Living in Otef Azza

Sept 11/09 A long time and here it is again

September eleventh brings a rush of associations. We still mourn our loved ones in New York. We still quake at the reality of urban terror and know it could recur anywhere, anytime.

September 11th is also the birthday of some fine virgos: Wendy, Jamelah, Craig and Krista.

September 11th is almost getting serious. Almost getting Autumn.

In school, it’s jumping into new technology at a new hi-tech school.

Menu Bar of SmartBoard
Menu Bar of SmartBoard

We’ve got Smartboards in our classrooms and teachers bring laptops into class in order to maximize their use.

Laura approaching the menu bar

School’s been heralded off to this start with weekly staff instruction. Our English staff got its first private class on Wednesday. About half of us, or more, are already using the boards in class. We’re finding that the kids enjoy the sessions. Flashcards have never been so high resolution before. Our painstakingly prepared powerPoint presentations do their magic. For us it means hours and hours of prep. Theoretically, we’re building up a reservoir of materials.

As English teachers in Israel, we’ve always needed to put in huge amounts of creative time in readying our materials. We’ve had to adapt authentic materials so that our students can work on mandatory projects. We’ve toured the globe to bring them sound clips and interesting activities to stimulate their many intelligences.

We’ve investigated techniques to focus students with ADHD, and now the SmartBoard, I feel, will aid us in all of these components.

I feel the focus and I love it when students ask to go one more time through the vocabulary flashcards and I burst out laughing when a class of Special Ed kids finally all pronounce ‘laughed‘ correctly along with the magenta framed flash card.

So, it’s good.

The laptop is, however, heavy! And the distances between classes and the English Centre is not small. On Sunday, I strapped on a pedometer to measure the distance. Sunday I did 5,000 steps just going back and forth.  Tuesday was a lot less: 3, 695! Together with biking to school and back, I’m just about commuted into aerobic health. Unfortunately, it’s never enough.  A good walk around the fields is the best and I hope I’ll still have time when the clocks go back to Winter time and throw darkness on those precious early evening hours.

Qassams? We’ve had a few in this area. In Mifalsim, they had a Red Alert. We’re always reminded that the fortified school and the ongoing construction of home shelters is not for nothing.

May the weekend be quiet,



Kibbutz Life · Sderot

January 9, 2009, Kibbutz Nir-Oz

Yesterday, I attended an all-day conference on working with victims of trauma from war and terror.

The use of art therapy, creative writing and simply first-aid remediation are all part of the tools of therapists working with trauma victims. I’ll provide links later on as I digest what I learned yesterday

News Reports

In this first update, I’d like to mention the booms at night, which seem fewer but ever-present and some of the news reports that are beginning to come in.

First, there’s a report in English on Ynet that speaks of Hamas’ methods to control lives of the civilians in Aza. Please read this report: Hamas stealing aid supplies to sell (thanks to Esther R from Netivot for the heads up).

There’s also a youtube clip, made while the ‘Calming Down’ 6 month ‘ceasefire’ was still in progress,  from someone who describes her experience with qassams and living with them along with a condition of epilepsy.  (again, thanks to Esther)

Sderot Ordeal

Watching the above clip reminds me of the film shown during the NATAL  conference filmed by a crew capturing the activities of the Mobile Trauma Unit. Roni Berger, brilliantly arrives at scene after scene to comfort victims, screaming, fainting after close-by run-ins with qassams. Watching the scenes in Sderot, I empathized totally with the anxiety. Once you’ve felt your house shake and seen damage done by qassams,  anxiety lingers under the surface all the time.

I’ll be back. Please look at the above links and comment.


8:06 jan 9

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

Sunday Update – Building the New School +/- more news

First for the good news.

The building has really picked up speed. I’ll post shots from the northern side on Sunday. Meanwhile, please note that there is a wall in sight from the window of my 10th Grade Classroom.

Looking out from 10th Grade, Ma'ale Habsor
Looking out from 10th Grade, Ma

 More photos:

Sunday view
Sunday view





See the structure!
See the structure!

Next, we had a fabulous Blues Concert this past Monday, featuring the FunkyUblues band, with Roy Young and his utterly fantastic big blues voice.

Roy Young sings the Blues
Roy Young sings the Blues


The concert was for Ma’ale Habsor and Habsor  High School students. I managed to arrive after teaching 8th grade (Junior High kids were not invited this time), just in time to see a Habsor student up on stage with Roy, who was trying with humour to invite other kids.

He managed to convince Etti, an Habsor Math teacher, to join him and then along came 3 other students from Ma’ale Habsor: Rahm, Dolev and Rose. He did a back and forth with them, sent them back to the audience and then he played with the audience in the same rhythmic groove. Wonderful concert! The big finale was Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” and his guitarists took wild solos while Roy left the stage.

Roy’s been in Israel for awhile, brought over by Haim Saban, and he’s married to an Israeli. Very cool to know we’ve got genuine Blues happening here in the country, and better yet when it shows up in Otef Azza.

Nothing cheers you up more than singing the Blues.

And for the bad news: Qassams were heard this week, along with the staccato of gunfire. The noise came from Azza and we were surprised to find that the old feelings of fear and anxiety were not far below the surface, even after this period of relative calm.

Speaking to people in the area, I gather that the cease-fire is allowing all of us to breathe easier but still not free from the knowledge that it could start up again at any time.

Singing the blues helps.

Have a great weekend. I’ll be back before Rosh Hashana with more photos of the new Ma’ale Habsor/Habsor building site.