Emergency Efforts on the Ground- Kibbutz Evacuees Welcomed at Dror Israel’s Mitzpe Ramon High School
Updated: Nov 22
“We’re meeting kids who have lost family and friends. They’re still going to funerals and visiting hospitals. As educators, we are trying to accommodate them, listen to them, and give them a space to be teenagers in which they can be sad, but also be happy. I’m trying to create something with the students that they can take back with them to Erez when they go back home.”
After the horrific attacks of October 7, Kibbutz Erez – one of the closest communities to the Gaza Strip – was evacuated in its entirely to Mitzpe Ramon, a quiet and small town in the Negev desert, well our of range of rocket fire from Gaza, with an active Dror Israel educators’ community and Dror Israel high school.
Fortunately, the quick mobilization and heroism of the kibbutz’s volunteer security team – along with that of neighboring Kibbutz Or HaNer – kept the community’s casualty levels comparatively low. The community is grieving their lost loved ones and those of nearby communities, as their lives have been upended.
As soon as the evacuees arrived, Dror Israel members began handling their basic needs – housing many in Dror Israel’s boarding school, feeding as many as possible every day, and organizing donations of clothing and other needs. Then, informal preschools and day care were set up to give some semblance of normalcy and routine for the youngest children and their parents, as well as other activities to occupy the older kids and teens and get them away from the social networks for a few hours at a time.
About two weeks ago came the realization that these evacuees are not going home any time soon. Government representatives have indicated that the evacuees should be ready to be away from home for at least two months.
And so Dror Israel began planning to absorb Kibbutz Erez’s high schoolers into its high school in Mizpe Ramon, even though there’s not enough space, not enough staff, approval was needed from the authorities, and the character of this unique vocational school focused on desert tourism might seem odd to the newcomers. Solutions were somehow found to everything, and the students recently had their first day back in school, though far from home.
Naama Danan – one of the Kibbutz Erez students – said, “I think that joining the school is on the one hand a good thing, because it relieves some of the tension, but it can also be stressful. Especially when you think about your friends from school who won’t be coming back. But as long as they give us this safe space, I think it could be nice.”
Mika Dror – another Kibbutz Erez student – said, “Going to school here, I didn’t think of it as an easy thing, because the school already exists and we’re used to something totally different – there are no exams at this school. There are some really weird things. I thought to myself – how can I do this with what’s happening now at home, to my friends? It’s hard and I don’t know that I’ll manage to be here for a long time but I’ll try, and I hope it will be good for us here.”
Noa Carmel, 9th grade teacher, explains, “We’re meeting kids who have lost family and friends. They’re still going to funerals and visiting hospitals. It’s not easy for them to start going to school because it’s not clear for how much time. From the parents, we are hearing that they really want their kids to have a safe framework with some kind of routine. As educators, we are trying to include them, listen to them, and give them a space to be teenagers in which they can be sad, but also be happy. I’m trying to create something with the students that they can take back with them to Erez when they go back home.”
[Quotes from ICE magazine article: https://www.ice.co.il/media/news/article/985490]