Fear of ladies, by Laura Hoffman

Here it was, 1981 and I was back in Israel for my 3rd time. This time as a 2 month volunteer at Kibbutz Yifat. Although I was brought up going to Hebrew school and even had spent several months at Kibbutz Mizra on an Ulpan, I still didn’t really know Hebrew. So each day I vowed to learn a bit and this day I was taught the word ‘geveret‘ by my ‘adoptive kibbutz family’. Well, so I thought.

I went to work in the kitchen as usual mostly communicating with everyone through smiles and a few ‘shaloms’. Being young, 25 and strong I was given the grunge jobs. So there it was time to carry the huge crate of vegetable throwouts out to the big compost pile outside…I opened the door went outside and there behold was the vegetable heap with a million bees swarming around! Being highly allergic to bees I raced back into the kitchen totally freaked out and said I can’t go out there! More than one woman cutting vegetables stared at me so I said ‘I can’t go out; I’m allergic to the ‘geveret! (Yes I thought geveret meant bee…). So a couple of the women go outside and look around….then return and say to me go outside; there’s no geveret. So I started out again and then freaked out and came back and again tried desperately to say, mime ( I pointed to the tiny pocketbook I carried around with me everywhere that housed my epipen – talk about everyone thinking I was a Jewish Princess carrying a pocketbook on a kibbutz!), explain that really it was a bad idea for me to go out there with all the ‘geverets‘. A few more women came, looked at me, went outside to have a look around, and then come back in only to start to chatter and look at me…so the manager was called…Great I thought..he will understand me…so I explained how I was allergic to the geveret and outside was lots and lots of geverets and I just couldn’t go out there! So he listened to me, and to a few of the women, opened the door and looked out onto the outside merpesset, came in , looked at me closely and then told me to go cut onions…..all day I smiled at the women, got lots of attention, and even at dinner that night lots of friendly smiles. The next day when I reported to work they informed me I was now moved to work in the minimarket, by myself, staking shelves.

I didn’t find out for awhile that the word for bee was devorah! So I never had a chance to explain this to anyone! So to this day, I am sure that there is a great story of the crazy girl who came to volunteer at Yifat…with a desperate fear of imaginary ladies!!!

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