Twenty years ago today, I was living on a kibbutz in Israel. I had been living there about 3 months at the time, just enough time to feel settled and comfortable in my surroundings.
On Tzora, I lived with 21 other American students in a little village, separated slightly from the kibbutzniks, though we occupied the same land and intermingled constantly both at work and at play.
Most of the kibbutzniks were born in Israel. Of those that were not Sabras, most were South African and there were a few Argentinians sprinkled in for flair.
There was no American celebration of Thanksgiving on Kibbutz Tzora.
There was, however, a turkey farm. 18,000 stinky, stinky turkeys.
Our living situation was not luxurious but apparently not one of us cared. Each of us shared a room with one other person. In each room there were 2 cots, 2 desks, 2 closets, 2 chairs, a sink, a hotplate and in the bathroom there was a toilet, a sink and a shower head sticking out of the wall.
Three rooms shared one refrigerator.
We all shared a meeting room where we met for some of our courses. In addition to the tables and chairs, there was a television and an oven. At that time, Israel had 3 TV channels. The only thing I remember about the TV was that on Pesach, the 10 Commandments with Charlton Heston showed 24 hours a day. Weird.
Anyway, we decided to make Thanksgiving dinner. I was 17, the youngest of the bunch. I think the eldest was a grand 23 years old. Not quite Kid Nation but a rag tag bunch we were. We all had food rations for the store and I'm sure we saved up our butter and sugar rations for the big meal.
With 10 hot plates, 1 oven and 22 crazy kids, we prepared Thanksgiving dinner the old-fashioned way. Someone killed a turkey, plucked and degizzarded it, and cooked it in one of the massive kibbutz ovens at the main kitchen. Someone got some pumpkins at the closest town which we chopped up into small pieces and boiled on the hotplates, and then made the closest thing to pumpkin pie that we could. We also made stuffing and maude only knows what else. We probably drank more wine than we should have. If I remember correctly, that was a theme of my tenure in Israel.
I wish I had more memories of that day, but that is another story for another time.
What I do know, is that at 17, I learned how incredibly capable I was with this group. I became a more independent, more outspoken, braver human being than I had ever been before and even though I haven't seen most of them in 19 years, I do really love each and every one of them.