December 23, 2018

Everything is Possible - הכל אפשרי

Life in Israel is intense. It can bounce from harmony to terror; from serenity to fear and from wholeness to shattered – within seconds.

Recently a pregnant woman waiting at a bus stop was shot by terrorists. She and her husband were seriously wounded and her baby who had to be prematurely delivered died a few days later. My older daughter was standing at this same bus stop on this very day – just one hour before the attack. The wounded woman’s aunt is acting in the same play with my younger daughter.

A few days later, terrorists opened fire on soldiers guarding another bus stop in the area. Two young soldiers were killed and a third who was shot in the head is critically injured. The 21-year-old soldier is now fighting for his life. Netanel is part of our community – his parents, like us, are North American olim. Their daughter was recently engaged to be married - and in the midst of their celebration, life collapsed. They ask that everyone pray for their son’s recovery. Just a few weeks ago, my son’s best friend was guarding the same bus stop on his army reserve duty.

Whether we are directly related to the victims or not, we are connected and affected. It is a sick and heavy feeling, yet these tragedies drive Israelis to increase their acts of kindness and compassion.

Yet they will continue to build this land. Using a combination of creativity, research, technology, open hearts and determination, Israelis are motivated to improve life both here in Israel and around the world.

There is a small place nestled in a valley near Modi’in, barely sign-posted, that represents our intense desire for community and harmony and tikkun olam, fixing the world. It is called Hava & Adam (Eve and Adam). 

This educational farm teaches sustainable and ecological living to young people from all over the world.

Our neighbor Jesse, who was there on a two-month ‘Work the Land’ program, invited us to see how this magical community works. 

Walking inside, we left behind the stress and pollution of the outside world and entered a place of peace, health and wholeness.
Art from recycled paper.

We first sat down for a healthy vegan lunch. People streamed in from the fields and sat in silence until one participant shared her thoughts on gratitude.  We then filled our plates with delicious home-grown greens, 70% of which were harvested in these fields. The vegan meals are cooked by the participants and leftovers are scraped and composted.

Jesse then gave us an inspired and enthusiastic tour of a place that is a true Garden of Eden. 

Inspiring art: 'The walls of fear will melt'
Many of the structures were built from hand-made straw bale bricks. One area teaches students how to create the mud bricks from a combination of organic substances and to also create clay art.   

Plastic bottles and glass are reused in creative ways in the structures and there is an art center where participants learn ways to create art by recycling.

The farm is filled with creative artwork: mandalas hanging from trees, sculptures made of recycled computer parts and old bathtubs and toilets that are now planters. There are words of wisdom carved into signs and painted on doorways so no matter which way one turns, one cannot help but be inspired.

Mosaic at the outdoor Mermaid Shower.

The gardens are based on the principles of permaculture where no pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used. 

Energy is harnessed by the sun and provided by compost – even toilet waste is composted. 

And there are two very affectionate resident donkeys who produce nutrient-rich waste which is also composted.

Many crops are grown on the grounds – on our tour, we foraged our way through the gardens, munching on various herbs, sampling seasonal vegetables, nuts and fruits. The dark leaves of kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Swiss chard glistened in the sun.

Recycled shopping cart grows produce.
Herbs such as sage, lavender, rosemary and calendula are picked, hung in bundles, dried and then infused. The sweet aroma in the herbal healing center is intoxicating. Here the students learn how to create essential oils, infusions and healing salves from 100% natural ingredients.

It was touching to be in a place that works in total harmony with nature and to meet young people who are devoted to pursuing this knowledge and who strive to resuscitate a simple, clean and meaningful lifestyle.

It was hard to say goodbye, to turn the key and ignite the car engine then merge into commuter traffic on the speedy highway. Yet, within minutes, we could see the soaring towers of Tel Aviv where the start-up nation sows and harvests high tech.

Israel is a country of inspiring contrasts filled with meaning. In these times of darkness and fear, Israelis hold together and are strengthened. 
Despite the pain, they will continue to focus on their places of study, their fields and their labs; they will never sink into the darkness.

Jesse beside door where it is written "Everything is possible."
Instead they choose to transform our broken world into light with an unremitting desire to make it a better place – just like Hava & Adam, today’s Garden of Eden where the words written on the door are 'hakol efshari.'   Everything is possible. 

And it is. We should all pray for the recovery of Netanel ben Shayna Tziporah.