Democracy Week at Nofei Habsor High School

Nofei Habsor (link in Hebrew)

Strange to say that during Democracy Week last week in our Western Negev School, I had little contact with my students. Some were off on a week of pseudo-Army experience, called the ‘Gadna‘. Some were off in Jerusalem in order to sum up their experience of travelling to Poland in August, where they experienced the actual Holocaust location, empty and green as it may be at the moment.

For me, my experience of Democracy Week was grabbing a chance to pursue my right to be a human being despite the incessant calls to create powerpoint learning units and to devise creative ways to stimulate learners to absorb the English language. My human rights were happily exercised as again I interviewed Martina Newberry (soon to be posted here), and entered into that part of my brain that deals with the more bizarre connections of experience, my own and others’.

But enough about me.

This post is to commemorate the ceremony in Nofei Habsor, on Wednesday, October 20th, marking 15 years after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, killed during a public gathering in what was then called the State Square, mid-Tel Aviv. It’s now Rabin Square, and since that mind-boggling night when a citizen named Yigal Amir murdered our Prime Minister because of a difference in point of view, we struggle with what it means to be Democratic.

How far from a Democracy are we, and what can we do to strive to work towards equal rights for all?

I include the clip filmed and edited by our Media Department, and below the jump, you’ll find some photos of the interactive seminar rooms in which students of all grades participated.

The clip, in Hebrew, shows Grade 10 students reading important statements about Democracy from the beginning of the existence of the State of Israel, in 1948 till later days. You’ll hear songs, you’ll see the release of doves as a pledge to search for freedom. Finally, you’ll hear one girl announce that the Student Council initiated a petition pledging students to resolve to work towards freedom and equality for all. After collecting signatures in Nofei Habsor, the student council will circulate the petition to other schools to create a butterfly effect.

Salute to those who search for the way to a Democratic way of living in peace and co-existence.

South by south fest – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

South by south fest – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

It’s In-D-Negev weekend!

Check out the article by Lea Penn in today’s Ha’aretz.

Israelis are flocking to the desert, where indie music is given room to shine. For many, the In-D-Negev festival is the closest thing Israel has to Austin or Glastonbury.”

In-D-Negev, the festival for independent music, artists and craftspeople takes place on Kibbutz Gvulot. This year it’s a 3-day festival.

Read more at the link above and check out the youtube clip:

Tanka, coming to the End of Ma’ale Habsor High School – June 18/19

Endings are part of a natural cycle.

Ma’ale Habsor is ceasing to exist and in its place there will rise “Nofei Habsor”. To drum this home, the teachers of Ma’ale Habsor took themselves to Tanka, a mini-Indian experience set in Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael.

Running this spot is Netta Aloni, a one-time teacher, art therapist. Spending some time in the U.S. as a Jewish Agency delegate, she came upon a teacher by the name of Bear Heart and embarked on a Vision Quest. The Indian way made such an impression on her that upon returning to Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael, she pushed the idea of opening a small site dedicated to giving others a taste of the Indian way of looking at life. The ten years it took to establish Tanka was thanks to her determination (and a timely Buffalo totem).

We began our trip with lunch outside.IMG_4415IMG_4420 And then entered the wooden building, sitting in a circle around a ‘salt rock’ lamp. Netta began to present her interpretation of the Native Indian Way of life. What I’m presenting here is my understanding of her understanding. Please excuse wild generalizations and correct misinterpretations if you see them. (with thanks)

Brief  take of the Native Way

We learned of the four main components that make up the native way of life:

The circle (all life occurs in cycles, beginnings and endings are cyclical from our first meeting to our separation)

The sanctity or ‘happiness’ of the circle (if one person in the circle is unhappy, then all will  feel unhappy, and so it is imperative to find the weakest link and resolve it.)

the Earth as mother, she gives, she protects and we need to respect her.

and compassion, we are all perfect in our imperfection.

We learned about the drum, the flat wonderfully resonant instrument made of elk skin or more rarely buffalo skin.

arodrum16-1side-backWe found that a light touch of the drum stick brings far more sound than a harsh beat. So the world offers echoes of that which we put out: we put out good intentions and good echoes back down upon us.

We chanted:


“Vishita, doya doya doya

Vishita, doya doya hey

Wahsa tanaya heya heya

Wahsa tanaya heya hey”


“Mother earth is under our feet

Mother earth, we hear your heart beat”

These simple chants with simple, resonating drum beats did wonders for our alpha waves. The calming centering effect was undeniable. Drumming is a marvellous tool, used for healing. Children are taught to drum from a young age  and so the drum becomes a part of life.

We took a look at a tipi:


We learned that the tipi is the only family property and that the youngest daughter is the one to inherit it. She thus will always have a secure place from which she can look after her parents, feed her family and at the same time cultivate her healing power.

A husband will bring his personal belongings to his wife’s tribe, but he will never possess the tipi.

Moving from one circle of life to another

The cycle of life dictates that as we end one cycle, we ponder on what we’ve received and what we’ll take with us in the next cycle. To formalize this passing from one phase to another, we passed a three coloured braid around our circle. Red signified mother earth, the doing, blue represented the analytical, the observation and purple the combination of considering what needs to be done, its solution and implementation.

passing the braid around the circle

passing the braid around the circle

The braid came home with us back south to the Negev. But not before we had an evening in Sheffayim and an outing in Tel Aviv.

(to be continued…)

Centennial for Tel Aviv-Yafo

100th Birthday! Tel Aviv-Yafo

100th Birthday! Tel Aviv-Yafo

For events celebrating the Centennial year of  Tel Aviv -Yafo, click here:

Check this out if you’re in New York: The Little Orange Visits the Big Apple 25.01.2009

The spirit of Aviv –Yafo will be celebrated in cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive in New York City for 2 major open-air events: The “Salute to Israel” Parade, and the “Tel Aviv Beach” Extravaganza.

Main events page:

Visting Tel Aviv and Yafo:

How Tel-Aviv got its name  

There are few cities in the world which have gone through so many names as did Tel-Aviv in its early years.  The Home Building Society was the original name of the association that had decided to build the new neighborhood.   It soon became “Ahuzat Bayit” but, at the end of 1909, about six months after the neighborhood’s establishment, its members were already engaged in a lively debate over the appropriate name for the new neighborhood: New Yafo, Neve Yafo, Nof Yafo, Aviva, Beauty, Tranquil, Ivria…” read more:   


Feb.10, Election Day

It’s the day when all of Israel is travelling to vote. Those who left Kibbutz Nir-Oz for other locations in Israel are home for the day to cast their ballot. My son is on his way as I speak.

I voted. The esteemed panel there to supervise the sanctity of the process included a colleague from Ma’ale Habsor who is highly active in politics and the quest for equal rights. I was surprised to see him. I was also surprised that so many parties sat there waiting for my choice. I paused to read the code letter and the blurb about each one. It was a while before I found the party of my choice. But it’s done. I’ve voted and now I only have to wait till after 10:00 p.m. when the estimations of who’s come out on top start to be broadcast on TV and radio.

If you click onto:, you’ll find Esther’s latest blog entry concerning the Syndrome of the South.

Here’s an excerpt:

Let me give you an example: Yesterday I was at a wedding in Jerusalem where many of the participants were from Sederot and Netivot. We arrived early before the band really got going, when suddenly something big fell. There was a huge BOOOOOOOOOOOOM. And, tens of people literally jumped into the air and made various sounds all meaning more or less, “YIKES! What was THAT?????” Then, one of the women started laughing and said, “Just look at us! You can see exactly who went through the Cast Lead Operation in safety and who was bombed. This is the Syndrome of the South!”
For more of Esther’s accurate observations, go ahead and click onto her page.


At school, we had our annual Tu B’Shvat ceremonies including the auspicious awarding of Excellence Certificates to those students who have either undergone radical transformations becoming serious and exempular students, or those who continue along a path of studiousness and concern for their peers. A teacher from each grade hands over the award (usually a book) and praises the student in question either in verse or thoughtful prose. I don’t know why, but these awards make me teary-eyed. Maybe because the words and prizes come from the heart and not the report card, but I have to choke back emotion. I bring my camera to such events but during those short presentations, I can never bring myself to actually disengage from the action long enough to shoot a photo.

There’s also music. Gal Gilberstein leads a few school bands. The junior high kids’ group “The Limonim” did a few numbers.

Oren, Gal, Sa'ar, Eden

Oren, Gal, Sa'ar, Eden


Lee Peretz sang a cool number.




Lee doing vocals, w/Linor, Dror, Gal and Dolev

Lee doing vocals, w/Linor, Dror, Gal and Dolev


And that was it. All were invited to jam after the ceremony’s conclusion. One note: it was a hot day, but today is back to slightly more February weather – a little sandstorm, a little wind, a need to wear a sweatshirt, not just a tee.

Vote well, all.

Happy Tu B’shvat.


Feb 10/09

January 16th, Kibbutz Nir-Oz, comfort food edition

So, what’s your favourite comfort food?

During this Operation Cast Lead, my family has been eating bananas.

Yes, bananas.



And bran cake if I’ve made some.

bran cake

bran cake

And 60% chocolate.

Elite 60% chocolate (x 3)

Elite 60% chocolate (x 3)

So, I was wondering, what gets you through wars? Or times of prolonged stress.

Right now, I’m not talking about music (Rodrigo or Roy Orbison) or painting (tempera or acrylic) or long walks (orange groves or cityscapes) or any number of wonderful coping techniques. I’m just interested if you find yourself attracted to special foods.

What’s your favourite comfort food? If you’ve got one, please take time to answer. You will be contributing to a valuable source of reassurance.

Thank you!

January 2nd, 2009 – quiet night, quietish morning

I’ve been doing youtube therapy.

Old Man, live by Neil Young

End of the Line, Travelling Wilburys 

Why am I listening to music instead of sewing a sweatshirt that needs me, or painting details on my puppet’s face, or sweeping up the debris of life? Why?

Because music takes a crazy situation and evens it out. It lifts me up into chords and artistry, it soothes my nerves with the craft of rhythm and tone. It renews me, changes me, makes me able to breathe into a new outlook.

And so how are you this fine day?

I’ve been getting a lot of support both online and by phone. Many people from all over the world want to know what’s really going on. The news is frightening, and pinpoints disasters. They want to know what the truth is and if they should be worrying about me.

I say that worry never helps. Concern is good.  Demanding peace is better. However that sort of demand is a pipe dream that’s been played for thousands of years. The Dalai Lama can grin and people may suddenly intuit the logic of peaceful co-existence, but for every convert, there are those who aren’t listening.

Hopefully, this Operation Cast Lead will lead us to operationally peaceful processes.

I’ll be back,

Judih, Friday, Jan 2/09, 9:32

Update! Interview with Gal Giberstein, musician, composer, teacher

Gal Giberstein, musician, composer and teacher, has been working with students in Ma’ale Habsor for a number of years. He’s an inspiration to kids to express themselves through music.

After participating in Ma’ale Habsor’s Rosh Hashana ceremony with Gal Giberstein in performancehis version of ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ (lyrics quoted here: ,I asked him if he could say a few words to readers of Let My People Know.  









Judih:  Gal, could you please introduce yourself.

Gal: 36 years old, married plus 2. Been playing guitar since age 10. Went to music college (Rimon) for 3 years (Rimon: Playing rock and ethnic music

J:Do you think that Rimon is a good school?

G: It was good for me. I’m glad I decided to go there. I met good teachers and good musicians with whom I’ve worked all these years.

J: Where are you from?

G: I grew up in Kibbutz Lahav (

J:  When did you start becoming interested in music?

G: At age 16,  I started composing music and playing in a rock group. We played Vangelis, some original stuff of mine and rock interpretations of Hasidic music.

J:  When did you start teaching?

G: I started working with kids in Mevoot ha-Negev in the year ’95 when I was in second year at Rimon. I was asked to form a group that would perform for the school.

J:How was it working at Mevoot?

G: I worked there for 8 years and I learned a lot. It was great! They gave a lot of opportunities to do things.

J:  What kind of music do you love the most?

G: I like all kinds of music. Nowadays I’m listening to the new album of Avishai Cohen (link: “Shaot Regishot” “Gently Disturbed“.

J: What inspires you?

G: I’m inspired by many things. First, Avishai’s new disc. Also,  I saw a great show called “Debka Fantasy”, Israeli Ethnic music from the 1920’s onwards. Trips in nature – always good ideas come from my walks with my dog Nina in the forest near our house. Lastly, my family always contributes to my inspiration.

J: What are some of your other interests?

G: I play basketball every Sunday. I like to prepare food and I’m trying to grow organic food.

 J:  Tell me about the work you do with students in Otef Azza

G: The kids are very talented so it’s lots of fun, We work in a miklat (bomb shelter) so we are safe.  I’ve heard only one “Tseva Adom” “Red Alert” and it was scary – though the kids were used to it and didn’t make a big deal of it.

J:  How would you describe the music the kids like to play?

G: The kids like to play Rock, Progressive Rock, Reggae and some Trance. Some of them also like Jazz.

J:  Do you think that the qassams in the area make a difference to the sort of jams you hear from the students?

G: One time a student did a free style Hip Hop and played with the words “Tseva Adom” like a scarcher (turntable) but usually there is no difference.

J:  Do you see any difference since the ‘ceasefire’?

G: I’m more relaxed on the way back home…

J: Were you tense before? Can you elaborate on that?

G: I used to drive very fast when I passed Sederot. I used to think that I wouldn’t be able to hear the alarm from inside the car.  Now I feel better, but maybe I just got used to it.

J:  What about your work with Bedouin musicians? (note: Gal was a  member of the BeDo project, an ensemble of Israeli and Bedouin musicians) Can you talk about that briefly?

G: We are no longer in touch, except for wishing each other “Chag sameach” “Have a happy holiday” from time to time.

It was a great time working with them and I learned a lot, but then each one of us went our own way. We recorded our stuff and you can hear it on our MySpace page:

Maybe someday we’ll do a gig together. Who knows…

J:  What do you see as a possible future scenario in this area?

G: I’m optimistic-but it will take time…

J: You say you’re optimistic. Do you know of any ongoing projects right now that will promote a peaceful path?

G: I’m starting to do something in Ben Gurion Universty – a mixed group of students
playing together.  I hope it will work out well so i can tell you more about it.

J: I’m looking forward to hearing about it. Thanks, Gal, for taking the time to talk to us.

G: Good luck and kol tuv (‘all the best’)

 Thanks, Gal!

To all: Take the time to listen to some of the BeDo Project   on MySpace. Listen to the blend of Bedouin instruments and folk lyrics from Israeli as well as Bedouin sources. It will take you to a place of optimism. We can work together–judih.

BeDo Project in Performance

BeDo Project in Performance