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 . . .