My journey here is an introspective one. I left the the monotonous 9 to 5, the happy hours, and the superficial life that consumed me in New York City to come back down to earth. Here, in Israel, I am one of the people. Not only as a Jew do I feel like I truly belong in this country, but also as a volunteer working toward the prosperity of a community.
Every day I am awoken by the scents of wild Eucalyptus emitted from the trees outside my door and the morning winds which carry the smell of livestock straight to my window.
I work on a cow farm and although my duties are simple, they are very important for the prosperity of my Kibbutz. I must herd and milk over 200 cows. All of them are female and each one has its own personality. Cows are extremely heavy, smelly, and quite dumb animals. However, there is some holier-than-thou quality about them that helps me overlook the fact that I am knee deep in their shit. I have inadvertently taken an interest in these cows. You could say that we have a good rapport.
After my work is done, I have time to do whatever I please. Fortunately, I have access to a one-room schoolhouse equipped with an upright piano and an A/C unit. I have never appreciated A/C more than I have these last three months in Israel. So, with rewarding work and time to indulge in my favorite hobbies, this has truly become a paradise.
I think the major attraction to this type of lifestyle is its simplicity. I appreciate how people here cherish the basic yet completely essential components of life such as friendship, family, and tradition while disregarding more trivial details. Simplicity, while it has its benefits, can be a detriment to a Brooklyn boy like myself. I feel some disconnect from all that I could be doing, creating, all of the new people I could be meeting. But then I look at my surroundings and all of the possibilities that are right in front of me and I forget about why I even put my reality into question.
This community, this paradise, is the reality for over 300 kibbutz members — families who have lived here for generations.
I am just a volunteer, a passer-by, and no permanent roots will be planted here. Israel has a place in my heart and a time may come when I take my first flight from JFK airport to Israel as an Israeli citizen. But for now, this trip is just a stepping stone.
Sammy Schall is a New York native with a BA in international affairs and an interest in foreign service. He is currently traveling throughout the middle east and volunteering his time on a Kibbutz in Israel.