Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza

August 20th, 2014 – Seeking refuge from war

not long ago 

quiet mornings and evenings 

maybe they’ll return

Yesterday afternoon, rockets were fired at us.  I ran to my first line of defense – to check my email. I found a message from Ella, with a writing trigger centering aroung a bizarre time journey. This was good, a way out of now, just what I needed.  What came out of me was kind of depressing but for a few minutes I was able to ignore reality by looking at it straight on.

My computer is in my safe room, and when I get into my space, close the door and turn on the fan, I disconnect from everything else.

fan cutta.jpg

Sometimes life intrudes – like a shake of the house, or a voice coming unexpectedly close, jarring me out of my trance. The space is there – a cocoon for the taking.

Those uncertain afternoon hours. It was Tuesday, and that meant there had to be a phone discussion: would we cancel T’ai Chi?

 Would Doron, our teacher, risk coming to Nir-Oz. Would others want to venture out? We were all under a warning to be 15 seconds from shelter.

We cancelled. Better not to take the chance. This gave me a night off and one more week to try to get acquainted with the fan cutta – the frighteningly fast set of movements with the periodic zaps of the fan opening that they’d all learned last year while I was at MindCET.

After dinner, I walked Zohar, my soldier daughter, to her room on the kibbutz. My phone rang. A new teacher was seeking advice, lots of it, about how to go about teaching high school English next year with all its new programmes.  I offered to help.

Zohar and I got close to the kibbutz swimming pool and heard party sounds. Soldiers were there for R & R and she decided to join a friend and check out the scene. Was it a good sign that they were still there, I wondered.

I walked back home talking to the new teacher, watching the sky and listening for booms all the while. Then another English teacher called asking for sympathy and support: “How can we start the new year? What’s this shit?”

Clearly, it was time to reconnect to society, I realized with a sinking heart. People would be calling. I’d be answering. Summer solitude was ending.

A few minutes later

Then it began – whams of rockets all over the place.  The alerts were flooding the TV screen, blocking out the junk TV show I’d been staring at.

Bedtime. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I checked for red alerts and text messages from the Security Head. We’d been ordered to get into our safe rooms for the night.  I tried it. But there was no way I could get into a coma state. I gave up, drank some de-caf and tried to feel a normalcy in what I was doing. Normal! Everyone has problems. Writers thrive on neurosis and ennui. Why shouldn’t I rejoice in my unusual set of circumstances!  But the unusual was becoming mundane, no real seething fear or anxiety. I was in a safe room and I heard nothing, except that boom that shook the 40 cm thick wall. But still I was alive. So no big deal.

Sometime later my phone vibrated beside my head. It was Zohar. “Mom, what should I do?”

Me: “I don’t know, I haven’t looked at the red alerts, yet”. Zohar: “Red alerts? Mom, we’ve got ‘orange panther’ alert.” Me: “Oh, so, we have to stay inside?”

Zohar: ” Mom, there’s a terrorist infiltration.”

Me: “Oh, so call your army base. Tell them you have an infiltration and you can’t come.”

Zohar: “Okay.”

Good morning, Hamassssssss – so said Joe on facebook this morning. Oh yes.

They greeted my daughter before I did.

Reminds of the time that Hanna-le, night-guarding with Gadi, found out that I was pregnant with Zohar before I, myself, knew. I’d thought it was the flu.  But in their discussion that night, she was 100% sure of my true condition. (*note: When we first got to Kibbutz Nir-Oz, there were still Children’s Houses where our children slept the night. We needed night-guards to listen to intercoms to hear who was awake, to go ease them back to sleep or to call their parents to offer comfort.)

It’s not just kibbutz that’s a small place, but also this part of the Middle East. A tunnel here, a tunnel there, and a stranger gets there before I do.

Sweet Child o’Mine – Guns n’Roses.

Zohar made it to the base. Twenty minutes later the Orange Panther code was lifted and we were back to simply having to be within 15 seconds access to our secure rooms.

No problem.

I’ve been eating fruit, hoping that the naturalness will sweeten this morning.


every rock song

each fine harmony

a dance towards peace

August 19th

August 21st

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

August 14th, 2014 – ceasefire? Red Alert? What’s going on?

I went to our kibbutz grocery store and while choosing cucumbers, I met Bat-Sheva. Grabbing this perfect opportunity to share our thoughts, we agreed that there was only one logical next step to the war situation – a miracle. A sudden burst of sanity! People would sit up, become sane and realize that there was a far easier way to deal with one another: via peace and cooperation. Seems so simple, but it would take a miracle to bring about a reasonable future.

For the rest of the day I made phone calls, dealt with people then conked out from the heat.   The buzz of nervousness was kept on a low flame as the clock ticked towards the midnight end of ceasefire.

sudden red alert

heart sinks in dismay

then news…ceasefire

It seemed so commonplace – just a few hours left of the ceasefire when we suddenly started to get red alerts. Rockets were being fired, before time. Friends began to text one another. Where to sleep? The secure room or our regular bedroom? We were split in our decisions.

I went to my regular bed and then after midnight checked my phone and discovered there’d been a decision to extend our ceasefire.

Not a miracle but a quickfire intervention – another five days of ceasefire. A placebo relief to placate the crowd.

a toss of a dice

tomorrow promise of ease

until the next time

But is anyone placated?  The US is pissed off. The Knesset is pissed off. The residents of the South are pissed. The Hamas are going with the flow, I imagine, setting up housekeeping for the next opportunity.

I can’t speak for the Egyptians or the rest of the world.

Me? I’m breathing easier. I like the illusion of peace, the absence of booms and sirens as I sit here. I guess in gaming this would be called onboarding – learning the rules under simplest conditions. When I’m adept, I’ll be able to carry on nicely under more extreme conditions.

August 13th

August 15th

Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East

August 9th, 2014 bomb blast body lift-off

into the futon 

mind, body relax 

until bomb shakes room

bomb blast 

body lift-off 

trek to coffee

3 a.m. comes along and keeps me company. We marvel at the white noise comfort of the fan blowing in my ear. Red alerts may come and go, but I’m oblivious.

How soon the body adjusts to non-adjustment. Jet lag compounds the feeling of wartime out of time. Perhaps in another headspace, I’d be writing my novel, sculpting my puppets,  exploiting this unconventional dissonance to create.

But, I’m kind of glued to a ‘safe room’ anchor. Fifteen seconds doesn’t allow much room to wander.  I still recall the mortar that fell on our neighbour’s tree – just a sliver off target and it could have been here.  I recall the student who told us how his sister had been washing dishes when she was suddenly called away to watch something on TV and a rocket fell exactly where she’d been standing, leaving a hole in the floor as a sinister reminder of how miraculous it is that we stay alive.

I know myself and how I behaved during the past two wars. Without jet lag, I’d no doubt be off on long hikes around the kibbutz fields or happily ensconced in my puppet workshop focusing on the 10-minute wait before gluing hands to arms, plastic fingernails to fingers.

As it is, I listen to the roar of the fan, sit cross-legged on my chair, and wait out this physical disconnect till I can resume my acquaintance with contact cement and deal with puppet lips awaiting their scripts.

puppets – calling me

August 8th

August 10th, 2014

Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · What's Happening

June 23rd, 2012 Rocketfire on a Saturday morning

this morning

before five thirty a.m.

we received a message to stay close to our fortified safe rooms.

another round.

I rolled out of bed, acquired some coffee and headed to check out the sounds outside and then the newsfeed. Sure enough, rockets had been aimed at cities and towns close by. Momentary updates show that the Iron Dome intercepted a few missiles, but that at least one man has been injured from shrapnel.

I realized that there’s something to share here: a news report featuring my friend Adele, who lives on a neighbouring kibbutz. She was interviewed the other day and I’ll let you listen to what she has to say.

Israel under fire, June 21st, 2012

Living in Otef Azza

at last! Update – School, GA visit, beloved friend’s loss, Red Alert “Tzeva Adom”

Yes, Let My People Know is still here. It’s been a week.

Commiserating with a friend.

A beloved friend suffered the tragic loss of her husband to suicide. How to comfort a friend under such A & dogshorrific life-blows? There’s no answer except to love her and try to stay in one piece, oneself.  Being an exceptionally loving human being, she was surrounded by many friends. We all extend our love and support. How to go on? We find the strength and we do it. Together.

Monday, November 17. This week saw the return of “Tzeva Adom” (Red Alert) during school hours. The English staff were able to scurry into our shelter within 5 seconds. We stood there counting and heard a loud Boom and then a slightly softer one. We knew it had landed close by. Sure enough, it hit the kibbutz beside Ma’ale Habsor. News stories have interviewed elderly residents who had no protective shelter to run to. Still the kibbutzim are unprotected. The school children are luckier. They have shelters near their classrooms.

Survival Techniques

During our 8th grade english lesson, we were again sent off to wait through a period of uncertainty. Most students have their survival equipment on hand: cell-phone music and earphones, games to be played, gossip to be shared. One girl in my shelter had her crocheting on hand. She’s making a scarf! (lovely spring lilac shade)

A few students in the younger grades were shaken up, but the older kids seem to be able to digest this reality and go on with a semblance of normality. Those students in the soccer field had no option but to flatten out on the ground, according to instructions by the Security Office.

Visit from the GA (General Assembly of the Jewish Agency)

One visitor from the U.S. had a taste of this reality. Marcy from the G.A. (General Assembly) of the Jewish Agency came to promote the Living Bridge Project. We met at Ma’ale Habsor along with Tal Kalmer, co-ordinator, Vered Tal, Principal of Ma’ale Habsor, Anat Rozen, co-ordinator of the connection with Mexico for Ma’ale Habsor, and myself, Ma’ale Habsor co-ordinator of the connection with Bet Shraga, Albany.

We shared greetings and news. The bridge with 8th grade students in Albany is being built through a private Facebook site, on which we post greetings, questions, photos and video clips. Ma’ale Habsor kids sent New Year’s Greeting Cards to Bet Shraga kids. Marcy brought us a bulging envelope of Chanukah greeting cards from kids at Bet Shraga. We had to hurry to make some cards to send back with her, but sure enough, Marcy received an envelope from us with cards to the kids in Albany. There’s nothing like a colourful hand-written card to build excitement in a roomful of kids!

May this project grow.

May you all have a good week, a peaceful week.

Early Chanukah Greetings – Light! and more Light!

Chanukah Collage in Progress, Randa Dubnick
Chanukah Collage in Progress, Randa Dubnick