(As Israel was being created, many people lived in Kibbutz, a way of life that collectively combined people's energies, talents and resources.  A moshav is a collective of farms, sort of a cross between the collectivity of a kibbutz and the singularity of a private family farm..  I met O, a young woman, at the YMCA in Jerusalem.)

O.   14

My family lives on a moshav, and I attend a boarding school in Jerusalem.  My mother works in the office of the moshav and my father works in the winery.  We grow grapes on the moshav, and tomatoes and peppers, flowers, lots of things.

Our moshav is just west of Hebron.  The security barrier is only 500 meters away.  There is a Palestinian village on the other side of it.  I've never met any of the people from there.

There used to be Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, but a couple of years ago the Israeli government decided to close them down because it was getting so dangerous in Gaza.  Some of the people from two of the settlements lived in caravans on our moshav until a new village was built for them.

It's really beautiful there.  It's part of the area known as the Land of a Thousand Caves.  The moshav has a guest house, very fancy, more like a spa.

There used to be Arabs working on the moshav, a long time ago, but that stopped when a guard was murdered by an Arab during the first intifada.  Then everyone voted to never let Arabs on the land again, and it's been like that since.  There was another Arab village a short distance away.  During the second intifada (uprising) it was really dangerous, and children who had bedrooms facing the village would sleep with their parents so that they wouldn't be killed during the night.

My mother was born in Israel.  My father comes from Iran.  Both went to university in Israel and studied agriculture there.  That's how they met.  My father's parents were Zionists from Iran.

Boarding school is like being at home with friends.  At home there are only 4 people my age, and if you live in such a small community, and the people are not your friends, it can be very lonely.  So I came to boarding school.  Plus, it is fun to live in Jerusalem.

There are differences between me and the other kids at the moshav.  For instance, I have different views on people.  Like, I support the gay community.  I stand for equality and for treating everyone as human and believe they should have human rights.  That puts me in opposition to a lot of people who don't like gays or people who are different.

I love everything about Jerusalem.  I love the way it snowed yesterday.  Roads were closed.  My parents love Canada.  I love Canada, too.  If a gay couple gets married in Canada, they are considered to be married in Israel, and get most of the rights of married people.  So Canada is a good country.

Before coming to Jerusalem, I never met Arab kids.  I joined a choir that has both Jewish kids and Arab kids in it.  At my first rehearsal, when I saw all the Arab kids, I wasn't sure it was a good idea for me to have joined.  It was all so new to me.  I felt sort of shy and not sure.  But by the second rehearsal, it seemed normal.  Now I don't even think about it.  One thing I like about the Arab kids I know is that they tell me about Christmas and Ramadan and all the holidays they celebrate, which are different holidays from the ones I celebrate.

Where my old school was, we had no school during the recent war in Gaza.  We ourselves were not hit by rockets, but others in my area were.  It was a bad time.

When I am done school, I would like to be an actor or a singer or a lawyer or something in politics, something to make a change.

 

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