My name is Shai Hirsh. I was born in the town of Elei Sinai, in the Gush Katif region of the Gaza Strip. Today I live on Kibbutz Hannaton and work in agriculture on nearby Moshav Yodfat.
As a graduate of an agricultural high school, I knew before entering the army that I wanted to work in farming. After completing my mandatory service, I realized my dream through the Tiferet program at the Hannaton Educational Center. During the Tiferet program, we lived as a small community at Hannaton and worked in agriculture in three different groups – at the Keren Zur and Hanani nurseries in Beit Lechem HaGlilit and at the Yodfat Bulbs nursery. We also learned twice a week in the evenings, enriching our knowledge in subjects that included the History of the Land of Israel, the Holocaust, Psychology and more. By the end of the program, I knew that I wanted to remain at Hannaton and continue to work in agriculture.
At Hannaton, the synagogue is egalitarian and there is no separation and no difference between men and women during the services. From the moment we had our first Shabbat in the synagogue, I realized that this how I want to pray.
On Shavuot, we celebrate the giving of the Torah. Personally, I received my Torah and my desire to pray to God here at the kibbutz. I now finally understand what my grandfather said I must always remember:
“תּוֹרָה צִוָּה לָנוּ מֹשֶׁה מוֹרָשָׁה קְהִלַּת יַעֲקֹב”.
“Moses charged us with the Torah teachings, the heritage of the congregation of Jacob”.
Shavuot is also the holiday in which the first fruits of the seven species that grew in Israel were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. I can imagine the joy the farmers felt during the Temple period. The feeling you have when you grow an olive tree – care for it, water it – and then it gives fruit, or when you plant wheat and see it grow each day until it is harvested. This is an amazing feeling, one that gives me so much satisfaction and the desire to wake up early each day and go to work.