Creativity is the answer · Living in Otef Azza

Updated Update! This weekend! Oct 24/5: In “D” Negev, Cultural Happening

Indie Art and Music Festival, inDnegev.

It begins today at 12:00 p.m., noon at Mitzpe Gvulot. (map on Hebrew site, link below)

Tickets go on sale at the entrance to the Festival at 11:00 a.m.

For advance tickets, call Matan or Asaf at: 054-7919410. Price: 70 shekels for both days.

Tickets at the gate: 80 shekels for both days.

No single day tickets available.

Sleeping arrangements: There’s an area for tents and sleeping bags at the site.

Gvulot and nearby Tze’elim (five minutes away) have indoor sleeping arrangements (inexpensive).

Other kibbutzim in the area have possible rooms available, if you call ahead of time.

Try Kibbutz Nir-Oz or Kissufim, for example.

Other questions? Call Matan or Asaf at this number:

054-7919410. For further details, try the Indie Negev site (in Hebrew):

People! “In D Negev” festival, Mitzpeh Gvulot.

Are you gonna be there? Well, are you? Come on!

Check it out: 


in D negev, 2008

in D Negev

Oct 24 and 25, 2008 12:00 noon

In ‘D’ Negev” is an alternative culture enterprise. It aims to celebrate the festive essence and vitality of music and establish a bond with independent culture. The festival is geared to all people in general, and to the population of the Negev in particular.

The Negev, as with other aspects of current modern life, has been neglected down to the shoulders of the road. It’s time, it’s only natural that now its core is calling for bonding with honest, bare, original cutting edge music.

In D Negev is looking to bring the best of indie scenes to the families of Israel in the natural environment of the Negev. We’re looking to achieve a strong union – starting the formation of one big indie family.

This is an opportunity for artists to create fascinating new partnerships and, above all, be heard by an audience, hungry for new sounds. This is the chance to establish a long lasting collaboration.

We’re calling out:

Plug in!

Scream out loud!

Bring forth the blossoms in the cultural desert!

We’re calling all artists and musicians.

Contact us, now. 

Help us make the desert bloom!

To join the mailing list, e-mail: 
text adapted from Indie Negev,









Creativity is the answer · Living in Otef Azza · Music

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
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.