Our Garden: A Reflection by Saba RonPosted on September 24th, 2019
Greene Family Camp Family, Shalom,
First, I want to wish the entire GFC family a happy and healthy New Year, Shana Tova.
It has been nearly two months since Session Two ended and I returned home to Kibbutz Yahel in Israel. It was an incredible summer of fun, learning, Judaism, tasty vegetables, herbs, sweet peaches, and my Bedouin tea (or as y’all know it, Saba Ron’s tea).
By the way, before you finish reading I will reveal the ingredients for my Bedouin tea. This way, even when I am back home in Israel and you are away from camp, you can still get a taste of my Bedouin tea and can imagine sitting with your friends in the garden.
Everyone who visited our garden had the opportunity to see the rainbow display of flowers: red, yellow, white, shades of blue, purple, pink and orange. We watched an abundance of butterflies floating around the flowers, enjoyed the fragrances of lavender, rosemary, basil, and mint. We tasted the fresh tomatoes, mint, basil, peppers (both sweet and spicy), corn, potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupes, and the beloved sweet peaches. These peaches are very special, because they were the harvest of the trees we planted in the spring of 2017. Next summer, our hard work will continue to pay off as we will likely enjoy the first harvests of figs, pears, apples, plums, and pecans.
Looking back, our garden was very busy during Summer 2019. Every day, campers from all units visited, learned, and experienced all of the amazing sights, smells, and tastes that the garden had to offer.
Every unit had a vital role in the strengthening of our garden community.
Kibbutz. The Kibbutz campers, on their last work day, coined the phrase OUR GARDEN. The garden is not the product of my work, but it is the result of the hard work of everyone at GFC. The Kibbutz campers arrived at the garden with lots of enthusiasm and energy every morning. By summer’s end, all of the plans I mapped out for Kibbutz were completed with a job well done. Before the summer, most of the Kibbutz campers had no previous experience using a shovel or rake… But today, after a summer of learning, I would hire them without thinking twice.
Gadol. This past summer, a Garden Gadol activity was offered to Melachim and S’ganim campers which allowed those that were interested to help in the garden for an hour every day. A dozen campers participated, learning about the secrets of gardening from the McLennan County Master Gardeners (who volunteer each year), as well as lending a hand in the garden work.
Bonim, Shorashim & Niviim. GFC’s youngest campers visited the garden every morning at 7:30 for a tasting and learning experience. There were always a lot of questions, a lot of fun, and a lot of thank yous.
Kohanim, Shoftim, Melachim and Sganim. The older campers on main camp would come visit me in the garden during Cufsha (free time). They dug up potatoes, weeded, picked vegetables and peaches, and helped to spread mulch. Everyone had a lot of fun and a feeling of accomplishment as they watched their hard work grow in front of their eyes.
Every Thursday after dinner I would prepare bouquets of flowers for Friday Shabbat dinner tables. This is a tradition I began during the summer of 2017, and always would prepare by myself… but as session 2 began, a new tradition began as well. Campers from Melachim and S’ganim assisted in preparing the Shabbat bouquets, and they looked better than they ever have before.
Every day, the campers deepened their connection to the garden. They grew with the garden, showing everyone that the garden was now ‘Our Garden’. Any camper who would like to help in the garden is welcome. There is always something to do, and there is always tea.
Before I reveal the tea recipe, I wanted to tell you a little about myself.
I grew up on Long Island, received a degree in agriculture before making aliya in 1977. I assisted in founding Kibbutz Yahel, the first Reform Jewish kibbutz in Israel which is located in the southern Negev Desert. I am married to Gila (some of you may recall the special dietary and vegetarian dishes she prepared 3 summers ago), with 3 children and three grandchildren. My daughter Yaheli was a camper for three summers and was a staff member for one. In November she will be joining the IDF.
It turns out that GFC and Kibbutz Yahel have a lot in common. We were both established in 1976. Loui and many of our founding members were contemporaries in NFTY in the 60’s and 70’s.
Both GFC and Yahel have visions that are as relevant today as they were when they were established.
GFC: Create a fun, safe, educational, friend-filled environment that teaches and practices Judaism.
Yahel: Create a vibrant community based on mutual responsibility, equality, social justice, promoting and living the ideals of Reform Judaism.
Many of Yahel’s youth have been campers and counselors at Greene. Since 1978, Garin Greene campers have enjoyed their desert adventure under Yahel’s guidance. All of us at Yahel who have guided and organized the desert tours unanimously agree that the NFTY groups we enjoy most are from Garin Greene.
Stefani Rozen asked if I would share the recipe for the Bedouin tea. After deliberating long and hard whether to give up my secret for Saba Ron’s Tea, it took me about….. seven seconds to agree. Y’all loved the tea so much that I figured I will do it. My brother Marksuggested I patent the recipe and bottle to sell when he visited GFC this past summer. I told him that there was no way. This tea is for GFC campers, staff, alumni, and visitors only. But now that you will have the recipe, you can organize temple and youth group fundraisers all year round, selling Saba Ron’s GFC Bedouin Hot and Cold Tea.
Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!
Black tea, either loose or bags.
Sugar (Bedouins usually serve tea sweet but do as you please).
Water according to amount to be served.
Cinnamon sticks and/or mint leaves
Cardomon either dried or pods.
Step 1: Boil water.
Sted 2: Add ingredients together.
Step 3: Allow to sit for a few moments before serving.
Saba Ron Bernstein