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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

We Stayed With the Mother of Methuselah – Guest Post by Carol

Posted by rabbiart on November 16, 2008

This morning I hiked on the rim of Machtesh Ramon. Just walking from the hotel to the machtesh was an experience – a family of four ibexes were hanging out by a garbage bin. I watched the daddy ibex (I could tell by his huge horns) climb up on the bin and knocked some garbage to the ground with his nose. The rest of the family came over and ate breakfast. This was an obvious sign of accomodation between wildlife and the town. The machtesh is impressive – a huge canyon with beautiful desert coloring.

Meanwhile Art left with the tsofim. They rode through the machtesh, up the hill, down the hill, around the serpentine curves. He said later that he doesn’t mind uphill or flat, but downhill can be intimidating.

I met Fran, the wife of one of the riders, for breakfast, and then she joined me on the ride to Kibbutz Keturah. I tried to time it so we would catch up to the riders at lunch, but it didn’t work. Instead we passed all riders on the way to the lunch stop. It was very scary passing them, especially on uphill curves. So we left lunch early – before seeing our husbands – as I didn’t want to have to pass the riders again.

We arrived at the kibbutz and hung out while the riders arrived. We did some shopping in the gift shop and ate dates (dates are a third of the income of the kibbutz). And we cheered as the riders arrived.

I was not able to pay to be a guest at the kibbutz, but last summer we had the incredible good fortune of meeting Michael at shul. Michael and his wife live on the kibbutz, and they graciously let not only me but Art stay with them. Elaine has many accomplishments, but while not necessarily the most important, her sprouting of “Methuselah” is the best known (hamavin mavin, or read

Michael led a tour of the orchard for the riders, and it was fascinating. The kibbutz grows two types of dates and also has numerous research projects. The research focuses on medicinal plants, plants requiring less water and others with commercial potential.

I learned that the kibbutz has an innovation program – that is, members can make proposals, and if the kibbutz agrees to the idea, it is funded for a time. And that is how the Aravah Institute was started. There was a proposal to do horseback riding or an environmental educational institute, and the person heading the kibbutz at the time said (approximately) “you don’t know anything about horses, but you do know environmental law, so let’s do the institute.” And the rest (after much work) is history!

We had dinner together in the sukkah (which was huge and beautiful and had not yet been taken down). Afterwards we were both tired, so we fell asleep.


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