Shnat Nof 16th December 2016

By Emma Jacobs

A lot of us had been worried about the ‘tikkun’ period. It marks the start of our second chapter of shnat, our first big ‘move’ (which is hard with all the merchandise we’re acquiring) and one of the biggest bouts of goodbyes we will have to say over these 8 months. It has the potential to be incredibly rewarding but also incredibly challenging. 

With 13 teens (some, such as myself, with questionable hygiene standards) living in one house (4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms) it is proving to be a challenge. We are having to adjust to having no personal space and (partially due to our lack of wifi) have started to seek refuge and quiet in the local coffee shop/ burger restaurant. However, our havens’ are unfortunately closed on Shabbat so we’ve been forced to learn to find peace within a household filled with constant laughter, flying footballs and random guests.

We’re learning how to politely ask someone to stop napping on our beds or to stop running around the house late at night loudly screaming for some toilet paper. It’s definitely a work in progress but the process is proving to be hilarious. 

As time goes by we are starting to also settle in to routines. Chores such as balancing the budget/ shopping/ washing up are being fairly distributed as we realised, like the lazy teens we are, we’d otherwise just leave them. We’re also trying to establish an ‘intentional community’ (without limiting people’s rights to live their lives how they wish) by having asephot and learning how to be brutally honest with each other. The latter makes it feel like we’re assimilating. 

The intensities associated with sharing a house, cooking meals and the responsibility of locking the front door are balanced by our daily separation in to smaller groups. We have several activities as a whole group such as Hebrew classes and visiting moshavim on the Lebanese border but are separated for dinners with our host families and volunteering with schools, local moshavim and youth at risk.

Two main issues have arisen during our first week of volunteering; our lack of Hebrew/ Arabic and learning to accept very ‘different’ (potentially homophobic/ sexist/ racist) views. But we’re trying to look beyond our language and ideological barriers and embrace the friendships we never thought we’d have with settlers, shinshins, Arab students and the dog next door. We’re learning to leave our preconceptions at the door and enjoy the difficult but rewarding balagan which awaits us.