Art · Creativity is the answer · Getting involved · Living in Otef Azza · Music · Nofei Habsor · Theatre · What's Happening · Youth Making a Difference

The Wonderful Music and Art School in Eshkol

Bikurim, or “First Harvest” offering an invitation to artistically gifted students from 9th to 12th grades, opened its doors in September 2014 and has progressively welcomed students from all over the country.

Some of my most interesting pupils have studied there and have enriched our high school, Nofei Habsor, with a blossoming artistic environment, kickstarting the already lush Art Department and offering their gifts cultivated in a rich new Music Dept.
This past May, a film was created to highlight the dream of the founder, Jonathan and his associates, of bringing gifted pupils from all over Israel or from abroad to our home-town, Eshkol to study art and music, and more!

I’m proud of Bikorim and long to see it develop into a larger hub of artistic pursuits for students of all ages.

Please read what Prof. Jonathan Dekel-Chen says below and watch this film.

“In these difficult times for communities and people around the world, I am delighted to share with you a beacon of hope and joy: Bikurim Youth Village for the Arts. I invite you to view this short film, in English:

Bikurim: The Youth Village for Excellence in the Arts

This film is a window onto Bikurim, located 2.5 miles from Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, a most unlikely place to establish an exciting, new professional incubator for excellence in the arts, while narrowing the gaps of opportunity for our country’s gifted, but marginalized, young people from cities, small towns, kibbutzim and moshavim.

For more information or to explore partnering with us, please contact:

Prof. Jonathan Dekel-Chen (co-founder)


Phone: +972-54-7916931

Check out our Facebook page or website for the latest news, music and images from the Village:

Thanks for taking the time to read and watch the clip. Feel free to add comments below, Judih Weinstein Haggai, Kibbutz Nir Oz, Eshkol Regional Council

Creativity is the answer · Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Nature · Nir-oz

Two word poetry

Mindfulness and poetry.
What could be better?

As a writer of haiku, I firmly believe that by condensing one’s thoughts and focusing on the immediate present moment, one can hone thought, feeling and sensation into a precise gem.

Sometimes the gem is flawed and that makes it all the more unique.

This morning in our mindfulness practice, we went through a systematic body scan and then after stretching our limbs, we each took the Tibetan Singing Bowl, invited the sound of the bell and offered a noun and an adjective to pinpoint our present moment.

Beautiful day

Beautiful child

Rich morning

Inner quiet

Crying heart

Flourishing garden

Circling around, each of us rang the Tibetan bowl and added our short phrase.

Our body alive, our mind alert, our hearts opened and a chance for verbal expression, this day offered a rich, gentle session with a flourish of creativity.

photo by Stewart Ganulin, LIfe on the Border
Creativity is the answer · History · Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · Music · Nir-oz

August 12th, 2014 – Day 3 of Mind cleanse

plum stained lips

dylan tangled up in blue

flush mind therapy

Once upon a time, I was what was called an angry writer. I didn’t dare tell everyone else what I thought of them, so I wrote it all down. Not as blunt as it could have been, I disguised my ire in satirical sketches and metaphorical verse. Free style, the innocence of thinking that once it was down on a page, the power would exert its force.

Those were the days before I discovered that no one looks beneath the surface. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and wears the latest style, that’s good enough. No one would bother to look for a swan under the feathers or a deeper sound beyond the surface.

I hadn’t realized how most people navigate the world. After a flash appraisal, their judgement’s been made and that’s that. And it appears that magic doesn’t work on non-believers.

And so, I stopped making signs on the page. I backed away and began to learn. Years of trial and failure and danger and denial helped me out. And I slowly came to an understanding.

In order to exact a difference in the world, one needs to realize that nothing is going to be different and so one might as well work on making a difference in oneself. That at least has a chance.

looking inside, watercolour by judih

My writing began to change its target. Instead of hurtling out innuendos, I focused inwardly on the present moment. I brought the richness of language, cadence and meaning   into the zone of observing what is, rather than what could be.

I listen and write: ‘the sound of one flower singing.’ The moment overflows with such a sound.  What might be, in the future, ceases to matter, for right now I’m alive! Can this moment affect the next? Can this effect flow between moments?

While I consider this, there I go…off and running through endless associations (what’s that message on my phone, how many people liked my haiku, how to use iPads in school, what book will I use with my Grade 11 class, how many photocopies will I have to make…) until, I stop. I notice the trip and for another moment I can choose to stop travelling. That one brief glance at a moment, changes it.

It’s said and I believe it’s true that the more such moments, the more there will be.

Bob Dylan’s still alive. There’s hope.

Bob Dylan, Things have changed

August 11th

Creativity is the answer · Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · Nir-oz

August 11th, 2014 – Second day of Chanting, during Ceasefire


onion skins away

or so they say

I’ve just chanted for 11 minutes. This is a good thing because I get to vibrate and sing, opening my ears to the outside and in.

Whether or not I’m working on my ancestral detritus – that stuff that gets passed on because of ancient neuroses and terrors – is apparently without question. It’s been said that as long as I keep chanting, the junk gets washed away.

It’s like the Wild Goose qigong cutta – even in imperfection, it works.

I like things like that.

So, I’m chanting and waiting for my equilibrium to show up.

I see online that 18 people are writing beside me, on our forum. 18 that I know about. What about all those others from all those other writing forums? How many from those places are writing at this moment. There will be the all-nighters who can only create while everyone else sleeps or the insomniacs who write because they must. Or those who live in this timezone and are simply following a writing regimen as I’ve heard some do.

Me? I write because I can. No school. I haven’t yet decided to bring meditation back to the Kindergarten on the kibbutz. I had to stop my pilot when all the children were evacuated to locations far from the border. Now, I need to re-bond with the new staff and make my schedule known.  That might take one more day during this ceasefire of ours.

About pilots. Here I am participating in the test drive of hubitus, the wonderful idea of Ella, Adi and Naaman. They did it – they are doing it. And writers are using it.

Me? I have a UX designer, Shantal, who I adore and a promise of a coder, but no money with which to get this thing on the road. I have a promise of a partner who is engaged in a million other things.

I’m hoping my equilibrium is about to land – I’ll be needing it.

Voices writers group meets this evening  in Be’er Sheva. Here is a face-to-face group where we listen to one another and offer critique. I always hope that each one of us comes up with something brilliant and on occasion, it happens – a line or two stands out as pithy. But then there are all those other lines of cliché or cutesy, melodramatic or maudlin.  Yeah, like that. Words that really could be just as happy if they hadn’t landed on a page.

And what about me? Again, do I comb through my haiku and match up a few?

Do I decide on a theme and bring together elements that are related only by DNA? Till I feel a eureka situation, or at least a ‘not bad’ status.

Quality of writing is only as good as its ability to withstand the moment of invading the page. If it works a week or month later, then perhaps it’s ‘not bad’. When it’s tossed together with another piece of writing there’s a chance for a greater sum effect. That’s fun.

Writing is fun.


held close to the chest

then tossed

I’ve made a quilt of ku for today’s Voices meeting, culled from responses to images:

what mischief

no longer plays

these empty walls

post no posters

open no blinds

nothing new today

last huddle

before the dispersal

each to distant land

hubitus – ally for writers

the world sings

the sound of one flower

August 10th, 2014

August 12th, 2014

Creativity is the answer · History · Middle East · Speak Out

Interviewing Janice Weizman, a writer from Rehovot, Israel

I was happily invited to the Sde Avraham home of Sara Lischinsky this past weekend, where I was able to meet with Janice Weizman.

The Wayward Moon - book coverJanice, formerly from Toronto, has lived and breathed Israeli life for the past 30 years and her fertile imagination and research led her to write her first novel, The Wayward Moon.

I interviewed her and posted my first entry to a new blog: Writers Speak Out!

Here is the link. Take a look!


Creativity is the answer · Getting involved · Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · Nir-oz

Brilliant Photography: Ezra Tzahor

Ezra Tzahor, photographer, teacher at Nofei Habsor, kibbutznik who lives in Kibbutz Revivim, recently had a show at the White House, Nir-Oz.

Ezra Tzahor, at the White House, Nir-Oz

I spoke to Ezra about his work focusing on the Bedouin population and the desert environment that he loves.

Judih: Ezra, can you tell me something about the current Exhibit?

Ezra: I’m constantly biking around the area with my camera.  In the Revivim area, there’s a large Bedouin population.  And I endeavour to photograph what’s going on, within our population and around us. The Bedouin  have a very difficult life, without legal status or rights and they are angry to the degree of hatred.

Desert, Ezra Tzahor, October 2012

I try to capture the images of what is really going on, with the Jewish population and the Bedouin. At the same time, my intention is to be an agent, or go-between. I wish to mediate between two sides, two groups of human beings

Judih: Do you feel that you are being heard? Do people have questions? Are they taking an interest?

Ezra: People are listening. They get angry, but they listen. There are those who believe that I’m exaggerating on either sides. Yet I know that eventually what I’m saying will penetrate people’s consciousness.

Judih: Have any newspapers taken up your cause? Is there anything written?

Ezra: Very little. I say this: Over Tel Aviv, there’s an Iron Dome, impossible to penetrate.  You want to get through, but it’s impossible.

Judih: You can’t break that bubble.

Ezra: Exactly, even if you have something to say, something truly deserving to be heard,

Judih: Do you know if something has been written in the English press? Perhaps some response from out of the country?

Ezra: I don’t think so, but I’d like to find a way to spread the word to English-speakers.

Judih: Well, this blog might find a small audience, maybe 20 people or so!

Ezra: It doesn’t matter how many, even 20 people is good!

Judih: Is there something in particular you’d like readers outside of this immediate area to know?

Photo by Ezra Tzahor

Ezra: As I wrote  in my artist’s statement for this show, people find it very difficult to relate to the camera; as if the camera is an enemy. This is true for Jews as well as Bedouin. Apparently, they’ve got something to hide, and that is what I’m searching for, what lies underneath.  Both sides are the same, and essentially need to stop being foolish.

This week, for example, on our Kibbutz fence,there was a war between the Bedouin and the local councils. Highly unnerving. There I am biking around, and it’s not always with a good feeling.

Judih: or a feeling of safety.

Ezra: or safety. And after this week, I feel even more uncertain.

Judih: What exactly happened?

Ezra: Government officials came to issue demolition warrants on illegal housing and there was huge opposition.  The Bedouin threw stones and there was gunfire, right on our Kibbutz fence.  It’s terrible.

Revivim exists with that volatile fence and tunnels and trenches. It’s terrible.

Still I am trying to build relationships, but I’m only one man, a small force and it’s extremely difficult to encourage change.

Judih: Do you have any suggestions as to how to recruit support?

Ezra: My dream is to establish a home, like Haim Perry has done with the White House on Nir-Oz,  between Revivim and Bir-Hadaj, their area. There I want to offer art activities for groups of Jews and Bedouin. That’s my dream.  With such activity, it’s possible to develop cooperation.

Judih: That sounds wonderful! Is it possible, is there some viable way to develop this project?

Ezra: Haim suggested something and I’ll start to work in that direction; perhaps the Peres Center for Peace.  And I need to find someone who can locate the resources for developing this idea.

Judih: Excellent.  Good luck and thank you.

Ezra at the White House, Nir-Oz

Ezra has an online gallery here.

To contact Ezra, feel free to write him @

Creativity is the answer · Getting involved · Living in Otef Azza · Nofei Habsor · Theatre · Youth Making a Difference

Judih speaks to Dor Nahum about the Mustache Theatre, 2012!

The Mustache Theatre!


Eshkol Council Youth Theatre has done it again!

“The Newspaper” (העיתון) is this year’s play. I spoke to Dor Nahum, a member of the Mustache Theatre about the play.


Judih: Hi Dor. Could you introduce yourself?

Dor:: My name is Dor Nahum. I’m 16 1/2 years old. I live in Moshav Eshelim ( in the area of Ramat Negev or Nitzana. My hobbies: I love photography, and bike-riding in the area and, of course, sleeping.

J: Tell me about The Mustache Theatre – (Teatron haSafam) – what is it, how long has it been active?

D: The Mustache Theatre has been active for quite a while – more than a decade. The theatre is for teenagers from Grade 8 till 12. It’s a theatre group for people who love theatre. They come and participate in all kinds of acting exercises, acting, drama play, fooling around and just enjoying themselves. Of course, every so often, we perform a  play

J: Okay. Who are the professionals you work with?
D: We have a director, Yaacov Amsalem. He’s everything for us – our director, someone who makes us laugh, and organizes everything. There’s Arieh, in charge of our finances, and who arranges the logistics of where and when we perform, all the technical details.

J:What play did you do last year?
D: Last year’s play was I am Me, a play that I unfortunately wasn’t a part of.  But it was very successful

J: Where did you perform last year?

D: it was performed in the Bat Yam Theatre Festival, and won Honourable Mention. And this year, I’m in the play.

ImagePart II.

J: Tell me about your current play. How did it begin?

D: This year’s play is called The Newspaper. It’s a play that’s based on all the newspapers for youth – like Ma’ariv leNoar and others that deal with stories about and for teens – funny stories, stories about problems between teens and their parents who try to get close to them.

J: How did you begin work on the script?
D: We worked with a scriptwriter who watched us do warm-ups and exercises in our rehearsals. Then we went to books and took texts from there. If it was Meshkenat Tzedek or Ha Na’an Ve Aru (from India) from the Tea House from the book Cunchiat ha Kesem. (The Magic Shell)

We took all kinds of books and constructed the texts of the play.

J: Who was the scriptwriter?

D: I don’t remember the name. But he sat with Ya’acov our director and chose parts for everyone.

J: I see. Is there anything else you want to add about the process?

D: Actually it was a really short process – from the first read-through of the script till performance. We barely had to time to rehearse or run through the script. And after only 2 weeks, we already went to perform in Bat Yam, at the Festival.

J: Wow

D: And we got another Honourable Mention! From the Directors of the Festival and from the Critics.

J: Excellent.


Part 3

J: Do you have a monologue?  Can you tell me about it?

D: Yes, I have a part. I was Aru, the owner of the Indian Tea House. And I’d verbally abuse a young Indian. Young Indian, Tea House – everything must run perfectly. If within 3 minutes the tea doesn’t get to the client, well then he’ll go to another Tea House. So, all the time I tell him, go there, go over there. I played the “bad guy”.

J: Did you enjoy playing him?

Dor: Yes, but on the other hand no. When I walked around, half the girls came to me crying that I was a bad man, an evil man.

And I’d say, half-cynically,”Okay”….

J: Yes, how did it really feel.

D: It was weird. On one hand, it was wait a minute, I’m not really like that, but on the other hand it was great – it really made them feel something. One friend told me that if people in the audience yelled to me: “Stop getting him crazy, stop sending him from side to side”, then it really meant that you succeeded in being believable.

J: Yes, you really did it! And congratulations

D: Yes, and we performed here in the Eshkol Auditorium, we also managed to get the message across, very well! Rami (Zvilli, Jr. High Principal of Nofei Habsor) said to me that I can take over his job.

J: You succeeded to that extent! Good for you.

J: How did you prepare for your role as Aru?

D:.The truth is that I was myself, as a mean human being,  that I didn’t have to consider him or his needs, but only that he needs to work on schedule and I listened to the Director. Ya’acov gave me very clear directions, to emphasize things, to move in a certain way

J: Okay.  So you brought it from within yourself.

Dor: yes!


J: So tell me more about the play. Is it about the relationship between parents and their children?

D: Yes the whole story is about a couple who go to see the school counselor and he tells them about the problems at school, academic and social and how he doesn’t do anything. He asks where its coming from, if its due to circumstances at home, or some other place. And that the parents have to learn how to communicate. He gives then a paper ‘The Newspaper’ and there they read articles about how to relate to their son.

J: Were there parents who came to you and said that they related to the idea?

D: Yes, someone came up to the director and admitted that it was true

J: Excellent. No doubt there were others who felt the same.

J: Do you think the Mustache Theatre will be doing this play next year?

D: No every year we do a new play, with fresh ideas. If there’s a huge demand, then there’s a chance we would give another performance. It’s a really good play. We have another performance on June 15th at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom.

J: Okay, now speaking personally, what was your favourite part of the play?

D: To stand in front of the audience, to act, and to see that  they got the message, that they were really attentive and didn’t disrupt us.

Part 4: Future and other Comments
J: What are your plans for next year?

D: I plan to continue with the Mustache Theatre because I really enjoy it there, even though I live quite far. There’s a great atmosphere and the people really enjoy theatre. But even if someone doesn’t think they have a sense for theatre, they can still come. It’s free and whoever comes is welcome. Come, take a look, and if you enjoy it, stay!

J: so you love it!

Dor: I love it. It’s not the first time that I’m involved in theatre. Since the 8th grade I’ve been doing theatre, directing plays for the local council or in Ashkelon with a friend of mine, a scriptwriter, who asked me to direct his play,  That play was well received. We also performed it in Ashdod and we received a lot of good feedback.

Theatre is the one thing that I’d give anything for.

J: Do you see yourself working in theatre in the future?

Dor: Yes, as an actor, or a director.

J: Great. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Dor: I hope that people will see the play, that they’ll come because it’s fun. We laugh and enjoy ourselves. It’s for those with a theatrical sense and even for those who don’t! Come, take a look, and give it a try. It’s fun!

J: Where do you do your rehearsals?

D: For the plays, it’s in Moshav Amioz or in Nir Itzhak in the Little theatre. The workshop is on Mondays here at school (Nofei Habsor Comprehensive), from 4:30 – 6:30. And it’s worth coming.

J: Okay! Good luck to you, Dor.  Thanks so much for talking to me.

 Judih Speaks to Dor Nahum in Hebrew, on youtube!

Art · Creativity is the answer · Getting involved · Ha'aretz · Israel · Middle East · Rights · What's Happening

Spreading the face of revolution from Tunisia to Tel Aviv – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Spreading the face of revolution from Tunisia to Tel Aviv – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.


Remember JR, the winner of the TED Prize for ‘movers and shakers’ in 2011? Well, I do. And I showed that TED talk to a number of students hoping to inspire them to proclaim themselves through art.

He was in Israel last week to support the March for Millions held last Saturday, Sept 3.

Read the article!

Get on the bandwagon. Yallah!