Part 3: Kvutza

Part 3: Kvutza

Mia Egerman

Part 3 of 3

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I learned more in Israel than [just] what 3 liters of water on my back felt like. I learned about kvkvutzautza. Although that may just be a Hebrew word that you still haven’t memorized the meaning to yet (“group”) from my other segments, it means so much more to me. The 101 of us were randomly split into 5 different groups, with 2 madrichim (counselors) per group. It was up to us within our kvutza (group) to create a special bond. Such a bond [similar to the ones we’ve had years to form with our group from summer camp] was crucial if we were going to feel comfortable handling everyday injustices and collective responsibilities together.

As a movement, Habonim Dror teaches us to actualize. What would be the use in discussing how equality plays a role in our Jewish ideals, if we weren’t going to persevere [as Jews] to spread equality in our everyday lives as well? Actualization, or Hagshama, played a huge role in my kvutza (group) because we were able to educate ourselves on issues bigger than the shortage of vegan chocolate spread every morning in the hostel’s chadar ochel (dining hall). I believe education is a very important aspect of turning your goals into reality because you can approach your plan with the right knowledge and perspective on how to handle such matters.

The concept of acceptance is something that I’ve learned goes deeper than just including a shy member of my kvutza in a trigger game. It became so important to me that every member of my kvutza felt like kvutza meant something to them, too, since this was who we’d be spending the majority of our summer with. I realized the many things I had in common with each of these people would make the ending of the 5 weeks much harder than I had originally anticipated. I also learned that kvutza is a process. It’s set up not only so you trust your kvutza when it came to worldly issues, but you also trust them with any thoughts/feelings you have while being 6,000 miles away from your friends and family. During MBI, we used “check-ins” to make sure everyone was feeling alright. Similar to how we do things at machaneh (camp), check-ins can be a rotation of everyone saying the best, middle, and worst parts of their week or just something specific on their mind. Check-ins aren’t always a group activity, though. If I saw someone looked sad, I’d check in on them and try and validate their feelings, regardless of how close we were. Overall, it’s clear to see that the kvutza environment is very different than the kind we’ve created for ourselves at school.

However, this trip wasnsarah-with-flag’t just a kvutza experience. This trip was to explore my own Judaism and see what I can make of it. I believe kvutza is one of my Jewish values because it has given [what already exists as] my basic human values meaning. I learned in Israel that my Judaism doesn’t need to mean Torah (the Jewish Bible) readings and Passover seder (a ritual feast commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery), it can mean this holy land and latkes (potato pancakes) on the last night of Chanukkah. Although I may get bored at synagogue and not understand Hebrew fluently, I feel Jewish.

Overall, I am thankful for the little things I did appreciate and that now, every time I look at the stars, I’ll think of the night sky in the Negev and all the memories this summer created. sunrise