Building the Merkaz Siach

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by Ziv Bar-El

Since I arrived in Israel, I’ve come across opportunities to engage in new experiences that I never saw coming and build on part of myself I like that I just haven’t yet discovered. Last week, I chose to work alongside other members of Dror Israel / Hanoar HaOved on renovations of the Mercaz Siach. The Mercaz Siach is a multi-purpose building located in Hadar that will become a new physical center for Dror Israel, with spaces to hold discussions, work together on various messimot and have sichot. There are many movement members living in Haifa, and many more within the north of Israel, and this building is a space for them to come together and meet both informally and formally. Actually it’s a space that we want anyone in the movement to feel at home in. The Mercaz Siach has the potential to start new hitnasuyot (experiences/experiments) and to bring together movement members across the generations that currently exist. I really felt the intergenerational atmosphere of this space as I worked alongside communarim (members of Chava, the NOAL equivalent to Shnat), members from the Tnuat HaBogrim, and movement members from the Kehiliyat Kibutzey Hakvutzot (adult members who established kibbutzim together after being in Tnuat Habogrim). After the bulk of the work was over, we all ate lunch and had a peula where we learned together about Haifa and discussed the challenges of the city faces. We discussed the importance of Kiyum Meshutaf in a mixed Jewish-Arab city and the abundance of olim that the movement needs to be taking responsibility for, among other challenges residents here experience. The rationale behind building the Mercaz Siach is that it will serve to meet the needs of the community here in Haifa and movement members. This building can even be a place for partners of Dror Israel and community members outside of Dror Israel. The possibilities of what this space brings is still being shaped by members of Dror Israel. Members of Dror Israel are not only shaping the ideas around it, but we’re actually renovating the building itself.

Overall the day was a real adventure, and through the challenges of the work I learned how to do some construction work and learned about myself. My task, which I did with Greg from Garin Techina, was to install drywall in the corners of an open room. We needed to keep constant vigilance when measuring where to drill and measuring the cuts we made to fit the drywall. Each corner we worked on didn’t fit exactly with the basic instructions we received which challenged us to keep pace and adjust the instructions while still following them. We weren’t used to using drills and with drywall, but by the end of the day we noticeably improved our technique. It was really satisfying when we finally secured the drywall. It was easy to get frustrated at times, but knowing that we were learning new things we persevered and we did some meaningful work. I learned that I get very excited and optimistic about the work in front of me. Sometimes that helped us push through, but other times I rushed into doing something too quickly, without asking for help, and I made mistakes like breaking a mostly good piece of drywall. What I learned that day about building will not just help me the next time I’m at the site, but also deal with challenges I face in my life.

I’m excited to go back to building as I continue building my new life here with many more twists and turns.


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