ShnUpdate - Savyon 07.12.17

Another lovely, sunny week has passed in the gorgeous south of Israel, down in Kibbutz Lotan!

The Shnatties have experienced lots of new things this week.

One of the founders of the kibbutz, Mike Nitzan, walked us around and explained how everything was just wasteland and rocks when they arrived. He told us how it came to being what it is today and we discussed dreams, goals and how to achieve them.

We visited a friendly couple’s house in the evening. We chatted about how and why they came from California to live on Lotan and left the house feeling like we had even more friends and connections on the Kibbutz.

Gideon, Joe and Sima led a hilarious session for everybody that included a game of ‘Family Feud’, ‘Germany’s got talent’, Just a minute’ and an exciting game of juicing different fruits with miscellaneous objects, such as a flip flop, a sieve and many more ridiculous items!

After a long walk around the area, looking at all the locations for different jobs, we had our second session with Michael Livni, the founder of Reform Judaism. This time, we spoke about Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, which we very much enjoyed.

There was a soup dinner for the whole Kibbutz where everyone brought a soup and we all ate together communally. We met more families and great people.

On Friday, Talia ran a Ma’amad for everyone, all about what items are valuable to us and why. After this, we learnt all about the calendar, the sun, the moon and the earth. We learnt why months exist, how to tell where in the month you are based on the appearance of the moon and much more. We all found this very interesting. We then discussed this week’s Torah portion with Rabbi Daniel which was a pretty scandalous story! We never quite realised how much the Torah resembles a soap opera.

The rest of the afternoon was free and we had Shabbat dinner with the whole Kibbutz which was delicious, as always!

On Saturday, we had a lie in and a tasty breakfast, followed by a day of absolutely nothing!!

Sunday marked the beginning of the second part of our stay on Lotan - the work experience. We divided ourselves up communally to work at different work branches of the kibbutz: the refet (dairy), date fields, landscaping and the tea house. At the refet, Jack and Sam are working hard sustaining the welfare of the cows. Some days they milk them, most days they clean out their poo (not because they like it but because it's more comfortable for the cows). They're the first to shower or else we wouldn't let them in the house because they stink. In the date fields, Joe, Emily, Sima and I (Harley) are working the land around the date trees moving the branches on the ground into lines between the rows of trees. When we finish, a machine will grind the branches into small pieces. This process helps maintain the land keeping it easy and tidy to work in. We are the second to shower. Working as landscapers, Talia and Gideon are helping the kibbutz look nice and feel homie. Landscaping is an important role on the kibbutz because if we didn't have it, the only nature (other than the desert) would be people. They are third to shower. Last to shower is Alyssa. She works in the tea house; a cafe and shop meant for occasional social gatherings and tourists. She helps run the shop, take orders in the cafe and helps tourists with any questions about the kibbutz.

Wednesday was our third day at work. We are slowly getting used to waking up at 5 in the morning and can't wait for the Chanukah chofesh (break). Wednesday ended with us moving out of the bustan and into our houses in the main housing area of the kibbutz. Although the work is hard, it's already been a great experience and although we can't wait for a week off, we also can't wait to really make an impact on Lotan.

Until next time,

Talia & Harley


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Masa Gap Year programs offer college-bound high school graduates a year of valuable life experience before college, with Israel providing the perfect environment for them to explore their interests, identity, and future steps. Through a combination of academic coursework, volunteering, traveling, and an immersive experience in Israeli society, Fellows return home with the life skills to make the most out of their college experience. Learn more about Masa here.

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