by Johannah Truppin, volunteering on Kibbutz Kishoret through ITrack
With the arrival of my now 10-day-old niece, I have been thinking a lot about names and their meanings recently.
According to trusty Google Translate - a life saver for me here in Israel - the direct translation of “Kishorit” from Hebrew to English is “Spindle”. And a quick Google search (believe it or not, this blog is not sponsored by Google; other search engines are available…) tells me that the Oxford dictionary defines a spindle as “a rod or pin serving as an axis… on which something revolves.”
At first, “Spindle” seemed merely to be a random choice of name for this kibbutz... You know, something chosen because it sounded nice, or after the name of the builder’s first pet fish. But the more I think about it, the more I can see a connection; Kishorit is the lynchpin of the lives of the chaverim.
Some hold down jobs outside of Kishorit, in nearby cities (such as Karmiel), while most work here on-site… everywhere from the kitchen to the organic vegetable garden, to the toy factory (check out their beautiful handicraft here: www.pasteltoys.com
). Part of Kishorit’s philosophy is that “meaningful work with appropriate compensation gives life value and structure” and so each member is supported - with the help of their social workers and the staff - to find a job suited to them and their individual capabilities, should they so wish. It is not compulsory for the chaverim to secure employment but amazingly, in practice, over 97% do.
Day-to-day living is supported at Kishorit in a traditional kibbutz style. Meals are served in the “cheder ochel” (dining room) - a substantial proportion of the food served is organic and comes from Kishorit; from the yoghurts made from the goat’s milk (flavoured with strawberries grown here) to the delicious bread baked in the bakery. All the chaverim, volunteers and staff eat together and I especially enjoy lunchtime when people come from all corners of the kibbutz to sit “b’echad” (together).
Laundry, too, is a communal affair. And even though I am a strange phenomenon (someone who genuinely enjoys doing washing), I have managed to put my bizarre hobby on hold and visit the “cvisah” (laundry) to hand over my dirty smalls. The atmosphere between staff and chaverim is positive, but not patronising. The operation is organised to military precision with a bag and shelf system that to me, an outsider, seems impossible to understand but that obviously works – not so much as a sock has gone missing. And everyone knows washing machines like to eat socks.
(The cvisah also deserve a special mention for washing my post-vegetable garden, grubby Converse Allstars… and getting them to look good as new! Well, almost… they’re actually at that perfect, slightly beaten up stage.)
Kishorit also organises daily social activities that allow the chaverim to try out new things and make friends with others with similar interests. Everything from sessions at the (brand new) gym and swimming pool, through to music and theatre activities, and monthly Shabbat events organised by the group of young “Shinshinim” (the affectionate name for the volunteers here - more on THEM at a later date…). There are also external trips and activities, for example: on Saturday, we took part in a fun run in aid of a Cancer charity. All of these – and more – enrich the lives of the chaverim and give them the opportunity to independently schedule their own free time.
So, what to call a community that offers its members core support with day-to-day life, but yet allows them the freedom to make individual key decisions regarding work and social life?
A bit more internet research (this time Wikipedia) brings up an idea (I say “idea” because I can’t really trust Wikipedia as fact) that Kishorit’s name was originally taken from Proverbs 31:19; “In her hand she… grasps the spindle with her fingers.” Well, whether or not there’s truth in that, it’s a lovely image – and one that complements the earlier definition of the “spindle” perfectly.
The famous Shakespeare quote “a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet” is bang on; the concepts at the root of Kishorit’s philosophy, and their implementation, would not be less effective if this place was called something inconsequential…
But I can’t help feeling just the tiniest bit smug that all my Googling (let’s face it… nobody uses any other search engine) has paid off. And that Kishorit, the Spindle, is meaningful both by name and by nature; providing tangible and robust support for the chaverim to “grasp” onto when they need it but, most importantly and uniquely, the liberty to “revolve around” it as they choose.
For more information about Kishorit and to follow Johannah’s future blogposts, become a friend of Kishorit on Facebook: www.facebook.com/kishorit