Two E-mails, that’s all it took to find out so much about Gili Benari: Mother to four talented children, a farmer at heart who became and educator and hasn’t stopped evolving since…
Do you reveal your age?
Of course. I’ve earned these years with dignity, I’m 55. I look older…But that’s me.
Do you really think you look older or is that what people tell you? How old do you feel?
I do look olderL. On my 50th birthday I was asked if I’m 60. People are surprised that I’m only 55. But I feel 30…Except for my fitness.
Where are you from?
A member of Kibbutz Kalia since 30 years.
Where did you grow up?
My family moved around quite a bit. I was born in Ramat Gan and at the end of my first school year we moved to the US ( My father did his doctorate in NYU). We then moved back to Ramat Gan, Motza, and finished high school in Jerusalem. After I got married I lived for two years in Maale’ Edomim and from there to the Kibbutz.
Married to Motti, a researcher of Hebrew literature and cognitive poetics and today a literature teacher in the Ein Gedi high school. We have four amazing children: Lior, she’s 31, married and mother to Eyal who is 4.5 years old. She works in Linguistics, translation and editing, as well as gender studies and researches. Roi is 27 years old, he loves to travel and is thinking about studying film. Sharon is 26 and has recently gotten married. She attended the Cordon Bleu school and she is doing amazing things! Roni is 21 and she is currently working with her boyfriend in the Kibuttz and is planning to learn dog training in order to help disabled people. We have two dogs and we sometimes serve as foster family for other dogs.
Your dream job?
My dream has always been to work with animals and to be a veterinarian…The main reason we moved to Kalia was to work on a farm, which I did for two years. Then during the pregnancies, I worked in education.
How did that happen? Was it only because of the pregnancies?
It happened because working on a farm required physical work, causing an abortion, so when I got pregnant again I had to be careful and turned to education. I enjoyed working with the children. I accompanied a group of infants from nursery to kindergarten. Three years of pure fun. After that, I was responsible for all educational matters in the Kibbutz, where I managed to make some positive changes. For example, I changed the maternity leave from 6 weeks to 3 months, and it was a great success. Another change was hiring employees to the education system, instead of volunteering parents who were not always suited for the job. Then, out of necessity more than anything else, I went to study nursing.
What do you mean out of necessity? Who forced you?
At the time, there were discussions about evacuating the settlements, including us. I was worried that without a “standard” job, and with a wage of a literature teacher, we will not be able to support our children. So I decided to go for a profession with a high demand and a decent wage. I was the manager of the Clinic in the Kibbutz and taught in nursing school. I specialized in medical ethics and law, and joined the Nurses Ethics Bureau. In addition, I was the coordinator of an international research study with the US army.
Tell us more about that…
Research Coordinator is responsible for managing the research according to international standards, law and ethics. I was responsible of scouting and recruiting candidates, maintaining their rights, bureaucracy and relations with other centers. Our study focused on the treatment of traumatic limb injuries using a machine that produces sound waves. The US military used these machines on wounded soldiers and got good results, but the soldiers who needed treatment got it only after 3 days due to the long commute from Iraq or Afghanistan, and they were badly injured. The Americans wanted a diverse population for their case study so they contacted Hadassah Hospital. As part of my job, I flew to the US, learned how to operate the machine, take samples, and learned the protocols. We carried out the research in Israel intermittently due to problems on the American side, but the treatment does work like magic and I hope it will become a protocol treatment for such injuries.
And then you were selected to Head of Community. Is that something you wanted? Did you nominate yourself?
Is that something I wanted? Not really. I don’t like politics, especially not locally. It’s too close to home. It exposes you to the negative sides of people who you are close with. We had non-kibbutz members as heads of the community, which in my opinion did a lot of damage, so it was important for me to have a member in charge. When no one took the stand, I did. I had great achievements and I made a change, but it came with a high price. After that I co-founded a project bringing together Palestinian and Israeli nurses. It was without a doubt a very challenging project, but very rewarding. We have already organized three annual international conferences and it was amazing! This year we will be organizing the first local conference that will be held in Jerusalem.
It all started from when I was asked to organize the Licensing Exam Prep Course for Nurses coming from East Jerusalem, an Arab population. For many years, only a small percentage of the nurses have managed to pass the exam. It was a problem because demand was high for licensed nurses. After organizing the prep course, more than 50% passed. The course was a great success, the newspapers wrote about it and these courses have been going on ever since.
At the same time, a good friend of mine who is responsible for Hadassah’s trauma center, has been getting patients from the West Bank whose medical history is unknown, and when released back home, she loses contact with them and cannot continue with the treatment. We both decided to take initiative and create a support group. We were supported by the Peres Peace Center, where we got together a few times and when our fellow Arab partners showed up less. It turned out that they were not allowed to be a part of normalization, and banned from being associated with the word peace. So we looked for other alternatives. After many efforts we got a sponsorship from an American nurse, one of the best today. Her support made it possible for us to have discreet meetings inside the borders of Israel. If we wanted to hold big meetings, we would have to do in Jordan. We travel to Jordan once a year where the international conference takes place. We also have small meetings which take place once a month where we create presentations, write articles and discuss issues on both sides.
A year ago, I left my job giving me time to do things I like and believe in. As a hobby I create mosaics, as well as prepare Arab nurses for their license exams and coordinate projects for the senior community.
What is written on your imaginary business card? (Don’t be modest)
My sister once made me a business card as a birthday present:” Gili Benari- Agent of original ideas”. I loved it.
If you had a profile on a dating website?
I would NEVER use a dating website. I don’t judge – It’s just not me. But if I did it would say: Loves to travel the world, Animals are a must-have, hmmm…..Note to self: got to think about it more.
What has influenced your taste?
First of all, convenience. If I am not comfortable in something, I will not wear it. Beyond that – quite eclectic.
What do you love to wear the most?
If I find something special, beautiful and comfortable I will not take it off.
Who do you go shopping with?
Anyone, but mostly by myself. I’m not comfortable with my weight so I prefer by myself.
Hoarder or giver?
Love to hoard, but also love to give. It comes and goes.
Most expensive item in your closet?
I have no idea. If I like it, the price is irrelevant.
If you could change one thing about the world?
Can it be on a personal level? What I would really like is for every child to be loved and cared for. Every child-for who he is. Maybe that will make a more humane world…I wish.
Someone you would like to meet?
What do you wish for your daughter?
I wish all my children a happy satisfying and challenging life, and a supportive relationship based on love and respect.
Your thoughts about money
It is nice to have enough in order to achieve your goals in life, but not to be a slave for.
A word about Co.Co
Very proud to be a partner.