Jan 28, 2009

It’s been a week of noisy nights.

We’ve had a few Tzeva Adom alerts in the area. Just this afternoon, Kibbutz Nir Itzhak had a flashback alert at four p.m. The qassam landed somewhere close by. One day this week, we were surprised by a huge boom just beside us as an old forgotten weapon ‘slick’ was discovered in Kibbutz Nirim and evacuated to open fields for safe detonation.

Yet, today while walking , I had the pleasure of seeing quiet fields and a serene horizon over Aza. Life changes from moment to moment, as we all know.

Benji Davis writes about his experience in Sderot

I read a very good article that appears in Sderot Media Centre. Perhaps, you’d enjoy taking a look.

Here’s an excerpt:

From 90210 to Sderot: Get the Story Right!

By Benji Davis                                                                      Tue Jan 26 2009  06:29:08

I just returned from a two week visit to Israel. I spent my last weekend in Sderot and the Western Negev. One year out from volunteering in Sderot, I have written this piece on the international media’s lack of context in covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Hundreds of journalists from all over the world just left Sderot and the surrounding areas covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. Where were they one year ago? Where were they four years ago, eight years ago? I spent six weeks volunteering in Sderot exactly one year ago, and I can tell you, the journalists were nowhere to be found.

Unfortunately for Israel, it took eight years for the international community to understand that innocent civilians in a western democracy live daily under the current threat of rocket fire. During this time, the range of the threat expanded from a tens of thousands to over one million innocent Jewish and Muslim Israeli citizens.

In these eight years, has the UN Security Council ever condemned nearly a decade of rocket fire on innocent civilians of one of its member states, Hamas’ use of human shields, and its use of schools, hospitals, and mosques to store and launch rockets at Israel?

Read the rest of the article here:


In other news

Calaniot or Anemone are beginning to bloom. This is a shot taken by Dekel, in the beautiful fields near Kibbutz Be’eri. Soon, very soon, there’ll be carpets of red.

First calaniot or anemone, by Dekel

First calaniot or anemone, by Dekel

I’ll be back. Hopefully with more flowers and less news of the other sort.


Jan 28/09





January 18th, Kibbutz Nir-Oz + reports from other areas

January 18th, first day of Ceasefire.

Well, morning’s arrived, finally. I was tempted to update this blog last night. We knew that a ceasefire was going to come into effect at 2 a.m. Knowing that prepared us for almost anything up to that point.

Sure enough, around 11:30 p.m. we heard a Tzeva Adom and, as always, counted down for the boom. Luckily it landed our of our immediate neighbourhood but somewhere close, probably in our fields. Then, within a few seconds, came the noise of an approaching rocket and a loud thud and from my window I could see a burst of light. Sitting up in the dark, my heart pounding,  I waited for noises of Army police and investigators. There were none.

I continued to listen for  more information. Where had the missile landed?  The sound of planes, some distant booms.  My son walked in the door, dropping off dirty laundry, telling his story, similar to mine:  taking cover for the Tzeva Adom and then listening to rocket approach, seeing a burst of light. He left. After a few minutes came another Tzeva Adom alert and 3 more booms somewhere nearby.

Chai Masala

Chai Masala

Unable to sleep, I made some Chai and turned to Ynet and Ha’aretz. There was no mention of the qassam or mortar fire. Instead, all was geared towards the approaching ceasefire hour, with the clause allowing Israel to take pointed action against any rocket fire against us.

Since Nir-Oz experienced pre-ceasefire rocketfire, nothing was reported.

So now morning has arrived. The ceasefire is in effect and the only sound I hear are drones, surveillance drones. And crows. The crows are on watch this morning.

School is not beginning today. Our Eshkol Council (link in Hebrew), under the mayoralty of Haim Jellin, has decided to go with the Homefront Command and keep us at home for one more day.

We’re all going to need a relaxing break from this war vacation. More chai, more storks, more relaxation techniques.

Judih, Jan 18, 7:41 a.m.

Update: 7:56 – My friend located on a kibbutz further north in Otef Aza has reported constant sounds of booms and gunfire near her. Nothing different in the soundscape since about 7:00 a.m.  She’s staying near her home, with a protected room, for the time being.

9:00 – Report of 2 qassams on Sderot. Oops…checking YNet – 6 qassams. And this report from YNet: Exchanges of Fire Reported in northern Gaza

Kibbutz Nir Oz, January 4th update + evening update

Operation Cast Lead – Ground Forces enter

We were all told to prepare a bag. A bag to carry us for up to 48 hours in a bomb shelter. Our municipality website told us, our shelter rep called us and then we got a text message from the kibbutz head of security. So, I had a bag ready. What was in that bag? First I put in toothbrush and socks, then I put in wheat crackers and apples. A towel. What to have ready for a sudden leap to the shelter? Who knew.

Then we got a text message saying that we could hold off from jumping into the shelter just yet. Protected structures were enough.

So, we sat listening to the tune of boom, boom, boom in the distance – our tanks, our artillery, no Tzeva Adom so, we figured we weren’t hearing qassams. Eventually, we went to bed. Our daughter chose to sleep on the living room couch just outside our bedroom.

I fell asleep, then awoke. It was only 12 midnight. Grateful that I was still in bed, but listening to those never-ending booms never ending, my mind leaped to all of my last year’s Yod Bet (grade 12) students, possibly in the field now, with helmut and camouflaged face. I tried to relax.

 Boom. Boom.

I woke up again, peered at my cell phone – 1:00? G was awake, so he tried his luck in the dark and came up with 4:00 a.m. Far better. We’d almost made it through the night. On a regular day, he’d already have been at work, but today is different. There are far fewer people on the kibbutz and the amount of food to be prepared today would not require such an early start.

It’s now 5:23, and I’m about to drink the coffee I wanted back at midnight. The house shakes with the booms, but the news says nothing about what’s going on in this immediate area. TV news will be renewed only at 6:00 and I don’t want to listen to the radio for fear of waking up my daughter.

I’ll check in later. I’m safe. Hope you’re safe.

Judih, 5:30 a.m.

Evening Update: 17:08

The morning was peacefully sunny. I could hear the occasional boom, with no Tzeva Adom, which meant that it came from the Israeli forces, or that it was mortar fire (for which there is no warning system) or that it was a qassam and the warning system didn’t work.

In any case, it was quieter than usual for which I was grateful.

Telephone Circuit

On the telephone circuit, I dealt with my friend staying in Yafo, wanting desperately to come back home to the neighbouring kibbutz, but not knowing if it was the right time. She was mulling it over.

Relief comes in bizarre guises

Another friend was noticeably relieved that the ground forces had entered and that she no longer had to worry about when they would do so. The worry, the fear, the dread can take a sane person and push them towards the freak-out point.  Reality, no matter how dire, can often prove easier than one’s imagination.

Can’t Live There, Can’t Stand not Living There

A third friend, located in Jerusalem, was sympathetic, wanting to hear how I was coping. Her children, having lived here till last summer, were pulled in two, happy to be away from the area while longing to be with their friends to make sure they were safe.

Bomb Shelter Life

My parents called to find out how long I’d been sleeping in a bomb shelter. As the News puts things, that people in the South have been ‘living in bomb shelters’, so a friend of theirs decided that I, too,  as an Otef Aza dweller was living in a bomb shelter for most of the past year. Well, first I have no bomb shelter in my house. If I had, I imagine I would have popped in and out of it quite a bit, but the fact is that last night was the first night ever that people on Nir-Oz were told to be prepared to go into the community shelters if word came from the Army.

So,  how did these phone conversations end?

One friend will remain in Yafo. Another enjoyed her second wind till she found out that one soldier has been killed and another critically wounded, the very thing of which she was most fearful. The third friend’s children will have a chance to re-meet their kibbutz friends as the Otef Aza kids will be taking a break in Jerusalem for the next few days. And, finally, my parents now know that I’ve yet to sleep in a bomb shelter.

Watching the qassams

While walking, G and I saw some qassams take off, pre-empting the  Tzeva Adom alarm, first from Nir-Lat and then from the separate Nir-Oz  system. We then heard the whirling propeller of the rocket and saw it land within the gates of the Kibbutz.

Not a great thing to witness, but there we were. When outside and faced with the Tzeva Adom alert, one is advised to lie down with hands over your head. This prevents injury from flying shrapnel if the rocket should land close by. However, if able to watch the sky to see where the rocket is landing, you get a far safer feeling than being inside, unable to see, blindly counting the seconds after the Tzeva Adom alarm is sounded.  I’m not recommending rocket hunting, I’m just stating a truth. It’s an incarcerating experience to be shut into a small space waiting to see if the boom comes close by.

Sometimes, it’s better to look. We were quite far from the explosion but seeing it’s landing location, we were able to advise the Kibbutz Security Head of where to look.

update: The qassam we witnessed landed just outside of our chicken house. One man was wounded lightly by shrapnel. Further update: Another man was wounded as well. The two of them crouched down in place when they heard the Tzeva Adom warning. A third man lay flat out and suffered no injuries. Again, following the orders of Pikud HaOref  (Homefront Command) is the best thing to do in times of emergency.

We’re going to the Kibbutz Dining Room.

Dinner’s at 6:53 p.m. tonight. Tomato soup. We’ll bring along some of our home-made bread to eat with avocado.  There will probably be very few diners this evening. Our kids are off the kibbutz. The workers who are building the new Ma’ale Habsor/Habsor High School have stopped sleeping on the kibbutz since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead. And the volunteers also were encouraged to go.

So, I’m wishing you a good evening. Hoping you’re safe.

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.

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

Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day in Otef Azza, by Esther Revivo

http://lovesagame.com/wp-content/uploads/fear.jpgYom Yerushalayim in Azor Otef Azza

by Esther Revivo,

Sunday eve., June 1/08


Life is made up of cycles, whether it be the seasons of the year, or less pleasant things. Take today, erev Yom Yerushalayim: Last year, our Ulpana bussed our Sederot pupils to our school’s evening celebration. Ten minutes before the girls boarded the bus, (they were milling about around the area, about 15 meters away,) the siren ‘color red’ sounded. The hysterical girls did what they had been taught NOT to do. Instead of running to to crouch by the nearest building, they all ran onto the bus screaming and lay down. The kassam landed EXACTLY where they had been standing seconds before!!
On the way home after the program, once again the dreaded siren went off. The already traumatized girls had to get off the bus and stood near the wall next to the town’s swimming pool into which another Kassam landed, just meters away. Thankfully the cement wall they stood behind shielded them from shrapnel. Needless to say, these girls’ fathers all said the ‘Ha’gomel’ prayer (that one says when his life is saved) the following Shabbat.
Today, exactly one year later, these girls had a miserable morning. For, until now, our Sederot pupils have seen  the 5-8 school hours spent at Ulpanat Tzvia Sedot Negev as a break from the tension filled hours they know at home. At about 8.30 during morning prayers, I was with my 8th graders, half of whom live in Sederot proper. The sirens in Netivot went off as they did last Shabbat. ALL the pupils were hysterical, but the girls from Sederot more than others. It broke my heart.
 We all crouched down under the tables, and I was yelling out a perek of Tehillim. In the end, one rocket landed in Netivot and the other (for the first time,) landed in Moshav Ma’agalim. These rockets are steadily creeping to the south towards Beer Sheva. It took a long time for the girls to calm down, as this was a sad milestone. The end of safety during at least part of their day to day lives.
Esther Revivo
Ulpanat Tzvia
Sedot Negev