The Virtual Kibbutz (Israeli short stories)

CHAT WITH ELLIS SHUMAN
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His collection of short stories, The Virtual Kibbutz, was originally published in His novel Valley of Thracians was published in and his novel The Burgas Affair was published in Ellis lives with his wife, children, and grandchildren on Moshav Neve Ilan, outside Jerusalem. Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe, as can be seen in the archaeological ruins in the city.

Prayer Of The Mothers Hundreds of women - Israeli and Palestinian, secular and religious, young and old - all marching in white. They marched through the streets of Jerusalem; they marched to the banks of the Jordan River near the Dead Sea. The magnificent views, the sharp contrast between rocky peaks and fields of purple wildflowers; the ice-cold water; the sensation of walking in snow and in the warm sun; the feeling of being on top of the world.

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This rhythm is almost like a living being — constantly developing and changing and being influenced and influencing others. The Book of Jewish Food. Penguin Publisfhing Group. My wife hasn't totally warmed to reading digital copies of books. His works have been translated into some 45 languages, more than any other Israeli writer. Sharing a preternatural utopian impulse, they were perfectly willing to spend their lives laboring on degree days within the confines of an isolated settlement of homely prefabricated dwellings and sparse greenery, patiently rotating jobs and working unseemly hours whenever that was required of them, in plain view of the modest cemetery they figured to one day inhabit. Laurie Hanan marked it as to-read Mar 12,

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I Celebrate Ramadan! In My Backyard. My wife and I recently attended a get-together of Jerusalem Jews and Palestinian Muslims from the neighboring villages. Thank you David Brinn for inviting me to what is a regular interfaith gathering that meets a bit irregularly. Both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not a Single Clue Is Missing This is a review of a BBC television series so good, so expertly plotted, so professionally edited, and performed by such.

In my other pocket was my smartphone, a phone I would only use in case of an emergency.

But I was confident that I could handle the walk. It was world making at its purest, unhindered by nostalgia or our immediate pasts, every choice consciously, painstakingly made. Like many others, during my kibbutz years, I often felt a sense of euphoria but sometimes also disaffection and withdrawal. As I gradually began to discover during that sojourn, there is a significant body of extraordinary literature brimming with a heady mix of ardent idealism and lonely alienation, richly illuminating the complex responses many of us have experienced.

Over time, many of those works became intensely meaningful companions for me in periods of both faith and disaffection.

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First and foremost, there were the works of Amos Oz a veteran of more than thirty years of collective living , his early kibbutz stories often written in the collective persona, an ironic voice leaving delicately veiled traces of malaise in its wake that, back in those days, struggling at times to hold onto my idealistic ardor, left me shaken. The buildings are whitewashed, and most of them are topped with bright red roofs. This color scheme contrasts sharply with that of the mountain range. Along the lower terraces on the slope stretches the border between our land and that of her enemies.

There is a kind of enmity between the valley, with its neat, geometrical patchwork of fields[,] and the savage bleakness of the mountains. The houses, as we have said, are brightly painted. They are laid out at regular intervals. Their windows all face northwest, since the architects tried to adapt the building to the climate.

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Here there is no agglomeration of buildings clustering or ramifying haphazardly down the ages, nor blocks of dwellings enclosing secret courtyards, for the kibbutz does not have family homes. There is no question of separate quarters for different crafts; the poor are not relegated to the outskirts nor is the center reserved for the wealthy.

The straight lines, the clean shapes, the neatly ruled concrete paths and rectangular lawns are the product of a vigorous view of the world. That was what we meant when we stated that our village was built in a spirit of optimism. Anyone who draws the shallow inference that our village is stark and lacking in charm and beauty merely reveals his own prejudice. The object of the kibbutz is not to satisfy the sentimental expectations of town dwellers.

Our village is not lacking in charm and beauty, but its beauty is vigorous and virile and its charm conveys a message. Yes, it does. Elsewhere, Perhaps 3—5.

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So does the sloping fence that surrounds the kibbutz on all sides. Attractive portrayals abound in the fiction and memoirs of even those writers most critical of the kibbutz, perhaps in acknowledgment of our intrinsic human yearning for utopia sometimes even after we are disillusioned. Largely indifferent, if not altogether hostile, to the kibbutz as an institution that he finds markedly unwelcoming to Mizrahi Jews like himself, Ohayon is nevertheless charmed by its attractive spaces and alluring rhythm of life:.

Imagining the Kibbutz

Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Ellis Shuman, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, immigrated to The Virtual Kibbutz (Israeli short stories) by [Shuman, Ellis]. The Virtual Kibbutz: Stories from a Changing Society [Ellis Shuman] on Amazon. com. Start reading The Virtual Kibbutz (Israeli short stories) on your Kindle in.

Michael sensed the contradiction between the tempo of his movements and the surrounding serenity. Children rode bicycles on the paths, and three toddlers were being pushed in a mobile playpen.

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The young man pushing it and the toddlers sitting inside were tanned and serene. On the lawns. Once or twice old women in golf carts forced them to step off the path onto the lawn. People in bathing suits were returning from the pool on their bicycles. Murder on a Kibbutz — Imagine a group of people in a not very big house, who have committed themselves to sleeping together, eating together, bathing together, and toiling on the land together.

The ancestral land yields wheat and olives and milk. On feast days there is such rejoicing that the heart seems to melt, and even on working days, after supper. An old comradeship envelops the inhabitants. Mourning Even the late Tony Judt, more famously known for his sharp criticism of Israel, was at first enraptured by the kibbutz experiment, toiling three long summers as a young volunteer during the s. For the neophyte fifteen-year-old Londoner encountering the kibbutz for the first time, the effect was exhilarating.

I adored it. Eight hours of strenuous, intellectually undemanding labor in steamy banana plantations by the shores of the Sea of Galilee, interspersed with songs, hikes, lengthy doctrinal discussions carefully stage-managed so as to reduce the risk of adolescent rejection while maximizing the appeal of shared objectives , and the ever-present suggestion of guilt-free sex.

Fond kibbutz coming-of-age reminiscences by North American or British Jewish writers who, like Judt, became briefly acquainted with kibbutz life whether or not they enjoyed amorous adventures in the volunteer quarters or orchards are not all that uncommon. In the orange orchards of Kibbutz Ein Shemer, Avital Geva, barefoot and shirtless in the early-morning sun, was frying eggs in a blackened pan.

Imagining the Kibbutz

Turkish coffee was boiling in the aluminum pot, and his friends were laying out plates of tomatoes and cucumbers and olives, white cheese and jam. It was mid-May Avital and his crew had been working since dawn, to outwit the heat of the day. One could almost forget about the crisis on the Egyptian border. Here is the primal scene that allured so many other young people: the warm camaraderie in simple labor certainly, perhaps even the appealing hint of danger that was never entirely absent.

Yet, more strikingly, we encounter the same kind of appealing utopian simplicity in the evocative imagery of a writer from a strikingly different background, Atallah Mansour b. Whether or not they ever experienced the life of a kibbutz, those who read the novels of Gur and Mansour or the memoirs of Balaban and Judt will likely succumb to the warm tug of their alluring renderings of bucolic community life—that is, until things take a more dystopian turn, as they often do in the disenchanted nuances of many kibbutz narratives.

For such writers self-critical insiders and outsiders alike , writing honestly about kibbutz life demands keeping at least two central contraries in mind at once—the absolute necessity of euphoric dreaming and the mellowing inevitability of disillusionment.

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These brief vignettes serve to illustrate that, for almost all who doubt whether they harbor a secret attraction to communal life, such uncertainty vanishes upon their first visit to a kibbutz, if only for a brief glimpse. What they perceive there will likely strike a deeply resonant chord even when they cannot imagine themselves actually living in such a place. Such encounters often elicit the sense of wonder and even wistful daydreams of alternative lives sometimes associated with visits to monasteries.

Ellis Shuman

Yet important distinctions between the self-understanding of these short-lived experimental antecedents—or even contemporary American exemplars such as the Twin Oaks Community, East Wind, and The Farm whose members numbered 1, in the late s —and the kibbutz must be acknowledged. Still, like any other human institution, the kibbutz in its fullest realization evolved in some ways and devolved in others, adapting to the internal and external forces severely buffeting it over a century of transformation.

The study before you examines some of the most provocative narratives created mostly by insiders but occasionally by outsiders , to imaginatively portray that ensuing struggle over generations.