On our third day in Israel, after wake up, breakfast and davening, we piled onto the buses for the long ride to the North. Driving through the rain and endless green hills, our first stop was Kfar Kedem, in Hosha’aya, a quiet area tucked into the hillside.
We made our way to a large Bedouin-style tent and Menachem, the owner of the farm, spoke to us. He urged us to really question why it was that we came to Israel all the way from Australia - at this point in our lives, and why a connection to the Land is so important for us as young Jews in the Diaspora. In his animated and energetic style, Menachem explained that the practical laws of the Torah, that we use in our everyday lives, come from the Mishnah, the oral law, the six books of which were actually composed not too far from where we were sitting.
Menachem also showed us the different laws from the Mishnah concerning farming. Some laws have a higher meaning that we cannot always understand, but others make perfect sense: the law that you cannot muzzle a donkey while it is working on the land to stop it from grazing shows us that we must always be considerate of others and preserve their dignity. And if the Mishnah commands us to preserve the dignity of an animal, how much more so must we preserve the dignity of a fellow human being? It was amazing to see how seemingly simple laws of farming are actually laws for life.
Making pita, donkey riding and eating traditional lunch in a tent whilst wearing traditional periodic clothes was so much fun. We were able to get an insight into what life was like for our ancestors back then, while having fun and enjoying ourselves in the process.
Lastly, we went to the UIA Project at Ramat Hadassa, which is a village for children from families that cannot look after them. While they visit their families some weekends, they go to school, eat, sleep and do extracurricular activities at Ramat Hadassa. We got to meet the kids and played games with them, finishing with an impromptu dance party. We could also practice our Hebrew speaking with them, which was followed by much laughter when we made ridiculous mistakes. Even though we all had wildly different backgrounds and lifestyles, we were the same age and it was so nice getting to know them, even if it was only for a short while. Although it rained most of the day, it was a welcome change after the freezing temperatures of the week before.