The Bat-Chen Diaries were written by an Israeli girl who was blown up by terrorists on her 15th birthday with other Israeli children. She loved writing in her diary where she could share her feelings and ideas without worrying about what other people thought about them. Bat-Chen began her diary as a second grade child praying for peace for her country and worrying about her cat, Tuli. Many of her writings were about peace for her country. Her home country, Israel, is often in conflict with some Arab country or suffering internal conflicts with the Palestinian population within its borders. Her prayer for peace follows:
What I Want from the New Year
No more wars
For peace to come
For Maya to be my teacher
I want to have lots of friends
And I want us to finish building the new house.
Did she pray for something that you would pray for, like a special teacher or lots of friends? People all over the world have more in common than in differences. Can you write a prayer about what you want the next new year to bring you? Try it! Share it with a friend or your family.
Bat-Chen and Tuli
Bat-Chen worries about her pet, cat, just like you would. (Materials needed: art supplies.)
I have a cat who is called Tuli. Tuli was born in Rishpon in the courtyard of my grandmother’s apartment and grandma brought him to me in Tel-Mond. It was hard for her to catch him. She brought him to Tel-Mond in a sack. Then he escaped to the neighbors. Afterward in the Evening, Ima (Israeli word for mother) called me to bring him food, and since then Tuli came into the house every day. One day Tuli disappeared. We thought Tuli had died, but a day passed, then two days. And on the third day Tuli returned.
Do you have a pet? Draw a picture of it. If you do not have a pet, draw a picture of one you would like to have. Pretend it can talk to you. Create a little skit about what it would say, if it could. Pretend to be your pet and ask a friend to be you
What An Irritating Mother
Did you ever fight with your sister and/or brother? Do they ever get you in trouble by making up stories about the terrible things you did that aren’t true? Did you ever get mad at your mother when she didn’t give you a chance to tell your side of the story? Don’t worry, everybody does! It’s how you handle it that counts. Bat-Chen wrote to her diary about her irritating mother to calm herself down.
(Materials needed: letter paper.)
I was playing with the computer today,
And suddenly, it froze.
I went downstairs
And my little sister ran after me
And said to Ima, “Bat-Chen cursed at me.”
Then, without thinking,
Ima started scolding me.
“What an awful child.”
Of course, it wasn’t true.
You can imagine how angry and insulted I was.
I had a tangerine in my hand and threw it straight at Ima.
It messed up the tablecloth a bit,
And you can guess what happened.
She yelled at me and sent me to my room.
When I wanted a drink,
She stood on the staircase and said,
“Say you’re sorry at once!”
So I said to her:
“What are you, a queen or something?”
Then she said, “Don’t dare leave your room.”
I want back to my room and hung a sign on the door.
“No entry to idiots!”
Wouldn’t you be irritated too
If people made up things about you?
And Ima’s sure that she’s right, that she’s so smart.
And she’s furious with me.
What would you have done in the same situation when your brother or sister made up a lie to get you in trouble? Would you dare to put a sign like that on the door of your bedroom? Write a letter to your parent explaining what happened.
Bat-Chen wrote about entering junior high school (In Israel, they call middle school, junior high.) l. She was very worried about how it would go. Compare her feelings with yours when you entered a new school.
We’ve arrived. The new beginning was awaiting us there in the corner. We’ve already written the date, the subject, and the teacher’s name in a notebook. I wondered all summer what the beginning would be like – if a good fairy leads us into a tunnel, and once you’re out, you can say, “I’ve done the beginning. It was easy. All I had to do was enter the tunnel.” But when I walked into the classroom, the teacher was waiting. Nothing like a good fairy.
What does a beginning look like? Is it hard or easy?
A beginning is when something ends and begins anew.
Like a flower that droops, then blooms once more.
I’ve heard the word hundreds of times in 6th grade!
And in many other places.
So we began our beginning.
We tasted a slice of the cake.
At the beginning it will be sweet.
Meeting new people and also new subjects.
But later it’ll get awful and we’ll want it to end.
To start the next year – a new beginning.
Bat-Chen compares entering junior high school to entering a tunnel. She uses cake to illustrate the sweetness of a new start. What would you use to illustrate the fear, excitement and sweetness of a new beginning? It could be the beginning of anything important like moving to a new home, starting a new grade, or even the onset of playing a new sport season like soccer or baseball. Create an analogy to express your ideas. Make a bulletin board of all the analogies you and your peers have written. You could even illustrate them to make it more interesting.
(Materials needed: paper and envelopes.)
It would have been a good idea for Bat-Chen to establish some goals for herself as she entered her new school. Think about some school related goal you want to achieve. It could be earning better grades, joining a club or sport, making new friends, getting elected to the student council or any other reasonable thing you want to do. Write your goal down and put it in an envelope. Seal the envelope and give it to your teacher/librarian. You can open it at the end of the semester to see if you earned your goal.
Do the same thing with a personal goal that has nothing to do with school. It could be to join a community sports group or club, or to make a deal with your parent to earn some extra money for doing a family chore. Write it down, seal it and check on it in four or five months. (NO PEEKING!)
The Transition to Junior High
(Materials needed: Comic strip paper.)
I’m sorry I haven’t written much. I’ve had a lot of problems in class, and came home in tears quite often. I had no idea the beginning would be so difficult … a bit like a baby who can’t walk at first, and it starts and then suddenly topples over. That’s exactly what I feel like. Everyone has a tough start – the teacher, that baby trying to walk … but it’ll be ok in the end.
Create a comic strip of students entering middle school for the first time. Try to express their feelings in amusing ways that we all can understand. Humor helps us get through difficult times so we can use it often in tough spots!
(Materials needed: this activity would be enhanced if different types of music were to accompany it – from rap to classical!)
For me, writing is something wonderful.
It makes me a happy person.
Songs are everything to me.
Whenever I feel down, and things are hard,
I sit myself down and begin to write –
About the past and about the present,
About the future.
I write down feelings
About what I love doing best is imagining
How people resemble plants.
And how friendship between people
Is like a flower and water.
Whenever I feel down, and things are hard,
I pick up my notebook and pen and write
With songs I feel lighter, more distant.
I feel it’s just me and the song,
Saying what we think about the world.
And no one says. “This is forbidden, this is permitted.”
A song has no framework, no rules.
We can sing whatever we want.
It takes you away from sadness,
Even though you know
That song lasts only a few moments.
A song is not just a tune for me.
It’s not just words that you sing.
And when it’s over that’s it.
For me, it’s life itself. It’s a special world.
And you don’t have to be in my shoes
To understand that writing means forgetting everything
And entering into an imaginary world.
A world that’s mine alone,
A world that sees things differently.
Ands opens up a loving heart.
In that world, you don’t have to account to anyone else.
This is my world, and nobody will take it from me.
God gave it to me.
He gives a gift to each of us.
And to me He gave me my little world.
Otherwise I don’t know how I’d manage,
Because the real world,
The one that’s yours and mine and everyone’s,
is a difficult world with so many problems.
And with so much frustration.
I open the diary and remember
Everything I’ve written in that world,
A world that is just mine and yours,
A tranquil world, a world of rest.
What does music or rap mean to you? Write an original song or rap to share your meaning of music. If you can’t compose the music, use a melody you already know and make up new words for it. You can even create an original instrument if you want to. Perform your music for your peers.
Bat-Chen fell in love for the first time and it didn’t work out well for her. The boy she wanted was in love with another girl! She wrote about the experience in her diary.
(Materials needed: Poster paper.)
Disappointed love is so painful –
When you love someone,
But know that his heart belongs to someone else,
That’s he’s not really interested in you.
And you’re wasting your time.
His girlfriend is my biggest enemy,
It’s all because of her.
If she didn’t exist, I could capture him!
Oh, I can see how everything would be perfect.
If only – if she weren’t around!
Oof! The heck with her.
And the worst thing is seeing them kissing.
If only I could exchange places with her,
How great it would be.
Why did he choose her?
Is she more beautiful or smart?
Or maybe it’s just because he met her first.
Make a group list of all the things you can do when the person you care about isn’t interested in you. Put this list up on a poster and hang it up so you can see it whenever you need cheering up. It would be terrific if you could use some humor in your poster list.
In eighth grade, because of her commitment to peace and coexistence with the Arabs within Israel, Bat-Chen chose to participate in a pen-pal project. She exchanged letters with Nidaa, a young Arab girl who lives in Kjar Kassim near Petach Tikvah, where Bar-Chen lived. This is a letter from Nidaa to Bat-Chen.
Would you like to have a pen-pal from another country? You could share how you celebrate your special holidays. Nidaa had feasts and visited other places. Wouldn’t it be fun to learn about schools in different countries? Or, what children your age do for fun. There are so many things to write about!
What We Have in Common
Every positive quality you have could be found in another like age
teenager. What are some of your positive qualities? Are you kind?
Smart? Helpful? A good athlete? A good friend? Draw your head on the globe body below and fill it in with your good qualities. Then, compare those qualities with another person. How many good qualities do you share in common? Next, compare your common, good qualities with another pair of friends. How many do the four of you have in common? The team of four with the most common, good qualities wins! People all over the world share good qualities in common, regardless of their different religions, cultures, races or other beliefs.