Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · Nir-oz · truce with Hamas · What's Happening

Day After Ceasefire – November 22, 2012

Wednesday night,  November 14, was the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense.

Today is Thursday, November 22nd, the first day after the Ceasefire pronounced yesterday evening at 9:00 PM our time.

A week of being directed to our Safe Rooms if we had them, or within 15 seconds distance of any possible Safe Room.  A week of being alerted to every little nuance of  daily life. No work. No school. Yes work. Yes kibbutz breakfast. No kibbutz dinner.  Store hours. Store closed suddenly. And so it went.

A facebook group kept English Speakers in constant touch. We fed one another’s anxieties and applauded our acts of heroism. Going out for a regular walk was cheered, or admonished (mostly admonished with incredulity). Walking dogs within proximity of  a shelter became a deed of courage that needed a motivational talk beforehand and a debriefing afterwards.

Interesting times we live in.

Some lived without.

Many residents left the area and still haven’t returned.

Eventually, things will come back to normal.

Normal awareness that we carry with us at all times will sit in our back pockets instead of fully planted in our frontal lobe.

Soon. My safe room will go back to being a safe haven of choice rather than necessity.

A safe room.

Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza

March10/09 Purim


At Ma’ale Habsor school, Purim meant a party for the Jr. High kids. You can see them dancing here:



The festivities were down-scaled this year, highlights being: Best Costume choice, lots of group dancing, a cotton candy machine and popcorn.

Mishloach Manot (little plates of Osnei Haman (hamentaschen), candy, bamba and chocolate bars) were exchanged and kids dressed up. I noticed a lot of ears on girl’s heads and many mini-skirts. One girl dressed up as a scarecrow complete with hay sticking out of her jacket sleeves – she won First Prize.

Many kids came in understated statements or no costume at all.

The High School kids were slated fora 3 hour tutorial in the morning, and they chose to dress up for the occasion:

yeah, ya see?
yeah, ya see?

Obviously, the theme of mini-skirt prevailed with the older kids as well.

As for politics

Still no government. Will Lieberman join Netanyahu, or not? Still no peace. Will the qassams stop being fired, or not?

The weather

Hot and then chillier. Sandstorm and then a drizzle of rain. In Kibbutz Nir-Oz, spring can be felt. We’re also still seeing storks in our skies, but unfortunately too distant for my camera to highlight.

The food

All are trying their hand at making Osnei haman. I’ve eaten 4 different variations. My own involve whole wheat crusts. It’s impossible to deal with white flour anymore for any serious length of time (more than a bite).

My tone

I’m in a limbo mood. Purim vacation means more time to do puppet therapy, for which I’m most sincerely indebted. I need more psychodrama and less outer life drama.

Remember to click onto ‘Notes from Netivot” to read how Esther is coping with things.

Hag Sameah! Happy holiday!

Creativity is the answer · Living in Otef Azza

Arie Schkolnik is pleased to announce: Nesher II is ready for launch


Gazing up at rocket with parachute
Gazing up at rocket with parachute

Arie Schkolnik of Kibbutz Nir Itzhak

is pleased to invite you to attend 

the Experimental Launching of

Nesher II!

Date: October 1, 2008

Time: 13:30

Place: Back Gate of Kibbutz Nir Itzhak,

Western Negev* (map link below)

Details: Nesher II, 1.5 x 6 litre rocket


This launching follows last spring’s successful launch at the Eshkol soccer field on May 5, 2008. We were present and able to report. (Click here to read about that event:

You are encouraged to come and witness this first launch of the New Year!

Sponsored by NISA (Nir Itzhak Space Agency)

Arie Schkolnik and Nesher II
Arie Schkolnik and Nesher II
Nir Itzah Space Agency
Nir Itzhak Space Agency

Hope to see you there. 

 Click onto the link below for a map of the area. Nir Itzhak is situated between numbers 240 and 232.

* (map link below)

Thank you, Arie. We are all inspired by your work to convert plastic bottles, water, air and ingenuity into a working model of scientifically sound flight.
Living in Otef Azza

Let My People Know!

Intro – who, where, what, when

Hi. My name’s Judih and I live and teach school in an area east of the Gaza strip. The kibbutzim and settlements in this zone of Israel make up the area called “Otef Azza” – “Surrounding Gaza” as you could loosely translate.

For awhile now, we’ve been experiencing sniper bullets aimed at our field workers and qassams landing in our fields and sometimes on the kibbutz, itself.  Our Children’s Houses have been ‘protected’ by huge concrete roofs and only this past week, we’ve received a protective shelter located near our bus stop (within a 15 second run from our communal Dining Room and beside the bus stop where our children wait for the schoolbus from Sunday – Friday). The rest of the kibbutz, however, remains unprotected.

We live in a time of constant listening for falling qassams, tuning in to our Official website for updates, clicking into news reports on radio and internet. We hope that the victims are not loved ones, we breathe out in relief when they’re not, but we soon hear a cry from someone close by who knew them. We’ve all been affected.

Why this blog, suddenly?

On Wednesday, May 14th, I was called upon to go to Sha’ar HaNegev High School, in order to test some Grade 12 students who were scheduled to undergo their Oral Matriculation Exam.  Those who were scheduled to come test them backed out at the last minute. You see, the school has been in the news for years now as a frequent recipient of qassams. Only one week ago, last Saturday, when no one was around, 3 qassams hit the school, just outside a classroom. No one was injured because it was Shabbat, a no-school day, but on Sunday, when kids showed up, they saw the shattered windows and they each thought, what if…. We all thought ‘what if’, including teachers who were scheduled to come to the school to test the graduating class.

So, along with 3 other teachers and our regional Inspector,  I went to examine over 20 Grade 12 students and during those 5 hours, I heard stories that filled me with awe. Near death, relocations, running to shelters, sleeping in shelters, they have gone through so much anguish just to live their lives and to keep to a school routine. Their teachers unfailingly offered strength, optimism and determination to help them make their way as normally as possible through the fear and reality of qassams. The all-too familiar 15 second warning of ‘Red Alert’ (Tzeva Adom) signalled too many dashes to the nearest shelter. School life during these past years was like no other location in Israel.

And often, when students go home, there is more of the same. Those who live in Sderot have little opportunity to relax these days.

This blog is to relay some of this information.

That day, I heard stories that opened my eyes and heart. I live so close, and yet none of my students have had such constant threat hanging over their heads. What those students live through, none of us can guess.

More of us in Israel and outside of Israel need to know what is going on in this generation of students. We need to care for them now and to help them mature with minimal trauma. We need to know.

This blog is to get those stories out. We all need to know.

Those who wish to contribute – students, teachers, parents are welcome. In the place labeled “comments” – write your name and e-mail and I’ll send you information.

All comments are welcome.

I hope that this blog will grow and be a community effort, a way for each of us to let our people know!

over fields towards Azza