This weekend Kibbutz felt alive. Congregation Beth El in Berkeley had their family weekend at Camp Newman. On Shabbat the guests enjoyed OKY squash and zucchini with their dinner. It was an amazing feeling to feed over 150 people with healthy and local food from the Kibbutz.
The middle schoolers came to OKY to deepen their experience of the week’s torah portion, Ki Tavo. To represent the ceremony of the first fruits that is central to the Ki Tavo parasha, we harvested the apples from an old apple tree. The parasha begins by saying that when the Israelites enter the land of Israel they must take the first fruits of the land, put them in a basket and give them to a place that G-d has designated. Through a story told by old Rebbe Shlomo (me dressed up like an old man) we harvested the apples and said the blessing over the first fruit:
Blessed are you, Hashem, who has made your world lacking nothing and has produced goodly trees to give delight onto your children.
The parasha also speaks of tithes, the commandment for 10% of the harvest to go to the ani’im, the disadvantaged in the community. So, we separated out 10% of the harvest to donate to a local church that gives food to those in need. The kids weren’t satisfied with the meager 10% and we collectively chose to donate the majority of the apples, leaving enough for ourselves to have a tasty afternoon snack.
Another highlight of the weekend was a tour I gave to two families. Since it was such a small group we got to spend a lot of time getting to know one another and the surroundings. We made a bouquet of weeds for the chickens, sawed off some oak branches for the goats, talked about the cycles of plants, and held and complimented many chickens (an oky tradition). The kids were able to collect eggs, eat fresh food, and say blessings over the pears they picked. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.
This weekend I realized that Kibbutz isn’t just camp newman’s little farm and it certainly isn’t mine. Kibbutz is our community’s farm, a place for exploration, growth, and a place to share food and knowledge.