Now that I've finally recovered, it's time to tell you all about hodesh irgun. For those of you steady followers, you may remember it from last year, when Abaye dressed up as a drunken Russian, and went to the kibbutz store to try to purchase beer (strictly for the costume...).
This year's chodesh irgun was AMAZING-- not just because it was actually amazing, but also because of the difference in the kids from last year until now.
Just to remind y'all, chodesh irgun is a month in which all the kids (4th -12th grade) work hard preparing a huge mural (covering their "headquarters"), a funny play (they were HILARIOUS), and a Shabbat meal. The first few weeks, they work hard once or twice a week. The last week, they are out crazy late every night. They don't get homework, and school is cancelled that Sunday.
This year, our kids took chodesh irgun very seriously. While last year, some of them were still ambivalent about all the programming, this year, they were all on top of getting to everywhere on time and prepared, and they were all bouncing up and down to show us their murals over Shabbat.
Right after Shabbat, the kids go on a big parade around the kibbutz, screaming at the top of their lungs to make sure no one sleeps through the festivities. They holler out chants like it is the last day of summer camp. My favorite is the one that goes, "Are you really a kibbtzik?" "Yes I'm really a kibbutznik!" "If you;re REALLY a kibbutznik then say moo moo!" (or "koo koo rikoo" etc). THey also do the hokey pokey in Hebrew. In addition, they sing loud chants about how they are better than the other groups from other places. It sounds very convincing and intimidating now, when there are no other groups around, but I can picture them when they actually get together with these other groups (which they do a couple of times a year or so), and they are the teensiest group there. Still, they won't lose for lack of trying!
Bnei Akiva is all youth led. The counselors are all high school students. And everyone is trusted with a lot of responsibilities. When they do the chants, everyone takes turns leading, including Shmuel (who was so loud and smiley!), and yes, even Abaye.
Abaye, formerly known as our very shy child, was the most enthusiastic of them all. He chose to participate in the optional "daglanut" (which I like to call "flaginess, but it is better explained as dancing/marching with huge Israeli flags). He took upon himself to provide his entire group with all necessary costume equipment, and he acted brilliantly in his play (in which Snow White falls into a deep sleep after biting from an apple without saying a bracha, and then they hold a big "American Idol" (the Israeli version) game show to choose a tzaddik (a righteous person) to give her a kiss and then marry her).
When the 4 tzaddiks presented themselves, one was a black hat American yeshiva guy (with a frighteningly good American accent), one learned Talmud all day, one was a hippie with long hair and a tie dye shirt who had become spiritual in India, and the fourth was, of course, the guy who didn't really know so much, but at the end when everyone was screaming about why they were the best, he said that he didn't think everyone should be fighting. Guess who won. go on-- guess. Abaye was one of the judges, Sleepy the dwarf. He walked around in cute PJs, angry bird slippers (which I bought him for the occasion), a ski hat turned night cap, a sleep mask he received on the airplane last summer when we flew on his birthday, and one of those airplane pillows around his neck, falling asleep everywhere, and making funny comments about sleeping. He was a riot!
Tali's group is too old for the actual plays. Their job was to do funny little skits between the plays. They were very funny. Tali was in her element. They were the group that received their official name (that will belong to Bnei Akiva people their age all over the world from now on for eternity, which they lit up in fire on a huge stand-- the name is Eytan, if you care. It is a very big mysterious deal until it is revealed...). Next year they will be counselors.
Shmuel also had a blast. His play was a series of intentionally misinterpreted readings from the rabbis acted out. I wish I could tell you some, but most of them kind of flew past us, being in Hebrew and all.... We could tell it was very funny. But the amazing part was how great friends everyone seemed to be. It was just so tremendous to watch. After the late night, Rivital's counselors took them out to a restaurant for dinner. She came home after midnight.
Aside from Hodesh Irgun, the boys are loving school. They all adore their teachers. Abaye is excited to go in the morning, and he jumps on every opportunity to sign up for extra things (like arriving early one morning a week for learning with tea and biscuits, and going once a week to build things out of mud). He loves to talk about his favorite subjects. He pretends that he will pretend to be sick on test days, but he never really does, and he aces them all.
Tali's school is not as great this year, but we are working on it. The one good thing is that she was invited to join this elite program. It is funded by some very wealthy people who want to make smart Israelis smarter. It involves staying late once a week, and going on special trips to different labs and offices. If she sticks with it, they will offer her scholarships for all kinds of things in her future, including special HS programs and college. She didn't think she would like it, but she loves it. It is supposed to be mostly science enrichment, which she claims to not be interested in, but for now it is Math and English. She likes math (especially when it's challenging), and she is exempted from the English, so she just leaves early. If she wants to continue next year, she will have to add either biology or physics, which she finds disgusting and boring respectively, but we will see. Mom-- you can put in your 2 cents, but I'd wait until the time is closer and she is more convinced she loves it. She is going on a 3 day optional seminar with them over Hanuka, so I hope that will open her eyes to the joy of science....
In adult news, Ross had been traveling like crazy so things have been hectic. He is here now for a short time, but he leaves again this Thursday. Meanwhile, I have started a job 2 days a week pulling small groups of kids out of English class and teaching them. Very low stress. Not sure yet how it is going. Ups and downs. But the school and the teachers are very supportive, and there is virtually no preparation, and the travel is not bad. And some of the kids are very very cute.
I feel like there is more, but I'm tired. It's OK, I know where to reach you if I think of something else.
In the meantime, gnite!