November 14, 2013

Memories that make me smile with great amazement that it’s a story about me, my adventures not to be forgotten!

I wonder how many of the people who know  me can find me in this photograph?

A rare photograph that was recently sent to me by an old friend. Yes I keep telling the tale of the year I ran away and spent 8 weeks on a Kibbutz. . Well here you go..

I was a rather pissed off young lady having the one thing I thought growing up mattered, taken away from me. I am a Jewish gal from Brooklyn and I was going to be the only one in my family tree not recognized by the Temple. I was not happy about that in the least.

I took matters into my own hands, when all else fails you just have to count on yourself to make things happen even some really out their ideas. Such as leaving the country with nobody knowing!

It was mine to have and yet, once more the people who controlled everything in my life decided this too was not going to happen.

So I had a friend who helped me get the needed things ( keep in mind times were different when I was young) Id was important. A signature from an adult was needed. and getting money to fly across the world to who knows where! I was fairly close to one of my cousins who lived in Haifa, a beautiful place in Israel. I had known all my life that one day I would go there I just had not planned on going all alone! Who knew I was so brave? Maybe it was pure defiance. Either way I made my way through the new land, the Promise land , the land of the Jewish people. I wanted to see my family, I wanted freedom and I did not want to be forgotten by the only thing I was able to hang on to if even a little.

I am Jewish and my grandfather who I adored more than life itself had been an Orthodox Jew all my life, well until the day my mother was murdered and he denounced G-d!  I had to see for myself if G-d existed, I had to understand that if there was such a thing as G-d. Why in the world he would have forgotten about me? So if traveling to the land where a tree would later be planted in my name was my destiny,then alone I would travel. …and travel I did.

My cousin and I schemed, plotted, lied, and made a plan. Between babysitting and little money i had been given for birthday gifts and my cousin we figured it out.

What a view! It was such a different world. It was my people, my land, the land my grandparents family died for. It was a sight I will never forget. I am not a world traveler, but this was one time it was meant to be.

Jill, my cousin, much like me was a bit of an outcast, and we got along very well. She helped sneak me into her country and got me set up to live for the summer on a Kibbutz. Little did I know what life would be like for me for the next 8 weeks.

I chuckle at the memory of the first time a lady took my by the arm and spewed a bunch of words I didn’t understand and pointed to the kitchen where other girls my age were plucking dead chickens. The feather must be removed before cooking… I guess I figured the chicken I ate was not in fact the animal I don;t really know what I thought, though I remember the smells.. the heat.. but mostly what I remember is the feeling of belonging somewhere . I had a purpose. People seemed happy working side by side, no one was complaining and to sit for a few  minutes to laugh over a glass of cold water, was a joyous moment.The simple things in life, no complications, no one knew my story and no one cared where I came from. I was simply a girl who worked like everyone else did. If you planned on eating the meal at the end of the day you’d best pitch in. It was that simple.

The living conditions did not even matter. Simple needs were met, nothing fancy, just a place where people were a community working together for the common good of all. It was exciting and exhilarating! Plucking dead chickens wasn’t much fun and is a LOT of hard work by the way! So appreciate each time you buy a chicken for dinner keep this story in mind there is a someone who plucked all the feathers off!

One could find us after a long day …. soaking up some sun and resting weary virgin bodies, not used to this kind of hard work!

I loved it! I was free for the first time in my young life! I belonged to no one and no one noticed me one way or the other I just moved with the flow and I loved every single minute of it! One of my proudest moments in my life, such a brave and daring thing to do . what if I got caught?

I mean I had family there so how bad could it be?

Before I left, my last night on the Kibbutz the head woman of my Mother figure heads handed me a small gift, a token she told me to take with me forever wherever i traveled to remember for all of time I belonged I was part of a culture I could not ignore. She handed me a small box. Inside was the most beautiful thing I ever saw, while this is not exactly the one I had, mine was stolen this is very close to what mine looked like.

It is called a Chai.

It means life.

How perfect.

They had a tree ceremony and planted a tree a baby tree in my Hebrew name which is Rivka . It still stands tall somewhere in my homeland. I will forever be a tree.

I am more than okay with this by the way!

Custom of Tree Planting

In ancient Israel, a tree was planted when a child was born—a cedar for a boy, a cypress for a girl. As the children grew up, they cared for their own trees. When they were married, the bridegroom and bride stood under a canopy made of branches cut from the trees that had been planted in their honor years before. Thus, the Jewish tradition formed a strong bond between birth and marriage, and helped to develop a love for trees and a sensitivity to the wonders of nature.

I really did not care at the time.

Etz Hayyim (Tree of Life)

Our Torah is a Tree of Life to those that hold tight to it and everyone who upholds it is happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace (after Proverbs 3:17-18). The above may be sung in Hebrew, using traditional or modern melodies.

Thinking back I am amazed!

 I have searched for another one, I miss my Chai very much, it meant a tremendous amount to me. Such a tiny trinket but someone told me I mattered. I was not a nobody. I had a LIFE!

Maybe one day I will find the one that belongs around my neck, a little reminder of my life, it’s a good life. complicated, exhilarating, never dull, always moving faster than I can keep up with, but I am full of love, because I have such love for so many people!

How fantastic is that?

 This is the prayer spoken while a baby tree is planted in the name of the new birth of a child born into Judaism .

Dear G-d, we stand before you in awe as we witness these miracles of your creation—this young tree and our new baby. Both are unique and original, unlike anything that ever was before or will be. Each began with a single seed, concealing a complex potential that miraculously unfolds with each passing day.

We pray that the roots of this tree will gain hold and spread deep, drawing nourishment from the fertile earth. So may our child draw nourishment from her/his own roots—family, heritage and the Jewish tradition.

We pray that the trunk will grow healthy and strong, withstanding the harsh forces of nature and able to support its canopy of branches and leaves. So may our daughter/son possess a healthy body and a strong moral spirit, holding steadfast to his/her own integrity and withstanding the tempests and temptations that could weaken or deter her/him. We watch these branches bud and blossom, giving shade and beauty for all to enjoy. So, too, may we watch our child bud and blossom to be a blessing and support to family, friends and community, and to make his/her unique contribution to the world. Help us nourish and nurture this tree and our child so that they may both mature and prosper, fulfilling to the greatest extent possible the potential for which God placed them on earth.

Final Blessings and Planting

Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh Ha’olam oseh ma’aseh b’reshit.

B’rukha At Yah Eloheinu Ruach Ha’olam osah ma’aseh b’reshit.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who continually does the work of creation.

(Blessing recited upon seeing wonders of nature, including sunrises, shooting stars, vast deserts.)

Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam, shehecheyanu, v’kimanu, v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

B’rukha At Yah Eoheinu Ruach ha’olam shehecheyanu v’kimanu v’higianu lazman hazeh.

Blessed Are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has kept us in life, and preserved us, and enabled us to reach this season.

(Blessing for reaching a new or momentous occasion.)

The tree is planted.

How beautiful is that?




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