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

Getting involved

August 15, 2014 – pieces of night infiltrate day

hours stretch

dreams overlap onto page

what will appear?

I spend my nights in pieces. A chunk of sleep. Wake-up. Wander to check messages on my phone, what’s apps or letters. Pee. Then another round of bedtime. I do that again a few hours later. It’s jet-lag and I know it because when I crawl out of dreams, it’s usually an unexpected time. Close to six or even seven. Normal for me is five. So I know that it’s jet lag.

My dreams have included graphics and bizarre angles and when I emerge from the sheets to hit the tile floor, I blend one reality into another. It takes a while. Water. Coffee. Rice cracker & peanut butter. Mechanical web checking and finally enough coordination to emit a morning haiku. The haiku reveals what manages to float into an accessible zone – something greets hand-eye synchronization to make contact with the page.

Today is Friday. The day for cleaning the house. Wrapping up the week. Hoping there are some vegetables to buy at the kibbutz grocery store.  It’s also usually a day for an extended siesta together with my man. We let our ideas flow, laugh, jam. Fridays are special.

Today also my son and his girlfriend return from a month in the US. They managed to leave the country just as the Army reopened our main highway 232 after a security lockdown. Now, it’s their turn to convert their minds from one culture to another. I wonder if her American father also prays for a ceasefire like mine does. Does he hope that the Hamas wakes up and shakes hands with a smile?  Mine does. My dad believes that getting along isn’t so difficult a goal. 

coexistence according to Bill Weinstein

What shall I say to him? That it’s a goal that isn’t in the immediate lexicon of those who only strive to conquer the world? That  sounds a bit melodramatic. Perhaps I could say that I hope that we all get along but that I have my doubts. Perhaps I could just do the Canadian thing and say, I agree with him.

Frankly, it’s frightening. The southerners had their show of solidarity last night at Rabin Square.  The south wants security. Of course we do. So does everyone in Israel. The South doesn’t like the fact that the government knew about the underground tunnels for the past 10 years but chose to refrain from taking action. The South appreciates the attempt to prevent us from feeling panic about living here, but we would have preferred that the situation be resolved before Shalit was snatched and before the tunnels became the main focus of this operation.

And it’s frightening. We see the Hamas polishing their rockets and missiles getting ready for the next round. They have patience. They are focused on their goal. Terrifyingly focused.

Meanwhile, our goal is to be better. To have better living conditions, better hi-tech, better TV and movies and crops. We’d like to win math competitions and work for equal rights. Some of us wait for the day when we can go back to visiting friends in Gaza or traipse over to Qalqilya without having to fear for our lives.

Some of us work on programs for co-existence, dialogue.

We have hopes that focus on things other than survival. But perhaps we need to re-prioritize. Perhaps survival is nothing to sneer at.

How can a pacifist flip over to be a realist? The thing is: can we survive being pacifists?

It seems unlikely. And that’s a frightening thing as well.

How to face students

conversations about peace

while gripped by trauma

August 14th

August 18th

Getting involved

August 5th, 2014 – plane to Tel Aviv delayed

a handful of seeds

any moment now

taste of home

Still in Toronto Israeli time is a wish and a laugh away. Delays are more common than the sunflower seeds we were hoping to save for the flight.

No more seeds, but lots of delays. Every few minutes the board pronounces further delays. I’m out of coins to phone my parents. They might look at the plane schedule for amusement.

They might have internet. I don’t.

What kind of airport doesn’t offer wifi. The cleanest airport in the world, perhaps but no wifi. And no airplane to Tel Aviv.

Reminds me of a joke. You know the one. Yes, no. Never mind.

 But I speak of not knowing if the delay will be good or worse for us. The so-called ceasefire due to begin at seven in the morning, Israel time. What will be the state of rocketfire by the time we land. I believe that every second counts. What can we do, but wait and see. Defenseless to change our situation.

Would I have stayed in Toronto if I’d have known that I’d have to sit here for hours? I doubt it. I still have to get home and the rockets will still be falling. I can just hope that they don’t fall on us.

Amen, anyone?

august 4th

Getting involved

Unconference, Sheffayim Nov 14/14

People from all over Israel attended the Unconference, and I was there to represent Class Relax, born and developing here in the Western Negev.


What is an Unconference?

Receiving an invitation asking if they are interested in contributing to a given theme, would be participants apply, get approval and then show up at a designated venue on the prescribed day. There, they select a time-slot, sign up and prepare to present their project for 25 minutes or so.

The white-board of time-slots and locations gets quickly filled up with topics and presenters.

Attendees gather round and fill out their own schedule according to what looks good.

A bell is sounded and it begins.

November 14, 2014 Unconference at Sheffayim Bank Hapoalim  8:30 – 2:30 pm. This year’s theme:  School as a way to close social gaps

We were told to get there early to sign up!

So it was that on November 13th, I travelled north to Petah Tikvah to stay the night. My daughter and her fiancee drove me up to Sheffayim and I checked in, got my name tag…

View original post 528 more words

Getting involved

Nirinjan Kaur teaches the Adi Shakti Meditation

Nirinjan Kaur guides us through the Adi Shakti Meditation, a practice to restore personal power.
The 40 Day Meditation cycle began May 17th. Forgive me for not sharing but I hadn’t realized how beautiful and enriching this meditation would prove to be.

The words to the Complete Mantra:

Adi Shakti Adi Shakti Adi Shakti Namo Namo
Sarab Shakti Sarab Shakti Sarab Shakti Namo Namo
Pritham Bhaghvati Pritham Bhaghvati Pritham Bhagvati Namo Namo
Kundalini Mata Shakti Mata Shakti Namo Namo

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 @