Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School

Last Day of School Year! June 17, 2009

It’s done. We’ve closed the last day of school and said goodbye to Ma’ale Habsor. Forever-ish.

Next year, we’re Nofei Habsor. A new school complex. A new student composition. New teachers. New rhythms.

The shots above show a few of the scenes at the end-of-year celebration. Dancers were cool. Eleventh graders were cool. 8th graders were cooler.
Linor, Lee and Gal gave us some good musical riffs. Ariel and Or in the band. (not shown – sorry)
We had speeches from Vered Tal, Zmira Ben Yosef and Martin Sessler – our Principals. They spoke of the sadness to be saying goodbye to the past, but hopes for a better and far more interesting future.
New School heading towards completion
New School heading towards completion
Kibbutz school Ma’ale Habsor will be together with Moshav school Habsor- our new name is ‘Nofei Habsor’ (the scenery of the Habsor region). Our new building is heading towards finishing touches, and our staff will take its last end of year field trip together as Ma’ale Habsor.
Off to an Indian village called “Tanaka”, a night in the Shefayim Hotel and tomorrow’s investigation of Tel Aviv.  Cheers. See you soon.
Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School

Many many things to talk about

A list of things to come:

1. The amazing High School production of Romeo and Juliet, Sha’ar haNegev.

2. Ma’ale Habsor celebrates its final reunion bash before joining Habsor school under its new name: Nofei Habsor

3. The constant banging on my roof from this season’s kittens living in the crawl space

4. The weather which is to climb to 38 degrees celsius and past 40 tomorrow

5. The summer English Bagrut exam (matriculation), May 18th,  in which I expect to apply Reiki to several teachers as well as students

All these things and more I hope to post. Forgive this lack of blogging, but sometimes a person has to rest.



Art · Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School

Art Exhibit, Ma’ale Habsor/Habsor Schools, combined 12th grade final project

Annual 12th Grade Art Exhibit: Art majors of Ma’ale Habor and Habsor High Schools.

Every year, the Ma’ale Habsor art department exhibits final projects in two beloved studios – one for paintings and the other for sculptures & other installations. This year with the building of the new combined school, our art studios have shifted to the campus of  Habsor High School.

I attended the opening of the exhibit, this past Saturday, the 21st of March. We expected signs and arrows but had to search for the Show. Finally, we found one well-lit path leading to a dramatic entrance. We crossed over a floor of upturned plastic water bottles, framed by a flowing effect of streaming water.

Here is a partial shot of Shira Florentine’s work:

Melany&Shira with Shira's work
Melany&Shira with Shira's work

Leaving this building, we went on a search for more student’ work. The path was not so well-lit this time. I hit a few dead-ends until I found someone to ask and  others to follow. We were a collection of slow pilgrims, clutching to one another as we made our way through the school’s main plaza over to the darkened side of the school. Clutching to wisps of light and hoping to hear sounds of ‘art’, we kept on.

Then, we arrived at a table laden with drink, cake and cookies! Tell-tale signs of Art Exhibit, we knew we were on the right trail. Sure enough, we found a few more buildings housing treasures.   

Galit's cut-out 1
Galit's cut-out 1Galit's cut-out2Galit's cut-out3
I liked Galit’s cut-outs very much. They used the space as well as using the mind – reality and imagination intertwined in a minimalist way. (Galit Fleissh)
Dana - life during tough situations
Dana - life during tough situations.


Dana Lev, a student from Kibbutz Magen works in the Children’s House and spent most of the January “operation” comforting the little kids and using art to help them express themselves.This piece also helped her digest the experience.

Melany's work
Melany’s work

Melany Rosemberg

lives on Kibbutz Gvulot, a place that was relatively quiet during the ‘operation’ but this piece illustrates that feeling of an oasis amongst the headlines and booms. Works for me.

Bat Chen's installation with video clip
Bat Chen's installation with video clip
Bat-Chen Shalev presented a welcoming dinner table with candles and chairs. The viewer stands at one end of the table, viewing the dinner prayer ceremony in progress on the video.We watch a family around the table, a religious family, chanting prayers, continual prayers.The secular audience stands, silently watching.
Guy Livnat's work
No art exhibit is complete with photographs (Lee Idises)or dragons (Guy Livnat).
Noa Ben Barak
Lee Idises
Lee’s work.
The show is open until the end of this week. If you’re in the area, drop in to Habsor School, Moshav Tzohar, Eshkol Municipality.
Here’s a link to the School site where you can see more artwork:
The students’ names are written in Hebrew, so just click onto each one to have a closer look. Bat-Chen’s is first and was photographed in daylight.
Have a good week. It’s good to talk art – politics is beyond words, these days.
Art · Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School

March 18th – Why am I not updating my blog?

why oh why?

There are a number of reasons – none of which have anything to do with lack of issues, lack of ability, or power outages. I will update- I will, I will, and I’ll have links, too.

Meanwhile in this non-update, I’ll mention that there’s almost a new school ready for the new school year in September, there’s almost an art show opening of the combined art department of Ma’ale Habsor and Habsor Schools (to be held this coming Saturday night, the 21st of March), there’s a wave of spring/winter weather – but always sunny and the continuing tension of negotions but still there’s no Gilad Shalit back home.

A number of issues and more on the horizon make these days worth writing about. It’s true.

I’ll be back.

Hope you’re well.


Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School

Feb 27th – when morning ground tilts

There’s been a rather constant tilt of ground underneath my feet since the january ‘Operation Cast Lead’ era. We stopped being called ‘wartime’ and began the old familiar daily qassams and occasional views of mushroom clouds over Rafiah in the Gaza Strip.

What’s going on?

Where’s our government? What’s taking so long? What am I waking up to, walking towards? What am I going to see, hear as I go through my day?

Every hour is a new hour with questions often answered by further questions. The life of external circumstance takes on added weight of inner what-the-hell’s-goin-on.

And so, I write little on this blog.

 I await the big Announce! The kind of blog post that rings with capital letters and happy imagery!

‘The new government has arrived,’ I so wish to write. ‘This fine new coalition has dedicated itself to intense, brain-tank kind of brilliance in all policy. Every step will lead to the final goal of peace with our neighbours, employment and housing for all, creative energy to invest in education, fortification of those who need to implement the change and, of course, time on the weekend to relax.’

Wouldn’t that be a fabulous blog post! Well, as long as I’m here, I’ll admit that the blog post I wanna write is not today’s blog post.

Today’s blog post can talk about green wheatfields and sandstorms with orange air and thick dust everywhere. The blog post can mention the thick layers of dust all over the English storage room books of joy and edification. The blog post of today can speak of inordinate amounts of work to be done for students who need to pass their final matriculation exams and who are wrestling with self-image, world-image, learning disabilities and a teacher who keeps finding that the ground is tilting beneath her.

Perhaps I should note that there’s thunder (real thunder this morning) and rain, while there’s sunshine nonchalantly beaming away.

view from my front door, feb 27
view from my front door, feb 27

This blog post can mention that humour still exists in the world and that music is often more humourous than excellent. This blog post can recommend Thelonious Monk along with Brewer’s Yeast for a complete diet of nutritional additives.

This blog post can admit to being a Friday full of who-knows-what. Facebook fed and flickr enhanced, this blog poster is about ready to admit that even caffeine does not make the world right. But in case it might, here’s a photo of our new cappuccino maker:


'Forever' cappuccino maker
'Forever' cappuccino maker

And if you have any suggestions to help gravity do the job, bring em on.

Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School

January 15th – Ma’ale Habsor

I was awakened by booms and I could hardly open my right eye.

Tidings of things to come? No, who believes in ‘tidings’. I lay in bed for a while, letting tears flow, letting my eye clean itself, while I waited for the booms to identify themselves. Truth is that I’m not very good at sensing the sorts of booms we have. There are booms from our cannons, booms from qassams hitting the ground, booms from explosions of underground tunnels, mortar fire booms and sound-barrier explosive booms. There are sounds of rapid-fire gun shots and tank fire.  

On top of that, there are planes and helicopters and drones. 

So, this morning I woke up from unspecified booms and hoped that if my right eye would offer vision, I’d be able to read something from the morning paper about what was happening where.

Only now, this afternoon, after having returned home from teaching an English tutorial at Ma’ale Habsor, do I see what’s going on in Gaza City. On our walk we could see the landscape and the smoke.

This Operation has not yet ended.

I’ll talk about school. 

Out of 9 students expected to show up to study in a shelter, 5 arrived and 2 were otherwise engaged. Two remained unaccounted for. I think that those numbers are surprisingly good. Who knew that we’d be able to attract kids! We expected them  to give up sitting inside by themselves to venture to the forbidden school zone. And they did!

And they studied and were glad to be together.  I was glad to see them. Walking home, I saw two students on the school side of the fence. We were talking about what I would do if there were to be a “Tzeva Adom” while walking, when suddenly there was. I crashed to the dirt road and covered my head – they ran to the nearest shelter. After 15 seconds, there was no boom, and it wasn’t clear if I should get up and go on my way, or stay down. I waited another 15 seconds or so and then I got up. They came back to see if I’d heard the boom. There had been none.

Later on, we discovered that the qassam had fallen on Tze’elim, a location that usually is safe from qassams. One of those two students was from Kibbutz Tze’elim. I wonder how he’s taking things.

School Construction

School, Jan 15th
School, Jan 15th

The school buildings are looking promising. Last week at this time, a qassam had fallen 5 meters or so from the construction workers, but today they were back on the job.

We’re going to be resuming studies next week. 

Word is beginning to be passed around that we’ll be studying in shifts. This should be interesting.

May the day be safe. If you can reach shelter, do so.


Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School

Nir-Oz, January 6th, Operation Cast Lead

Noisy, noisy night

The Air Force was busy last night, and all this morning. The sound  of constant thuds and booms. We’ve had one Tzeva Adom this morning, a few booms about a minute later,  and I’m not sure what else I’ve been hearing on this side of the Strip.

Our kids are returning this evening from their various locations. They’ve been offered another trip to a more northerly kibbutz, but mychildren are utterly tired of being away from home. If we’re here, they want to be as well.

It’s definitely time to start some kind of learning program here on the kibbutz. How else will things ever start to come back to regular living?

The Ma’ale Habsor Principals are setting up an online learning system, where each teacher will be able to direct students and supervise assignments. Teachers will have at their disposal a site with a forum for discussions.

This puts the onus on me to snap into educational frame of mind and set up worksites with some Hebrew instructions for easier accessibility. I’d already set up something but through the initial stages of building and re-building, that work has been lost.

Meanwhile, the noise outside continues. Today’s news is not great. Soldiers have been wounded due to ‘friendly fire’ from a tank which misfired and hit a structure where soldiers were meeting.

On the sweet side of life, the aloe is growing, and the weather is absolutely gorgeous. What a strange time this is.

aloe vera, january 6/09
aloe vera, january 6/09

Will check in later,

Judih, 9:59 a.m., January 6

Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School · What's Happening

December 18th, evening before official end of ‘Regiya’ (‘Ceasefire’)


So, how do you feel this night before the end of the six-month Regiya?

Well, to tell you the truth, and much to my dismay, I feel a little nervous.

That’s the truth, people. How would you feel after the six month ‘calming down’? After all, during this so-called easing off period, qassams fell, the Red Alert (Tzeva Adom) was sounded, and as we heard booms we cell-phoned our families and friends to determine the location of the blast.

It hasn’t been totally peaceful. It has kept us on our toes. According to the Sderot Media Centre, qassams are still being assembled in workshops in the Gaza Strip. Is there reason to assume that there’ll be a lessening of attacks?

How would you feel if you were neighbours with a people who have the same legitimate needs for a safe, secure homeland as they did before?

Has anything changed except the date on the calendar?

How do you feel? Are you wondering if the kibbutzim of Otef Aza are in any better position politically than they were before? Has anything been implemented to secure our daily lives? Do we have promises of renewed efforts for peacemaking? Do we have solid evidence that we’re working towards a solution?

Yet, nervousness aside. Nothing is new. This is our life. This is the country we live in. We live in the joy of daily pastoral life and the awareness that interruptions are inevitable.

We walk fields in the Negev, not city streets in urban smog. Yes we have an onslaught of flies, but they’re flies, not car fumes.

We meditate, we sing, we dance. We write, we talk. We give birth, we bury our dead, we live our lives. This is the deal. And we signed up the moment we were born.


What else is new?

Ma’ale Habsor and Habsor Schools have opened up a competition to choose the name of the new unified school. Have an idea? Post your ideas here, with your name, and they’ll be submitted on your behalf.

Chanukah vacation is approaching. The construction is zooming ahead.

basket ball court
Basketball court

Dec 18/08 School
Dec 18/08 School

We’ll be back to share our experiences as the December 19th deadline rolls around.

Best wishes to you all, wherever you are,


for Talking Now, Let My People Know

p.s. Please share your experiences from your location, if you’re in Otef Aza.




Here are some updates:

Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School

A week of everything: Olympiad at Ma’ale Habsor, qassams, weddings, sunshine and psychologists

This week had something for everyone: athletes, those nostalgic for ‘Tzeva Adom’, brides (my niece), and psychologists who took care of qassam fears.

The Olympiad of the Mossad at Ma’ale Habsor began last Sunday, November 1. Students from the Mossad and other enthusiasts took part in games of all sorts: Volleyball, Soccer, Athletics, etc. The kids were in charge of organizing and publishing a day’s end newspaper reporting on the events.

Lots of energy was devoted to this traditional week of intensive sports, sponsored by the Mossad of the Shomer Hatzair Kibbutz movement. Both my son and daughter were busy in the events, as participants and spectators, as were most kids at Ma’ale Habsor.

The very day that my daughter chose not to sleep overnight in her dorm room at the Mossad turned out to be the morning when we re-experienced falling qassams. (Link: Ha’aretz )This past Tuesday morning, the Western Negev had a morning of ‘Tzeva Adom.’  I know that no one reads this blog of mine to find out the latest news – there are newspapers aplenty for that. But here, I’ll tell you how it feels to be preparing for a normal school day and to hear the female voice with her ‘Tzeva Adom’ alert – repeated 3 times and then another 3 times. All in all, 4 different alerts – with several booms afterwards. When was it safe to stop counting the 15 seconds allowed us after the first alert? We didn’t know.

My daughter and I were at home. We had nowhere to run. In the case of advance alert, we have no shelter nearby and though the government promised to build a sheltered room for every house on the kibbutz, this pledge has been set aside during this period of the Calming Down (or ceasefire) in place since June.

So, we stood hugging each other under a doorframe away from windows until we felt safe enough to move. She was scared.  I wondered if I should ride my bike to school, as I have been doing since the beginning of this school term. It’s been awhile. I’d forgotten the feeling of anxiously counting off 15 seconds. I’d forgotten how I’d be halfway to school when I’d hear booms in fields somewhere nearby. I’d forgotten how I’d search the horizon for signs of smoke. I’d forgotten how I’d continued my morning walk with quick phonecalls to family members to see if they were okay and if they’d found out where the qassams had landed.

It all came rushing back. The alert, the lack of a safe place to wait it out, the wonder if this was the start, the end, the signal for war.

That day, we got to school, of course. I with the kibbutz transport, she with the schoolbus, all in thankful uneventful regularity.

However, at school that day, a whole slew of students made their way to the nearby Telem Station (psychological services). They had been in their dorm rooms at the Mossad when they’d heard the Tzeva Adom. Getting to class, they asked for permission to seek some help. There, they were given a chance to vent their fears and receive tools to cope with anxiety. When they returned, they worked, seemingly able to carry on with their day. How soon, the mind adjusts, the psychology adapts and life continues.

In my 10th grade class, students saw fit to pull out their “Tzeva Adom” ringtone – an old prank that scared kids to pieces last year but only now had another round of usefulness. It was ineffective. We’d learned the trick and had been through enough alerts. One student showed his cellphone photo of a fallen qassam – he’d been at home on his kibbutz when it landed.

Another student reported 3 qassams had fallen on her kibbutz and that they’d had 10 “Tzeva Adom” alerts. I’m reporting numbers here, people. It’s math. But it’s part of our reality. We know this routine. We are afraid, but we know this, we’ve felt this, and we’ll deal. We hope for continued peace. We continue in the hope that peace will be an end product of these days of uncertainty.

As today’s banner shows, weddings are always pleasant. They bring together family and long-time neighbours. In our case, we attended the marriage of our niece from Ein Hashofet and her fiancee from Daliya. The Ein Hashofet people were instrumental in setting up Kibbutz Nir Oz, so the family connections continue.

Mazal Tov!
Mazal Tov!

The ceremony was a mix: secular together with allusions to the traditional religious elements. The food was delicious, the after speeches were musical. My niece, Dalit, serenaded her sister, Dana, the bride with a wonderful solo of a piece they used to sing in harmony on their porch on Saturday evening. Their mother sat, headcovered being mid-chemo, in utter motherly joy listening, watching, looking proud. Not a dry eye in the house.

Simchas, fabulous celebrations, balance life in Israel, for here, And, still the school is being built. One of the workers, already used to my weekly photo shoots asked me to snap his photo.

Take my photo!
Take my photo!

Another worked asked me not to. The walls are rising. This new school to be fully safe from qassam fire is to be ready by September. Till then, we study in mud and noise and in smaller dimensions.

New School - direction towards Nir-Oz
New School - direction towards Nir-Oz

Today, on a gorgeous summer day, I wish you all a great weekend.

Living in Otef Azza · Now we're Nofei Habsor (prev. Ma'ale Habsor and Habsor) High School

Massive rains this week in the Negev

It was all summer all the time:

Construction reaching soccer field
Construction reaching soccer field
Eshkol teams still practise here
Eshkol teams still practise here

Lots of rain for a few days

Huge downpours knocked out my telephone line for a while, but didn’t stop the construction at Ma’ale Habsor.

Some new shots:

Walls are growing
Walls are growing
One five p.m. shot
One five p.m. shot

What’s new?

  • Sederot has been qassamed once more.  There was no damage reported.
  • American elections are rocking the thought waves. What’s going to happen November 4th? We’ll all stay tuned
  • Music was the main event at InDNegev – a lot of English was being heard, as I was told English is the sound of ‘indie’. The Giraffot are a fine exception and sang to the full capacity crowd in Hebrew.
  • Let me know if you were there. What did you think?
  • Excuse the lack of posts recently but a back to school brain has left me a little drained.

Will return. Have a good weekend, all.

judih – oct 30/08