When you google the word kibbutz, you are greeted with the definition “a communal settlement in Israel, typically a farm.” Visiting Harduf Kibbutz was the type of textbook kibbutz that we were looking for. As opposed to the others which we had visited in days prior, this one was jam-packed with what you would expect from your typical farm. It had everything; chickens, cows, and vegetables. Harduf differed in other ways as well, it had a rustic feel and was a rehabilitation center. The center was for people of all ages with mental disabilities as well as for people who were displaced due to the war with Palestine or because their homes were deemed unsafe by the Israeli Social Services. The adults worked on the farm while the children were taught nearby. This type of living brings us back to the whole purpose of this wonderful trip; learning about coexistence.
Next, we got on the bus and headed to a city called Acre. Once we arrived in Acre, we started with lunch at El Marsa where we had the usual spread of pita bread, hummus, tabbouleh, eggplant, zucchini salad, and stuffed grape leaves. This was followed by everyone’s choice of entree. After another ridiculously large meal, we were told by our tour guide, Bar, that we were going underground for a tour of the “night caves”. These caves were originally built by the Crusaders in the 12th century. In addition to the incredible fact they have survived so long, we also learned that they were able to withstand an enemy far greater than any natural disaster, when the Mongols filled it with dirt! We saw many artifacts and heard many stories about events that took place on that same soil. We then ended the tour with a game of ring toss which got quite competitive considering the circumstances. This game is more than 9 centuries old! When we finally got up to sea level, after a refreshing break for pomegranate juice, our tour guide surprised us with a boat ride on the Mediterranean Sea. We played music and danced the whole time. We got some bad news when we got back to the bus. We were told to line up and say goodbye to our beloved assistant tour guide Dor. He went down the line giving each of us some advice and a hug, of course. By the time we got back on the bus, we were all missing Dor, but were ecstatic to go to on to a cooking class.
Now focusing on the general message of today; self-sufficiency. This spooky word just means that you can do something for yourself as opposed to relying on others. The Druze cooking class was fantastic and a great example of self-sufficiency. We were invited into the home of a Druze family which had been built by the father of the family. It was amazing! We learned to cook many of the dishes that we had been eating in restaurants. We made stuffed grape leaves, stuffed zucchini, tahini, meat patties, pita bread, salad, and topped it off with some homemade empanadas. It was amazing and the food tasted so much better knowing that we had slaved over it for hours. From the kibbutz to the Druze household cooking class, we were learning lessons of self-sufficiency and we were able to really look back and reflect on how fortunate we are in the USA to not have to farm for ourselves. We are lucky to not have to cook for ourselves yet and we have the option to eat out often. On the bus ride back, we were all able to reflect on the entire trip. When we got back to the Bay Club Hotel in Haifa, we received more bad news. We had to say goodbye to our awesome tour guide, Bar and the best bus driver in the middle east, Fawaz. The night came to an end with a final walk to the convenience store down the street from the hotel, packing our suitcases and leaving for the airport. This officially marked the end of a truly amazing trip.
- Jacob and Zach