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Day 102 Of The War: It’s Time To Go Home

One of the volunteers used his talent to decorate the lids that cover the bowls
One of the volunteers used his talent to decorate the lids that cover the bowls

In the summer of 1973, during my time in the army, I spent several months at Kibbutz Mayan Baruch in the north. The kibbutz is situated very close to Kiryat Shmona, and currently, it is one of the areas in the north that has been evacuated. At the time, prior to the Yom Kippur War, it seemed like a very pastoral kibbutz.  I didn’t get to know any kibbutz members,  as a soldier with no uniform, I was treated as one of the volunteers from abroad. It was as though they didn’t see us. There were so many volunteers who came to help Israel between the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War on October 6th, that the members didn’t want to waste time and energy on temporary residents.

I have not seen as many volunteers in Israel since I was a soldier.
I have not seen as many volunteers in Israel since I was a soldier. Don’t get me wrong, in the restaurant we have wonderful volunteers. But ever since before Christmas, almost everyday we host groups of young volunteers from abroad. It is strange to find myself in the role of the Kibbutz members of my youth. I am a bit weary of seeing every morning a new group of volunteers, but I  try to make their volunteering experience at the restaurant as meaningful as possible. It’s not easy: although it is heartening to see how young Jewish people from abroad are showing up to help Israel, we no longer need  so many volunteers, we can complete the work ourselves much more efficiently on our own. I feel saddened for them because they lack the opportunity to truly interact with Israelis or engage in conversations with them; all interactions are facilitated through their group leaders. These young people appear too shy or insecure to take independent steps in a foreign country where they don’t speak the language. However, it seems that those organizing these volunteers’ tours are reluctant to stop them, and we can’t say anything because we don’t want to hurt their feelings: after all, they crossed the Atlantic to help Israel

It’s different when more mature people come to Israel on their own for several months and genuinely try to fit in. From conversations with older volunteers, I’ve learned that they have come to stay in Israel for a while because, after October 7th, they no longer feel comfortable or safe in their own countries. I’ve heard this sentiment from people in the US, France, Britain, and Canada. I hope that, with time, things will go back to normal. It will be interesting to see what happens next, but it’s certainly time, at least for the young Jewish people, to return home and resume their lives.

About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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