This week, Savyon Northerners met Savyon Southerners for the first time during our Shabbat Beyachad. Savyon Northerners came to Jerusalem from a month of volunteering in Tel Aviv and Savyon Southerners had just finished their opening Shnat seminar.
It was a weekend of transitioning; from the previous parts of Shnat, from different places into the Etgar flat and from two kvutzot into one. Northerners and Southerners ran programs with each other for the kvutzah - prayer services, bonding programs, Shabbat services and Havdallah. The Netzer staff also ran bonding programs for us, Shnat goals programs and more.
On Friday night, we went to the synagogue called Kol Neshama near Beit Shmuel and were amazed that we had just come halfway around the world and the synagogue sang the same songs and tunes as us. We had a Shabbat dinner together and celebrated Shabbat together on Saturday.
On Saturday night, most of Savyon attended a protest against the deportation of refugees. It was amazing to be able to march with Israelis for the same cause and to feel a sense of unity with Israelis as well as to be able to protest for something we believe in.
On Sunday, we left for a Tiyul. We drove to Ein Gedi and hiked to two waterfalls and swam in them. Many of us had not swum in a waterfall before and it was a really special experience to have together. We then hiked up a mountain and saw the Dead Sea and desert below and appreciated the beautiful surroundings. We then hiked back down the mountain and played various Netzer games and ate lunch, before getting back on the bus and driving to our campsite.
Our campsite was in the middle of the desert and it was absolutely incredible to be able to be in the middle of nature with no built environment at all. We walked through the canyons and ran around together up and down the mountains, and it was incredible to be able to have this time in nature together and to bond. Our tour guide Guy then taught us how to light a fire with flints and we had Poyke for dinner. We played guitar and sang together around the campfire before going to bed under the stars.
The next morning, we woke up at 3am to go to Masada. Guy, Leora and Raviv told us the story of Masada. We then climbed the mountain. It was a hard climb, and the kvutzah all supported each other to reach the top. When we reached the top, we looked out at the Dead Sea and the gorgeous desert below and appreciated nature as a kvutzah. We then had a Ma'amad, run by Harley and Leigh, read a second-hand account of the story of Masada and spoke about the complexity of the story. After this, we explored Masada and enjoyed making echoes in the mountains surrounding it. We climbed down the mountain and appreciated the beautiful view before boarding the bus for our next campsite.
We arrived at our campsite, which was a Bedouin campsite and had lunch. We had free time and explored the Bedouin tents and saw the camels and donkeys. We had a program with Guy about survivor psychology in survival situations and then watched Fiddler on the Roof after we had dinner. We went to sleep in the Bedouin tent and enjoyed being able to be in the same room as a whole kvutzah.
The next day, we woke up at 6:30 to find it was pouring with rain. Due to flooding from the rain, our planned hike was cancelled and we drove to the hostel near Ben Gurion's grave where we would be staying. Sima and Sal ran a bonding program involving speed dating and then we watched a documentary about Ben Gurion. We then went to Ben Gurion's grave and spoke about his leadership. We had a program and then free time before Sal and Sima ran a Ma'amad where we drew whilst we sang. We then watched the sunset together as a kvutzah before having a pizza dinner.
The following day, we woke up and went for breakfast in the communal hall. We saw some of the ecological education school and the sculptures they are building for Purim. We then sat on the mountain and had a Ma'amad run by Zoë and Nathan and appreciated the beautiful view of the desert as we sang. Orit came to visit, which we were all excited about. We then had a bonding program where we spoke about goals for Shnat, and a had program where we dressed up as our inner-selves. We then had a program where we shared 3 personal items from home an learnt more about each other's backgrounds. We had another program where we discussed our ground rules and ideology for our communal living space, which continued after our dinner in the small shopping centre near the hostel.
This week was a phenomenal bonding experience for the Southerners and Northerners and after this unique time together, we are entering the start of Etgar as a much more bonded and cohesive kvutzah. We are excited to see our relationships with each other flourish and to experience Etgar in the coming week.