My long story short... ... 
it starts in a way which befits the whole country, a controverse situation:
I arrived at Kfar Rafael in the morning at a gate where I was told by a guard to wait. I felt very strange to be stopped at the entrance of a village. He wouldn't let me go to find my way around. I was actually angry, but 2 minutes later my mood totally changed. I was warmly welcomed by a young woman and introduced to the different places and people in my house, to a place that became my home and I never stopped loving since. (And I'll never forget this first minutes at Kfar Rafael :-) )
I remember the first weeks as very exhausting getting used to the daily routine and to two new languages (English and Hebrew). But I was really happy, I felt great. While I needed time to get used to a totally new culture (actually 2 different cultures initially - one in town, one within the village), I felt at home immediately in my house.
I suddenly had a chance to be myself, away from old habbits that I had at home. Of course there was work to do, but I felt satisfied with what I did, how I did it. The work in Kfar Rafael was always rewarding.
Anyway, no place on earth where there is no struggle. I had lots of it. Mostly with myself. Living together with people, mostly the same people you work with, lets you meet not only them, but yourself. I was challanged in new ways to meet myself.
There were many different tasks and works I did there over the months and years. I met many new friends, who are still important to me today.
In my free time I hiked in different areas of Israel, I got to know different families, many different cultures, that make Israel so unique.
I could write here endless stories (and that was my plan for the past 8 years), but in the end you will have your own story, your own experience.

Some people asked me the ultimate question, "but how is it with the war and the bombs? What can be really done?"
Well, if you have friends who go somewhere and you hear there was a bombing, you worry. I never really worried about my own safety.
I don't think Europe is any safer than Israel to be honest, there are as many train, bus or car accidents as anywhere else...
As to politics, you need to make your own picture, but I promise your picture will change the more, the longer you stay.
Anyway Kfar Rafael itself is a bit like a soap bubble, within itself a small unit, where the outer life is not the most important concern.
I enjoyed my time there and hope that you will too.

Starting end 2002, I was in Kfar Rafael initially for about 18 months, 14 of those I did as replacement for the Austrian national service (Zivildienst). After some holidays, some work and a semester of study in Austria I returned to Kfar Rafael for another ~17 months.

If you want to hear more (and there is lots more to hear) contact me:
Florian Kaiser on gmx at (a dot between my names, an @ for on, and a dot between gmx and at)

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