Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sukkot @ 37°C

In case you were wondering… 37 degrees Celsius = 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit!!!!

I just got back from a tour of the experimental orchards here. It’s pretty cool stuff. More to come below…

Weekly Recap

  • I got kicked out of Hebrew, because I knew the Aleph Bet. Now I’m supposed read newspaper articles, write questions about what I read, and then answer them (kinda silly?). But, instead I do things like apply to Hebrew U and write to you (more practical I think).

  • Went for a lovely hike on Thursday afternoon. See more HERE!

  • Celebrated my Birthday and Sukkot!

My B-Day

  • It was surely a 21st. As you may remember, Thursday night is pub night. Again, I will give you more detail if you e-mail me.

  • I spent some relaxing time at the pool.

  • As you can see in the pictures, they also baked me a DELICIOUS cake and gave me a very nice card.

  • While I missed all of you at home, I very much enjoyed my birthday as it led right into my favorite holiday – Sukkot!

SUKKOT @ 37°C!

I never thought I would not want to sit in the sukka because it was too HOT!


  • It started on Thursday night when I went with a few friends to help decorate Ketura’s very large (bigger than those of JTS) sukka. It was empty when we started and by the end, with an army of little kids making paper chains and drawings, it was masterpiece! Take a look:

    From Fall 2009 - MASA

  • The next morning, we went with Rabbi Michael Cohen to pick our own hadas and etrog. Then, we sat under date palms as we discussed the meaning and significance of Sukkot and land-based holidays. Being surrounded by the 4 minim (except willow, which doesn’t grow in the area) and picking our own for the holiday is a pretty neat feeling.

  • The entire Kibbutz ate together in ONE sukka that night. Overwhelming, but amazing!

Shabbat / Yom Tov (one day hag!):

  • I took my weekly bike ride @ 7:30a.m.

    • But, I got to the top of the mountain way before the other two guys. So, I kept going a few kilometers to Kibbutz Neve Harif. Our timing was pretty good, because as I was passing the rest site, they were leaving and we rode down together.

    • BEST PART… since one of the guys, Bill, is a member, he has a key to the pool. So, went directly from our bikes into, literally, our private pool. It was WONDERFUL! This was also good training for my triathlon one day.

  • While listening to the Haftarah in shul, I realized that it mentions the Arava:
    “All the land shall be turned as the Arava…” (Zechariah 14:10). First, I thought that was pretty cool in it of itself, since I was there. Moreover, Rashi comments that this is implying bad things because this area was seen as a wasteland. HOWEVER, I can attest that this is no longer the case. Things are flourishing left and right. That, I think, is even cooler! (…Once again, proving that religion must change with time…)

  • Kiddush, lunch, nap, POOL!

Seed Spitting Ceremony and Party

With the new moon, we used the principles of biodynamics to infuse our positive energy and happiness into the seeds. I don’t really buy this stuff, but Yair will explain his beliefs:

See more shtuyot HERE!

Touring the Experimental Orchards with Dr. Elaine Soloway

“I want to grow trees that rejoice in the desert.” – E. Soloway

Read more here: The Center for Sustainable Agriculture

What We Saw:

  • We walked through and tasted almost all 7 minim.

  • Marula (relative of the mango)– good for brandy, ice cream, sorbet, soft drinks, oil, and table fruit.

  • As we sat in a small forest of Neem Trees and felt a breeze that didn’t exist 10ft away in the open air, Elaine tried to prove to us that planting trees is the best solution for climate change. The Neem is especially good, because even in the desert it creates its own soil!

  • She grows a lot of plants for Hadassah Hospital for medicinal purposes.

  • The tour was a bit long, but very interesting. We all requested a sequel.

Tomorrow we go to Eilat for the day….

Moadim L’Simcha!



  • Many of you have said I sound bored. That’s not true. There’s just nothing to do.

  • Thus, I am learning how to relax. I have come to really appreciate just sitting after a meal and letting my food digest, while enjoying the company of my friends. This begs the question…For what are we always rushing in the New York?

  • While riding, Bill was telling us about his friend who is a professor and never sleeps. He said, “Now there’s a guy who wants to achieve something…I have no interest in that!” That’s when I decided, I’m not sure the Kibbutz life is for me.

  • Finally, after a lot of people watching, I look forward to the day when I’m settled and satisfied enough in life that I can wear whatever I want, with my socks up to my knees and my belt above my bellybutton, and not care one bit!

Shoutout #26: Amy Winiker, you are phenomenal. As a good friend and having worked with you in many capacities, I can honestly say, you are a superstar! I miss you and the entire Teaneck/CRB gang.

Shoutout #27: Allen Lipson - A good camper and a good guy. I love that you are always so interested in how and what I’m doing. You have a bright future ahead! Come back to camp… it’s good for you.

Shoutout #28: Oren, you are clearly a new reader, because we’ve discussed this before. I can’t give you a proper honor without knowing your last name or at least seeing a picture. Who are you?

Shoutout #29: The young Gabe Pincus. Well, we should probably be doing our alternative ulpan right now, but heck with it! I like living, discussing, and hanging out with you. Keep up the good work!

Shoutout #30: Ben Langer - I already gave a half a blog post, so ‘nuff said. I look forward to our friendship growing and maturing. Thanks for rounding out my “follower” numbers!

P.S. I created a collective photo account for the entire group. You can view our fun at Or, just click on the photos under “AIES Photos” on the right.

P.P.S. You can also view some of my photos with captions at:

P.P.P.S. I just remembered as I finished writing this post that it is still yom tov in the States. So, Hag Samaech and Shavua Tov!


Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
מכון הערבה ללימודי הסביבה
معهد وادي عربه للدراسات البيئية
Fall Semester 2009