Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Music · Nir-oz

Listening to the body, flowing with music

Before doing my own sitting meditation, I always address my body. I stretch gently, I warm up the joints and do what I must to maintain skeletal integrity. So, this Friday in our Nir-oz Sangha, I asked: ‘Who’s done a little body workout already this morning?’ Since no one had, we turned on some music.

thanks to karma castle for the image

My instructions were simple: to move slowly in the room, being aware of our feet on the floor and to gently add movement to other parts of the body – the hands and arms, the knees, the spine, the shoulders. Oh so gently, listening to the body.

After five minutes, I asked who would like to continue and we all wished for more. And so we continued, each listening in our own way to our own body responses. No need to watch anyone else, we played with height, speed, direction: growing taller or shorter and moving slower or faster, backwards or forwards or still. And so it went on for a total of 15 glorious minutes, as we slowly eased up on the movement (and what beauty of movement was present in the room!) and re-found our cushions.

Gently noticing our body’s sensations, sensing our breathing and heartbeat, we began a slow body scan to allow the breath to enter and cleanse, releasing any tensions, noticing any pains or itches.

We shook it out after about 20 minutes of this seated meditation and with cleansing breaths, we used sound on the exhale to further align ourselves to ourselves. Why don’t I give details, here? There are situations where to read afterwards what sounds were used simply won’t be useful. There are experiences that must be experienced directly. Each environment requires unique components.

The feeling in the room was rich, and upon wishing ourselves a good day and then thanking one another for coming together in the meditation session, we slowly arose and left the room.

The participants were more quiet than usual and I felt wonderful.

Thank you Nir-Oz sangha.

Health · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Medicine · T'ai chi

T’ai Chi with Doron: Eliahu Levy speaks about practising for 12 Years

August 21st, 2012

Our Tuesday T’ai Chi evening under the stars. Doron Lavie, arriving early is ready to begin the session.

Doron Lavie, T’ai Chi

After our warm-up, Chi Cong session, T’ai chi 88 form and Sword Cutta 32 form, we had a break! I spoke to Eliahu Levy, a longtime participant in the Eshkol T’ai Chi group held on Kibbutz Nir-Oz.

Eliahu Levy

Judih: Can you introduce yourself, please.

Eliahu: I’m Eliahu Levy from Kibbutz Nir Itzhak, 78 years old. In the past, I’ve been involved with Physical Education and all kinds of sports. About 12 years ago I got involved with t’ai chi.

Eliahu, practising

J: How did you get involved?

E: I was doing karate and it was very intensive and then the sessions stopped. My friends told me that they were coming to Nir Oz to do t’ai chi. So I decided to try. From the very first day, I knew that I’d never stop.

J: What grabbed you, exactly?

E: It was a time when I was going through a serious personal breakdown. I had just become a widower. And I stopped working at my job and I found myself in the middle of all these life changes. I was really in a bad state. It was then that I got into t’ai chi and discovered a new world. Afterwards, I began to study Chinese medicine and everything came together for me. I became a new man. And t’ai chi was a vital part of this restructuring.

I have continued to study and advance in this practice and not only did I become a new man, but everything changed for me: my behavior, my conception of life, and my perception of the world around me. I am now a practitioner in Chinese medicine. And t’ai chi provides the physical base for it all.

Eliahu Levy in balance

Judih: Do you practise everyday?

E: I do chi cong everyday. Sometimes t’ai chi, but chi cong everyday. In this way I prepare my body for the day, for fairly intensive work, since I work a lot using massage. And in addition this  grounds me for my usual daily activities. This is the essence of t’ai chi: connecting me to the earth, to the sky and me in the middle, feeling very good!

J: Do you work with music? How do you practice?
E: No, without music

J: Do you use a mirror?
E: No I go outside, listen to the birds, look at the green around me. I feel the morning dew on my bare feet. And this gives me so much. It fills my batteries for the day.

J: So you practise early in the morning?

E: Yes, I wake up usually before 6 and then I go out to do t’ai chi. Also, when I go to the pool for a  swim I feel the water, and again feel myself between the sky and the earth. When I get back on solid ground,  I do t’ai chi or chi cong and re-connect with myself.

J: So you’d recommend t’ai chi to everyone?

Eliahu with sword

E: Yes to everyone. I can tell you. I have no physical pain, not in my knees, back or head. I take no medications. You see, when I first found t’ai chi I left all my medications behind and I’m living very well! If at any time, there are any physical problems, I can deal with them.

J: Have you changed your diet, how you eat? Or is this all because of the physical activity you engage in?

E: It’s all my conception of life. I eat according to the prefects of Chinese medicine – mostly healthy food– no fats or carbonated drinks, although I do drink some wine that I like. And that’s it. It’s a new way of living.

J: Thank you. Is there anything you’d like to add?

E: Yes, I recommend t’ai chi to everyone.  I recommend doing it and practising regularly, because it acts to regulate body processes that serve to heal the body. Healing comes from within utilizing oxygen. T’ai chi works to facilitate the connection.

J: Thank you, Eliyahu

Kibbutz Life · Nature

Weather has settled, December 13, 2010

Rain, snow and wild times hit Israel. The Sea of Galilee rose a bit. The Mediterranean smashed over the boardwalk in Tel Aviv, in Caesarea and winds were so strong that one pedestrian in Tel Aviv was swept up into the air and dropped in the middle of the road in front of oncoming traffic.

Here in the Negev, sandstorms abided but the promised rain never materialized.

This morning, as I headed out the door, I saw a small flock of peacocks wandering the kibbutz in search of fallen pecans.

after the sandstorm

fat rollicking peacocks

feast on pecans


Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza

August 12th – jet lagged but back

The sunrise seen from an airplane makes planetary living just a little more thrilling. It’s good to rise above daily circumstance and experience life from a different plane.

IMG_4589I was in Toronto for a short 2-week visit. Filled with love and hugs (but never enough), I return to a hot dusty Negev. Afternoon walks provide immediate brown fields, steaming that distinctive stink of organic fertilizer. Flat lands remain flat, even after experiencing green ups and downs experienced in Canada.

We’ve arrived to the beginning of the installation of our protective structures. The kibbutz will soon be tunnelled and readied for sewers and the upheaval of shovel and crane. Half of the structures will be built elsewhere and lowered onto the cement bases about to be prepared. The other half will be built on-site, meaning constant noise and workers threading through our year.

School about to begin at the end of August is still being built. Most of the buildings are ready, except for the library, but the beautiful Ma’ale Habsor landscape is now dust and dirtpiles. Our wonderful landscape gardeners, especially Neomit Dekel-Chen, are wearing themselves to the bone hoping to provide the rich paradise they were imagining.

English teachers will be alone in our old English Centre, with grass and trees, while the rest of the staff will be stationed in various buildings. We’re going to be living a new reality.

But all that pales in the light of politics and heat. The new Fatah with its new upgraded denial of Israel’s right to talk peace will make these new protective structures even more timely. For a while, we were hoping that we’d simply have a room, just in case. I fear that the ‘in case’ might be a matter of ‘when’.

Kurt Rostek, 2009
Kurt Rostek, 2009

Due to jet lag, I dare not censor what I’m writing – who knows what’s clear these days. I can attest to the fact that while walking in 24degree celsius delight last week, along Queen Street West, amongst galleries (my friend Kurt Rostek‘s show at the New Gallery) and sidewalk cafes, I was able to breathe and enjoy normal weather. But home is always sweet and once more being able to participate in a t’ai chi class makes it all seem more like home sweet home.

Watch out for the Perseids tonight! And I’ve been assured that we’re in for a dynamic power meteor shower towards the end of December, so get your star-eyes steady.

Will be back when I can find my sanity.

Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza

Windstorm, May 4, 2009

Kibbutz Nir-Oz, May 4
Kibbutz Nir-Oz, May 4


It wasn’t just in the Negev, but rather all over Israel. Today was a combination ‘sharav’ (unusually hot heatwave) and windstorm. In the morning, on the way to school, I shot these photos on Nir-Oz:

kids' bikes parked by the school bus station
kids' bikes parked by the school bus station


The storm got dustier and sandier as the temperature rose.

While my Grade 12 students were getting cozy with their English pre-Matriculation exam, suddenly there was a huge creak and the lights went out.

A tree had fallen on the Library roof and along with that sunken roof out went our power cables.

Windstorm, May 4, tree falls onto Library, Ma'ale Habsor
Windstorm, May 4, tree falls onto Library, Ma'ale Habsor



Close-up of roots, fallen tree
Close-up of roots, fallen tree



Along with the powerful winds, sandstorm and heat, came the effects of classrooms without air conditioners, flies and short tempers.

School was something else today, but we studied, nonetheless.

At around 3 p.m, the weather seemed to break, but at 5:00 p.m., instead of walking home through still sandy air, I bused home.

Back on the kibbutz, I surveyed the scattered branches, the flowers scattered all over my porch and then saw the huge branch which had fallen just a metre or so from a neighbour’s front door.

One of those May days, when who knows what’s in store.

Have an interesting week,


May 4/09

Kibbutz Life

Passover, Pesach

It’s a rather peaceful time, right now.  The banner is courtesy of Neomit Dekel-Chen, who put her skills to decorating the entranceway to Nir-Oz’s Dining Room.

Entranceway to Nir-Oz's Dining Room, Neomit Dekel-Chen
Entranceway to Nir-Oz's Dining Room, Neomit Dekel-Chen

The storks appear to be gathering forces and heading northwards towards Europe. And the living is easy now that school’s out for another week.

stork, april 11/09
stork, april 11/09

storks take off
storks take off

Hag Sameach. Let me know how you’re all doing.

Kibbutz Life

April 8th, Passover evening, last storks lingering to dine on ploughed fields

Some storks have lingered behind the main flock. I wonder how long they’ll be around.

Storks by the White House Gallery
Storks by the White House Gallery

img_4128It’s a relatively quiet day, just before the full moon heads up. It’s five p.m.

Have been on Passover vacation, which means I’m free to do my online Literature course, work on my Haiku powerpoint presentation, read my new t’ai chi book and in general walk long walks through the Nir-Oz fields.

I spent Monday in Tel Aviv with my friend, Pnina, and we caught some amazing exhibits at the Tel Aviv Museum. The Exhibit of Tel Aviv Photographs was superb. Love those city street scenes, taken from angles that only photographers see and document. (Backs of office buildings, narrow Keren Teamani lanes, Neve Tzedek buildings).

We saw the exhibit put together by the  Urban Sustainability Conference (From Garden City to Ecosystem).

From Garden City to Ecosystem
From Garden City to Ecosystem

Blow-up balloon exhibit, each representing an idea for sustainable green living in urban Tel Aviv, offered a tactile, fascinating study in potential ideas.
Will update – have to go cook!
Happy Passover!
Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza

January 10th, Nir-Oz, update

It’s early morning. I don’t feel like writing. Why not? Cause it’s the same scenario. Why repeat myself? But, I will.

Last evening at 5:00 p.m., we had one Tzeva Adom alert. The boom landed, we exhaled again. Our evening passed, the noises outside continued. There are louder booms, now, new noises and they require analysis before the sigh of relief can be heard.

All morning, there have been planes, booms and echos of booms. We’ve had qassams landing in fields close to our residential areas. Along with that, my neighbours are having an uproariously good time with their fast growing puppy.

Their laughter and loud voices intertwine with the planes overhead.

Perhaps some of you know that the residents of this area have been provided with electronic devices that beep when there’s an incoming qassam or when we are informed of other security matters. Well, we, in this house, declined the presence of that beeper. More anxiety due to electronic beeps is the last thing I need.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you might know that I’m a puppet-maker and slicing foam rubber, applying contact cement, correctly fitting a mouth, all are things that require time and concentration. Beepers destroy focus and therefore, beepers are not welcome here.

There are, however, beepers faithfully turned on in both neighbours’ houses. (I live in a row house of 4 units, sandwiched in the middle). When the beepers go off, the poor puppy, who right now is revelling in the sunshine near the bomb shelter, cries. The puppy knows that beeper is not a good thing, and she cries.

So, for her sake, I’m happy that we’re not being beeped, that the sun is shining and that the neighbours’ voices are loud. But for myself, with the boom and echo of noises of that other reality, I can only say: may we all return to sunshine bliss very soon.

I’ll update later. Perhaps I’ll be visiting one of my children, right now located on a more southerly kibbutz.

Have a good day,

Judih, 9:27 a.m.

thinking aloe thoughts
thinking aloe thoughts

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

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

Nir-Oz, January 6th, Operation Cast Lead

Noisy, noisy night

The Air Force was busy last night, and all this morning. The sound  of constant thuds and booms. We’ve had one Tzeva Adom this morning, a few booms about a minute later,  and I’m not sure what else I’ve been hearing on this side of the Strip.

Our kids are returning this evening from their various locations. They’ve been offered another trip to a more northerly kibbutz, but mychildren are utterly tired of being away from home. If we’re here, they want to be as well.

It’s definitely time to start some kind of learning program here on the kibbutz. How else will things ever start to come back to regular living?

The Ma’ale Habsor Principals are setting up an online learning system, where each teacher will be able to direct students and supervise assignments. Teachers will have at their disposal a site with a forum for discussions.

This puts the onus on me to snap into educational frame of mind and set up worksites with some Hebrew instructions for easier accessibility. I’d already set up something but through the initial stages of building and re-building, that work has been lost.

Meanwhile, the noise outside continues. Today’s news is not great. Soldiers have been wounded due to ‘friendly fire’ from a tank which misfired and hit a structure where soldiers were meeting.

On the sweet side of life, the aloe is growing, and the weather is absolutely gorgeous. What a strange time this is.

aloe vera, january 6/09
aloe vera, january 6/09

Will check in later,

Judih, 9:59 a.m., January 6