Adele Raemer
Life on the Border with the Gaza Strip

Shavuot? I’ll have to give you a rain check

I can't celebrate this harvest holiday if I'm not home on my kibbutz rejoicing with those brutally torn from us on Oct. 7
Shavuot 2023, Kibbutz Nirim (Adele Raemer)
Shavuot on Nirim, in happier days

Shavuot is my favorite holiday. It always begins sometime between Passover and Independence Day, when I am asked to choreograph a funny “dance”. I always say yes, because the evening of home-made dances won’t happen if we all said no, but I always cringe at first, and postpone. My rule for rehearsals: no more than two weeks before the holiday, and rehearsals don’t last longer than half an hour. Whoever comes, comes, and the MOST important thing is to have fun throughout the process.

Photo credit: Adele Raemer Shavuot 2023, Kibbutz Nirim

Then we get to the day of the holiday. It’s the holiday where everyone who knows someone on a kibbutz anyplace, renews connections to get an invite. Because there is NO place that does Shavuot better than the kibbutzim.

Photo credit: Adele Raemer Shavuot 2023, Kibbutz Nirim

Shavuot on kibbutz is humongous bales of hay and tractors hitched to wagons, touring the fields, proudly showing off our agricultural prowess to the guests. It’s the bearing of the first fruits and dancing proudly with the babies born that year. It’s cheesecake, of course.

Photo credit: Adele Raemer Shavuot 2023, Kibbutz Nirim

In preparation for Shavuot, weeks earlier, each branch of the kibbutz hosts the different age groups of our children, and educates them about the work they do. Then, on the day of the celebration, proudly together they strut their best produce.

Photo credit: Adele Raemer Shavuot 2023, Kibbutz Nirim

But this year…. this year there IS no Shavuot for me. Because if I cannot celebrate with my family and friends in the fields of Kibbutz Nirim, if I cannot ride the tractors to the celebration site, or dance the silly dance with those willing to go with my flow, then there is no Shavuot for me. If I cannot take pictures of our gargantuan combine harvesters harvesting the wheat through clouds of dusty earth in our golden fields which our farmers work so hard all year to nurture, then there is no Shavuot for me. There is no Shavuot for me if we cannot celebrate with those people who were ruthlessly torn from us on that Black Sabbath back in October.

Photo credit: Adele Raemer Shavuot 2023, Kibbutz Nirim

Nothing in our lives has been the same ever since, so although Shavuot is my favorite holiday, there is no Shavuot for me this year. Even despite the fact that Kibbutz Shuval have warmly opened their gates to all of Nirim to celebrate with them, a fact for which I am extremely grateful, there is no Shavuot for me this year.

Next year, however….

We will return to our kibbutz on the border. We will rebuild and replant.

We will reclaim that which was brutally stolen from us.

We will bury and mourn our dead and please God we will rejoice in those whom we get back – one way or another. Our hearts are broken but our spirits are not, and we will return to reclaim what is rightfully ours: our fields, our homes, our community and our joy of living in the Western Negev and fulfilling the Zionist dream, making it bloom.

About the Author
Born in the USA, Adele has lived in a Kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip since 1975. She is a mother and a grandmother living and raising her family on the usually paradisaical, sometimes hellishly volatile border. She moderates a FB group named "Life on the Border". Adele recently retired after 38 years as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, as well as a teacher trainer and counselor for the Israeli MoE for EFL and a Tech Integration Coach. She blogs here about both Life on the Border, as well as about digital pedagogy, in "Digitally yours, @dele". She is a YouTuber, mostly on the topic of digital stuff. ( Her personal channel covers other issues close to her heart (medical clowning, Life on the Border, etc.) ( In addition, she is a trained medical clown and, although on COVID hiatus, until allowed back into hospitals, she clowns as often as she can in the pediatric ward in the hospital in Ashkelon. As a result of her activity as an advocate for her region, she was included among the Ha'aretz "Ten Jewish Faces who made Waves in 2018" In November 2018 she was invited to Geneva by an independent investigative committee for the UN to bear witness to the border situation, and in December 2019 addressed the UN Security Council at the request of the US ambassador to the UN.
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