On a mission:
To find a place (no, a chavaya!) for Shavuot!
What I do:
Like any resourceful individual, I scour the Internet, in Hebrew – OK, I cheated, Google Translate – and English too. I feel on the one hand like a total outsider: I find lots of articles complaining about how it’s become so popular to travel in Israel on Shavuot and how all the hotels up North in a certain year got completely booked up, yet, frustratingly enough, a lack of detail as to exactly which. On the other hand, there’s a certain ease of accessibility. At the click of a mouse, our reservation at Beit Maimon for the days leading up to Shavuot is booked! What people did before tripadvisor.com is unclear. It adds an air of concreteness to know Real People stayed there, all the more real when they describe all the imperfections: “The service is *Israeli*!” I can relate to that.
I find on a “Kosher Holiday” website that the Haon Holiday Village offers a “Shavuot Holiday,” yet after repeated calls and emails, I finally hear back that, however promising it appeared, this “Kosher Shavuot Holiday” somehow includes neither special Shavuot programming nor dairy meals. No blintzes?! Next…
Then somehow I find it: Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi. The concept of The Kibbutz has completely captivated me since my days watching Shalom Sesame – it’s a big farm! All the kids get to live together! Just when it couldn’t get any better, Tirat Tzvi is a Religious Kibbutz. Separate men and women swimming hours! A petting zoo! And… it so looks like a Kibbutz!
Excited, I don’t really think things through as I reach for Jajah.com and the phone. So there I am, attempting to communicate with this kibbutznik named Devora – who somehow thinks I have an 18-year-old. “Um… she’s between one and two,” I try in Hebrew. Except I forget the whole “shana,” “shanatayim” thing. “18…months?!” Anyway, once we get through that, she asks a harder question: for my Israeli phone number. I manage to communicate I’m actually in the US. But I think she heard “Mars.”
“Really?” she gasped. “Why didn’t you say something?” she asks in Hebrew.
Because that would take out half the fun!
After several intermediary calls attempting to divine each other’s email addresses, I called back probably about a fourth time – except someone answered the phone who wasn’t Devora. And she spoke English!
“You do?” I asked, a little too incredulously, trying to hide my disappointment.
Yet, even more devastating than the deadly Hebrew-English switch, I had just started in with, “This is Deborah” – and yet she knew exactly who I was! The whole kibbutz is talking about me! I imagine I’m the incompetent-yet-well-meaning American who has no clue what she’s getting herself into… all of which is true, of course…
I can teach things too, I try to justify to myself – like English! The girl-who-wasn’t-Devora didn’t know how to say “expiration date.” Well, I thought as she repeated it slowly after me, it’s not like a financial transaction is going to solve Global Peoplehood fair and square (Tourist versus Authentic Kibbutznik?) But maybe it’s a start?
Secretly I want to call Devora back at odd hours, just to chit-chat. Alas, moving on…
What Ayelet does:
Well, not much. Plan-making isn’t her forte. Plan-breaking probably is. But I try to forget that.
I had the thought, after the fact, of what Ayelet would think, when she’s a little older, of my conversations with Devora if she could hear them played back (as long as I couldn’t, because that would be terribly embarrassing). Will she be an American who is inordinately proud of her mother and how she’s able to get by in the tongue of our people? Or will she be proficient enough in Hebrew, perhaps even herself a savvy Israeli (?) who would probably not even let it get to the end of the recording before exclaiming, “Nu, ima, really??”