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I Arrive in Israel and Reality Sets in.

May 22, 2011

Hello to one and all,

I arrived in Israel to such a warm welcome from the the Teenagers and my colleagues- and quite a few people immediately asked me about Obama and his speech on reverting to 1967 boarders as a basis of any peace negotiations. Yes, Obama tried to clarify exactly what he meant, but the truth of the matter is… well, view this youtube video and let me know what you think. It clearly explains why this policy is impractical and undesirable.

please send it to friends and family.

More blog posts to come,



I Arrive in Israel and Reality Sets in.

May 22, 2011

Hello to one and all,

I arrived in Israel to such a warm welcome from the the Teenagers and my colleagues- and quite a few people immediately asked me about Obama and his speech on reverting to 1967 boarders as a basis of any peace negotiations. Yes, Obama tried to clarify exactly what he meant, but the truth of the matter is… well, view this youtube video and let me know what you think. It clearly explains why this policy is impractical and undesirable.

please send it to friends and family.

More blog posts to come,



January 22, 2011

wow!!  i have a few minutes to myself!  i have forgotten what this feels like.

an interesting event happened today that got me thinking.  if you see injustice in the world, small events… like someone being shoved or small scale racism, would you do anything about it?  does it matter?  assuming that if you walked/ drove along, it would have almost no effect on your day or your life.

today, i was on a special group taxi that goes between my kibbutz to a neighboring kibbutz and naharyyia (the closest ‘big’ city).  A Thai man got onto the taxi and it was clear he was not from the kibbutz, but was a guest of one of the Thai workers.  An elderly lady (who was one of the sweetest women i have encountered in Israel) tells the Thai man that if there are potential riders in the neighboring kibbutz, then he will have to get off for one of the other passengers.  I. Was. In. Shock.  Right in front of me, it was some sort of ‘you must stand so the white man can sit’ kind of situation.  No one said a word.  this gentleman was a paying customer just like me or anyone else.

we arrived at the neighboring kibbutz and there were other riders, despite the fact that i was praying that the waiting area would be empty.  so here you have it.  do you keep quite, start arguing on behalf of the visitor whose english was passable at best.  there were 9 people in the car including me, and except for the elderly lady in the front seat- everybody (including me) remained silent.  so when we got to the second kibbutz and there were other passengers waiting, i told the thai man to stay put and i got off.  Dory, another volunteer from Budapest, also got off with me.  i know that i could find a way to naharyyia but i wasnt sure that he could.  the driver felt bad and called one of his friends and asked him to take us to naharyyia.  we arrived before the other car did.

it seemed, today, there was a little bit of justice in the world.

in other news, it was Tu-B’Shvat yesterday, the birthday of the plants.  we celebrated by eating dry fruits.  yay.

5 more weeks of volunteering, 2 weeks in budpapest (about), 1 week in rome.  This adventure is slowly coming to an end!

spending this saturday with the kids at nirim (boarding school)

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The HakPatsa

November 9, 2010

A HaKpasa is an open dialogue between the teenagers in order to get to the bottom of a problem that affects the entire group.  the problem here, 2 teenagers started an underground mafia with ‘soldiers’.  think of it like being someones ‘b****’ in prison.  and some of the teenagers did not feel safe anymore.

we brought all the kids together in the Common Room and told them that the HaKapsa has started. The rules were that if one disturbed the proceedings or left the room before the recess one would have to spend the weekend in Nirim and not be allowed to go home. pretty strict rules were enforced to ensure order and respect.

we started sunday evening but didnt go as long as i had thought or hoped. we had 2 sessions of about an hour or so each with a 15 minutes break in between. the first session was slow, laborous, without much cooperation. basically, in this session the moderators asked all the kids if they felt like they contributed or detracted from the group. most didnt care, but there were instances of openess amoung the answers.

the second session was much more productive. It was as if the kids wanted to talk! waiting to share their thoughts on what a group is and how they wanted to shape this group. but after about an hour, the principal of the boarding school, Boaz, (who was the one who really facilitated my emancipation to Nirim) decided that the group has matured enough for today and ended the sessions for sunday evening. when we got back to the staff room, the room was very divided and there was a heated (yet respectful) argument as to whether Boaz made the right call. Should he have seized the moment, rode the momentum and progressed forward because the kids were really starting to open up and participate/ contribute. Or did he make the right call, play it safe and keep the bigger picture in mind. this was a big achievement for the kids. to talk openly to one another really challenges their concept of friendship and with the bigger picture in mind… its a step in the right direction. I voiced my opinion that we really passed over an important opportunity and compromised critical momentum that we may not achieve the next day.

as well, and most importantly, we were afraid that the one kid that everyone else is afraid of will imtimidate the other teenagers and that will also kill the positive momentum. he did and we sort of lost it. Monday morning was ok… but not great… until one of the other teenagers arrived, late. during the conclusion discussion, we asked if he had anything to add. He said, that hes not afriad to stand up for himself, and that if he gets in over his head he will tell the staff on another teenager. Our white steed had arrived! the dissenter within the group had arrived and almost instantly, other people hopped on his bandwaggen and started pointing out wrongdoings that other teenagers had done.

was it a success… hard to tell.  with a ‘bigger picture perspective’ it was a great success.  but in terms of immediate impact, i’m not too sure.

What else is new here?  still hate soccer and im forced to play it once a week with the kids, kids still smoke like chimmneys, and instead of cold cuts everyday for lunch and sometimes dinner, its shnitzil!

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day time drama part 1

November 5, 2010

To answer and to torture are the same verb in Hebrew. Coincidence?

I learned this because there is going to be a theraputic excerise starting Sunday at Nirim. It’s a 20 hour exersice from about 4pm till noon on Monday. It’s called a ‘Hatkafah’ which means ‘to jump’. we are going to sit the kids down at 4 when they return to Nirim open the floor to kids to bring to light any and all problems that they have with each other. I mean the real problems that they have with one another. The real secrets that they’re hiding. Now, at first, no one will really open up… Maybe infer that someone is messy but no-one really wants to be the snitch. So, we’ll wait! And wait… And wait some more where the only way to get out of this circle is to start speaking.

Why is it going to work? Becuase these kids cannot sit still and cannot be with ‘themselves’ for more then 5 minutes. No exaggeration.

Doesn’t this seem a lot like torture? Waiting for someone to divuldge information, them refusing, and the questioners pressuring with mental pain where the only path to end the pain is by divuldging information?

What’s my job in this? To sit… with them. Silent. What did I do? (Jokes!)

Oh ya… So why is this event occuring? Because another violent fight broke out yesterday and it’s time to force these kids to start talking with each other and begin looking at themselves in the mirror. They are all one uncontrolled flare up away from criminal records and this fight was not the first violent one of the year. (the year only really started at the beginning of October).

I swear, there’s more drama here then on day time soaps!

Love ya!

well, lets try this again!

November 1, 2010

so, im going to try to get back on this blog horse, and instead of posting longer posts, ill try and put up what I can when i can.

right now, im in Nirim, the boarding school I work at. the kids are cleaning their rooms and the dining area, and the rest of the building.

yesterday, we did an art therapy excersize… with play-doh! Awesome!! i drew a picture of a guy playing hockey. To the fruedian followers of the world: what insight does that give you about me??

time to get back to the kids… (and by kids i mean 14 year olds)… take care!


6 Borekas

July 24, 2010

What is an exact measure of laziness?

overgrown beard?  not doing homework? not going to work? not cutting toenails because they’re too far away?

Captive audience, I have come up with an exact measure of laziness that might one day win me the nobel prize, so pay attention.

Laziness is determined when one only needs to eat 6 borekas to get through the day- that my friends is a lazy day!  That is the kind of day I had today, this Saturday.

Now, this week hasnt been all Borekas and afternoon naps- I accomplished lots since I came back from greece.  Let’s see…

On Tuesday, one of the girls on the kibbutz invited me out with some friends to go travelling- my coordinator, Oshra, showed mercy by allowing me to skip work and join them.  We went to the Banyaz River, went swimming, drank tea, and ate pretzels.  Then, we went to the Kinneret on the other side of the counrty (about a 35 minute drive) to go on a river hike.  That is a hike in a river.  There were signs before starting warning us that we would have to swim on some parts of this hour or so hike.  Well, about 15 minutes later into the hike, we passed by a park ranger asking us when we would arrive at the swimming part of the hike.  he started laughing and told us that the signs were clearly out of date.  the water never really passed our knees.  He also told us that were 3/4 finished.  we laughed.  but on a serious note.  even if the signs were 20 years old… this river was once deep enough to swim- now it’s only up to our knees.  That is a very steep drop in water level!  it is also a major concern for the Israeli government and Israelis everywhere.  What do we do next?

After this hike, we went to the kinneret to swim.  That was tuesday.

On Thursday, I went with my host family to Rosh Hanikra.  we rented bikes (or a variation of one), went to the beach, went to lunch and returned to the kibbutz at 230.  At 3, I went with the kibbutz kids to the hot springs at Chamat Gader.  these hot springs were 40 degrees hot!  and sooooooooo smelly because of the rich concentration of sulpher.  Made for a smelly bus ride home.

Then on friday, I went to tzfat, took a nap in tzfat on a mattress on a rooftop- and went back to the Kinneret that evening.  In the evening, dinner at the host family and a trip to Naharyyia for Ice cream.  I had Ferrerio Roche ice-cream!

All that hard work- I deserved a break, no?
Question to pose to the group: When was the last time you fell of a bicycle?  4? Maybe 8 years old?  Well, one of the guys on the kibbutz invited me to go on a bike trip with him.  So he lent me a spare bicycle to test out.  I wanted to practice off road bicycling… and fell off the bike.  I figured that maybe I had to put more air in the tires.  Filled the tires up, went back to the same small trail, completed it, but then when I was turning back up a dirt road, i fell off of it again.  lucky i was wearing a helmet!  but my confidence and ego were also bruised and bloodied 😦  I decided not to go on this bike trip.  Not necessarily because I felt like I have the bicycle skills of a racoon, but because it was 20 km long.  12 km is uphill in some way.

I guess that one of those times where it wasnt smart to ‘get back on the bike’ and try again!

Here are some random pictures that I found that I haven’t posted yet.

Also, I wanted to try and do an ‘Ask Justin Anything About Israel Forum.’  Do you have questions about life in Israel?  Jewish things.  Military things?  Kibbutz, culture, health, remedies?

Ask away, please!

Enjoy the Pictures too!