Beer-Sheva Firsts and Feats

Over the years, the City of Be’er-Sheva has won many national and international prizes in recognition of its numerous accomplishments and exemplary actions:

In September 2021, the special Park of Dreams” (a sterile rehabilitation area), built especially for children suffering from/and being treated for cancer, was inaugurated and awarded 4 stars for upholding Israeli Regulation 5281 for ‘sustainability‘ according to the Israeli building code–making it the first ‘green’ educational facility to reach that level.              

In August 2021, the City of Be’er-Sheva was awarded a Mark of Excellence by the World Zionist Organization for its work promoting Jewish emigration to Israel and for the successful absorption of new immigrants in the city.   

Also in August 2021, the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was ranked by the “Emerging Group as no. 10 in the World in the field of Computer Sciences (in the list of the top 150 academic institutions that give degrees in Information Science and as no. 2 in Israel). In addition, BGU was ranked no. 21 in the world for online professional training and 26th in the category of online entrepreneurship programs.

In May 2021, the City of Be’er-Sheva was awarded the “Do Justice and Love Charity” Mark of Distinction in the presence of the emeritus head of the Israel Supreme Court (Dalia Dorner) by the Israel State Attorney’s Office, the  Office of the President of Israel (Re’uven Rivlin), and the Israel Center for Local Government, in recognition of the municipal investment in the development of voluntary (free) legal services for its local residents.

In March 2021, the City of Be’er-Sheva opened public access to Israel’s largest, man-made lake, covering ca. 5,261 sqm (1,300 acres), at the center of the Negev Desert, filled with recycled sewage and runoff rainwater. This lake site serves as a bird sanctuary and birding observatory, as well as a place offering light boating. Developed by the Be’er-Sheva Municipality and sponsored by the JNF.

In February 2021, Be’er-Sheva became the first city in Israel to open the Duet Center” – The Israel Center for the Research and Treatment of Preschool Children on the BGU Campus, employing: researchers, therapists, educators and legal experts, currently headed by Prof. Na’amah Atzaba-Poria.  

As of July 2020 (and despite the COVID-19 pandemic), Be’er-Sheva is the leading city in Israel, with 92% recycling of product packaging (via the orange containers), as reported by the “Tamir” Recycling Corporation.  Over the past 3 decades, Be’er-Sheva has taken the lead by successfully initiating almost all the various types of urban recycling: paper/cardboard; plastic bottles; batteries; non-refundable glass; used clothing; electronic devices, etc., by means of readily accessible neighborhood recycling hubs, with all the different types of recycling bins clustered together [something I personally promoted for over a decade in the Municipal Environmental Protection Committee, as a local ‘green’ activist].

According to “Dun & Bradstreet” (March 2020), the Be’er-Sheva City Council has the highest percentage of women city-council members (37%) of all the large cities in Israel, with 9 of the 12 members being of the feminine persuasion, plus 1 of 4 deputy mayors, as well.

In February 2020, the Be’er-Sheva Municipality was awarded for its “excellence in computer ‘bigdata’ analysis–commercial & demographic IT” in 2019, from among hundreds of projects rated in Israel by the Professional Committee of the online high-tech news portal since 1981: “The People” (known in Hebrew as: “PC People and Computers”) at https://www.pc.co.il/ 

In July 2019, the Be’er-Sheva Municipality was awarded the “Prize for Transparency in Local Government” by the Israel Ministry of Justice, for granting the general public access to most of the local, city data online via the new multilingual Be’er-Sheva municipal website: https://www.beer-sheva.muni.il/Pages/default.aspx.   

The Be’er-Sheva Municipality was cited by the Israel Ministry of the Interior in 2019 for its effective efforts towards the prevention of sexual abuse against women.

In 2019, the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was ranked by PitchBook Financial Data among the top 50 universities in the world for start-ups founded by its graduates. These 214-plus start-up companies include, for example: Exaware, Moovit, Innoviz Techn ologies, JFrog, Valens, etc.  

In 2019, the first beer shop and brewery, Beit ha-Birah (lit., house of beer ) was founded in Be’er-Sheva by  Gilad Ne’eman and his friends, and their unique local beer is called Haluts hadash” (lit., the new pioneer). Beit ha-Birah sells over 160 brands of beer. Located on he-Haluts St. in the Old City. Open Mon .-Thur. 11:00-13:00 and Fridays from 9:00-15:00.

In 2018Be’er-Sheva leads the major Israeli cities with the highest percentage of women elected and serving on its City Council (33%).                                                                     

In 2012, the city was awarded the “Design Medal” by the international architecture and design magazine “Domus” in conjunction with: Bezalel’s Dept. of Architecture; the Technion’s Dept. of Urban Planning and Construction; the Israeli Union of Landscape Architects; the Planners Union of Israel; the United Architects’ Association; the Center for Local Government; the Union of Urban Engineers; and the Israel Ministry of Construction and Housing–for the many aesthetic and interesting water features across the city. 

It has also been granted a good deal of international acclaim, such as being declared: “one of the 7 cities of the future on Earth” by the T3 Advisors and in Brandeis International School’s first Global Technology Emerging Markets Study.

In fact, the City of Be’er-Sheva was awarded the sum of $500,000 for 2017 and again for 2018 by the Bloomberg Family Foundation(New York, NY)to be used for the promotion of urban renewal, updating infrastructures and cleaning & maintaining public areas.

Special recognition of Be’er-Sheva as the paragon of animal rights & welfare – In 2018, the Israel Knesset’s Animal Rights Coalition chose the City of Be’er-Sheva as the Israeli city best exemplifying animal rights and welfare, and invited Mayor Ruvik Danilovich to speak about the many enacted & functioning pro-animal projects.

As of 1.1.2018, the Saban Birth and Maternity Center at the Soroka/University Medical Center has once again broken the Israeli national record for annualSoroka Medical Center deliveries, having delivered a total of 17,144 babies in Be’er-Sheva in 2017That’s about 47 babies per day! This includes ca.346 pairs of twins and 6 sets of triplets, born in the 25 private birthing suites. The Soroka Medical Center (founded 1959) is the second largest medical center in Israel that serves 60% of the country. Moreover, the Soroka complex is often awarded 5 starssoroka-landscaping for beauty in the “Beautiful Hospitals in a Beautiful Israel” Contesta propos, the staff at Soroka claim that natural beauty is both comforting and has a therapeutic effect.

Also as of 2017Be’er-Sheva is the foremost leader in engineering studies in Israel, with ca.8,000 engineering students.

Be’er-Sheva also heads the Israeli education charts with 1,470 high-school graduates who majored in social studies (social responsibility, civic action, community involvement), which is 65% of all Be’er-Sheva‘s 2017 high-school graduates–as opposed to the national average of 25% of all the annual graduates. 

BGU School of ManagementIn 2017, the BGU Dept. of Hotel and Tourism Management became the first Israeli academic department in its field to be ranked by the prestigious, annual “Shanghai Ranking” of the worlds’ universities (in 42nd place).

In 2017 alone, the city received an Israel Culture and Sports Prize; National Prize for Proper Management; and the Israel Minister of Interior’s Prize for Social Responsibility and Municipal Innovation

In 2017, a radical, new type of kindergarten called Yonah-Gan was founded by Rivka Mayodovnik-Snir, located in Be’er-Sheva’s Bet Yonah” Home for the Elderly, in which healthy oldsters mind preschoolers. This was modeled after a British Channel-4 TV program entitled “80 and four.” 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a ‘healthy city’ is one whose government puts health high on its agenda. The goal of the WHO Healthy Cities Network is to help cities develop and promote a comprehensive and systematic policy with special emphasis on the needs of vulnerable groups. In 2008, the City of Be’er-Sheva became a member of this international network.

Be’er-Sheva has successfully integrated new immigrant Jews (religious and secular) from 72 countries of origin (from all the continents), including the last remnants of the Jewish communities of Albania, Iran & Yemen, along with resident Christians, Muslims, Druze, etc. to form an ethnically diverse society–all living comfortably in heterogenous neighborhoods, working together productively, in an international, pluralistic, pluralism-in-actionmultilingual & multicultural environment. In fact, the International Metropolis Organization paid a special visit to Be’er-Sheva to learn how we did it so successfully. 

Be’er-Sheva is an exemplary leader in Israeli voluntarism and civic action, inBeersheba volunteers 2011 which all the volunteer organizations (NPOs) are coordinated by the umbrella organization “Re’em,” situated on the secondreem-national-logo floor of “Yad la-Banim” (located near City Hall), Sun.-Thurs. 9:00-12:00. Chairperson: Shoshana Agajany; Acting Director: Alin Haviv, 08-6416619, 054-4214251.

Be’er-Sheva‘s E. Levant Chess Center (founded 1973 by Eliahu Levant, a.k.a. “Mr.Chess Club of Beer-Sheva Chess”) is renowned in all the international chess circles for having the second-highest rate of Grand Masters per capita in a city the World (9 and counting, as of 2017)–a longstanding chess superpower. The current director is Ilana David (b.1961-), who is also the Captain of the Israel Women’s Chess Team. The center has players aged 4-90 (in 42 competitive groups)–08-6277431. In 2021, the Be’er-Sheva Chess Club won the Israel National Cup, yet again, for the 30+ time since its establishment. In 2020, our Grand Master Nitzan Steinberg  (b.1998-, ranked 12th in Israel) took 1st place in two international Internet competitions: 1) in memory of Shahar Arad and 2) “Chess4Solidarity,” together with another of our local Grand Masters, Evgeny Postny (b.1981-). In 2021, at Israel’s 40th Annual National Chess Tournament, the first places were won by Grandmaster Victor Michalevski (b.1972-), ranked #171 in the world, and Grandmaster Yulia Shwaiger (b.1994-), ranked by FIDE since 2017 as an International Master (IM) and a Women’s Grandmaster (WGM). She is the reigning Women’s Champion in Israel from 2018-2021…?

Haim Shafir - TakiTogether with Haim Shafir (b.1950-), who created the popular card gameTaki card game “Taki” in 1983, the “Lunada” Interactive Children’s Museum has, thus far, sponsored the first two (2016 & 2017, hopefully of many), annual National Taki Competitions in Be’er-Sheva.

In 2016, Beershevan choreographer & entrepreneur Liran Mikhaeli initiated, with the support of the City of Be’er-Sheva & the International Fringe Theater, the first “Fringe Dance Competition,” open to all original works by independent Israeli choreographers and dancers. In 2017, the winning dance “Orpheo, created by Idan Cohen won the 10,000 NIS Best Fringe Dance Prize; the dance “Eshte’olah” created by Sivan Peled won the 2,000 NIS “Kivunim” Unique Dance Prize; and the Outstanding Dancer Award went to Dana Zekharyah.

“Glidah Be’er-Sheva” (Be’er-Sheva Ice-Cream) is a home-made icecream and frozen-yogurt parlor located on Hadassah St. in the Old City. It was glidah-beer-shevafounded in 1950 by Polish immigrant Yulia Rotenberg (1912-Glida Beer-Sheva #22005) and has become yet another symbol of the city, with branches across Be’er-Sheva and Israel. Today second- and third-generation family members (Sharon, Shirah & Itamar Bar) carry on the family business.

In 2006, the Be’er-Sheva factory “Mishkan ha-Tekhelet,” located in the “Emeq Sarah” Industrial Park, produced the largest woolen Jewish prayer-shawl (talit) in the world8 x 12 meters (=ca.26 x 39 ft.), to fill an order placed by the Gur Hassidic community in New York. It is officially listed in the 2006 Guinness Book of Records. The factory has a prayer-shawl-factoryVisitors’ Center where one can see how Jewish prayer-shawls are made – 08-6274161.

Since “Our future is inspired by our past” – join the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites http://www.shimur.org.il. You are welcome to come to the Be’er-Sheva Office of the Society, now located in the Old City at Mordey ha-Geta’ot 74 and/or call Michal Leibovich at 052-7271053.

 

Author: etheleakatzenell

I came about 45 years ago from Philadelphia, PA (a city of American founding fathers) to Be'er-Sheva, Israel (the city of Abraham, the biblical Patriarch) and have never regretted that move. Be'er-Sheva is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. My four adult children and 5 grandchildren, all born here, still live and work happily in Be'er-Sheva. This is a place of endless opportunity and open horizons.

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