27th November 2014

From Annie Levy

Dearest family, friends and sniffim,

This week has been an eventful one rife with excitement, new beginnings and also sadness at the reality that our wonderful Shnat group was splitting off into Karmiel and Lotan kvutzot. However, we know that the foundations we have laid during our first month together is strong enough to ensure that we stay in touch, share our varied experiences and resume where we left off when we’re reunited in Jerusalem!

Thursday started bright and early with Rabbi Daniel’s infamous ‘Rising in Remembrance’, a beautiful morning ma’amad filled with memorable tunes which have become favourites amongst our group. After bustan cleanup, half of our group went to continue mud building on Kibbutz Ketura, helping to finish the mud domes which we have really enjoyed watching progress over the past weeks. As usual, the hard work was made easier by tuneful group sing-songs! The other half enjoyed working in the EcoKef, harvesting crops. In the evening we cooked a delicious pot luck meal in the bustan, an experience always enjoyed by the whole group as it really brings us together.

Our time together ended beautifully with our Sikkum seminar, run by Jake, Rachel, Beth and myself. We began with a closing circle with our madrichim from Lotan, Mark and Debbie, in which various members of our kvutsah shared poems, songs and readings either that they had written for the occasion or that they wanted to share. We also enjoyed sharing our most poignant memories from the past month, an experience which made me feel incredibly grateful for the time we’ve had as a group. We all enjoyed a special Kabbalat Shabbat run for the entire Lotan community by Mark, and our very own Rachel and Jake. The combination of the kibbutz atmosphere and our familiar Netzer tunes was very special. After some of the kvutsah attended a talk from the Global Ecovillage Network, we enjoyed some lovely kef run by Beth and Rachel, and our last Lotan pub experience as an entire group. As per usual, we partied until Avi began playing unfamiliar Israeli tunes, a sign that we’ve come to learn means it’s time to call it a night.

Saturday morning began beautifully with a Shacharit in the date fields, in which large puzzle pieces with reflective questions such as ‘have you learnt about yourself on Shnat so far?’ were passed round for us to ponder. All was going perfectly until one of the donkeys who reside in the date field decided to escape through the open gate, and the amidah descended into mayhem as his friends tried to follow suit, and the whole group desperately attempted to herd the animals back through the gate. The whole experience was totally surreal, and a classic ‘only on shnat’ moment that I’m sure we wont be forgetting any time soon. However, the balagan was not yet over as no sooner had we sat down for Debbie’s session than we were informed that the cheder ochel was flooded. The whole kvutsah headed to the rescue, and proceeded to mop up the water with makeshift mops (trays) and a hell of a lot of ruach and singing! The seemingly impossible job was very rewarding to finish, and the experience was one of my personal highlights of Shnat, as spontaneous moments often are. When we finally began Debbie’s session we were in high spirits, and we enjoyed the calmer tone of her session in which we used various objects as a basis from which to expand and talk about various topics, such as our advice to each other for the rest of Shnat and the ways we hope to stay connected during options period. We also really enjoyed tapping into our creative sides during Anna and Raaya’s session, in which we used art materials to reflect upon our time together. Finally, we enjoyed a beautiful havdallah which ended with our group making sweet harmonies. Our final potluck dinner was a delicious end to our time together! That evening the majority of our kvutsah took our beds outside and slept under the stars, which was beautiful.

Early Sunday morning, we emptied our domes and bid the Karmielniks farewell. Although it was slightly teary, we are all so excited for each other and the journeys we are embarking on. The Lotan family moved into our new houses, and enjoyed beginning to clean, tidy and decorate them, turning them into our homes. Daniel and Debbie ran our first Lotan family sharing circle, and we organised which jobs each of us would have. Luckily we all managed to land jobs which we are very happy with! We spent the rest of the day settling into our new lives, and enjoyed making and eating a delicious dinner with the kibbutz children. We already feel we are becoming more integrated into the kibbutz!

We started our jobs on Monday morning and have been working ever since! We are divided between the EcoKef, tourism, the teahouse and gardening, and all lead different daily routines but enjoy being reunited after work each afternoon. We are absolutely exhausted, but find the challenge of our new lifestyle exhilarating and rewarding!
That is all for now.
We hope you are all well, and not missing us too much!!!!

Annie (RSY Netzer)