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:
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:
Cleansing backdrop: I finally got into the technique of how to do my chant. It’s the 40th day of a forty-day challenge. Ashana, the one who plays the crystal singing bowls and leads the chant has announced they’re going to extend the sadhana for another 50 days.
Extension! Where have I heard that before? But unlike the ceasefire extensions, this one is up to me. No one will snatch away my voice and with luck, no one will blow up my ability to hook up to the net.
The secret to the chant is letting air rise up through my body into the syllables until my whole body resonates. The focus results in a tonal cleanse.
Meanwhile: About the surreal aspect of today’s date: Friday, August 22nd. This coming Sunday we’re slated to return to school to prepare for the coming year, which might not open on time.
I’m thinking that in the spirit of living this present moment, I’d like to do a comic book version of the English Teaching Staff in our current war-time behaviour. (names are hidden to protect privacy)
Comic relief: JV with her glass-eyed determination to slaughter any Hamas-nik who approaches her porch. She sits up at nights with a knife, her dog and who knows what else.
A, running around getting interviewed, going into terrorist tunnels with the Press, on the news, in the news…
L, whipping up vegan care packages for vegan soldiers.
K, alternately hugging her traumatized dog who even on sedatives is massively shedding and losing weight, and comforting her little kids
M – on What’s app all the time to confess her thoughts, with a son on the front lines. She’s occupying herself tracking all of the Army’s maneuvers to keep her sanity
I – with her 4 little kids travelling around the northern parts of the country, seeking refuge in various friends’ houses, speaking to the press about her simple desire for some form of guarantee that she can safely come back home.
S – from funeral to backyard swimming pool, gathering her kids to run inside at the sound of sirens – 2 little kids, 2 bigger kids, husband in army
Me? Meditating, on the computer trying to write while listening to the whirl of my fan as my room rumbles with the booms
If I were to chart my jet-lag, I imagine it would look like this:
I’m getting a little more normal. I woke up at 1a.m. to check the news. I went back to sleep and concocted some very weird dreams that I couldn’t quite recall when I woke up at five-fifteen. This is a good technique, for when school begins: to let out the weirdness at night and to carry on during the day.
So, the war situation. I was thankful that I didn’t have to tear into my safe room last night, but this morning people on facebook are not pleased about the 24 hour extension of the Ceasefire and the so-called agreement. One woman even went so far as to agree with ‘Jo-Jo‘ (1.1), a popular right-wing radio host, by calling the agreement disgusting and a crappy piece of paper that could have been signed before those 64 soldiers were killed.
From the Israeli point of view, I guess that might’ve been an option, but we know that Hamas wasn’t terribly interested in signing anything. And is it now? And if so, why? What’s in it for them?
Most of us in the south want no half-ass agreement. From a military point of view it would be prudent to tear into the Hamas infrastructure and wipe out their leaders, now, while we have set the stage and while our soldiers are prepared. I don’t have much of an army-mind but in a chessgame sort of strategy, I see the strength in such a decision.
But holy shit, I hate the killing and fear of being bombed. I’ve been told, killing and fear is inevitable as the Hamas increases its strength and resolves to wipe out the infidels, of which Israel and Jews represent only a small fraction.
Nothing is black and white, is it? All those slurred boundaries and see-sawing opinions. Pacifism seems so out of style.
Gershon Baskin has become a household name. Among other endeavours, he worked behind the scenes to deliver Gilad Shalit from captivity. He is co-founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) and his contacts include moderates from within Hamas. He has been working for rational negotiations as well as humane treatment of those Gazans who’ve been bombed out of their homes. He’s collected household goods from Israelis for delivery and he’s raised money for emergency food. He’s crusading to bring the other side of the story to the attention of those of us who live on this side of the border. But what is the other side? How many other sides are there? Some people claim that his very earnestness to listen to those across the border has made him too cynical about the Israeli side.
Who am I to guess? How is anyone to know what the objective situation ‘is’.
In world situations, everything links to everything else. One bit of evidence leads to the certainty that something else preceded it.
When people share their political vision, I listen for awhile and then off I go, daydreaming about ‘what if’ and what beach or scene would I rather be surrounded with.
Poetry seems trite. Art seems logical. How would I paint what I want to express? Closing my eyes, I see a kind of huge textured coloured landscape. It’s filled with ranges of low rising mountains and raggedy paths. The mountain has no summit – it’s rather endless like the Great Wall of China, only earth-made. I see a low craggy mountainscape in rusty red with bits of rock in no certain shape.
This imaginary large canvas contains a very clear way, somewhere within. A poor trekker prepared with dates, water and a hammock, makes camp, knowing that one day, the hammock will find a place to be hung and on that day, the trekker will rest.
School happenings of the finest sort have been cancelled due to a barrage of rocketfire on our area (Eshkol Regional council). A 2-hour barrage prompts cancellations of Nofei Habsor end of year happening and the Sapir College Graduation Ceremony. Take a look at the ynet article:
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.
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.
D: And we got another Honourable Mention! From the Directors of the Festival and from the Critics.
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.
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.
This is the poster for ‘I am Who I am’, a performance by the Mustache Theatre.
The last time I saw the community Mustache Theatre perform was during Operation Cast Lead. The performance at that time was based on authentic fears and experiences during a time when we, in this area, were experiencing constant rocket attacks, usually early morning as children boarded their school buses or in the evening when a family was home, without access to a fallout shelter. Those dreadful times bred deep fears that were compounded with every boom.
At that time, the Mustache Theatre offered a forum for kids to pen their anxieties and shape them into skits. With every rehearsal and later every performance, this drama therapy worked its magic. Talking about fears released the pressure. “Red Alert” (Tzeva Adom) was the resultant play.
Now, two years afterwards, rocket attacks are fewer and other problems have stepped into the foreground. Last night’s performance of “I Am Who I Am” focused on individual stories of normal everyday kids.
One was embarrassed because of her Russian roots. She only wanted to be like every other Israeli teenager. Another had an eating disorder. A third coped with a mother with diagnosed schizophrenia. And on it went. Each character had his or her moment to express dilemmas or pain within the environment of a youth camp.
The script, based on the participants’ stories, was edited into final form by Na’ama Goren. Direction was by Ya’acov Amsalem, himself brandishing the mustache for which the troupe was named.
Actors: Yonatan Malchi, Yonatan Segal, Ya’ara Melinski, Liron Malchi, Mor Lavie, Miri Sosnovski, Nisanit Cohen, Idan Hameiri, Shirli Vinogradov and Tom Segal are all students in Nofei Habsor Comprehensive School, ranging in age from 13 – 17.
The backing for this project comes from the heart and soul of one woman, Aliza Ben Yehuda, who works with the Eshkol Regional Council in the Youth Social Services Department. She, in her wisdom, saw that theatre was an immediate remedy for alienation during troubled times, and through her efforts, the theatre group was created ten years ago and has been nurtured ever since by other members of the Youth Social Services branch.
After the performance, the participants offered thanks to all of the adults who gave them a hand, to one of their fellow actors, Dvir, who acted as Assistant Director.
The show was enthusiastic, clearly a labour of love for all involved. This troupe generally performs in national festivals throughout Israel and I expect they will be on the road with the show in the near future.
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.
IDF kills 2 Palestinian militants who infiltrated Israel from Gaza – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.
IDF troops killed two Palestinian militants who crossed into Israel from Gaza, following a short shootout. The Israeli fighters emerged unscathed from the battle.
GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant and the Commander of the Gaza Division, Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg arrived on the scene in order to understand the circumstances surrounding the infiltration, the IDF Spokesman’s Office told Haaretz.
Israeli police said roadblocks were erected inside Israel after the reported infiltration from the Strip.
Schoolchildren in the Eshkol Regional Council area were ordered to stay indoors.
Israeli security forces are on high alert on the Lebanon, Gaza and Syria borders following the Israel Navy raid of the Gaza aid flotilla, which resulted in the deaths of nine pro-Palestinian activists Monday morning.
This was in our area this morning. We were told to stay indoors early this morning. Most students had already arrived at school. Since our buildings are fortified, we studied as usual. We were told to warn students to stay within 15 seconds of shelter if they were outdoors.
The Leonid meteor showers came and went with some overcast skies. Unfortunately, 3 a.m. peak viewing hour on November 18th coincided with my peak flu symptoms and I didn’t venture out. I hope Arieh Schkolnik has some news.