This Israeli Family Is Surprisingly Chill About an Expensive 24-hour Airport Delay

How to raise kids who don't whine, according to an Israeli mom and her children; a young former nomad talks about the intense life on a desert ashram

The Dors.
Tomer Appelbaum

From left, Hagay Dor, 14; Noa Dor, 10; Lihi Dor, 17; Yishai Dor, 5; Orit Dor, 45; Dotan Dor, 48; from Kochav Yair; flying to Los Angeles

Hello, can I ask how long you’ve been in the airport?

Orit: We’ve been waiting here 12 hours. By rights, we should have been on the way to L.A. already.

Dotan, who are you speaking to?

Dotan: I’ve been on the phone with American Airlines for the past quarter of an hour already, and who knows what it’s costing. This whole delay, which is their fault, is costing us 20,000 shekels [$5,570].

Orit: And we have to change everything – hotels we reserved, rental cars. We reserved everything in advance – hotels, camping. We booked this flight in January.

Dotan: It’s Hagay’s bar-mitzvah trip, the family’s last big trip before Lihi starts a pre-army course. It’s a trip costing 100,000 shekels, 26,000 of that for the tickets alone. And this morning, when we arrived for the flight

Orit: a 6 A.M. flight

Dotan: a code-share flight with El Al until Europe, they tell us, “Guys, we don’t see you on the flight. You’ll have to add another $1,000 per ticket.”

Orit: Exactly double!

Dotan: We said, no way. For each ticket! Six people! Multiply it and you’ll get to 20-something thousand again. So now we’re trying to minimize the damage. My brother is a lawyer and he screamed at them from every which way.

Did it help?

Orit: No one is taking responsibility, not American Airlines and not El Al.

Dotan: And our hotels are reserved for tonight and there are no vacancies. We’ll get there and won’t have a place to sleep.

Orit: We’ve been here since 2:30 A.M. with all the children, and no one is even being empathetic. And who said it’s no fun to fly with children for a holiday in August?

August is never fun. What are you doing here in the meantime?

Lihi: Being bored, mostly.

Noa: I’m drawing, and we’re playing all kinds of games.

Hagay: And buying all kinds of stuff.

Dotan: We wanted to check in the baggage but they wouldn’t let us, and then we discovered the space with the cafes and we sat down opposite, where you can’t get in without a boarding pass. People are coming and people are going, and we are “hosting” them all.

Noa: And occasionally playing Taki.

Haggay: She bought slime, it’s this sticky jelly.

Noa: And also candies.

 Orit: But they’ve been really polite kids. Haggai was on PlayStation a lot, and Lihi’s been on the phone.

Lihi: I texted my girlfriends and tried to make them all laugh.

Dotan: We’re already used to the airport. We need to come back at 2 A.M., so I think we’ll just set up the camping tents here until the flight.

Orit: We were all really looking forward to this trip, so even if there are obstacles, we’ll overcome them and get to the trip and enjoy it.

Dotan: We just need to move from here now, the whole thing is to get there. You see America and feel calm.

What’s lined up on the trip?

Lihi: They didn’t tell us everything, it’s a surprise trip.

Orit: We’re going to Las Vegas.

Noa: And from there to San Francisco and the Grand Canyon.

Hagay: And to Lake Powell to cruise on a boat.

Dotan: And to Bryce, that’s another park we’re planning to camp in. And to Zion Park and again to Las Vegas, and from there to Yosemite.

Orit: To see the sequoias. And then to Los Angeles, San Diego to Sea World, and to New York and Niagara Falls.

You look pretty calm for 12 hours and 20,000 shekels.

Dotan: We’re looking at it from the side, too. It’s probably good that it’s happening. And lucky we were delayed, because on a different flight we wouldn’t have had a photo. And what good will it do us to get angry?

Lihi: In the meantime, we’ve got our team spirit going.

Orit: The children saw I was on the brink of collapse, I literally felt my body losing strength, and they told me, “It’ll be alright, Mom, don’t worry.” They’re not depressed and they’re not complaining.

Orit, how did you succeed in raising kids who don’t grumble?

Orit: I think it’s from personal example. I don’t whine all day, either. But you can ask them. So, kids, why aren’t you complaining?

Noa: Because we have a good life.

Vova Geltser.
Tomer Appelbaum

Vova Geltser, 29, from Desert Ashram, in the Arava; arriving from Debrecen, Hungary

Hello, can I ask where you were?

In Budapest, at the Ozora Festival, a big event, 35,000 people from around the world. Lots of electronic music. The central stage was different types of trance. It was my first time; I dreamed of it for years but didn’t have a suitable opportunity.

How long were you there?

The festival lasts seven days, and we got there three days ahead, to set up tents and find a nice spot. There were things to do even then, they open earlier before everyone shows up.

I get uptight with 35 people – so 35,000?

It’s a huge place, you don’t feel the masses. The center area is endless and everyone dances together. I find it thrilling. And besides that, I had a learning experience.

Learning?

I work at the Desert Ashram. We hold 10 festivals a year, and I now have numberless things in my inspiration notebook. A lot of them are technical items, but also the set, which was breathtaking. In the middle of the central space there’s a huge tree made of all kinds of local wood, and on it is a macramé net of ribbons tied together in beautiful knots, and all covered in small lights. At night it’s all illuminated and talks to you, and there are projections in all kinds of colors. Shapes and fractals. Trance is geometrical music, so they do it in the geometry of the space.

Sounds very professional.

I’m hooked on festivals, big and small. I worked in the Israel Festival hosting guest artists.

Is that how you got to the Desert Ashram?

The Desert Ashram belongs to Kibbutz Samar. I first got to kibbutz seven years ago. I grew up in Kibbutz Kfar Azza, near Sderot, and I was a nomad before I got to Samar. I had a bag that was my home, I moved around, doing street performances and picking up odd jobs. I went to a lot of festivals and had juggling booths in them.

So how did you settle down in the end?

Tudu bom, tudu bom [pounding his heart with a fist]! I met a woman, born on Kibbutz Samar. We started living together and after some time she left. I’ve remained in that paradise for six years. For years, Samar leased the Desert Ashram to production companies, but a year ago the kibbutz began to manage the place again. Four members and I took it.

Is life in the ashram the kind of shanti people think it is?

No. It’s intense. First of all, 40 people live there and I am only one. I’m in charge of maintenance and construction and setting up the festivals.

What’s the next planned festival?

T.A.Z. [Temporary Autonomous Zone], inspired by a book by Hakim Bey, starting August 31. There will be circus arts, good music, meditation. About 500 people will come. We have bigger festivals, too.

Do you only build or do you also participate?

I appear. I do meditations of four elements, which is half guided live and half electronic, and I do the music. Desert Ashram is a place that practices Osho meditations, and I do my own meditations.

Who comes to the festivals?

A lot of young people, but also people of 30 and 40. People bring their children to most of the festivals, and we set up a special activity site for them. There are lots of families and children, and it’s very refreshing. The Zorba Festival, say, which offers many activities and an opportunity for more people to connect.

Is that your favorite festival?

My style is Ozora, wilder, crazier, and electronic music that gives you an opportunity to open the consciousness and the heart.

Isn’t an open heart scary?

To decide that now, I am in communication with the whole world, and just floating on the good spirit fills your life. I don’t think I was ever afraid of that.

Weren’t you afraid when you all took over the ashram, which is a serious commitment?

Yes, at first it was very scary to see how much work we faced, and there were moments when I asked myself what I was doing there. But I see how the opportunity to create a reality is a stunning one. I feel fortunate that it fell to me. I see the life I am living now. I love it. It’s an opportunity to grow, to make things blossom, and it’s exciting. The freest and most liberated there is.