Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLII. The Language of the Realm (2 of 7)

Kibbutz Ulpan

At first view, this was my best option.  My Hebrew instruction would be free; I would get a chance to really learn about the Israeli way of life (so far, I’ve mostly dealt with immigrants like myself); finally, it would harden me, for life on a kibbutz is no cinch.  This at least was the theory, the reality proved very different.

The Soukhnout had no trouble pairing me with a kibbutz that was engaged in such a program.

I remember my arrival to the kibbutz as if it happened yesterday.  As far as the eye could see, there were green fields and groves.  The houses of the haverim (kibbutz’s members) had a charm of their own.  The whole thing was so picturesque.  “I will love it here,” I thought to myself.

The madrikh or coordinator, Avi, was waiting for me at the bus stop.  “Welcome to our kibbutz,” he said, “I hope you will like it here.”

“I already do,” I replied.

His English was limited, and, at the time, so was mine.  But we managed to communicate.

The first thing he did was to take to my house:  A cute bungalow with two bedrooms, living-room, kitchen, and bathroom.

“You’re supposed to share this house with three other students; but for the time being we do not have enough pupils; it’s all yours.  Please keep it neat, the housekeeping is your responsibility,” he pointed out.

Avi then added, “I am your madrikh, I will act as the go-between between you and the kibbutz.  Report all problems to me.”

Avi then looked at his watch and exclaimed, “it’s lunch time; let’s go and eat.”

The dining-room was huge and very noisy.  You served yourself buffet-style.  The food was plentiful and varied.  Choosing was no easy matter.  Eventually, I settled on soup, stew, tehina, falafel, bread, and of course dessert.

My portions were small; and Avi couldn’t help commenting:  “With the work you will do here, I am sure you will need more food.”

He proved right, for very quickly my portions became more substantial.

During lunch, he filled me in as to what awaited me: “You will start work at 7:00, and work for two hours.  After that, it’s breakfast.  Thereafter, you will work for another three hours, and then it’s lunch; as far as you are concerned, this is the end of your workday and the beginning of your Hebrew classes; you will have more than one teacher.  There will be enough time to rest in between.  At the end of the day, after you’re finished with your supper, you’re free to enjoy yourself with the young crowd.  It will be Hebrew immersion in a big way, for they only speak Hebrew.”

Avi was not quite finished, the next item on the agenda related to work.  “Your work will be varied, for you will be sent where you’re needed the most.  We work hard here, but nobody will ask you to do more than you can.”  He then went back to food:  “As long as the kitchen is open, you can go and ask for extra food to snack on; you have a fridge in the house, therefore, the easiest thing is to store some food there.”

Avi and I were fated to have many more discussions, for many issues came up.

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