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By Abby Lennon Saper (’06)

A lot has happened since I walked into Ida Crown for the first time as a student, 12 years ago. Looking back at my Jewish studies, a clear memory stands out for me today. I remember the moment in Mrs. Stopek’s class when I learned about shmitta and the laws concerning damage of animals. I laughed at the idea of such things, and thought, when does that happen? Why should I learn the things that do not apply to me?

Of course I was ignorant, because here I am today, living the life that I once did not understand. As shmitta is gets underway this year, and as our farm dogs are making greater relationships with the other moshav dogs (as well as learning not to eat the neighbors loose chickens), I am no longer laughing at the ideas of the Torah the apply to my life today.

My husband and I are involved in a collaborative project, seeking to work in harmony with the land, as landscape artists. We are growing food, making our own homestead products, and building our own geodesic dome home, as well as a studio workspace. So far, we have built three domes and have started building cobb walls, which is a mixture of earth, sand, straw and water. Building a life-size dome has been a dream of mine, as geometry and the geodesic structure became a theme of my work that evolved over my last few years at the Art Institute of Chicago. It has been a blessing to get back to our roots as an agricultural nation, feeling the bracha from Hashem each and every day.

The moshav, Sde Trumot, located in the hot Beat Shean Valley of Springs, was founded as a place for Kurdish refugees in 1951, all of whom are cousins. Life is interesting here as the only American house in this moshav. My husband and I live in the “backyard,” while others live inside the farmhouse, and we are all a team working together on 15 acres of land.

We have been sleeping outside for three months now and we could not be happier campers! We get to sleep under the breathtaking stars every night. It feels like the nights we used to star gaze on the basketball court at Camp Moshava, but now a little more permanent.

All my past experiences have helped me transition to the life that I am living now. What has brought here today, has been my involvement in the Bnei Akiva youth movement, the Ida Crown basketball team and at Camp Moshava for 10 years. Since then, I have attended seminary and three different art schools. I now know that all these experiences allowed me to become a proud Jew, a team player and further taught me how to utilize creative energies, as well as take constructive criticism in the most positive ways.

All in all, I am proud to be an Academy alum, for the values I have learned have paved a path for me to be the first in my family to make Aliyah. I run into Academy alumni all around Israel in the most random places, and it feels amazing to know that I am part of many and not alone. As of now, we patiently await for our families to make the move and for Am Yisroel to follow in the many footsteps of our brave fellow Jews. I thank Hashem everyday to be part of that and to perform the mitzvot that only apply to living in Eretz Yisroel.

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