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This is one in a series of entries about my recent trip to Israel. I was there from July 17-29, 2012; these entries are being posted a few weeks after the experience. Everything is transfered directly from my notebook and is only edited for grammar and spelling. All words that appear on the blog were written on the trip. More Israel entries are available here.

24 July 2012 — Kinneret; Golan Heights

All morning, we took a look at the kibbutz phenomenon in Israel. Kibbutzim (the plural) are small communities with closed ways of life—bubbles, self-admittedly. The goal is to maintain culture and community. We first learned the history of the style of living and then hopped on a bus to see an old kibbutz and, much more interestingly, see a modern kibbutz, where a spunky lady explained that about ten to 15 years ago, the kibbutz had to change its value system from one that rewarded non-work with one that rewarded effort and individual work. Still, it’s hard for older generations to get younger ones interested in living like this.

Before lunch, we spent too little time at Kibbutz Eshbal, a school that boards its participants, all of whom go there as a last resort before reform school or jail. Questions about teacher training and relapses and recidivism when away, but overall an impressive scholastic concept that incorporates the kibbutz model.

We then ATVd at Golan Heights, a NE Israeli area that used to be Syria’s. In a dispute over water sources for Jordan Lake, Israel moved into Syria to secure those tributaries, enabling out little jaunt. The actual ATV experience was more like driving a souped-up golf cart and eating dust (literally), but the middle portion, when we were able to see the Syria-Israel border and hear about how it’s enforced (the UN) and how peace treaties are ignored because the three parties—the UN, Israel, Syria—all don’t trust the other two.  So, two-kilometer buffer zones, supposed to be de-militarized but in reality not observed, are not. In fact, we were halfway into the zone (one kilometer from Syria), but we are civilians, so it’s OK.

I felt totally cool—badass, even—to be so close to a Middle East hotbed of angst and news.

We reflected while the other bus ATVd. It was the wrap-up session for values, the second of three frames for the trip. We were asked to list 20 life goals (see back of this notebook for the list). 

[Actually, here they are.]

  1. not get fat
  2. love a beautiful person
  3. raise good children
  4. maintain optimism
  5. eat the best food
  6. give my money wisely
  7. stay close with family
  8. feel comfortable with myself
  9. earn praise at work
  10. advance at work if desired
  11. travel to fantastic places
  12. keep old friends
  13. open mind to new friends
  14. resist mental stagnation
  15. read to learn often
  16. get a really cool car
  17. treat grandparents with respect
  18. avoid addictions
  19. manage finances intelligently
  20. continually improve by reflecting

Then, we picked ten values we hold as very important—and then our three most important. My three: pleasure, commitment, and leadership. Then, we ranked each of the life goals based on how well they line up with our three biggest values. One = not all all aligned; 5 = perfectly aligned.

I was pleased to note that most of my goals were good matches, which was validated because those actually are my goals. These thoughts about values, as I’ve told Katie, the facilitator, will be helpful as I resolve life situations.

Dinner at Decks, a Mediterrean restaurant on the water. Meal was nothing special but after it was done, a giant boat strolled up, a lady sang, thanked us for visiting and for being teachers, fireworks went off, and then a five-song dance party started. It was a surreal moment on an unreal trip.

I read the NYT two-star review of Mission Chinese and went to bed.