My first visit to a kibbutz
Photos by Jenny
While serving as a communications intern for OM in Israel, I travelled with the Hope of Israel team around the country doing outreach in various cities. Since I am from the US and had never been to the country before, I had little to no idea what the Israeli people would be like. After spending an afternoon with someone who has lived in Israel her whole life, I realised that we are all the same.
Our group visited an elderly Jewish woman named Leah* at her home in a kibbutz. My team was the 34th group of believers to step through Leah’s door and spend a few hours sharing Christ’s love.
Leah rode her personalised golf cart, and we slowly walked through the kibbutz to her home. Kibbutzim are small settlements in Israel based on agriculture, and the members live collectively, like a family. People eat together, work together, and share money and possessions. Leah explained to us the rich history of her community, which has lived and worked together since the beginning of the 20th century. We walked past the schools, the dining hall, a memorial, all while Leah told stories from her life about each location.
When we came into her small apartment we were greeted with a feast of dates, mango and watermelon, fresh from the kibbutz. I was surprised that someone could be so hospitable to a group of strangers. While we ate, we listened to Leah tell stories about her late husband, the places she has travelled, and memories of living in a close-knit community. It was evident that she is happy with the life she has lived.
Many people from the team, one by one, said to me, “Wow. She reminds me of my grandma.” The hospitality and love that Leah extended to our foreign group did not go unnoticed.
One of the team members noticed Leah’s bookshelf above her kitchen table and asked, “What is your favorite book?” Leah laughed and replied, “Well, those are all cookbooks! But I do have a favourite.” She brought down a small tattered book, with green-edged pages that stuck out every which way. Leah explained that she has been cooking from this recipe book for many years. All of the pages were handwritten by her in Hebrew.
She said a few words in Hebrew to her caretaker, and the woman brought out a cake for us to share. Leah pointed to a page in the cookbook and said, “This cake recipe is right here!”
I found the visit very sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Leah’s stories and connecting with her. She let our group sing Amazing Grace to her, and she sang a couple of traditional Hebrew songs too.
Though Leah grew up in a different time, lives on a different continent, and holds different beliefs from the people in our group, she is human, just like me. We worship the same God who calls us children and desires our hearts, but she still waits, like many Jews, for the Messiah she believes is still to come.
Jenny is a cross-cultural journalism student from the US and recently completed a summer internship with OM Israel. She desires to use her passion for photography to tell people's stories and empower others to tell their own. Though God has given her a love for the Middle East, she is open and willing to go wherever He calls.