While still in school, Yocheved spent a semester in Israel on the Dawson Semester Program. She spent eight months on Kibbutz Gatton. With a full course load and working the fields, she had a great time. Oh, there were a few uncomfortable moments such as Harvest Feast. Harvest Feast on Kibbutz Gatton happens to coincide with what is the first night of Pesach in the rest of the world. The Dawson group was treated to the sumptuous feast of fresh baked bread, juicy pork and rice. Although not traditional, the members of the program asked to be excused and went to their classroom to eat whatever food they had lying around. The Harvest Feast was just too much for them to swallow.
After the Dawson program ended, Yocheved stayed on at the kibbutz for a few more months and worked along with another two or three hundred volunteers of which only three were Jewish. The majority of the volunteers were from England, which is where she decided to spend the year after her next year of school. During her year in England, Yocheved and three American women shared an apartment on Queensgate right off of Hyde Park, a very urban location by any definition. She worked at a “Kosher-style” deli (ham on one side, cheese on the other) on Oxford and Bond Streets. It was the kind of place businessmen on their lunch breaks frequented. The deli had a counter with stools and some tables. There were a lot of conversations with customers. It was a real people place. Things went well for the women for about eight months, which is when they found that they could no longer pay their rent and were forced to move.
At that point, Yocheved and a friend decided that they’d had enough of England, so they went travelling to Turkey and Greece. Both Turkey and Greece are noted for their well-preserved relics and ruins. After Turkey it was back to Montreal where Yocheved worked in a toy store for five months. Then it was back to Europe and Turkey for more sightseeing with a friend. Now I hope you see a pattern developing. On the one hand, Yocheved has this keen interest in ancient history, and on the other hand, she is a people person. She lived on a kibbutz, worked in a busy restaurant and a toy store, and she was always travelling with friends.
After her trip to Europe and Turkey, Yocheved went to Israel to take part in a dig. She never did go on that dig and archaeology’s loss was our gain. Yocheved’s brother was in Israel and after meeting Rabbi Meir Schuster, was reintroduced to his Jewish Heritage. He was studying in a Jerusalem yeshiva when Yocheved arrived. With his gentle guidance and the experience of living with an inspirational family for two months, Yocheved decided to make Jerusalem her home. As for her vocation, you guessed it, she became a madricha at Rabbi Meir Schuster’s Heritage House.