The description of life in Neot Semadar that I was sent when I signed up as a volunteer has proven remarkably accurate.
A big part of my first week here has been to get synchronized with the rhythm of the kibbutz. Because there is such a big focus on community, on communal living and cooperation, we also spend a lot of time together.
The day starts at 5.45, when we have the morning meeting in the communal dining room. Up towards 90 adults sit together in silence, nursing a cup of tea, slowly waking up, thinking, meditating, doing their own thing. The meeting ends when someone quietly says “Boker Tov” – which means “good morning” in Hebrew – around 6.05. People slowly get up, and go about with their activities for the day.
All tasks are organized on the daily work sheet, so you don’t decide what kind of work you’ll be doing (though it is organised based on abilities, expertise and interests), and you can request to be given certain kinds of work by the work sheet manager.
My first week has been in the kitchen. Almost all new volunteers start out in the kitchen, as there is a never-ending need for people to do the dishes and chop vegetables for the three daily communal meals. I’ve been in the kitchen from 6.05 to around 16.00 or 17.00 most days so far. The weekend is Friday and Saturday, with Friday being a half-day of work, and Saturday being completely free of duties (though, the goats still have to be milked and fed, of course).
From next week on, I hope to get on with a wider range of different tasks, weeding, picking fruit, cutting date palms, milking the goats and what have you. I’ll try to take some photos once I do, because taking photos of the kitchen isn’t as much fun.
I’m still trying to get used to getting up at 05.30 six days a week. But then it’s important to remember to notice the good things about getting up early – such as enjoying the sunrise: