The AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel), Southern Region (despite its official title) welcomes and serves all English speakers in the south of Israel; currently, the membership also includes people from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, etc. The Be’er-Sheva office, with the experienced regional immigrant-absorption counselor, Miriam Green, is located in the Yud-Aleph Community Center at 11 Mordekhai Namir St. (#9 bus line), 08-6433953, and firstname.lastname@example.org. Members receive regular online regional and national newsletters. The AACI national website is at http://www.aaci.org.il.
AACI also provides a wide range of English language social & cultural activities for new residents and all English-speaking members. These include the AACI English Reading Library (over 6000 titles, including classics, best-sellers, biographies, all genres for all ages, large-print, simple English, etc.); English lectures (every Thurs. 16:00-18:00 at the Payis Seniors’ Club at the rear of the Wizo Women’s Center, 10 NIS cover charge), and musical events; communal holiday celebrations; and other clubs, such as: Scrabble, Quilting, Healthy living, etc.; AACI kosher guided tours in Israel and abroad; biweekly English Bible classes given by Rabbi Baruch (Bernie) Gold; “Voices Israel” poetry meetings, and many others – http://aacisouth.wixsite.com/aaci-southern-branch/everything-english.
Since 1995, and together with the Jewish National Fund (JNF, a.k.a. Keren ha-Kayemet le-Yisra’el, or KKL) the Southern Branch of AACI started and maintains an ever-growing grove in Lahav Forest in the Negev, planted with funds contributed by AACI members and friends in honor of special people or occasions (e.g., birthdays, bar/bat mitsvahs, retirement, Tu bi-Shevat, recovery from an illness or surviving an injury, etc.). For each contribution for trees planted, the donor or honoree receives a formal certificate in attestation.
There is an online English-language Internet discussion group, commonly known as “Anglo Be’er-Sheva,” to which one may subscribe: email@example.com.
A number of other English-language clubs also meet regularly. An English-Speaking Seniors’ Social Club meets on Thursdays from 16:00-18:00 for coffee, conversation and sometimes to hear a guest lecturer in the Payis Seniors’ Club adjacent to the ruddy Wizo Women’s Center at the corner of Rager Blvd. and Weizman St. in the Aleph neighborhood – 08-6422915, 08-6272593. An English Readers’ Club reviews books on the last Tuesday of every month – 08-6433953.
There are also a number of different ‘Anglo’ sports teams, like:
“The Flying Camels Ultimate Frisbee Team” (founded ca.2005), managed by Noam Lasker (054-7739954), consists of men, women and children who play together at the Micha Reiser Sports Complex (adjacent to the Kunkhiyah) on Etsel Blvd. In 2017, the 1st National Ultimate Frisbee Competition is being held in Be’er-Sheva, in hopes that it will become an annual mid-Sukkot vacation event. Attendance is free and the public is invited to Reiser Field – www.facebook.com/pg/Flying-Camels-136056803115366/about.
Be’er-Sheva even has an American-style football team “The Black Swarm” (Heb., “ha-Nehil ha-Shahor” (founded unofficially 2009) playing in the official Football League of Israel (FLI) since 2011 under the auspices of the NPO “Negev Football” – 054-763-8696.
“The Be’er-Sheva Braves” baseball team – firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Be’er-Sheva Cricket Club” – www.isracricket.co.il/C0001; “Be’er-Sheva Men’s Premier Lacrosse League” (IPLL) that have been Israel’s major-league champions in 2016 and 2017 – http://www.facebook.com/Beershevalax; etc.
LOGON – Light Opera of the Negev (founded 1981) puts on a semi-professional production of a different operetta or musical each year in English (with Hebrew translation). The players, singers & dancers are volunteer amateurs of all ages and from diverse backgrounds. LOGON is always on the lookout for new talent.
Mitzi Geffen, an outstanding English teacher, encourages the learning of the English language by means of the annual plays or musicals she produces at “Ulpanat Amit” – a highschool for religious girls and at Amit Junior High. She also writes original English plays, such as “The Case of the Missing Taffy” (2006).
Academic English language and literature studies are available at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The Kaye Regional Teachers’ College trains and certifies English teachers and holds an Annual Israel National English Teaching Conference, attended by Israeli English teachers and the publishers of English-teaching textbooks and other materials. The Beit Yatziv (Open University) Campus in the Old City also houses the Experiential School for English Language Studies, which provides English enrichment classes for children in the 2nd-8th grades – 08-6277444, http://www.beityatziv.co.il. Additionally, there are a few private schools that teach spoken English, such as: Berlitz – www.berlitz.co.il and Wall Street English – wallstreetinstitute.com.
English libraries, periodicals & bookstores
The AACI English Regional Public Reading Library, with over 6000 titles (including classics, best-sellers, biographies, all genres for all ages, large-print, simple English, etc.) is run by AACI volunteers. For information – 08-6433953. Extra books often sold for just a few shekels.
The “American (Multimedia) Corner” at the Be’er-Sheva Public Library, located next to the local “Conservatorium” (conservatory of music) in the Bet neighborhood, includes books, music, movies and occasionally hosts guest lectures in English by American authors, illustrators, etc. – 08-6277899, email@example.com.
The BGU Zalman Aranne Central Library grants adults free access to English literature and to books and periodicals on English language, literature and literary criticism and provides a comfortable place to sit, read and/or research – https://in.bgu.ac.il/aranne/Pages/default.aspx.
The weekend Jerusalem Post (sold on Friday mornings) includes a special “Metro Section” that focuses on the south of Israel. It’s not available everywhere, but may be found at the Central Egged Bus Station and in the “Gilat Center” Supermarket (in the Daled neighborhood). [Please let me know where else it can be bought.]
“Mini Book” buys and sells used English books and school books. It’s located at 93 ha-Histadrut St. in the Old City – 077-2150044, http://www.minibook.book2.co.il.