Kibbutz Orange Grove

oranges.jpg

I used to pick oranges on Kibbutz Einat, in Israel, in my early twenties. It was my most demanding physical job.  It makes me sweat and ache just thinking about it!

I showed my pampered lifestyle and inexperience when I worked with the other volunteers who were mainly from Europe. I know I didn’t carry “my load.” It was physically impossible for me to keep up with them. They didn’t work harder than I did, but certainly they worked faster, with more skill and efficiency.

To pass the time, the orange picking team would play the game, “Name that Tune.” A few bars of a famous or popular song would be hummed, and we would try to guess the title. Only the Europeans liked to play “Name that Opera,” which totally excluded me. Can you imagine, “Name that Opera?” I learned how much I didn’t know.

It was fun and laughs. By the end of the day, we felt like rag-dolls; and although we didn’t know each other very well, after an eight-hour day of picking oranges, singing songs, and enjoying the sweet, tangy fruit on breaks, camaraderie ran high.

Two decades later while reflecting on my “orange picking” days, I wrote this poem.

Kibbutz Orange Grove

 A euphoric relief

screamed from our shoulders

as we emptied bulging bags.

More than our quota filled,

we leaned like rag dolls

against overflowing crates.

Textured wood pressed support

into our weary backs,

while bitter peelings

of Promise Land’s tangy fruit

fell back to earth.

Sticky juice sprayed our

glistening faces as we indulged

like oxen worthy of hire.

Ancient overlookers, orchard trees,

towered like sturdy soldiers

against a scarlet-stained sky.

Arm-in-arm with joyful hearts,

we walked home absorbing

the day’s marrow. Souls and bodies

soaked in bounty’s satisfaction, saturated

we dripped labor, abundance, and camaraderie.

44 Comments

  1. Once again you’ve stimulated my kibbutz memories…such as discovering in that grove NOT to try and eat an orange that had dropped on the ground unless I wanted to also partake of little white worms 🙂 !!

  2. Hi,
    I worked and lived on Kibbutz Einat, (near Petak Tikva) for 4 weeks in the summer of 1976. I was wondering if that was the same one you write about, and if so, do they have a website?
    Thanks
    Lenny

  3. Hi Lenny,

    I heard that Kibbutz Einat has become privatized. The central dining room has been changed into a catering service and a fine-dining restaurant. I am not sure about a website. I have friends who have returned for a visit and say the place has changed so much. Only a few kibbutznicks remain that you may know… Shmulik and Rivkah, who oversaw the volunteers for many years, and Ofrah, who oversaw the kitchen. Many of the young people have left to live in the city…

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    Bonnie

  4. hey, girl I was looking for pictures of sfat artist colony found you. Howdy how are you? Note from Ed looking for info David Katz

    bye!

  5. Hi,

    I am Ralf from Germany.

    I have been to Einat in 1983. Usually I worked in the bakery and also in the kitchen of the canteen.

    It was a very nice time and I often think about Einat and the people which I met there.

    I have tried to find pictures of Einat in the internet but without success. Maybe you can send links to me which give access to pictures of the Kibbutz and of the pool. That was the best after 4 hours work in the bakery.

    Best regards
    Ralf

  6. I was also on Kibbutz Einat for several months in 1985. I mostly worked in the cotton, either in Einat or in Lod. I also have grim memories of working the nightshift at the old bakery on occasion (that was never popular with anybody).

    Happy days. What it was to be 18, and a punk in Israel, there wasn’t the subculture there then as there is nowadays in Tel Aviv in particular. The place has changed beyond recognition.

  7. Shalom! Yes, I was at Einat too. Near Petach Tikva. I worked in the bakery and in the kitchen. Also did work in the avacadoes fields. They liked me in the kitchen because my ideas of hygeine were very high. (e.g. others never bothered to rinse the kitchenware afther the soapy water wash).

    **Does anyone remember Metukah? A young Sephardic lass who was always boy hungry–not for me though, since I wasn’t blond!! (Actually I found out later that she was ‘hungry’ to get out of Israel; Sephardic Jews were not treated very well in Israel.)

    **Damn, I remember those early morning bakery shifts. Even worse was working in the chicken houses. It’s a wonder I never got ill.

    **Einat wasn’t the best Kibbutz most popular choice for volunteers. Its the one that took Germans because most kibbutzim said that German speech brought terrible memories to former nazi camp inmates (of which there were quite few.)

    **Which reminds me of the elderly woman, a former camp inmate, who couldn’t help stealing bread—a behavioural baggage from her camp days. (I’d even heard of another elderly former camp inmate who was unable to sleep without bread hidden under his pillow.) Very sad.

    And who remembers Ely, the Kibbutznik who wouldn’t work at all? His job was to look after the swimming pool, which he did. Sometimes.

    Kibbutz Einat had a brand new bakery going at the time I left.

    And I was the guy nicknamed “Smooth Operator”, and I remember making fun out of a German girl’s pronunciation (Smooz..). What was her name….. Simona’s travel partner, yes ANKE!!!

    I can’t end this comment without mentioning that I remember my girlfriend, the most beautiful girl in the world–tall, statuesque…–yet just into womanhood that she never realized how beautiful she was. I won’t mention her name; she died three years after we met.

  8. Schalom, I spent almost 7 month in Kibbutz Einat. Arrived July 1985.

    Of course I remember Metuka, Simona and Anke. I remember there was a group of swedish girls – can´t think of their names. Just remember that the young male Kibbutzniks went mad, with all the blond hair.

    Most of the time I worked in the kitchen (which was a good job – 4 hours and good food). I am still the fastest salad cutter in the world.

    It was one of the best times I had.

  9. Chalom et chana tova from France
    I spent 2 months at Einat during Summer 85 working few weeks at the bakery, making khalot… between 2 to 7 am !! and working also in the cotton fields near Lod and in a shoe factory doing the “rangers”. Besides that atmosphere was great with the volunteers, the nights eating chamalo near the fire singing together and in the pub drinking vodka tapouzim. I remember Metukkah, Michael (with Rayban ? and friend of the Columbian Pedro ?), Sheepy, I still have friends of that time, Michelle (France), Frirda, Karen (Germany), Simon (Australian).

    Besr regards,

    Anne

  10. I spent nine month at Kibbutz Einat, from June 1986 through March 1987. I worked in a variety of different areas during that time, including the cotton fields, oranges, bakery (“maibar?”), tractor, dishwasher (and another kitchen job that was affectionately known as, “the office”), and finally the volunteer leader. Being volunteer leader meant I was responsible for making out the daily schedule, acting as a voice for the volunteer side, and being a general whipping boy because I had to assign people to the maibar (bakery), which always invoked the ire of everyone since all of us hated the place so much. We even had two guys who actually worked out a plan to set the place on fire but got too drunk every time they meant to carry out their plan and it remained unharmed. If I recall correctly, a total of 156 different volunteers from 19 different countries went through there during my stay. It wasn’t often that we intermingled with the kibbutzniks, other than at the Pub, but we were very tight as a unit for the most part. Of the Gurim that were there at the time, I can only remember Sheepy (who dated a volunteer named Janice) and Yoshi. I was sort of unique as volunteers go (or so I was led to believe) being that I’m American, Jewish, only 18 when I first arrived, and almost immediately acclimated with everyone. They always told me, “for an American, you’re alright.” My dog was a boxer named, Nixon, and even though he was actually a kibbutzniks, he spent pretty much the entire time with me. I also had this huge black cat named Paulie, and the interesting story about him was that he was raised by a dog with her small litter of puppies. When I first arrived, they immediately caught my eye because here was this dog with four brown puppies nuzzling under her and one lone black puppy (“Uh, wait, that’s not a puppy is it? Holy shit, is that a kitten?!?”) that was smaller that the rest. Anyway, Paulie was called Polly at first because everyone thought he was female. When he kept larger, we knew there was something wrong and eventually things were corrected. As a group, we went on trips to Mount Hermon, Sea Of Galilee, Masada, the Dead Sea, Haifa, Bethlehem (on Christmas eve no less), and Jerusalem. There were two other Kibbutzim near us, one of which was right next door, and the other about two or three miles away. I don’t recall their names but we met some of their volunteers while in Rosh Ha’Ayin (sp?) to pick up more Gold Star and get ice cream. Eventually we had full scale get togethers with both and developed fairly good relationships for a while before time, circumstance and sour relations between the kibbutzim themselves ended our fun. Ah, well, amazing how time flies and here I am 22 years later even though it sometimes seems like yesterday. Gotta run, but glad I surfed in on this blog of yours. Feels good to share the memories.

  11. Schalom,

    I’m from Germany and in Oktober/November 1976 I spent nearly 7 weeks in Kibbutz Einat, too.

    When I remember, today I recognize that it has been on of the most beautiful times in my life.

    During my staying I met young people from all over the world, from Germany, England, Canada, USA, Australia, Newzeeland and many other Countries. We all lived together in a great harmony and always had much fun.

    Of course I worked in the Bakery, too. I can remember that there also worked old Judish people, who let us young German voluntars always feel, what they thought about the Germans did before. But we all tried to understand that they were unable to avoid this behavior because of their experiences in the past.

    I’m very thankful about your information of Shmulik, who I remember very well and his remaining in the Kibbutz. And now I know, that Kibbutz Einat has become privatized.

    I’ll never forget my happy time in Einat!

  12. Nice to read something about kibbutz Einat, where I was working as a volunteer in the summer of 1975. My memory of Challa-baking night shifts in the bakery on Friday mornings is a happy one. Yemenites from Rosh HaAyin came to work and they were singing!
    All in all it was good time at kibbutz Einat!

  13. I was working and living in Einat Jan.-July 77 and Jan.-July 79. And I was lucky working with the cows – milking. This was better than picking oranges or nightshifts in the bakery.

  14. Shalom!
    I was on the kibbutz roughly the same time as Brian (see above) from september 1986-march 1987 and I must say it was the best 6 months of my life.
    I think I tried all the diffrent jobs Brian did, I was even the chickenman for about 5 weeks….that was fowl *LOL*

    I remember so many things, the Roshhain boozepatrol when we took the tractor through the fields and bought vodka (whith winecorks…) and Gold Star and Maccabee beer….
    Picking oranges only to make screwdrivers…

    I do remember the Meibar, it was pretty dull, but the nightshift was he worst…everyone of my friends were at the pub and I was stuck in the Meibar…

    I still have friends I made during that time, and sometimes I miss the kibbutz life.

    There was a group of english volunteers that arrived just beafore I left (whith Brian and Anneli to Sweden) and I heard that after that no more groops. Dont know if its true or not but they were a very wild bunch!

    I came whit a swedish groop, 21 of us I think…
    I remember the old woman Lisa who was incharge of the laundry, she was so wonderfull…she loved us volunteers and we loved her.

    If you were at the kibbuts at the same time as me, please do not hesitate to contact me!

    Jonny

  15. ha ……… memories! I was a volunteer on Einat for quite a few years (and then later became a candidate for membership, but decided to leave to visit other countries) I think from around Nov 1981 or 1982 to the spring on 1986 or 1987 – so long ago, I cant remember exactly.

    I worked mainly in the avocadoes (with kibbutzniks Memi, David Perlmutter, and 2 old Polish guys Granoot and Kalman. Sometimes worked in the chickens when the new batches of chicklets arrived.

    Saw a lot of volunteers arrive and leave – can’t remember a lot of the names! from UK, Scandinavia, USA, Germany, Ireland, France, USA,

    I was friends with a girl, Dvorah, from the Ga’arin and have been to visit her a few times over the years.

    1. Dawn,

      I remember David Perlmutter; he volunteered on Einat in summer of 1978. Then I ran into him again in Jerusalem in 1979 or 80. That was so long ago, but it sure is a small world. Now I live in MD near DC. Whre in the world are you?

      1. I’m in the UK, I last saw David Perlmutter in 1985 or 1986 (so long ago cant remember exactly!) – he finished his army service and was working on the kibbutz)

  16. anyone remember Rivka and Shmulik’s son, Ilan (the second eldest), unfortunately he died a few years ago, he was on holiday in the US and died in in his sleep. He used to be with an English volunteer, Sharon from London. Their 3rd son Tal (the blonde one) got married a few years ago.

    I used to work with a New Zealander, Joyce. I remember a red-haired Nancy from Ireland, her husband Chris, an Aussie Charmaine, Kate from the UK who went out to Australia, 4 from South Africa (one of them went out with Eli and he moved over there), red-haired Fruitz (Liz) from Wales, Juliette and Greg from Texas, Richard from London, Carlos from Cuba/Sweden, Winnie and Zinka from London, and the long haired Dana from Kentucky who worked in the gardens.

    Sheepy from the Ga’arin joined the Jerusalem Police force, as well as Shlomi. Iris went to work in Dallas.

    I miss some of the cameraderie and lifestyle – but not everything

    How could anyone forget Metuka Levy – the maneater!!

    1. Dawn, I remember you well, as the song.goes. I first arrived at Einat in Sep 83 with a group from Project 67, stayed a year, then back Sep 85 for another year, then again for 18 months from Nov 87. Remember you well x x

      1. Hi Richard, yes I remember you – were you in the same group as Fruitz (Liz) – I think I saw you when I visited from germany in approx 1988/89 ish – and I think you were living in my old room (one the stone houses at the end!

      2. Hey Dawn, great to hear from you, (brings back memories of you in a yellow bikini looking great), and yes Fruits and I were in the group that arrived in Sept 83, little did I know then that I would eventually spend 3 1/2 years out of 8 there. Yes I was indeed in your old room for a while, then in one of the units usually used by the students. Where did you hear about Sheepy being in the Jerusalem police force, that is such a strange image to me compared to my memories of him both from the kibbutz and briefly in Holland in mid 89, where I also saw Ron Stavi from the Garin. (Istill have the old Garin sweatshirt with the boot image on the front !) Sadly a lot of my photos from the kibbutz were stolen a few years ago, any you may have, or any stories and memories you may care to share can find me via zevwoolf@googlmail.com. I would love to hear anything.

      3. Dawn, do you also remember any of the girls who stayed quite long terms? I am thinking mainly of Marieke, Carla and Monique from Holland, Johanna, Silvo, Marie and Karen from Sweden. Marieke and the others left just before me in early 89. I was lucky to meet them in Holland shortly afterwards, and realised how much they had meant to me, and how much I had missed them. Johanna and Silvo both had more than one stay at Einat, they found a peace there for a while too. Johanna had an English boyfriend for a while, and came to the UK to see him, I was pleased and relieved to be able to help her when the reunion did not go too well. There was also Naima from Sweden, from a different group, she had numerous visits too. I stayed in touch with a few people for a while, but have lost all contact now, so it was lovely to hear from you. As you said, I remember most of my time at Einat with nothing but good memories, and would love to be able to travel back in time, just to tell my friends how much they meant to me then.
        Richard

  17. Hello to all who remembers me and my twin-brother from Finland. I am quite sure Bonnie does, doesn´t she????
    I must say, like many many others here that I spent most of my happiest times in Eynat and yet, that I am 51 years already, I am planning to visit Eynat once again. Doesn´t matter what it has turned to be nowadays. Just to feel the atmosphere and ali those memories. Yes, I was happy then. I enjoyed my work mostly in the kitchen and….bekery….and as i do love working and fussing around…I was happy there. Especially I loved many people ther, Bonnie, Dina, Lea, Edith, Ofra, Rivka, Shmulik and all those i cannot remember the names any longer, but faces….If there is someone who regognise me, please let me know.
    I made very good friends also with the Swedish and Swiss ladies and Lauren from South Africa and jaqui and Jan from the GreatBritain and The Indian guy Nobel. Anyone remembers him?
    If someone wants to go on talking with me, please do and tell me all about you and the time in the kibbutz. And especially Bonnie, if you know any news of the kitchen staff, lease let me know. And Bonnie, thanks for being so nice then in Eynat….Me and my Brother remember you very well……All the best to you and all who knows me…..

    Jari From Finland

  18. hello i am patrick and i stay in kibboutz einat in 1982, in the first time i work inthe bakery and after in farmhouse, i take the milk from the cows my boss is Dany and Moshe, i remember jari and jirki from the finland they work in the kitchen,my friend in from the kibboutz is Giora nikas, i remember to helmunt and germany,angie and dominique england,dave from south africa and sue from england and to annette andkim from danemark,i remember the good moments with shmulik and the bus in the desert, and rivka boss for the volunters,ofra the kitchen boss, i remeber to anelie from sweden she want stay in the kibboutz, i have good memory in this place, i want a day going again one time in this place for a small visite
    see you a day patrick

  19. Hi Im Katherine and I was a volunteer at Einat from May to August 1987, I had a great time there working in the cotton fields doing irrigation, also the orchards. We used to go to Rosh hayin and Peta tikvah. my friends at that time were Steve, Maria, Olly, Jane, Elan, Regina, Fraser and Dawn and Isabelle from France. Our boss was Janice who was the girl friend of Sheepy. Since leaving I have lost contact with everyone, but I still have great memories!

    1. Hi Kathy it’s Maria. Just found your name in this link about Kibbutz Einat. SUCH good memories. Hope life has treated you well xx

  20. Hi, I’m Claudia and I used to stay at Einat in 1974, when I was only 16. It was a great experience and I liked the orange picking job, even when it rained :-). I hated beeing with the chicken 🙂 and loved to be with the kids.I studied ballet by that time, so I spent quite a bit of time with Shmulik and Rivkas son.
    I also loved the nightshifts in the bakery, that meant more spare time to visit the country….
    I loved Shmulik and Rivka and most of all Raya from the children’s house.It was a great time being out in the desert or climbing up to Massada with Shmulik.By then it was a real adventure, today it’s more like sightseeing.
    Sometimes we heard gunfire in the distance, but I always felt very save and home in Einat.
    It’s good to hear that so many people had been there after me, sharing the same memories…..

  21. richard, I tried emailing you but it bounced back. contact me on dawn.johnson2@nhs.net

    yes, that was me in a yellow bikini – how on earth do you remember that?!?!

    last I heard Shipi was a Sgt, but its a few years now since I spoke with Dvorah. I was last there in 1997 for a visit. Saw Shlomi who was also in the Police Force (not the little Shlomi who went out with Jackie, but the other one).

    sorry to hear your photos were stolen, i can scan some of mine and email them to you if you want?
    let me know
    dawn

  22. i was in einat 1979 till a long time maybe 3/4 years on and of. i was very involved with a boy called uri. I remember my time there as great fun, meeting a huge amount of wonderful people and still would like to go and revisit. did not know the kibbutz is privitized. i remember metuka, judith, ali smullik an rifka, the german girl in charge of the volunteers who was very involved with one of the kibbutzniks mosje. cant remember her name. i worked in the bakery!!! what a night mare, also worked in the kitchens, gardens, advocado’s which was a big thing. the kibbutz did not want girls to pick advocados!!! me and my dutch pals hetty, anne marie and vera really had to fight to be allowed to work there. fell out of the trees a few times but what the hell. also worked with the cows with ben, haim, etc totally enjoyed my time there and hope to get an answer from some body i remember!!!!!

  23. hi Barbara,
    i think I remember you, did you work in the cows with dutch girls Hetty and Saskia, and then did you go to Vetenary school nr Tel Aviv?

  24. I volunteered at Einat in Oct 1986 along with my partner at the time Stephen King (Not the Author), I recall the Meibar well and loved the bakery with co-partners in antics Tony Sebastio, we used to wet the pringle like crisps and frisbee them around the place eventually landing and sticking to the walls. Anyone know where Tony (Canadian) ended up, we were supposed to meet with him in Egypt but he never showed. He had a frog phobia which encouraged the search for frogs to put in his room most days. Finns Tina Liokkenen and Vescu, Phil Nield and Meredith Carter were our best mates and Elizabeth McEvey, all Australians. I remember Brian although sadly recall his dog Nixon more. There were the Swedes and names escape me but the tall blond lad who was hellbent on building a sauna. I had my 21st Birthday in Dec 1986, very drunken night resulting in falling into one of the giant Cacti. Feel very old as my son is now wanting to volunteer and am encouring him plenty, those few short months led to many lasting frienships, visits to Australia and long lasting great memories.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Phil & I remember so well our great nights playing 500 with you and Steve back in 1986 at Einat.
      Fun times!! Thanks for bringing back the memories. Phil & I are married with 2 boys.
      PS I still love avocadoes!!!!

      July, 2012

    2. Hi Sarah & Merry,
      How great to see your posts. I am still at the same address & phone number Sarah. Please contact. Bernard & I have 4 beautiful boys. Cheers Elizabeth

  25. Hi, Bonnie, aren’t you friends with Ruth and Derek from NZ? If yes, then I remember your wedding on the kibbutz! Dana

  26. Hi Peter from South Africa
    Was a volunteer on K Einat in late-1974. Richard, Glen, Sarah-Jane, Susan, Angela, Gilian, Bob & Irene…. Would like to chat to anyone from that era

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