Sunday, January 4, 2009

Update from a teacher who lives west of Kiryat Malachi

It is true that Israeli schools within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip are closed, but some children are still studying. The Ministry of Education has arranged for the youth in the gifted program to study via the Internet. Ariella Duvduvan teaches English at AMAL High School and also heads the regional gifted center located in the science center in Kiryat Malachi, and her 4th and 5th students are continuing classes with their teachers on the Internet.

At the end of January, many upper level high school students will be taking mid-year “bagruyot” exams, which are similar to state-mandated tests in specific subjects. Ariella’s home room students are in the 11th grade and will be taking a math test the end of January. So it has been arranged for them to go to a school in the Tel Aviv area on Monday (Jan. 5) to study math intensively for the day. Ariella and their math teacher will accompany them on a chartered bus. When they finish their full day of studying at 3, they will have some time to have fun before returning home by 7 p.m. Of course many of their mothers are worried about their traveling on the roads, but that is the situation now.

For the time being, Ariella and her husband are staying on their moshav. They have sent their two youngest children (high school students) to stay with a brother in the center of the country. Their oldest daughter, her husband, and their young daughter live in a “caravilla” or trailer next to the family home. Since this action began, they have been staying in the family home, which is more secure that the caravilla. There is no shelter near their home. The original homes at this moshav, established over 45 years old, had shelters, but then the practice ended until about twelve years ago when the government required that each home have a shelter or a secure room. Therefore, whenever they hear the Red Color alert, they rush to archway between two interior rooms, for their protection. Today, there was no alert; yesterday there were two with rockets landing in the vicinity.
Duvduvan home

Their oldest daughter, Sharona, is a doctor at Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon. She is in her 9th month of pregnancy, but has been schlepping to the hospital daily to work in the pediatric ward. Most patients who were able were sent home, and others were sent to other hospitals, closer to the center of the country. But a number are still at Barzilai, underground in a large shelter where the hospital is now operating. The only patients now in the pediatric section are three young children from Gaza. Of course, their mothers are staying with them, and Sharona has gotten to know them quite well. They are very afraid and keep on asking that their children be transferred father away from the rocket fire, even though they are in a very safe area underground. Ironically, Sharona has been traveling from her moshav to the hospital by car. When the Red Alert goes off while she is driving, she stops the car, and quickly lies as flat as she can by the side of the road, endangering her soon-to-be born baby to help the young ones from Gaza. Ariella is very relieved that Sharona was told 2 day ago to stay home, and not go in to work.

Ariella asks that I pass on to all those in the region she has met that she and her family are doing well, and that they really appreciate our support. She especially wanted to pass on that message to the students and teachers at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle where she spent a week during the last school year.

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