Autumn is already drawing to a close and yet - we have really not had a moment to properly talk and catch up. As usual, we barely have a glimpse of routine through the fog of the holidays, and already the lights of the winter holidays, Hannuka, and Id El Adha, twinkle at us from a distance. Christmas, too, despite the fact that none of us is actually “supposed” to celebrate this holiday (since we don’t have any Christian families in the kindergarten this year). For me, Christmas always provides an excuse to walk around the city of Nazareth in all it’s festivity during the Christmas season, with it’s multitude of helium balloons portraying fat-bellied Santa Claus figures, and colorfully lit Christmas trees in the shop windows.
What events, then, have occurred in our life and in our activities at Ein Bustan, in the three months that have passed so quickly since the beginning of the school year?
Towards the end of the Ramadan period, we all got together, parents and children, at Muhammed and Fahima’s house, during the evening hours. We kneaded, rolled, pinched the dough and created a huge mound of traditional date-filled holiday cookies. Fahima lit a fire in the huge cook stove outside, and we gathered around it, filling tray after tray with the delicate white circles, and after a moment, gingerly removing the hot brown circles with our fingers onto a big cloth. The children, who had scattered about to play, drew into a tight and expectant circle around the stove, skipping to and fro, and occasionally snatching a hot cookie for themselves from the edge of the blanket.A few days later, as dusk descended, we went on a lantern walk between the houses in Hilf village. We went from house to house and the children distributed baskets filled with the cookies we had made, along with dates and other sweets. It is not clear if they gave more sweets than they received, however what is definitely clear is that they had a very sweet time.
Our bulletin board in the kindergarten is one of the most interesting places I know. Galia is inviting everyone to a clothing swap, Fahima is inviting all the children and their parents for breakfast at her house, people both from the Ein Bustan community and from other places are advertising courses, treatments, and discounted books...There is a notice about a nice initiative, that Rachel and Sultanna started two years ago and now we are trying to make it come about: an Ein Bustan recipe book. Each family is supposed to contribute a favorite recipe or two that they usually prepare, along with a few words - who taught us to make it, on what occasion do we eat it, is it connected to a certain season? I hope that the next time I write about it, the book will be ready.
Our yard is another interesting place. The rabbit hutch is once again full of children gently petting the rabbits (to my great relief, always under Gidi’s careful supervision), and the compost heap that was overflowing has now been replaced with a new, handmade bin. Here in the yard, under the grapevine (which has just shed it’s leaves and been recently pruned) the children wait for us to pick them up in the afternoon, as they climb on a pole, or swing (or what is more likely - wait for their turn to swing), and it is here that we parents attempt to converse with each other. We don’t always know what is appropriate to say - and what is not. There are lots of new families this year, a happy development in itself, however there is a certain hesitation in our relationships that is characteristic of new beginnings.
Winter is approaching, and along with the blessed rains it brings new ideas, hopes and dreams, big and small. Once again we have started thinking about a benefit concert for the kindergarten, and there is talk of a fair in the spring and meetings revolving around films that we could watch together and then discuss. One of the mothers suggested that we meet in order to make slippers for our children, and this developed into the idea that we meet once a month, in order to learn from Ibtisam how she makes those beautiful dolls, felt animals, and charming acorn gnomes, and maybe I will finally learn how to knit…
Wishing us all a winter full of light,
More from Ein Bustan:
Ein Bustan mourns the passing from this world of our dear friend and supporter Christine Ballivet, from France.
Amir Shlomian writes an update about Ein Bustan's progress