Day 9 – July 11, 2022

Ramat HaNegev & Be’er Sheva

Our first stop today was at kibbutz Hatzerim in the Negev. We were greeted by Iri who has been a member for 56 years and spoke to us about the history and values of this amazingly successful kibbutz. In the beginning it had many challenges but David Ben-Gurion convinced the members to stay and the laying of a water pipe allowed for drip irrigation to be invented and today the company Nevatim is a world global leader in drip irrigation.

Not only did Kibbutz Hatzerim change the face of the earth they also established the world’s leading jojoba factory, changing the face of people with their skin products. It is amazing to think in 1946 a group of people came to a bare hill in the desert and what started with “one lonely tree turned into a blooming garden.“

After the talk JNF Australia contributed to their global profits by buying out their products and we would have contributed more but Aba Yigal overtly expressed the need to flee…Yalla Yalla… !!!!!!

Our next stop was David Ben-Gurion’s hut at Sde Boker. David Ben-Gurion was the primary national founder of the State of Israel and in 1948 was elected first Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel.

In 1953 he moved to Sde Boker kibbutz. It was so meaningful to see his house preserved exactly as it was left and hear about his uncompromising drive to make and sustain the Jewish state.

After our interesting morning we drove to Ramat HaNegev High School where Jared White, who is a Partnership Manager, spoke about their community and school.

Ramat HaNegev school is the first public school opened since Ramat HaNegev was founded in 1943. They embrace the spirit of Ben-Gurion’s vision, providing the area with education, roads, waste disposal and more.

The high school is for years 9 to 12, this year being the first graduating class. Jared thanked the JNF for helping them and seeing the future for Israel.

We heard about other communities like Ramat Herzl who face challenges but are committed to the Zionist ideal, They described their area as the “outback of Israel “.

Our group was taken for an amazing lunch hosted by Kibbutz Mashabim. From there, we were taken to Kadesh Barnea who are very close to the border of Egypt.  They grow 75% of Israel’s cherry tomatoes as well as pineapples, strawberries and other products such as wines and cheese. Currently Egypt is fighting  ISIS near the border and Israel is working with the Egyptian army to maintain peace.

Our group then proceeded to the Ashalim Solar Plant which combines 3 kinds of energy: solar thermal energy, photovoltaic energy, and
natural gas. It is interesting to note that half of Israel uses green electricity and that it is compulsory for all homes in Israel to have solar panels.

Israel’s value for nature is demonstrated here, where they built the Solar tower around 6 existing Acacia trees.

Our day trip ended with a visit to the Sheizaf community. Mayor Eran Doron spoke about the opportunities for new families to settle in the Negev, naming 4 main points they can offer families:

  1. Affordable housing
  2. Good education
  3. Job opportunities
  4. Sense of community

The presentation ended with Israel’s future dream to join all communities together, thinking out of the box and increasing the population in the Negev.

Today showed us that the vision of David Ben-Gurion to develop the Negev as an important region is being realised. As we go to sleep on the last night before our tour ends, our minds and hearts are full of gratitude for the gift JNF has given.

Jo Jacobson (Moriah College), Bracha Kadoury (BJE), Carolina Townshend (Montefiore Jewish Home)