From Kibbutz Ketura to the Jerusalem Marathon: Community is Everywhere in Israel

Ilana Hanai

Last week we got to take a much needed break from school and spent five days in Kibbutz Ketura! It was an amazing experience and we learned about the beauty of kibbutzim and their strong communities. When we got there, we got a tour of the Kibbutz from Leah and she talked about different aspects of Ketura. A baby had just been born and everyone was helping out. It was really special to see so many people come together to celebrate a new life. While we were there I felt so surrounded by love—Leah even invited us into her house to see what the homes looked like. 

Something I now admire about Kibbutzim is how open and selfless each member seemed. Later on, we learned about how easy and cheap renewable energy would be to use, yet many people don’t know about the options or don’t want to invest in it. I didn’t know about a lot of the gadgets they showed us and I was blown away by how clever they were. These are ideas I continue to think about even in the days since we returned to Jerusalem. 

The activities we did down south always came with a stunning view. Our first hike was Mount Tzefahot. When we reached the top we could see Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and of course, Israel. It was meaningful because it created a sense of unity within something that is so often a subject of conflict. After we climbed down the mountain, we went snorkeling! The water felt nice after the hike, and the fish were so pretty. We did much more on our stay, but the last thing we did in Ketura was visit the Kasuey Sand Dunes followed by dinner in the desert. We had time to reflect on our trip while watching the sun set and then the stars come out. It was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. There were so many colors and then it shifted to pitch black with stars scattered all around the sky. When we left, all I could think about was how much I wanted to stay in that moment forever. 

We had a day of school when we got back to Jerusalem, and then Friday was the Jerusalem Marathon! It was empowering to see so many people in one place all celebrating the state of Israel. So many people were also wearing “Bring Them Home” shirts and other tributes to the hostages. Something that pushed me to keep running even when I was tired during the 10k was thinking about the 134 hostages still being held captive. There are so many constant reminders here, and the marathon was no exception. Being surrounded by the huge celebration of life even in difficult times is something I’ve grown accustomed to while being in Israel. The marathon was a perfect and beautiful example of this. Not to mention, the view while running was incredible.

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