Pho to by Jona t han Lev ine/UJC
Aid To Sderot
•Connections, Israel's Rosh
Hashanah baskets program,
•Standing Together, stogether.org
•American Zionist Movement's Yom
Kef (fun day) program for Sderot
families, azm.org .
• Chabad Sderot Relief Fund, (718)-
Psychologist Aviv Abuhav with Hibuki, a
huggable stuffed dog used in therapy
special "red color" song with instructions
and therapeutic movements was created
and taught to 2,000 kindergartners in
Sderot and nearby communities.
"When they sing the song during the
alarm, they start walking to shelters and
singing and doing the movements:' said
psychologist Aviv Abuhay. "They learn it is
OK that their hearts are beating fast and
they are scared. The movements, including
tapping, shaking and laughter yoga, help
release the tension. When they are done,
they feel good ... They love it. They sing it
at recess and kids are teaching it to their
Another psychological tool, a program
called Hibuki ("to hug"), based on a plush
stuffed dog with paws that can fasten
around your neck, was successful with
traumatized children ages 4-6 in northern
Israel and was imported south.
"Hibuki is a preventive intervention:'
Abuhav explained. "You build a story
around Hibuki, telling the kids he's nor-
mally happy, but he's sad now You ask
the kids why? How can we help him or
someone who is sad? They start talking
about their experiences. By projecting
[on Hibuki], they have the power to heal
The children take care of the dogs, lav-
ishing lots of hugs and taking them every-
where. Abuhav said parents and teachers
see a strong decrease in anxiety symptoms
because of the program.
Last year, 9,000 Hibuki dogs, including
2,000 in Sderot, were given out through
by the American Jewish Joint Distribution
Committee (JDC), with help from IEC
funds. Next year, 4,000 more will be given
to children in the Sderot area alone and
more teachers will be trained.
Elementary school principal Anat Regev
of Shaar HaNegev.
At Shaar HaNegev, 12 communities share a
hub containing an elementary school and
high school, Sapir College and a center for
Seniors know they have a safe place
to socialize in the large, modern bomb
shelter with its air conditioning and stereo
system. It doubles as a classroom for lec-
tures and other activities. Upgrades to the
security facility came from $1.4 million
from the IEC, administered by the JDC,
with another $550,000 going to respite
programs that take the elderly and dis-
abled on short trips to safe areas.
Five days a week, seniors can meet at
their center for social and cultural pro-
grams, complemented by meals, physical
activities, personal grooming and laundry
facilities — all in a safe environment.
Many come from kibbutzim closest to the
border that experience heavy shelling.
Don and Eleanor Saliman came to
Israel 37 years ago from Denver. They live
at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, with a view of Gaza
City. Rockets hit almost daily, sending
them frequently to their security room.
"Every time there's a tzeva adorn, it
takes something out of you:' said Don,
69, who frequents the senior center about
three times a week.
"As a mother and grandmother, I see
with different eyes:' Eleanor said. "I have
to say, `Don't bring my grandchildren here
to visit' — it scares me to death.
"I am shaking inside all the time. The
doctor says it's stress, and I'm ashamed.
But do you have any idea how many are
taking medication to keep cairn? When I
come to the senior center, I do feel safe!"
Do they think about leaving?
Like many residents in stressful loca-
tions in Israel, they answered simply, "This
is my home. We won't let terrorists push us
out of here
to by Viv ian He noc h
Eleanor and Don Saliman suffer almost-daily shelling from Gaza at Kibbutz Nachal Oz.
At Sapir College, students talk about won-
derful academic opportunities that exist
amid the threat of Kassams. A dozen or so
missiles have hit Shaar HaNegev in the last
More than 7,000 students attend Sapir,
with its five academic colleges. And
through the Jewish Agency, about $2 mil-
lion in scholarships from the IEC have
been allocated to help attract and keep
students in the region. Similar incentives
also exist in the north to keep that region
stable — programs supported by the
Israel Ministry of Education.
Alon Gayer, Sapir's dean of students,
senses a turn for the worst in the last six
"My office handles all student pro-
grams; I can feel what's happening here
he said. "Some students are emotionally
tired. This year, 80 students wanted to
leave this environment; they couldn't take
Yet others, like Anat Schwartz and
Simon Kulc, want to stay and contribute
to building the Negev in the spirit of the
Zionist pioneers who settled these out-
posts in the 1950s.
Like many Sapir students, Schwartz vol-
unteers for a community project, helping a
troubled neighborhood in Sderot.
"My goal is to help the south;' she said.
"All of us can give up and go back, but we
need to be strong for the community." Ill
A Palestinian child TV star was quoted
in the international press last week say-
ing Jews in Israel should be forced from
their homes so that Palestinians "can
return to their land."
The girl interviewed chose a militant,
autocratic answer to the Palestinian/
Israeli conflict. A majority of Israelis
want to end that conflict through
peaceful negotiations leading to a corn-
promise on land and other issues. It
is waiting for a Palestinian leadership
that denounces violence and reins in
terrorists so that a peace process can
- Allan Gale, Jewish Community
of Metropolitan Detroit
copyright August 30, 2007 Jewish Renaissance Media
August 30 2007