Settling in to Kibbutz Life

This photo was taken during a hike up to the top of electric mountain (which overlooks the kibbutz). I sat on the edge of the cliff here (it’s not actually a cliff) and it freaked out all of the other students and the PA (Program Associate), but  I wasn’t really going to fall. We hiked up around sunset with just enough time to get to the top, hang out for a bit and then head back down with time to change before shabbat dinner.

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A friend and I hiked to the top of the world (which is essentially the top of the mountains). We went at sunrise and took some pretty fun pictures. Overall the hike took about 4 hours, an hour and a half up, half an hour hanging out at the top and eating breakfast, and then two hours back down to the kibbutz.

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This picture is from my day in Eilat with one of my friends. We went swimming in the Red Sea and ran some errands (shopping for things we can’t get on the kibbutz for the most part). I smiled for the picture and then he told me to make a “normal face” which resulted in the following picture.

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These two pictures are from another hike to the “top of the world” where we just managed to catch the sunset — and some awesome pictures! In the background of the first picture you can see not only the Jordanian mountains but Kibbutz Ketura in the bottom lefthand corner.

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This is another student and myself at our second horseback riding lesson finally getting on the horse, needless to say we were excited. The kibbutz currently has two horses, two died earlier in the summer so they’re working on getting a few more. The horses on the kibbutz don’t do any work other than carrying riders into the desert for trail rides. The woman who takes care of them does so on a volunteer basis and teachers the kibbutz children how to ride in exchange for their assistance in caring for the horses. The students have the same type of exchange with her, however we help out with the kids’ horseback riding lessons.

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#datkibbutzlyfe: The dining hall is run similarly to dining halls in college, with fewer choices for food. However, because we’re in Israel and the kibbutz is an interesting mix between secular and nonsecular folks, the dining hall is kosher to cater to the members of the kibbutz who do keep kosher. This means that, at the very least, dairy and meat are not mixed during meals. Breakfast and dinner are both dairy meals, whereas lunch is a meat meal. The exception to this is Tuesday lunch (which is a vegetarian meal, but still nondairy) and Friday night (Shabbat) dinners (which is a meat meal). There is always a vegetarian option offered during lunch for the vegetarians on campus, and because it’s a nondairy meal it’s also a vegan option.

Shabbat dinners are an important part of the week here. Shabbat dinner is the beginning of a day of rest. It is also a celebration of the end of the week and a time where we all come together. So these dinners we all generally dress up a little for and there’s usually some singing before the dinner starts and a member of the kibbutz will stand and say prayers and thank everyone for coming in Hebrew. So from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday no one is supposed to do work. The definition of “work” isn’t just the day job that people on the kibbutz do in their everyday life but can extend to using any type of electronics or pushing buttons on elevators. How people define work is generally slightly different for each person and ties in with how closely they follow Jewish tenants. Because of this the dining hall turns off the automatic doors during shabbat so they have to be opened by hand. But, because I don’t consider myself to be Jewish, I respect those who do celebrate shabbat and avoid using my phone in public places but at the institute I live as I would on the states on any given Saturday.

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