and recalling good times. We laughed alot and asked about who did what with whom and when. (Ahh, but we were a tame group. Really we were.)
Eight of us are now living here, scattered throughout Israel, including Beit Shemesh, Oranit, Kibbutz Merav, Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, Maale Adumim, Moshav Gamliel (at least I think that's where Sharon lives), and of course, the City of the Maccabees. It was amazing to see these people that I went through so much with. We're all (just a little) older, wiser. We're dealing with aging parents, sometimes difficult children, health issues, divorce, financial issues and the whole gamut of things that you deal with in your 40's that you don't even know exist when you're 18.
It was good to start re-establishing those relationships again last night. It felt good to be welcomed. It felt good to remember and be remembered.
I hope we do it again soon.
The Stuff That Lasts, Part Deux
4 months ago