Chelly Gerby lives in Kibbutz Beit Keshet in the Galilee. She is a mother of two daughters and works as a weaving teacher at Sindyanna’s Visitors Center in Kafr Kanna.
How has work changed your life?
I never had Arab friends before and I never felt safe to come to the village of Kafr Kanna. Now I have friends here and I find myself shopping here even on the days when I am not working here.
What relationships have you built through working at Sindyanna? How are these relationships different from ones you’ve had in the past?
I teach weaving to a lot of groups and I feel at home here. It feels like a family, not like work. It’s very warm, close, and caring. Different.
What were your expectations in regards to Sindyanna? How has your experience aligned or deviated from these expectations?
One day Hanan (Zoabi, Visitors Center manager) called me and asked if I could come teach weaving. I said I can’t, I have two babies at home. She said okay, come with them and it’ll be fine. I was scared because I thought how could I teach and have the girls with me as well. I tried it and it was nice. It has continued and continued. I have been teaching here once a week for the past two years.
How has your community reacted to your work?
They are supportive. I live in a Kibbutz close by and they are happy that I am here. Sometimes they come to Sindyanna because they are interested. My family is supportive too. My mom speaks Arabic so I think she would love to come here. She’s so busy and lives far away so she hasn’t had time to come visit yet.
How do you compare your life to your mother’s?
I grew up in a city near Tel Aviv where my mother is still living. My life is very different from hers. I live in a village. I raise my kids in a community. When I come to visit my mother’s house, she does not even know the name of her neighbors. When I need something, from salt to a car I just ask my neighbors on WhatsApp. We really take care of each other in the community.
I remember in my childhood, when I needed to go somewhere but did not have a car, I thought to myself: surely one of them could carpool with me, but I did not even know them because I did not have an access to the community. It is a different way of life. In the city, everyone is taking care of his or her own life. There is not trust and people do not meet. City life is different.
What future do you envision for your daughters?
One word: Peace. However, I have less faith than I had before. I feel like the situation is getting worse. Each society has their dark parts. If I look at the world, it is just getting worse. I really wish that in my house there will be peace and that in my community there will be peace, and then, one day there will be peace for everyone in our region.