The 11th Floor

A Perpsective Overlooking Jerusalem, Israeli Life, and Talmud Torah

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Everything My Mother Told Me Was Wrong…

. . . when it comes to going around barefoot. We spent the weekend at Kibbutz Keturah, situated about 40 km north of Eilat. It is smack dab in the east of the Negev, with majestic views of the desert awaiting you from the front and back door of each room in the guest house.
Keturah is not a secular kibbutz per se; nor is it a kibbutz dati (religious); it is the one of two kibbutzim in all of Israel that is open to both lifestyles (Chanaton being the other). The dining hall is kosher, but few people attend Shabbat services. Friday night dinner filled every table in the chadar ochel, but there was neither table songs nor communal bentsching (grace after meals).

The kibbutz is more of a classic socialist endeavor than most, with a greater emphasis on egalitarianism than most, and salary is still based on need, not work. There is still plenty of evidence of the kibbutznik lifestyle is alive and well. Communal meals in the dining room are one aspect of it, as is the informality of dress (There we no ties to be seen on Shabbat, but there were 3 men who wore Jalabiays (the long Egyptian tunic). This includes kids going barefoot. Going barefoot outdoors in the city may be a bad idea, but my mom always told me that even going around barefoot indoors was unhealthy. You’ll get sick or catch a cold- and Jewish boys don’t go around barefoot; these and other statements were regular mantras chanted during my childhood.

Well, Mom was wrong about the barefoot thing. I saw plenty of healthy, happy, charming, giggling children running around barefoot, indoors and out. If these kids are sick, people will pay to catch what they are suffering from. “Perhaps it was just a few of the kids, then. An indulgence, if you will, because Israeli parents spoil there kids.” Nope. Kids were barefoot in all sorts of places, as were, of course, adults. Grown men came to dinner without shoes.

So my mom was wrong about going barefoot. But she is still right about plenty of other things, including eating before you go swimming and watching too much TV, as well as some of life's more difficult promblems.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

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