Kibbutz, Living in Community, Parenting, Work

Kibbutz Commute

This morning you might have mistaken me for a Folger’s commercial.

I left the house this morning with a big ceramic mug of piping hot, fresh, homemade coffee in my hand. My husband was alongside me loving up his own cup. My two little ones played “parade” as they walked single file up the hill to their respective ganim*. It’s January, and the sun was bright in the sky. There was a bit of a chill in the air — enough to wear a fleece over my long-sleeved hoodie– but clear blue skies heralded the coming of another gorgeous day. Unlike what our friends and family in New Jersey are preparing for — yet another snow storm.

This is our kibbutz commute. (Happy sigh.)

Of course, we’re new immigrants and, for all intents and purposes, still without signficant work to focus on, other than unpacking boxes and adjusting to life without our Blackberrys.

Both Avi and I are freelance consultants at the moment with a only few projects to keep us busy and to contribute to our cost of living. This is temporary, of course, so it’s too soon to tell if our morning glory will be permanent or if it will soon revert back to morning rush once we seek out and secure additional work.

Still, we took notice today on our walk back down the hill of the differences between the suburban and the kibbutz commute. For one thing, Avi said, you need to be chipper in the morning. No more eyes turned down, I-pod turned up, ignore your fellow train rider attitude. From the time we left the house until the time we arrived at our front door, we exchanged about 75 “boker tovs,” 25 “yom tovs,” and two dozen enormous smiles.

As a new arrival, these warm greetings are welcoming and reassuring, but will it soon get old? Personally, I’m having a hard time looking presentable in the morning — the water here is working against me, and my hair looks greasy no matter how often I wash it.  I’m really regretting the savvy, short hair cut I got before I moved because it makes a ponytail impossible.

Will I still welcome the friendly interactions when our kids inevitably revert back to psychotic, disagreeable rugrats after a bad night sleep or too many kosher marshmallows at a neighbor’s house? No one wants to be on display as they have to parent their child through a temper tantrum.

Oh well. That’s the kibbutz commute.

For sure, I don’t miss the bundling up of winter gear, the warming of the mini van so the automatic door will open, the driving up and down icy streets, or the three-stop drop off. So far, the smiles and greetings come easily to me because I’m significantly more relaxed than I have been in a very long time — at least since I gave birth to my first child.

But, the truth is, a lot of my relief likely comes from a reduction in tasks and demands.

My oldest dresses himself in a school “uniform” (iron-on t-shirts with the school logo and sweatpants) and walks himself up the street to the bus stop.  My littlest is fed a healthy breakfast and a hot lunch, so less for me to pack and prepare. My middle guy is the only one home mid-afternoon for lunch and, since he is the one who most benefits from one-on-one time, he’s a lot less grumpy at the end of the day when we all meet together again as a family.

Is this Israel? Or just a lifestyle shift? Many might argue that I could have achieved this by moving back to Arizona or putting my kids in daycare. Perhaps, they’d be right.

I’m not going to spend too much time carefully considering why and how I’m so relaxed right now. I don’t want to jinx it. But, I think it’s important to publicly aknowledge its existence so that when my kids come home with lice (God forbid) or the toilet backs up, I can count on you to remind me that once upon a time, my life was a cheery, sunny commercial for blissful living.

Boker tov = Good morning
Yom tov = Have a good day
Ganim = kindergartens

3 thoughts on “Kibbutz Commute”

  1. Jen
    Great blog!
    “Personally, I’m having a hard time looking presentable in the morning — the water here is working against me, and my hair looks greasy no matter how often I wash it.”
    Look closely and you may notice that there’s plenty of parents taking their kids to Gan in the morning still wearing pajamas under their clothes or a big coat. I wouldn’t worry too much if I were you.


  2. Funny that I know half youre Kibbutz…Hi Jonny 🙂
    I never left my house with pajamas- there was always a limit to how much I was willing to share with the rest of the Kibbutz. Its probably very different when one comes as an adult rather than growing up as a kibbutznikit…soon hello’s will turn into smiles and will shorten the way back home.
    Its so great that youre here, I have to come for shabbat 🙂


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