I’m excited (and nervous) to be in transit again, for a two-week research trip in Israel. I’m hoping that my interviews there will cap off all the material I need to complete my book. (Actually, what I need is the discipline—and perhaps a manacle around my ankle—to simply buckle down and finish a first draft.)

The next 14 days promise to be a flurry of travel and meetings and interviews and observations. Some highlights from my itinerary:

  • Nes Ammim: A German-run interfaith “kibbutz” that coordinates dialogue workshops and peace-building initiatives. I’m hoping to drop in on a session with Arab and Jewish theatre students from Haifa.
  • Kishorit: a former kibbutz that has been transformed into a rehabilitation centre and home for adults with physical and mental disabilities, where they can find meaningful work (including producing a TV show) and community.
  • Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company: I had brief visit to the studios and rehearsal spaces on Kibbutz Ga’aton 2.5 years ago, but on this visit I will spend time talking to artistic director Rami Be’er and then seeing this internationally renowned troupe perform in Tel Aviv.
  • Ran Tal, the director of the “collage” documentary” Children of the Sun, which weds archival footage of kibbutz children, from the 1930s onwards, with interviews with early kibbutzniks (including Tal’s mother) about the positives and negatives of growing up (and raising their own children) in these isolated and idealistic communal outposts.
  • System Ali, a hip-hop collective, with members who are Arab and Jewish, native-born Israelis and Russian immigrants, that sprung from the Sadaka Reut commune that I visited in the summer of 2010.
  • Eliaz Cohen, a poet from Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, one of the most historic settlements, who writes verse informed by his deep spiritual roots and his communal home.
  • And more…

First, though, I’ve got a 10.5-hour flight to Tel Aviv (with an exit-row seat!), negotiate the 20 Questions of Israeli Customs, grab an hour-and-a-half train ride to Nahariya, rent a car there, and make the short drive (thankfully) to Nes Ammim. The next morning I hit the ground running with interviews and then a drive up north to Kibbutz Shamir. No time for jet lag.