Sunday, October 23, 2005
On Saturday I had written an entry to post, but was unable to come online to post it until now. In the meantime a whole lot of shit has gone down in the program and the post I had written 2 days ago seems so silly and irrelevent now. I will post it below anyway, if you are interested.

The co-ordinators of the Livnot program sat our group down on Saturday night and gave us an ultimatum of sorts and told us they were splitting the group up. It's long and complicated and I don't feel like getting into the details but needless to say the group's reaction was large and many are not sure what to do. Stay? Go? What the hell has gone so wrong here?? The staff is unhappy with us and we are unhappy with them. After the staff spoke with our group about their plan to split us up our group had a meeting for over 2 hours, away from the ears of the staff. We tried to sort out our feelings and what we wanted to do. Many were ready to walk out the door, unimpressed with how we were being treated.

This morning three of our group members (that we had chosen to represent us) sat down for a long talk with the staff to try and sort out the problem. In the end it feels like not much was resolved beyond agreeing not to split the group up. Ironing out issues is still very much in the air and tensions are high. Two camps have formed: us. and them.

I don't know what to say anymore, and I certainly don't know what to do. Our group meets and talks a lot now in private whenever and wherever we can. Suspicions are running high and fuses are short. This program is hardly fun anymore, I am sad to say.

It breaks my heart because we have good moments together, like today when we went into a giant bat cave! But no one seems happy anymore and the magic has disappated. The staff blames us, and we blame the staff. I am not here to point fingers at Livnot publicly, so if anyone wishes to know more you may write to me.

I am not sure what I want to do at this point. As a group we talked about our great bond and fondness for each other and how that is driving us to stay and fight to be together. Will it be enough? I can't be sure.

I'll let you know what I decide to do in the coming days, but I'll say this... Livnot has done a great job of leaving a bad taste in my mouth about Israel and about Judaism.

here's the post I wrote Saturday night:

Sadly, Attempt #4 to get a cellphone was met with more failure on Friday. I was told by a few group members that I could take a stroll down the street and that I would find a cellphone store on the right hand side (of Emek Rafaim, for those who know the area). I walked all up and down the area I was told I could locate the store was unable to find such a place. Since shops close up early on Friday (around 1pm) I had no time to go back to campus for another opinion. It seems I am truly not meant to have a cellphone.

Friday night we were sent out to our host families for shabat dinner, rather than the usual Saturday lunch. My classmate and I eventually arrived at our destination after wandering through a few dark alleys (which we mused seemed like a bad idea, as if we were in some cheesy horror film) and asking, in our broken Hebrew, any hapless locals in our vicinity for directions. (in fact it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, now that I think about it… “A Frenchman and a Canadian and walking around the streets of Israel when…”)

The dinner was great as we sat with a family and a their friends under the carefully decorated sukkah. It was also an honour to share the table with their grandmother, a 93 year old holocaust survivour. Dinner was fabulous and the conversation wonderful, and always it’s touching to be part of such generosity. To have a home cooked meal when so far from home is always nice.

On the way home from the dinner my classmate and I heard a sound as we walked down the street. On the other side of this wall (the wall was stone and cement up to about the waist, and then chain-link for the rest of it) I heard this terrible cry of a kitten in distress. When I stopped and stepped closer to hone in on where it was coming from I called for the kitty to make the sound again. Upon hearing someone near it cried 10 times louder and nearly broke my heart it sounded so scared. I urged my classmate to help me push the chain-link part of the fence in so I could maybe see over the stone wall to see where this poor thing was trapped. He helped me push in the fence as I leaned in, but I was unable to see. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of reaching my hand into a dark area for a scared cat, lest I get scratched up, but I saw no other way around it. I reached in over the wall but was unable to stretch far enough to make contact. My classmate seemed largely unimpressed with my efforts and indeed not altogether sure he cared to be involved. I told him we would go back to the campus and get my old roommate Shay to come and help me. She’s a fellow cat lover with cat rescue experience. She’d come and help me, I said.

Once back at campus I ran around looking for Shay. “Where’s Shay? Has anybody seen Shay? I need to find Shay, it’s important!!”. Finally I found Shay and we dug up some flashlights, a can of tuna, and were on our way back. She asked me how old I thought it was and I guessed around 2-3 months, by the sound of the cry. We arrived quickly at the spot but the kitten refused to make a peep. As we stood and discussed the situation he finally let out a little muffled mew to let us know he was still there. Shay opened a can of tuna and dropped it down the wall to let him know we were friendly. We then made our way through a gate and onto the property where the kitten was stuck between the wall and some kind of big metal box. Seems the little devil was being a curious kitten and hopped down to investigate and realized he couldn’t squeeze around and past the box once he was down there.
Shay suggested we clear the leaves around the metal box to see if we could make enough room for him to get around the box at the bottom since we weren’t too sure we could reach him from above. We shone the lights in to have a look at him and sure enough there was a little grey tabby, maybe 3 months old, cowering in the corner. Shay began to clear the leaves away using a stick I gave her when she suggested she try and gently prod him a little to see if she could scare him into trying to jump up. Sure enough, all it took was a little added terror to inspire the fella to climb the wall and scamper out. YAY!!! Shay and I felt very triumphant as we walked back to campus, feeling all warm and fuzzy about saving a little kitten from his utter stupidity. Hahaha…

Tomorrow we are finally heading out on a hike to some giant cave somewhere, our first hike in almost 3 weeks. We’re pretty excited to get out and about again. I’ll post pictures, of course. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Little did I know that just after I wrote that post I would be called down to a big group meeting that would change the group dynamic permanently... and not for the better.