I arrived in Israel the day of the ceasefire. It always astonishes me how quickly the areas that were not directly affected return to normal. Our ‘shnatties’ knew they were out of the affected zones (whether in Lotan in the south near Eilat or Karmiel in the north of Israel) and so were suitably calm.
I spent a delightful Shabbat in Karmiel. Some of our ‘shnatties’ chose to stay on Kibbutz Lotan in the south and eleven others chose to live in a large communal flat (five bedrooms!) and to volunteer. They volunteer in a wide variety of placements ranging from working in schools, nurseries and on an educational farm to a project for giving food to those who live in Karmiel on the poverty line.
I saw the group learning to manage their joint group budget, learning the joys and challenges of communal living whilst enjoying life in a very well functioning Israeli city. I was lucky as the Shabbat I was in Karmiel was a special Shabbat as the Reform community. They were celebrating the recent ordination of the Rabbi of the Karmiel Reform community, Rabbi Gadi Raviv. Our group participated in the song and emotion filled service and then went off to their host families. The skills they are gaining from the mixture of independence, volunteering, learning and being looked after within a well organised programme are golden.