Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · Nir-oz

August 8th, 2014 – Out of Context

After a jet-lag day, a bit of wakefulness, a lot of stupor, I can’t seem to rest tonight. The 8 in the morning turn-around seems to be a world away.

I wonder if I could quickly fly back to Canada and pretend I don’t belong here.

teletransportation, please

How would it be to strip soul from self and teletransport away?

The roar of the fan

a place out of context

white noise protection

After 8 a.m.

four a.m was the first sign that rocketfire exists live and well. Kerem Shalom was the target. 

Then along came 8 a.m. when twice Ashkelon was on the receiving end and then we got it down round this area.

My friend Adele curses that she hadn’t vacuumed, showered or planned for this.  We all try sometimes, to retreat into an ostrich head in sand situation. 

We also knew that miracles weren’t scheduled for this morning.

Now I can only think of inventing humor, doing puppet therapy, perhaps delving into the Life of Pi.

Somewhere on my kibbutz is a vegan reserve soldier, a nephew of my friend. I could search for him and offer him cabbage and wish him well.  A mission of sorts looms in my future. Missions are first aid for brains in overwhelm.

applying first-aid for anxious brain

August 7th

August 9th

Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza

January 19th, Kibbutz Nir-Oz, puppet therapy day

Last day of  at-home-non-school-going?

Our Eshkol Municipal Council has been getting us ready for resuming school tomorrow, Tuesday Jan.20th. Their website is active, posting updates, reassurances and telling us they’re trying to keep us safe.

Well, it’s now Monday, and I don’t hear sounds of qassams in this immediate area. This usually means nothing, since in the Northern part of Otef Aza near Sderot or down south near Kerem Shalom, things could be hopping. But I doubt it. The news is filled with Hamas declaring victory and Egyptians, French and Americans claiming they’ll guard the ceasefire.

Hmmm, I say. But still, no qassams this morning. Sounds of pilotless drones (Matzlatim) can be heard which is the best reassurance of all. Those planes survey the area from the air, keeping the best eye on what’s going on down on the ground.

I’m nervously about to engage in my puppet therapy. Why nervous? Because admitting to nerves, anxiety, fear now that it’s supposedly over takes courage. As long as the tension remains high, and the stress-coping mechanisms are in place, it’s simpler to live day-to-day.  When there’s a sudden transition to a new phase, one needs to assess the state of the mind, body and emotions.

Now’s the time for self-assessment. And that takes courage! What will I find?  Shrivelling jello? Tears? Laughter? One never knows what to expect till one jumps in and faces the facts.

Wish me luck!

unconditional love puppet
me with unconditional love puppet -therapy + camera

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

Jan 7th update, Kibbutz Nir-Oz + update (x2)

Another fairly quiet night in Nir-Oz.

This morning there’s word that 4 qassams have been fired into Ashdod and the Eshkol area, but we’ve had no Tzeva Adom here, so I guess it’s safe to say that it’s still quiet in this immediate area.

There’s talk that school will soon resume.

This is both good and bad. Good because, well, it’s good that the year won’t be a total write-off, and that we can show how flexible we all are by adapting once more to classrooms and bells and horrendous tests and book reports. It’s bad because I was just getting used to the artist’s life. Waking up, drinking coffee, showering, exercising then reading, writing and heading into a sunny room to play with contact cement, foam rubber, scissors and paint. I’ve made a lot of progress on my therapy puppet faces.

Now, hopefully, I’ll still have time to actually engage in some needed therapy before I have to be a pillar of strength and calm to students. By the way, though I haven’t been to the school grounds since the operation began, our Ma’ale Habsor Principal, Vered Tal, has assured us that building is continuing. I know this because the workers come to Nir-Oz to eat lunch and haven’t missed a meal this whole time.

Latest puppet photo (still mid-process)

2 puppets mid-process
2 puppets mid-process

My son says they’re scary. He says all my puppets are scary. I feel that  ‘scary’ is good when it comes to therapy. A mask that depicts strength allows the inner voice of the puppeteer to speak in whatever tone or manner is required. You should try it sometime.

Kids on the Road

Again my children are going back on the road after a brief stay on the Kibbutz. My son and his friends slept in the protected Beit Yeladim (Children’s House), while my daughter decided to spend the night on our living room couch.

Today they’re headed in two separate directions. My son will be on Kibbutz Revivim (“it’s like a Country Club,” he’s pointed out), and others might know it as Golda Meir’s kibbutz,  and my daughter will be travelling with a few Nir-Oz kids up to Ein HaMifratz, known for its cardboard factory and once in the heart of the most polluted part of the country. Hopefully, those numbers have veered downward since the peak in the 80’s. (If anyone from Ein HaMifratz is reading, could you set me straight?)

I’ll be back. How are you doing wherever you are?

Judih, 9:50 a.m.

Update: 13:32

We’re now in a 3-hour ceasefire. This halt in the ‘Operation’ is to allow for free passage of supplies into Aza. Ha’aretz puts it this way. And Ynet says this.

We’re going to take a walk around the area in about half an hour. Looks like there’s a good chance for a quiet, pastoral trek. Let’s see what the rest of the day brings.

Second Update: 18:41

We heard a boom, we heard the planes. It was 3 minutes past 4 p.m. and the war was back on. I expected it but my heart sank.

We lived those few hours of blissful quiet and that was enough to stimulate unrestrained optimism. Hope begat hope. Peace? Could there be fast talks of peace? Could it be that things will turn from nightmare to negotiation?

If you’re reading the newspapers, then you know that negotiations, though taking place, are far from being successful.

Let’s see what the evening brings.

May you be safe


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