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By Bernice Malka, Living Bridge Coordinator
Originally posted here.

Sunny  autumn weather welcomed the Rubinites as they arrived to Elyakim army base, their first stop at the Yokneam Megiddo partnership. Archi, the local training officer briefed us  about the training base and its role in practicing combat with terrorist organizations, especially in Lebanon. As we were walking through the simulated village, some Rubinites even went  down one of the tunnels dug underground.

As we  drove through  the unique scenery of the Megiddo regional council in  our Jeeps we got to see some special spots and enjoyed  a light lunch under an unusual tree.  In Yokneam, the teenage girls of the Ethiopian traditional dancing group were waiting to meet the 6th Rubin group. They look forward to meeting the Rubin people every year and enjoy the opportunity to perform and teach one of the dances, needless to say it requires a lot of practice. Sleeves were rolled up as the Rubinites assisted in preparing the special poike dinner at the Shvilim center in Kibbutz Dalia. Poike is a heavy  iron pot that after the ingredients are put in it, sits in hot coal and cooks. Some of the Rubinites baked amazing  Focaccia bread. While the food was cooking it was time to refresh and come back for a great meal shared with local volunteers  from the region who  joined us for dinner and schmoozing. Sitting around the fire was a great opportunity to get to know each other and enjoy the great atmosphere and weather.

After a good nights sleep one of Kibbutz Dalia’s veterans, David,  took us for a tour around the Kibbutz while  explaining  the changes and challenges through out the years. Tons of Kohlrabi (vegetable) were waiting to be picked at the fields in Nahalal, the Rubinites did not disappoint and picked 1.2  tons. Work was continued at the food pantry in Yokneam Kol Halev where they met with Yochai Yizhari who dedicates his life to operating the food pantry in commemoration  to his friends killed during the wars. More than a hundred food parcels were packed. Lunch was served giving every body the opportunity to choose their dish, including great deserts.

More than 30 birthday gifts were purchased in St. Louis by the Rubin group and brought over for the children that go to Bait Cham ( warm home). This program is run by the municipality, education and welfare ministries and supported by  the Federations of St. Louis and Atlanta. The children who participate are provided with a secure and empowering environment after school hours. Every month the staff celebrate the children’s birthday and they receive a gift from the Rubinites. This year we decided to celebrate  with one of the Rubinites who’s Birthday is in October . Scott was very surprised when a necklace of flowers was set on his neck and the children started singing birthday songs in Hebrew.

The last activity in the region was home hospitality, last chance to meet more of the people that make this region so special. The Rubinites were paired and hosted by families in Yokneam and Kibbutz Galed. Tal Sharon, host from Kibbutz Galed “We are grateful for this opportunity to host and meet two lovely people Alan and Emily. The hospitality was in a very natural and relaxed atmosphere and we felt that it was too short. We have so much more to show and share, we hope to see them again. When we arrive to the United States, one day, we know we will have a warm and welcoming place in St. Louis and hope that we managed to make them feel that our home and Israel are a great place for them to come back to”.

Alan from St. Louis wrote ” Dinner at Tal & Rakefet Sharons house was unforgettable !!! So great !!!

 We hope that connections were created and we look forward to seeing you in the region again.