J-Wire visits Sha’ar HaNegev

June 6, 2013 by Henry Benjamin
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On a recent visit to Israel, J-Wire visited the secondary school at Sha’ar HaNegev, 4kms from Israel’s border with Gaza…and still a weekly target for Qassam rockets launched from Gaza.

Proud principal Aharale Rotstein

Proud principal Aharale Rotstein

Principal Aharale Rotstein said that the school. opened last September, is at full capacity with 1200 students and has a waiting list. Six thousand Israelis live in Sha’ar HaNegev.

JW: Tell us about the location.

AR:  We are a region in our own right although we are close to Sderot. Sh’ar HaNegev is ten kibbutzim and one moshav which is mostly milk-producing.

JW: This area is considered dangerous because of its proximity to Gaza and the Qassam rocket attacks. What is the current situation?

School land planned for greening as part of a JNF Australia project

School land planned for greening as part of a JNF Australia project    All photos: Henry Benjamin

AR:  It depends on the time. Now it’s quiet. Once a week there is a Qassam attack but it is not like what it was before. For the last twelve years we have been under attack from the Qassams and you get used to it. It’s like choosing to live near a volcano. You get used it. Maybe it’s not normal. Maybe it’s not easy for someone from the outside to understand…but we get used to it for two reasons. One reason is that for us it is normal. Human beings can be crazy animals and can get used to anything. The other reason is education. My father immigrated to Israel in 1929 from Poland to this place and this is our home…without any conditions. We are here. There is no option.

JW: So your attachment is not only to Eretz Yisroel but in the main to this region?

AR: Yes, it’s here. I have four children and six granddaughters…and they are all here. I don’t ask myself in the morning ‘why am I in a place like this? Or why did I raise a family in a place like this? Or why did I establish a school in a place like this? If you know the history of Israel, the threatened areas move. Now it’s our turn. It used to be the north. It’s a part of our life…we are not running away.

Archaeological studies

Archaeological studies

JW: Are people moving to this area from other parts of Israel?

AR: Yes. It’s very popular now. Its cheap and we have a very good educational system. We produce cheese, butter and milk selling only in Israel.

JW: For schoolchildren coming to this area, how do they deal with the attacks?

AR: Like us they get used to them.

The Sh’ar HeNegev school has 11 buildings taking up 14,000 sq meters. Each building is designed as a self-enclosed bomb shelter so when the rocket attack alarms are sounded, the students have nothing to do except stay put. Dotted around the recreational part of the school are shelters so protection is only seconds away.

The school boasts wonderful art facilities, a garage to teach car mechanics, a ballet school attended by 400 students and a clothing design unit.Aharale Rotstein pointed to two sections of barren sandy soil and said with a year this will be green as our students develop this land which will feature an Educational Garden.”The funds will come from JNF Australia.” he added.See more of the school and interview with Principal Rotstein:



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