A Light Struggling to Shine On.
About six months ago, I got a note out of the blue from a man I had never met, Shimshon Robinson. He said that he heard I was coming to Israel and he wanted to invite me to stop by his Kibbutz, Ramat Yohanan. I said that if it worked with my schedule, I’d love to. But, I asked him, how did he know that I was planning on visiting Israel. He said that he listens to a stream of a radio station in Vermont just about all the time and they had mentioned it!
Wow! That’s some circuitous magic.
I had a show to play last night and I usually do not like to socialize before. But we decided to go, anyhow. Susan and I met Shimshon and his wife, Hannah. And we’re both so glad we did. Shimshon showed us around, beaming with pride the entire time.
The Kibbutz has acres and acres of olive groves, bamboo, cumquats, several kinds of nuts and much much more that I can’t remember. They raise beef cattle, dairy cattle, goats, beautiful horses, and even a camel. There’s a plastic factory on the property, as well, that sells products all across the globe. It’s a city unto itself. No… a planet!
The community is organized with a unique combination of communal living and private property. Everyone’s salary goes back into the community! I felt like we were whisked away for a stroll through another world. Then we were treated to a wonderful communal meal.
And like I said, my new friend, Shimshon, was a more than gracious host. We walked for what felt like miles and got to talking about how he wound up there. The short story is, he grew up in the Rockaways in Queens, NY. And in the seventies, he was working as an air-conditioning repair person during the day and partying at night. Basically he was just drifting though his life.
His sister had come to Israel a few years before and his parents suggested he give it a try. He did and he liked it enough to stay as a guest worker for a year. After a year, he was missing New York so he returned. But he said that the moment he landed in New York, he felt an aching in his heart to return. So he applied to be accepted as a full member of the community. Three years later, he returned and never looked back. He met his wife, and raised his kids… all on the Kibbutz.
That’s not say that this Kibbutz life is perfect or that it is for everyone, but it is a living breathing antidote to materialism. There’s a sweetness here that’s hard to find. A sweetness that is struggling to stay alive in many parts of Israel. But as Susan and I breathed this air, the dream and the love was palpable.
Thanks, Shimshon, for your gracious sharing.