I have to say, it is with some mixed feelings that I write with tremendous excitement about today's big party. You'll see what I mean....
They had been advertising for several days that there will be a big party at the refet (the dairy farm) to celebrate the new "haschacha" (whatever that is...). A few days is more notice than they give around here for some weddings and bar mitzvahs, so you could tell it was gonna be big. Today was the big day, and we were about to head down, when the sky opened and it began to pour. We waited out the heavy part of the rain, while I was trying to picture what was happening to the moon bounces that were promised. When the weather was down to a drizzle, we put on raincoats (except Shmuel), and headed down to the refet.
Sure enough, there was a moon bounce and a big blow up slide. Israeli-style, there were no rules, and kids of all sizes were trampling all over each other. But no serious casualties, and lots of fun. There was also a popcorn machine, ice cream, drinks, and a game where they made a pit full of hay and the kids got to climb in and search for candy inside.
It felt like the whole kibbutz was there. I am not good at numbers, but I certainly didn't notice anyone missing (except Ross and Tali, who were at Tali's piano lesson).
When it came time for the afternoon prayers, instead of trekking up to the shul, since everyone was at the party, they just prayed right there (there must be a special religious dispensation for kibbutzniks to be allowed to pray surrounded by the smell of the cows...).
After the afternoon prayers, there were speeches. The speeches were very short and to the point. One of the head administrators of the kibbutz got up to make some "thank you"s. He began by saying he wants to thank those with whom this day would not be possible. He said, "I'd like to thank 3219, 3457, 2984, 3542, and 1914 for their contributions." It took me a minute to realize he was referring to the cows, who are stamped with numbers. It was hilarious, while at the same time touching a nerve. It makes me crazy to see all those cows cooped up in little pens with big numbers tattooed on their sides.
Anyway, he gave some other thanks, and then another guy got up to talk about how much milk they had produced and what a successful year they had had. He mentioned one particular cow, Felix, "may she rest in peace", who had apparently broken a national record for lifetime milk production. He said that thanks to their great success, they were able to increase the business, leading to the dedication today of the new "sechacha" (which is, it seems, I don't know how to call it, but like a roof without walls that will make space for more cows).
The first guy had already thanked the Arab contractors who oversaw the project, but another guy got up later to elaborate how very proud they were to work with such high quality contractors, who took great pride in their work. He said he thinks it is amazing that we are about to cooperate so well together with our talented fellow Arab countrymen.
The guy who was speaking last announced, "And now the part of the evening you've all been waiting for.... The hot air balloon will be arriving momentarily... just kidding folks, but seriously... the kids of the kindergarten and preschool will come up and sing." Then Adin and 40 - 50 other kids got up and sang "Eretz Zavat Chalav" and "B'Rosh Hashana." That was indeed the highlight. Except, maybe, for the next part....
After the musical performance, we were all invited back to the "sechacha," where the refet staff said "Shechechiyanu" and cut the ribbon that had been tied in front of the gate. then they blasted music, and opened the gate. The sechacha is huge, and the cows started entering just a few at a time. (here's where my excitement with the evening and my mixed feelings really fought it out...) As they trickled in, it was like they couldn't believe how much space they had. They began walking in slowly, but when they saw the space before them, they got so excited they started to leap. Then, I kid you not, they were DANCING! They were bucking about back and forth (seemingly) to the music, while everyone clapped and cheered. You could see the fresh excitement with each new cow that entered the space and saw the dance floor before her. Until finally it was all crowded like the other sections, and they were back to just standing there, looking around on the ground for food. So that was the sad part. I wanted them each to get their own big sechacha. Oe maybe they could divide them up into a few cows per sechacha, so they could dance together (Don't worry-- no mixed dancing-- they're all girls!!), and then maybe they could sit and drink some tea and play Scrabble. It's weird-- when I suggested they hire me in the refet to implement my new ideas, they turned me down. But they did say I could come down one day and give an English lesson to the cows, like I did at Adin's gan last year. So that could be fun....
Stay tuned for the next update, when I will teach the cows to say "Moooooo...."
Until then, Good night, good day, and a Happy and Healthy New Year!!