Written by Evan C. ‘17
On Sunday morning, we left Kibbutz Hanaton, where we spent Shabbat, and traveled through Haifa to Yemin Ord, a youth village and school that primarily serves Russian and Ethiopian immigrant children, as well as other underprivileged minorities in Israel. After an introduction and short tour, we arrived on the village’s farm, where we would be volunteering for several hours.
When we arrived, I expected that we would be doing a little bit of manual labor to help them out, maybe moving hay or collecting eggs. Then I saw the goats. A large pen filled with what seemed like hundreds of them, with scary horns, constantly generating a large quantity of poop and its inevitable smell. I watched in trepidation at the thought of interacting with these animals, and this fear increased as our animated guide, Slava, pulled Micha into the pen with him and handed him a goat. Micha stood there clutching the goat, uncomfortable at first, but quickly acclimating to the forced symbiosis. Soon I and several others entered the pen, and realized that the goats weren’t really so bad…at least while calm and safely under lock and key.
After a quick lunch and introductions, we were divided into two groups. Slava first asked for volunteers to paint, and several hands shot up before mine. I was therefore stuck milking the goats that I was only beginning to view with anything less than trepidation.
We released six goats for milking, and lured them with food to the milking platform. It was a mad dash to secure the goats to the platform before they had eaten their fill and made a dash for freedom. After a small struggle and finally success, Slava then instructed us, calmly milking the goats into a bucket like an experienced professional. My unease lessened as I watched, but Slava’s demonstration was nothing more than a complete fallacy. As I grabbed the udder of my first victim, she began to pull and kick, wrenching herself from my hands. With the help of two others holding down her struggling legs, I was finally able to begin milking, which proved just as difficult. I tried squeezing the udder in seemingly every way possible but to no avail; milk simply would not flow. After another demonstration and more cursing in my head, I figured it out and felt a wave of success wash over me. “Finally” I exclaimed, as the others continued to struggle. An hour and several captured runaways later, all the goats were done, and I had become the Connectech champion of goat milking! I guess if MIT doesn’t work out I could always run a farm.
With hands covered in dirt and smelling of fresh goat, we left Yemin Ord and traveled back to Ain Hod, a quaint artist’s village a short way away. We spent a few minutes relaxing at a café before embarking on a tour. We were shown some of the interesting architecture in the village, which was abandoned by its original Arab inhabitants during the War of Independence in 1948. Additionally, we met some of the artists who make their homes and livings in the town.
After a long day in the Mediterranean sun, we finally boarded the bus back to Technion, where we were gathered by our zugim and taken to their respective apartments and dorms. A few hours and a much-needed shower later, we met again at Avichai and Liav’s apartment, where we spent time hanging out, sampling Arak, and eating pizza. It was a great way to end the program, and we’re looking forward to the second part of the mifgash in November in Boston!