I’d like to devote this post to NATAL,

Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War

NATAL Homepage.

Q: First, what is trauma?

A: ” A traumatic event is when a person experiences a combination of:

  a) A sense of immediate threat to the physical and/or emotional well-being of himself or another.
  b) Flooded by emotions of the helplessness or fear.”

Click here. for full response.

Q: How can PTSD ( Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) be treated?

A: ” Professional treatment for post trauma: the first step is not easy.
Although entering appropriate professional treatment is very important for victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.), the process is not as simple as it might appear at first glance. First, the victim must acknowledge the need for professional assistance. Many people, including trauma victims, do not hurry to seek professional psychological treatment because psychological therapy is still accompanied by a negative social stigma, because they consider beginning therapy an admission of weakness, because the uncertainty inherent in therapy causes anxiety or because beginning therapy means taking a step in the opposite direction from the avoidance they have been using until now.

In addition, it is not always easy to find a professional who understands the issue of trauma and the accompanying phenomena nor is it easy to develop closeness with and trust in a stranger.”

Click here.

Q: Tell me more about NATAL’s services.

A: Have a look at this page with a short youtube clip.

Q: Who is Dr. Roni Berger?

A: Dr. Berger is clinical psychologist who developed the Mobile Trauma Unit in Sderot. He explains its conception and how it functions with its group of psychologists and therapists who go into the community to treat trauma victims.


There’s nothing new in Sderot

More than eighteen months ago, I reached the realization that Sderot had, for many years, been taken captive by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I decided to do something to support the city’s residents in a permanent, on-going manner. The shortage of professional personnel in the city, the fear of venturing out for psychological therapy in public institutions (some are unprotected), discomfort because of the stigma and the desire to treat family units as a whole combined to give birth to the idea of the Mobile Unit: experienced professionals who specialize in trauma, visit families suffering from anxiety at least once a week, in coordination with the Welfare Department, and treat them according to a special therapeutic model, developed specifically for this purpose. Despite concerns that residents of the city would not be receptive to this service, the natural suspicion of some local institutions providing psychological services and the opposition of conservative professionals, who thought the Mobile Unit broke through boundaries that characterize the therapeutic process, the Unit quickly became a tremendous success.

Full link here.

Listening to Dr. Roni Berger yesterday at the NATAL conference yesterday in Sheffayim, I could only hope that everyone would be fortunate enough to have someone like him around in case of utter trauma. His voice, his presence, his calm manner instills immediate trust.

We’re lucky to have him, someone who’s used his skills with trauma victims all over the world, from the Tsunami victims to those in Katrina and Mumbai.

Please have a look at the work that NATAL is doing.

Judih, Jan 9/09

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

Jan 8th – Nir Oz, fast update

Booms all night.

I slept heavily, but I was told the booms that I woke up to were similar to the booms all night.

Meanwhile, our local Municipal Council has stated that schools are hopefully re-opening next week. Kindergartens and Daycare centres will begin on Sunday and school will resume on Monday. All this is dependent on the authorization from the Homefront Command.

I’m on my way to the NATAL seminar on helping victims of terror and war.  I’ll be in Sheffayim, a kibbutz just north of Herzliya, all day and will taste life from another environment.

I’ll be back. Please keep your eyes and ears open. Information is precious.

Judih, 4:53 a.m. Jan 8/08

Kibbutz Nir-Oz, Otef Aza, 1st update of the day, Jan 5/08

Good morning, January 5th

The morning arrived – 3:30 a.m. with a huge boom.  My partner assured me that everything was okay. Still thinking of the previous night when I was prepared for a sudden warning to head down to the shelters, I had to shake myself back into calm. I took a walk, looked at the time, and buried myself under the blanket.

Everything’s alright. A phone call at 5:30. No one was there. Everything’s fine. Mymind rolls over all the possible phone callers, as I dial the code to discover the caller’s number. Nothing but the number ‘9’ a code for who knows what? Recently our kibbutz switchboard (or however it’s called these days) is a little bizarre.

So, it’s now 9:20 a.m. and I’ve checked out 5 TV stations for news. I’ve looked at 2 newspapers and read a few blogs.

What’s new?

Everyone’s asking how long Operation Cast Lead will continue. What will be the next phase? When will life get back to normal here in the south. When will schools resume. When will businesses get back to work. When will we be given the all-clear from the Army to start our life.

Will our life re-start before a viable peace agreement has been reached? Will there be such an agreement?

We, kibbutzniks, moshavniks, city dwellers all believe that of course, there’ll be some form of written agreement so that we’ll be able to continue to live, breathe, raise our children and our crops all to the tune of regular life sounds.


What are you doing in the meantime? One friend is cleaning the house, working on her garden, doing the long-form of her DVD Pilates. Another friend is accomplishing tons of work. Two others are in the city, looking after others, taking care of their children.

As for me, I believe in therapy. I believe in puppet therapy,and always have. So, I’m working on my puppets, investing more time than usual on rounding the foam rubber corners, smoothing out the scissor sculptures. I listen to music, whether country-rock, jazz or Roderigo guitar. I try to ignore the TV, but sometimes I’m swept into a TV movie. More therapy, of course.

On Thursday, I’ll be heading out to the Trauma Seminar in Kibbutz Sheffayim, hosted by NATAL,the Israeli organization for Trauma Rehabilitation for Victims of Terror and War. I’ll be attending lectures and a workshop devoted to my favourite form of expressive therapy, Psychodrama. I’ll be happily partaking in any trauma rehabilitation methods offered. I’m ripe for rehab!

The day is sunny, quite beautiful. Booms have been limited. I’ll be back.

Here’s a map of the area. Nir-Oz is just to the right of the label “Gaza Strip” :

Otef Aza - focus on Nir-Oz & neighbours

Otef Aza - focus on Nir-Oz & neighbours

mushroom cloud over in Aza

mushroom cloud over in Aza

Life is a criss-cross jumble chaotic piece of work

That’s right. Life is a criss-cross jumble chaotic piece of work. Yes it is.

What am I talking about this week?

We’ve had terror in Mumbai, all too close to home for comfort, both in Al-Quaeda overtones and in the fact that almost every high school student sets their sights on a trip to India or South America or Thailand after graduation and all these places seep into our lexicon. Who do you know who’s in Mumbai these days? Have you heard from them? Are they safe?

With every terror attack, we all run through our personal directories, our e-mail friends, our acquaintances from work or school or army or yoga or wherever we meet people we become close with. Are they safe? What about M who went to India with her husband for a new life? Is she safe? We all shake when we hear of terror. In Israel, we all know the drill. First comes the news report and then come the phone calls and investigations.

We go through this all the time. We’re ‘used to it’. Yeah, right.

This week I’ve learned that Sderot is beginning drama therapy workshops for its children at the Sderot Community Treatment Theater. I’ve been invited to an Intensive Day-long Seminar at the Sheffayim Hotel, on January 8/09 for teaching techniques for remediating victims of trauma. This amazingly rich schedule of workshops and lectures is being offered to all therapists and anyone else interested as well as to the graduates of Lesley College, the Cambridge University with world-wide branches, including one in Netanya. This is the home of MAs in Expressive Therapy and Holistic Therapy and B.Eds in Creative Education. Teachers with such degrees are invited to participate. The day is presented by Natal, the Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War. The Schedule of the day can be seen here, in Hebrew, for anyone interested in registering.

Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War

Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War

We, in Israel have got to accrue expertise in remediating victims of terror. We’ve got no choice. Yet, I’ve read that the authorities of Mumbai have refused help from Israel in dealing with the hostages in the Chabad House.  I ask you, why would they choose to refuse?

Back to home affairs, our school Ma’ale Habsor has been working inside and out.

Our teachers are involved in a two week after-school stretch of meetings,  long marathon Pedagogical meetings which take us into the situation of many of our students. We share information, look at the dynamics of each class, sociograms (thanks Racheli of the 8th grade), special cliques, (thanks, Chico also of 8th grade), and girls working together to help tame a few boys who would prefer not to learn and would if not for those girls (thank you, Ilani – yes 8th grade). Eighth grade has always been fondly called Hormone year, but now with higher incidences of shorter attention span and greater environmental distractions, it’s all on higher frequency.

So, teachers at our school are more tired but stalwartly attending these all too important meetings.  The new school building is coming along well. As I was photographing the outside structure, I was invited to step inside and look at the ‘finished’ bare walls. Have a look:

first view inside a new classroom

first view inside a new classroom


and more:

other view inside
other view inside
Did you know this is how a school is built?
Did you know this is how a school is built?

Architecture is fascinating, no?

Also in school this week, our Tenth grade students were involved in a Citizenship Seminar. I can’t comment on the success or failure, but I can note that some of my students were happy to get back to studying English. (for which I’m grateful).
The Swim team did great and brought back medals from the REED (National Rural School District Council) Championships.
Our school soccer team won this round of the Tournament and is going on to the Finals in the REED Soccer Championship.
Our area’s been free of booming sound effects this week, for which I’m grateful.  I’d love to hear from someone in Nahal Oz or Kfar Aza as to what’s going on in their communities. If anyone is reading this, please post a comment.
May it be a peaceful week. May those in Mumbai survive this and get on with remediation in their lives.
Anyone for art? Please drop by the White House, Nir-Oz’s Art Gallery, to see the Exhibit presenting artists of Otef Aza along with those from Mexico. I’ll be there and will be back to post my impressions.
Best –