Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · T'ai chi

T’ai Chi in Nir-Oz: Talking to Zohar G!

T’ai Chi: An interview with Zohar

Judih: Can you please introduce yourself

Zohar: I’m Zohar, from Kibbutz Nirim

J: You come to T’ai Chi in Nir-Oz. How did you discover T’ai Chi?

Zohar: Through Mickey from my kibbutz. The truth is I thought about it a lot for a long time, but just procrastinated until I finally asked him about it. He told me that it would be great if I’d come.

The truth is that I was searching for some form of exercise to help me, because my back is not in great condition and many exercises do more harm than good.  With Ta’i Chi I felt that this was what I needed, from the point of view of my health.

Judih: Nice.  When was it that you decided to come?

Zohar: About 2 years ago, in January, 2011.

Judih:  From the moment you began, what grabbed you, what attracted you to T’ai Chi?

Zohar: These are exercises that I can do. They’re not complicated. And I hope to be able to keep on way past my 80s.

Judih: That shouldn’t be a problem!

Zohar: In things like Feldenkrais and other forms of movement, I felt that I couldn’t do the exercises or that they were doing me harm.  Here, I really liked the warm-up exercises and the Chi Cong.  I like T’ai Chi a little less. But I stay mostly for the first part of the session.

I don’t relate to the martial arts aspect,  I don’t really understand how the movements relate to warfare against an opponent. Since I danced for many years,  I relate to the movements themselves.

Judih: Tell me, have you looked into the philosophy of T’ai Chi?

Zohar: No, not really. At the beginning, I searched on the Net to get some background, but not more than that. In fact, until two months ago, I only practiced during our weekly Tuesday evening lessons. But for the last two months, I’ve been doing the exercises every morning: the warm-up and some Chi Cong.

Judih: Excellent. Do you feel that this has helped you health-wise?

Zohar: Absolutely.  First of all, I couldn’t stand! I have a slipped disc and I really couldn’t stand on my feet for any length of time. Now with our static Chi Cong (standing in one place), I can actually stand, for a long time!

Secondly, I feel that it helps me in work. It helps my mind, I’m more able to concentrate.

Helps focus!

Judih: Has this changed since you began to practice every morning?

Zohar: No,  this happened from the very beginning.  It works on focus.  I’ve worked on this from many different directions and I believe that this is what is really helping me. I need to make myself keep at it, because I know myself and it’s hard for me to stay with something.

Judih: You’ve said so many positive things about T’ai Chi. Can you elaborate? When you sit and work, how do you find that it has helped you?

Zohar: I’m an accountant and the branch coordinator. Along with that,  I coordinate Information networks. That means that I have to know a lot and remember many fine details. I simply feel that I’m better able to do my work. I can feel it.

Judih: Do you feel more able to concentrate?

Zohar: Yes, most definitely.

Judih: Would you recommend T’ai Chi to everyone?

Zohar: Yes, and to all ages.

Judih: Great. Do you have any other comments you’d like to add?

Zohar: Yes. I also enjoy the people who come here to do T’ai Chi. The atmosphere is warm and free from judgement. You can make mistakes and it’s fine. I got here after others had already been doing it for 10 years  and it’s fine! People are very pleasant.

Judih: Thank you, Zohar. When you’re 80 and I’m 100, we’ll meet and discuss this further!

Zohar: One more thing. I know it’s highly recommended for improving balance and I’m encouraging my mother (who’s in her 80s) to do the exercises of Chi Cong.

Judih: Yes, others have spoken about how their own sense of balance improves immediately after doing the exercises and in general. You make a good point. Thank you, Zohar!

Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · What's Happening

June 23rd, 2012 Rocketfire on a Saturday morning

this morning

before five thirty a.m.

we received a message to stay close to our fortified safe rooms.

another round.

I rolled out of bed, acquired some coffee and headed to check out the sounds outside and then the newsfeed. Sure enough, rockets had been aimed at cities and towns close by. Momentary updates show that the Iron Dome intercepted a few missiles, but that at least one man has been injured from shrapnel.

I realized that there’s something to share here: a news report featuring my friend Adele, who lives on a neighbouring kibbutz. She was interviewed the other day and I’ll let you listen to what she has to say.

Israel under fire, June 21st, 2012

Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Sderot

Jan 28, 2009

It’s been a week of noisy nights.

We’ve had a few Tzeva Adom alerts in the area. Just this afternoon, Kibbutz Nir Itzhak had a flashback alert at four p.m. The qassam landed somewhere close by. One day this week, we were surprised by a huge boom just beside us as an old forgotten weapon ‘slick’ was discovered in Kibbutz Nirim and evacuated to open fields for safe detonation.

Yet, today while walking , I had the pleasure of seeing quiet fields and a serene horizon over Aza. Life changes from moment to moment, as we all know.

Benji Davis writes about his experience in Sderot

I read a very good article that appears in Sderot Media Centre. Perhaps, you’d enjoy taking a look.

Here’s an excerpt:

From 90210 to Sderot: Get the Story Right!

By Benji Davis                                                                      Tue Jan 26 2009  06:29:08

I just returned from a two week visit to Israel. I spent my last weekend in Sderot and the Western Negev. One year out from volunteering in Sderot, I have written this piece on the international media’s lack of context in covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Hundreds of journalists from all over the world just left Sderot and the surrounding areas covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. Where were they one year ago? Where were they four years ago, eight years ago? I spent six weeks volunteering in Sderot exactly one year ago, and I can tell you, the journalists were nowhere to be found.

Unfortunately for Israel, it took eight years for the international community to understand that innocent civilians in a western democracy live daily under the current threat of rocket fire. During this time, the range of the threat expanded from a tens of thousands to over one million innocent Jewish and Muslim Israeli citizens.

In these eight years, has the UN Security Council ever condemned nearly a decade of rocket fire on innocent civilians of one of its member states, Hamas’ use of human shields, and its use of schools, hospitals, and mosques to store and launch rockets at Israel?

Read the rest of the article here:

In other news

Calaniot or Anemone are beginning to bloom. This is a shot taken by Dekel, in the beautiful fields near Kibbutz Be’eri. Soon, very soon, there’ll be carpets of red.

First calaniot or anemone, by Dekel
First calaniot or anemone, by Dekel

I’ll be back. Hopefully with more flowers and less news of the other sort.


Jan 28/09





Creativity is the answer · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza

December 31st, first update of the day + evening update

morning: Alright.

Easy to sleep till the super-close rocket hit. The news is saying nothing. Does anyone know where it landed?

It took ages to fall back to sleep. But then came the dream:

Our house had been hit, the bathroom was a shambles. No one said anything for fear of aggravating fear. A silent acknowledgement that maybe we should think about moving down to the bomb shelter permanently.

But here it is morning and all’s quiet. The sink is attached to the wall, the tiles are whole, the shower isn’t neutralized. Just a dream.

Those others who worry

I read letters from my daughter in the U.S. and get phone calls from my parents in Canada. Friends are listening to the News and unable to discern truth from distortion. My son in Tel Aviv asks if it’s cool to come visit.

These are tense times because we’re being told how tense they are.

Yet, there’s now the possibility of a cease-fire. Hallelujah (if I may be so blunt). Let that potential expand into reality.

This reminds me of the Gulf War (check out the youtube TV link in Hebrew). We lived in Ra’anana during that time. I was pregnant with my third child. Everywhere I went, I carried along my gas mask, just in case. I took my daughter to school, my son to his daycare, and my belly and I lived life with scuds.  My writers’ group met in Ramat Gan looking at the latest devastated houses before sharing our work. Sirens interrupted dinner almost every evening. We’d seal ourselves in our room and inevitably, my daughter would have to use the toilet the moment everything was taped up.

One version of War Cookies
One version of War Cookies

I ate what we called ‘War cookies’ – chocolate covered waffles, perhaps you know the kind. I didn’t gain one gram during that period of time. The moment the war was ended, and my cookie habit deeply ingrained, I gained 10 kilos. I went from skinny pregnant woman to 10 kg heavier pregnant woman in a flash. What did it show me? That I’d been burning off all those calories with hidden anxiety.

So, am I fostering a 10 kilo anxiety right now? I sincerely doubt it, and our kibbutz col-bo (or mini-market) doesn’t carry those addictive War cookies. But 60% chocolate helps (in small doses) and maximum amount of time working on my puppets is helping me deal.

When this is over, I’ll have my puppets all ready for my personal therapy sessions. Puppet Therapy is the way. Sign up now if you want a good session.

Good morning. Hoping that the coffee will settle in for a nice upward ride as I ready myself for a day of anything is possible.

Happy last day of 2008 to all.


Wednesday, Dec 31/08 5:51 a.m.

evening Update : 19:13

The day was fairly quiet, a gorgeous sunny day and then the wind changed.  We took a long walk and while out heard “Tzeva Adom” from Kibbutz Nirim. We heard the boom and saw upcurling smoke.

After another few kilometers,  we heard “Tzeva Adom” from Nir-Oz.  We counted 4 booms, two on the western fields and two on the eastern.


What would you do? Would you lock yourself inside all day in an unprotected home, ready to bolt to a shelter at the call of the alert? Or would you step outside? The fact is that it’s easier to deal when I’m outside watching the skyline, able to see. Inside the house can be claustrophobic, and one’s imagination is far more frightening than the truth. Of course, there’s the issue of having no safe place at home and knowing that only qassams heading our way can trigger the Red Alert system. Any other mortar fire just hits, unannounced.

There have been a number of shells booming the Kibbutz this evening and just now another “Tzeva Adom” and another qassam landing. I fear I’m becoming repetitious, but this is what it is.

No where to run, nowhere to hide.

Those who are controlling the maneuvres have told us that tomorrow, kindergartens will be open as usual but in protected structures. Schools are still closed, but teachers are going to be working with students scheduled to do their Winter Bagrut in January. We’re devising ways.

Meanwhile, my own children are in Revivim, enjoying the Neve Midbar mineral pools, a marvellous place to relax.

And we, at home, are keeping the hearth warm.

May you have a peaceful end to 2008 and a joyous new year.

Creativity is the answer · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza

December 28th Update

It was a quiet night.

Though before the quiet night began we were offered beds in the protected Children’s Houses, at my friend’s house up north in Haifa and at another friend’s over in Meitar. We were also bombarded with text messages letting us know that all private kindergartens would be closed, that the Kibbutz kindergartens would be opened. We were told there’d be no bus service and then we were told there would be regular bus service.

In short, the text messages were coming fast and furious and for every new message, a litany of phone tones would come like a sing-song (All Along the Watchtower played by Jimi Hendrix on my son’s phone, Beyonce’s new song on my daughter’s phone, the theme from a fine old Australian series on my partner’s phone and my regulation nokia notification which is succinct enough to bring on adrenaline if the mood fits).

Not knowing what to expect next, we went to sleep wearing sufficient clothing to make a viable fast escape to the shelter outside across the path. However, when I woke up somewhere around 4:30 this morning, I was pleased to see that I was still tucked safely in my bed.

Now, reading the newspapers, I see that the army has been busy and I await some kind of sign that it’s good that I stayed at home instead of going to the English Teachers’ Conference in Be’er Sheva today.

I hope it’ll be great. Meanwhile, I think I’ll do some baking therapy and whip up some carob chocolate muffins. If they succeed, I’ll be back with a photo.

Good luck to all today.

update: 11:49 a.m.

Immediately after I thought about carob-chocolate muffins, we were told to go to the available shelters and stay there for about an hour. Then, came the signal to resume regular activities but to stay on alert.

The available shelter was once actively used as a rehearsal studio. There are a few chairs, a dusty couch and lots of egg cartons on the walls for soundproofing. I brought along my current reading book: The Devil’s Horn, the story of the saxophone written by Michael Segell, but I couldn’t get myself to sit down in that cold, dirty shelter.

Instead, I stood inside, close to the door, watching the green soccer field and listening for any sudden change in the birds regular patterns.

Back home, I muffin-ed

carob-chocolate muffins, (whole-wheat) by judih
carob-chocolate muffins, (whole-wheat) by judih

and resumed making my puppets (my large foam rubber spoken word faces).


foam rubber in process, judih
foam rubber in process, judih
puppet 1
puppet 1
puppet 2
puppet 2



December 28, 8:29 a.m.


update: 17:42

While walking outside the kibbutz today, we heard the “Tzeva Adom” call over Kibbutz Nirim. One qassam landed directly on a house; no injuries were incurred.

It remains quiet, but we’ve been told that Yuli Tamir, Education Minister, has instructed schools within a 20 kilometre strip of Aza to remain closed on Tuesday and till further notice.

Perhaps, we’ll be studying online. If so, I hope my students crank open their attention span to something larger than the regulation text message length.

Last night of Chanukah. May there be peace in our future.

Chanukah, 8th night, Chanukiah made by Zohar
Chanukah, 8th night, Chanukiah made by Zohar