Voices from Israel: A Sense of Independence by Adam Baratz

June 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Adam Baratz, Voices from Israel | Leave a comment
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For my summer internship, I am working to start a community garden in Beit She’an (Cleveland’s sister city). Beit She’an is a city in Northern Israel. This week I am receiving an intensive course on community gardening. I am receiving training with Dani Frakdin, a guru in the field.

During the week, I live with Dani and his family. Dani lives in Mevaseret, a town at the outskirts of Jeruslam. I should note that this is no ordinary family. A passerby might label them as hippies, but such a label would be off mark. The Fradkins cannot be categorized.

An analysis of the physical structure of Dani’s house helps to show the unique nature of the household. The Fradkins are all about self-sufficiency. For starters, Dani and his six children constructed an underwater water reservoir beneath their house. Rainwater that falls from the roof is channeled into the reservoir. This structure provides the family with all of their non-drinking water needs. Additionally, Dani has built much of the furniture in the house. Outside of the house, one can pick fruits, vegetables, and herbs in a beautiful garden. Lastly, food is often prepared in a homemade mud stove, located outside of the house.

Thus, independence is a very important theme in the Fradkin household. Their understanding of independence differs greatly from the common understanding of independence. Instead of emphasizing independence from parents, family, or responsibility, the Fradkin’s emphasize independence as self-sufficiency.

As a person who values this form of independence, I am pleasantly surprised by the family’s level of self-sufficiency. This is the first time that I have seen a family actually live a Thorauean lifestyle. Over Dani’s tool-shed, a sign reads, “One who hears will forget. One who sees will remember. One who does will do again.”

Unsurprisingly, my week is therefore filled with very little “hearing,” a bit of “seeing,” and a lot of “doing.” I can confidently say that I am learning more in this single week, than in any other week in my life. Each day, I learn a new skill with Dani. I learn, not by watching, but by doing. To be brief, I have built: a wooden stool, a mud-oven, two concrete pools, a bench out of tires, terraces, stairs, and a walking-path.

There is something very rewarding about the act of creation. It is fun to see a pile of raw materials transform into a finished product. Coming out, you feel like you have a sense of ownership over the finished product. Instead of holding commercial value, these objects hold sentimental value.


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