My Journey Home to Judaism – Part 3

This is part 3 of the 11 part series on the writer’s journey back to Judaism. For the other parts, read this

Maybe I should go to Cuba and help the workers’ cause, I wondered aloud to my father?  Now, my parents were starting to worry.  It is one thing for their daughter to participate in a few protests, they could humor me here and there, but joining Fidel Castro on the front lines was a little too much!  My father suggested if you like socialism so much, why don’t I go to Israel and experience communal living on a kibbutz, a Jewish farm?

How would I get there?  We lived in a middle-class neighborhood, but our family was always scraping by, meeting the needs of a large family.  I wrote to Hillel of my very, special coin that was to be used only in Israel.  They were inspired too, and offered me a scholarship to see the land!  I would study in an ulpan, a Hebrew study course, and work in the factory on the farm.  How much more down with the workers can you get than a real live factory.  No bills, only hard work, and the food and trips were free.  Trotsky would be proud I thought!

Across the ocean, I flew expecting to see folks in religious garb and perhaps camels crossing the street.  Arriving in Tel Aviv I was in for a surprise.  Women looked like something off a Paris fashion runway and the styles were sheek and modern.  On the kibbutz, religion was pushed aside for love of the land and pride in Israel, something I soon immersed myself in.  Shabbats were brought in at the kibbutz discotheque as the strobe light flashed on and off.  Israelis and Americans found camaraderie in a mutual love of fun!  

We traveled in our program and visited all sorts of tourist spots, including Christian ones, which held no interest to me at the time.  We visited a hostel in the old city.  It was one of my first exposures to orthodoxy.  Hungry for knowledge, I was the only girl who stayed on listening to the rabbi’s teachings.  I remember vaguely him warning us against the Apostle Paul leading Jews astray, but it had no relevance to me, as a Reform Jewish political activist, so it went in one ear and out the other . . . and I returned to my secular kibbutz and its disco scene with gusto.

I did not realize his words were not a mere inspirational talk, but rather a prophecy for a certain girl in the room . . .

To Be Continued . . .

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