Beer-Sheva Firsts & Feats

Over the years, the City of Be’er-Sheva has won many national prizes:

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 around Be’er-Sheva. I2017 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 2018Be’er-Sheva leads the major Israeli cities with the highest percentage of women elected and serving on its City Council (33%).

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).

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). As of chess club-1January 2018, Be’er-Sheva remains well-represented by the promising, young grandmaster Maxim Maxim Rodshtein 2018Rodshtein (b.1989-), currently ranked no.2 in Israel, after participating in two Israeli teams that brought back international Olympic gold medals and ranked no.50 in the World for his strength in the FIDE international chess ranking – 08-6277431.

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 – www.shimur.org.il. 

בית טוביהו3For example, we’re currently trying to save the house of the first Jewish Mayor of Be’er-ShevaDavid Tuviyahu (located in the Old City) from destruction for historic preservation.

 

  

Poetry & Poets

Where to read/hear poetry in Be’er-Sheva?

English poetry:

The southern region branch of “Voices Israel”the English poetry society – meets about once a month in Be’er-Sheva at someone’s home. At each intimate meeting, the poets in Voices Israelattendance take turns reading their works-in-progress to their fellow poets, who try to provide constructive criticism; these are informal, friendly workshops. More members are always welcome. Sometimes, certain poems are unanimously chosen for voices-israelpublication in the monthly national Voices Newsletter. Occasionally, public English poetry-reading evenings are planned and held at various venues. Members are also invited to submit their best poems to various national or international contests, anthologies, or publications. Several of our local members have garnered prestigious national and international prizes – http://www.voicesisrael.com. The AACI and poet Mark Elliott Shapiro have also occasionally organized several evenings of English poetry reading.

Hebrew poetry:

There are 2 main regional Hebrew poetry clubs active in Be’er-Sheva. One is the Hebrew Poets Club headed by Eliazar Grinshpoun. It usually meets on the firstpublic-library-beer-sheva Thursday of each month at 19:00 at the Public Library on ha-Meshahrerim Way. Some of its members who live in Be’er-Sheva are: Nissan Abadi, Perla Aharoni, Sophia Barg, David Kahiri, Leah Katzenell, Uri Meir and Rivka Reuven-Gavrieli. At each meeting, the poets in attendance take turns reading their works-in-progress to their fellow poets, who try to provide constructive criticism; these are informal, friendly workshops. More members are always welcome  – eliazar_g@hotmail.com.

The second is a poetry group that holds poetry evenings a number of times per year at the student pub “Coca Brewpub” at 50 Arlozorov St. in the Gimel neighborhood. These are emceed evenings, run by Ilana Gorodissky, at which the invited poets take the stage in turn and present their finished works to the audience. Each one of these poetry evenings has a particular predetermined theme and the relevant poems to be read must be submitted in advance for approval and inclusion in the program. A printed brochure of the poetry being read at each evening is usually provided at the event to the attendees. A few of the regular, Be’er-Shevan participants are: Daniel Lachish, Irit Lev, Racheli Madar, Adam Ratzon, Yaron Ruso and Iftach Zilka.

Some published resident Be’er-Sheva poets

Michael Adam was born in 1939 in Paris, France. He survived the Drancy michael-adamConcentration Camp as a small child during WWII. He immigrated to Israel in 1958 and reached Be’er-Sheva in 1965. He has been writing French poetry for decades and working with his wife as French/Hebrew translators.  

talma-alyagon-roz Talma Alyagon-Roz is a prolific Hebrew poet and songwriter who wrote a Hebrew poem entitled “Be’er-Sheva, my city” set to music and sung in 1969 by Yosi Moustaki (b.1939), “Singer of the Negev” and Be’er-Sheva‘s first song writer – www.youtube.com/watch?v=jd1pXTMhMVA.

Zohar Arbel resided in Be’er-Sheva until the late 1980s and published a book of his Hebrew poetry in 1988, before leaving for the United States. Eventually, I lost touch, but I had the privilege of translating several of his poems into English before he went. My favorite one follows:

“To endure”

I didn’t want to stay in your memories./ Too soon to put away the sounds and the sights./ Still want to touch, to tread the same paths, to go astray/ coming back to you tired, dusty./ Head on shoulder lay, dangling like a cloak on your body.

[Translation c1988 Ethelea (Pinhas) Katzenell]

Shamai Atsmoni who immigrated to Be’er-Sheva from Romania, published a book of Hebrew poems and short-stories in 2007. 

Albert Ben Yitshak immigrated from the former Soviet Union in 1993. He has published 7 books of his Hebrew poetry from 1999-2017.

Ruthi Ben Yitshak Galkin Sabo (“Rutibi,” 1946-2009) was born in Israel toOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA two Holocaust survivors. She settled in Be’er-Sheva in 1968. From 1977-1983, she published 3 books of her Hebrew poetry.

 

meir-cherniakMeir Cherniak (1923-2003) immigrated from Russia to Israel and served in the Palmah from 1941-1949, receiving an “Award for Bravery” in 1973. In 1993, he published a book of his Hebrew poems on the Negev Desert, and the last poem in the collection was entitled “Be’er-Sheva.”

Moti Davidi, a former Director of the Be’er-Sheva Public Library, published a book of his Hebrew poetry. Some of his poems have been set to music and sung by various singers.

Miriam Green immigrated to Israel from the USA in 1991 and, in 2001 in Be’er-Sheva, she became the AACI Counselor for New Immigrants and, by default, the also miriam-green-of-aaciSouthern Region Coordinator for all the English-speakers in the Negev. She has published a number of her English poems in international journals and has won several prestigious awards, such as the “2013 Reuben Rose Poetry Prize.” She also coordinates the Southern Region Branch of “Voices Israel.”

eliezer-grinshpounDr. Eliazar Grinshpoun, the founder and Chairman of the Hebrew Poetry Club of Be’er-Shevahas published books of his own Hebrew and English poems and also anthologies of the Hebrew poetry of various club members. He is active in local politics, literary education and social improvement.  

David Kahiri published a collection of his Hebrew poems in 2013.

Ethelea Katzenell immigrated to Be’er-Sheva in 1972 from Philadelphia, PA. She’s a Be’er-Sheva local-patriot and even wrote a Hebrew anthem for the City of Be’er-Sheva that was accepted by Mayor Ijo Rager in 1996. She writes English and Hebrew poetry; several of her poems in both languages have been published in Israel. She has also done Hebrew/English and English/Hebrew poetry translations for 6 published poets. 

sasha-pazDr. Sasha Paz (1927-2017) left Europe and made Be’er-Sheva his home. He was not only a professional psychologist and a lover of life, but a prolific writer of Hebrew novels and Hebrew poetry (although sadly most of his novels and all of his poems will have to be published posthumously). 

Rivka Reuven-Gavriel published a collection of her Hebrew poetry in 2017.

Mark Elliott Shapiro immigrated from Toronto to Be’er-Sheva in 1970. He’s a freelance translator/editor and works for the Haaretz newspaper’s English edition. His Masters’ thesis at BGU was a comparison of Holocaust poetry by Israeli poet Dan Pagis and mark-elliott-shapiroCanadian-Jewish poet A. M. Klein. He’s been writing English and Hebrew poetry for many years. He publishes his Hebrew and/or English poems weekly in Congregation “Eshel Avraham”s weekly pre-Sabbath synagogue bulletin.

Tamar (“Tammy Tut”) Talmon (b.1994-) arrived on the Be’er-Sheva scene in 2014 as a practitioner of the spoken word’ (a cross-breed between poetry & rap) and a participant in ‘poetry slams’ (I suggest watching the 2017 movie: “Love beats rhymes”).  

Prof. Adi Wolfson is a senior lecturer at SCE and a leading eco-activist. Thus far, he has published 4 books of his Hebrew poetry. Many of his poems have been adi-wolfsontranslated into English (some by Ethelea Katzenell) and some have been published in German. Quite a few of his poems deal with Be’er-Sheva and the Negev desert environment.   

 

 

 

Dance, Dancers & Dancing

Live dance performances

Professional and international dance performances are regularly held in Be’er-Sheva performing-arts-hall-21at the Center for the Performing Arts (on Rager Blvd.), which offers an annual dance series, including a variety of dance troupes in different dance styles from Be’er-Sheva, Israel and abroad.

The Be’er-Sheva “MiKan” (lit., from here) Fringe Theater (founded 2010) is located in a cheerful blue building in the Old City. It promotesFringe theater ‘fringe’ art, music, drama & dance, and holds all manner of open public events, including special events and activities for children and an annual International Fringe Festival (IFF) – http://www.iffb7.com, 08-6466657.

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.

Adult dance troupes/companies

Kamea Dance CompanyKamea (lit., talisman; founded 2002) Modern Dance Company is an internationally acclaimed  dance troupe born at the Bat Dor Be’er-Sheva Municipal Dance Center in the Gimel neighborhood at 13 ha-Shalom St.  “Kamea” performs original choreographies (mostly choreographed by award-winning Tamir Ginz) in the Be’er-Sheva Hall for the Performing Arts, as part of the annual dance series, across Israel, and around the world. Occasionally, they perform special dance shows for a young audience. Kameaperformed at the prestigious Almada International Dance Festival in August 2017, despite BDS threats. On October 23rd,  2017, “Kamea,” together with a guest choir “Kantorei Barmen-Gemark” with German opera soloists (from Be’er-Sheva‘s sister city Wuppertal, Germanyand a guest orchestra Bayer’s “L’Arte del Mondo” (from Leverkusen, Germany) premiered a new Ginz choreography entitled: “St. Matthew Passion 2727” to Johann Sebastian Bach‘s sacred oratorio. The music for their latest piece “Mnemosyne” (2018), choreographed by Tamir Ginz, was specially composed by Avi Belleli.

In June 2017, “Kamea” held a special, open-to-the-public one-day happening, consisting of dance classes with the troupe’s dancers and well-known Israeli modern-dance choreographers Tamir Ginz & Ohad Naharin (originator of ‘gaga‘), & hip-hop master Tal Landsman, as well as intimate studio performances. It is hoped that this will become an annual event. As of 2017, the 17 dancers in “Kamea” are: Ofek Admoni, Adi Avitan, Sagi Baleli, Jonatan Bukschtein, Noa Dahan, Tom David, Marco De Alteriis, Noam Ephron, Lorris Eichinger, Eldar Elgrably, Einav Kringel, Alma Lauer, Lou Landre, Rona Lerner, Roni Sheps, Peter Starr, and Elliot Thompson  – 08-6231521, http://www.kameadance.com. 

The BGU student modern dance company “Pola” (named after Paula Ben-Gurion; BGU logo2founded 2009). It has given modern dance performances of original choreographies (mostly choreographed by Dedi Alufer & Eyal Dadon): on the BGU Campus; in the Be’er-Sheva Hall for the Performing Arts; and at the “MiKan” Fringe Theater“Pola” was the only Israeli dance troupe invited to perform at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe (though they did not attend for security reasons) – in.bgu.ac.il/Dekanat/Pages/dance.aspx.

“Sol” Dance Company (founded 2016), an alternative modern dance ensemble comprising 8 dancers, is temporarily  located at the “MiKan” Fringe Theater in the Old City until the House of Dance is ready (an Ottoman-Turlisk building currently under renovation on Gershon St.). The dancers include: Roni Ben Shimon, Eyal Dadon, Nadav Gal, Madison Hoke, Yuko Imazaike, Sian Olles, Shay Partush, & Gil Shachar.  Choreographers: CEO Dedi Alufer (b.1973-) & Eyal Dadon (b.1989-). Sol Dance Co.“Sol” has given excellent performances in Israel and joint performances with the Beijing Dance Theater in China. Time Out Shanghai magazine dedicated an article to Sol, to choreographer Dedi Alufer & to the dance entitled Mekhirat hisul” (lit., sell-out sale) http://www.sol-dance-company.org, 050-4448437.

Childrens’ performing dance groups

“Dorot” Modern Dance Company (founded 1995) at the Makif Gimel High-School and the NOA Dance Ensemble at the Makif Aleph High-School were both established by Be’er-Sheva-born dancer-choreographer Dedi Alufer (b.1973-), who also produced a number of musicals from 1999 and is currently the CEO of the “Sol” Dance Company (founded 2016). The Dance Center at Makif Gimel is currently directed by local classical ballet dancer & choreographer Yishai Kersanti (b.1986-).

Holit Dance Troupe 2018Holit” (lit., sand dune; founded 2005) – Israeli and Modern Dance Theater, consisting of hundreds of young dancers from Be’er-Sheva’s high-schools. Holit” performances combine many styles of dance to create prize-winning dance-theater choreographies (mostly by Liran Michaely) that are performed across Israel and abroad – 054-2202088.

“Shalvah” – Georgian Folk-Dance Troupe (founded 1973) was named after the late Shalva Georgian Dance Troupefounder, Shalvah Ephremashvili. The dancers are mainly family members plus other Georgian dancers. Director, choreographer: David Ephremashvili – 052-2709699, 08-6414051.

“Ayalot ha-Negev” (lit., Negev gazelles; founded 1980) Israeli Representative Folk-Dance Ensemble, consists of  hundreds of young dancers from the 1st-12th grades (divided by age into four performing troupes) and has represented Be’er-Sheva and the State of Israel on Israeli television and at festivals and in folk-dance competitions (like Folkmoot) in over 78 countries the world-over, often winning prizes. In 2016, they represented Israel in an internationalGrand Pris” children’s dance competition in Bulgaria, where they won both prizes and accolades. Choreographies by Moti Alkis and others – 050-5516015, 08-6433866.

In addition, “Kivunim”  the municipal company for recreation culture in Be’er-Sheva, has performing dance troupes for children & young people in various local community centers, such as: “Top Dance” (founded ca.2009), a municipal contemporary dance troupe – 052-3676438; “Pargod” (lit., curtain; founded 1980), a representative Be’er-Sheva urban dance troupe – 050-4448437, http://www.pargod.co.il; “Horah Alumot” (lit., sheaves’ horah; founded 2017) and “Horah ha-Yovel” (lit., the jubilee horah; founded 2017), both mixed Israeli folk-dance and movement troupes – 08-6433388.

Some key figures in promoting dance in Be’er-Sheva

The ‘father’ of Israeli folk-dancing in Be’er-Sheva and among the founders of the Yossi Abuhav 2010Association of Israeli Folk-Dance Instructors & Choreographers was Yossi Abuhav (1937-2019), who was the first Israeli folk-dancing instructor in the city and every Wednesday evening an ever-growing crowd gathered to learn and dance in circles, couples, and lines (debkas) with the warmhearted, charismatic instructor. 

***The very evening of the Wednesday I had arrived as a new immigrant at the (now defunct) Altshuler Absorption Center in the Old City of Be’er-Sheva in August 1972, I had followed the music, found the folk-dancing, and joined Yossi‘s inner circle of dancers. I’d been doing Israeli folk-dancing since the age of 5 and was a U.S.-certified Fred Berk Israeli folk-dance instructor. To the surprise of all those present, I knew all the dances they were doing. Yossi had spotted me dancing in  the outermost circle and had immediately put my knowhow to good use–using me as a dance-partner when teaching the couples dances and to replace him, on occasion, when he was ill or abroad. Once the other well-known Israeli instructors/choreographers heard that I wasEthelea Katzenell portrait translating dances for Yossi to teach abroad, I was tasked with translating their new dances into English as well, so they might teach them at the Jewish summer camps, etc.; I was glad to be of service.

In 1974Yossi and I [my name was Leah Pinhas at that time] were the only two Be’er-Sheva representatives to the Founding Conference that established the above Israeli Instructors’ Association. In 1975Yossi initiated a local Israeli-Dance Instructors’ Certification Coursewhich I also completed for Israeli certification on the last day of my first 42-week long pregnancy–while having a contraction every 15-20My beautiful picture minutes throughout the practical dance testWhen the late Bens Carmel issued me my Israeli instructor’s certificate at the end, he said he should have prepared another mini-certificate for my ‘inner dancer’…

Some of those who continue to carry the torch of Israeli folk-dancing, following Ori Yinon & Haim Vaknin1in Yossi Abuhav‘s graceful and ethusiastic footsteps in Be’er-Sheva, are: Ori Yinon (b.1956-), Haim Vaknin, Gary Rom, Yom-Tov Ohayon, Moshe Kugman, David Ben-David, Rafi Ziv, Kobi Azulai, and many others, with much appreciated, expert choreographic help from frequent visitor Shlomo Maman. With every passing year, the number of accredited Shlomo Maman2instructors and recognized choreographers has grown and there are new generations of dancers dancing all across the Israeli folk-dancing1city throughout the year–in Be’er-Sheva, on any given week-night–there’s a group dancing somewhere in the city. This brings me great joy!   

In fact, Yossi Abuhav‘s Be’er-Sheva-born son, Or Abuhav (b.1966-) began dancing folk-dancing in high-school and then studied classical dance at Bat Dor. After his I.D.F. service, he was immediately welcomed into the Bat Sheva” National (Representative) Modern Dance Troupe. Then, he danced in Europe with the Swiss Ballet Company and then Barcelona‘s “Metros” Company; finally returning to Israel to dance in the Kibbutz Ballet Company. At age 30, he retired as a performing dOr Abuhav at Bat Dorancer and went to study dance instruction at the Laban Center in London. Afterwards, Or  returned to Be’er-Sheva to serve as ‘rehearsal master’ at Bat Dor (2008-2015) and between 2005-2014, he choreographed 5 dances for “Kamea” special children’s matinees. Since 2015, Or is the Director of the Bat Dor Be’er-Sheva Municipal Dance Center. 

Adar Meron - flamencoAdar Meron (b.1980-, in Be’er-Sheva) studied flamenco culture in Spain and brought it back to Be’er-Sheva and Israel. In 2012, she first brought 4 flamenco dancers from Spain to perform in Israel. Now, as a trained falmenco dancer, teacher & choreographer, she has her own flamenco dance school in Be’er-Sheva, manages a flamenco dance troupe and mucial ensemble, and produces flamenco cultural performances. 

Eyal DadonEyal Dadon (b.1989- in Be’er-Sheva) is a graduate of Bat Dor and is a modern dancer/choreographer who has created choreographies for the BGU student dance troupe “Pola” and who dances in and choreographs works for the “MiKan” Fringe Theater’s dance troupe “Sol.”  He has danced in “Kamea” and in the “Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.” In 2013, his dance solo “Intro” won the first prize in Eurograde, Bulgaria and in 2015, his work Pishpesh” took first prize at the “International Choreography Dance Competition” held in Hannover, Germany. Dadon has also produced choreographies, such as the dance “Same, same” for the prestigious Stanislavski Ballet of Moscow that won the 2017 “Russian Creation of the Year” Prize. Dadon‘s works have been and are also currently being performed in China, Germany, Hungary, Russia and elsewhere across the globe – https://www.eyaldadon.com.

Dance classes

The “Bat Dor” Be’er-Sheva Municipal Dance Center (founded 1973), currently located in the Gimel neighborhood (13 ha-Shalom St.), has a professional staff that teaches bat-dor-dance-studio1classical ballet, modern and contemporary dance mostly to children and young people – 08-6231521. There is also a class for adult & retired dancers taught by former “Kamea” dancer and now ‘rehearal master’, Eyal Ganon (in which I’m honored to participate). As of 2017, Bat Dor” has taught over 11,000 dance students, has produced a world-renowned Be’ershevan dance company “Kamea” and world-class dancers, such as: Or Abuhav Swiss Ballet; Sivan Barkai – Ballet de Monte Carlo; Natanel Bellaish – Broadway New York, winner of Natanel Balaish in actionIsrael’s “Born to Dance 3;” Eyal Dadon, Dani Eshel, Oz Mulai, Anat Oz Kibbutz Dance Co.; Aviad Herman – Gothenberg Opera Ballet; Lior Horev & Gili Neria Israel Ballet; Shimon KalichmanRoyal Ballet; Yishai Kersanti Israel Opera Project;  Lior LevStuttgart Ballet; Amir LevyNew York Metropolitan Opera Ballet; Rafi SaadiBallet Cullberg Sweden; Leah YanaiGothenberg Opera Balletand dancer-choreographers like: Or Abuhav, Eyal Dadon, Rafi Saadiand others. In 2018, “Bat Dor” ballerina, Lior Sheiner won 1st place in the Vancliffen “Attilas Akilas Silvester” International Ballet Competition held in Pietra Ligure, Italy.

“Kivunim” the municipal company for recreation culture in Be’er-Sheva offers anSalsa dancing for everyone assortment of dance classes in all the community centers (mostly for children and young people, but some also for adults): ballroom dancing, belly dancing, Indian classical dance, Israeli folk-dancing, Ballroom dancingsalsa and zumba classes, ballet, modern & jazz classes, Folkdancing for all 2breakdance, hip-hop, etc. – 08-6290060, ww.kivunim7.co.il/hugim. Israeli folk-dancing classes & sessions for adults, given by nationally accredited instructors, are also held at night in various high-school sports halls.

There are also a number of private fitness & dance studios, usually located in the Be’er-Sheva malls, that also offer an assortment of dance classes, for example: “Shape” Art & Exercise classesWellness Studio in the Aviha Mall – http://www.shape.2ya.com; “Kesem ha-Guf” (lit., the magic of the body), Center for Dance & Movement, that provided contemporary dancers for several TV shows and national and international events, located in Ne’ot Lon neighborhood – 08-6102998; and the “Dan Odiz College,” Studio for Dance Studies, that specializes in hip-hop and street dance, located in the “BIG” commercial center – 054-5850318, http://www.danodiz.co.il; and “Top Dance” at 54 Histadrut St., 052-3676438, and more.

Places for social dancing

The “Forum” Discotheque (opened 1988), located in structure no. 232 in the Kiryat Yehudit Commercial Area, is ranked as one of the 3 best discos in Israel. It’s open fromforum-discotheque 22.30 on Thursdays to 5:00 A.M. on Fridays and from Friday nights at 23:00 to 6:00 A.M. on Saturdays. It has 4 different halls: the main hall, the “Factor” dance bar, a gallery area, and the “Summer Factor,” each with different music and styles. There are special night shuttles to-and-from the Forum to prevent drunk or exhausted young drivers from taking the wheel – 08-6262555, www.facebook.com/forumclu.

“Back Yard Dance Bar,” exclusive members-only dance-bar & nightclub for the over-35s and ‘old fogies’, open Friday nights from 22:00 to dawn, with a live DJ. The entrance fee includes Moment Nightcluba drink and an open buffet. The dance music is nostalgic and covers a wide selection of styles, ranging from oldies-but-goodies and classic ballroom to Latin & Middle Eastern music. Located in the Rassco Center at 6 ha-Tikvah St. – 054-2643060.

The “Terminal” Russian Dance Bar with a former Soviet D.J. and a constant flow of alcoholic beverages (not suited to those who are sensitive to high decibels and cigarette smoke), located at 61 Herzl St. in the Old City. Open every Thursday-Saturday from 23:30-5:00 A.M. – 054-468-9644.

Dancewear and gear

Isradance (founded 1978) is located inside Aluf ha-Sport in “BIG” – 08-6231488 or 08-6287487.

 

 

 

 

Radio, TV, Films & Theater

Radio

Radio Darom (lit., south radio) was established in 1997 and may be heard at 95.8 FM, 97 FM & 101.5 FM and online – “That at-home sound.” It’s the only local and regional radio station Didi Harariin southern Israel and has ca.420,000 listeners. The most famous radio host on Radio Darom is Didi Harari (b.1956-). In 2010, the station won a prize for having the best current-affairs programming in Israel – http://www.radiodarom.co.il. He’s likely to host his own TV program in 2018.

Television

Some prominent radio and television personalities from/in Be’er-Sheva are: danny-kushmaro1newscasters –  Rina Matsli’ah (b.1956-), Danny Kushmaro (b.1968-), Gal Gabai (1970-), Amir Ivgi (b.1976-) & Almog Boker (b.1979-); weatherman Danny Doitch; sportscasters – Moshe Nir, Shlomi Daniel, Sharon Nissim Ron Kaplan; and our local ha-Po’el Be’er-Sheva sportscaster Mati Ben-David.

Rina Matsliah (b.1956-) from Be’er-Sheva, a journalist and a respected radio/TV news & political commentator, who covered the major peace talks and agreements, was Rina Matsliahpresented with the 2017 “Roaring Lion” Award by the Israel Association of Media Consultants and Public Relations (ISPRA), especially for her work uncovering the saga of the kidnapping of Yemenite babies and children. 

The Hebrew Israeli TV series “Zaguri Empire” created by Be’ershevan Maor Zaguri (b.1981-, in Be’er-Shevaran for two seasons (2014-2015), a total of 51 episodes, and was filmed entirely in Be’er-Sheva. It won an Israel TV Academy PrizeTom Cohen (b.1983-, in Be’er-Sheva), an internationally acclaimed musician and music producer, wrote the series’ theme song.

The 23rd chapter of the 5th season (2016) of the popular Israeli, Hebrew TV series Zvika Hadar fan of Ha-PoelHa-Poel Beersheva 2017Shemesh,” starring Be’er-Sheva-born celebrity Zvika Hadar was a parody on the fans of the Be’er-Sheva soccer team ha-Po’el Be’er-Sheva.

 

Almog Boker (b.1979-, in Be’er-Sheva), a veteran local writer and newscaster for Israeli Almog Boker - newscasterChannel 10, is also commonly referred to as: “Our Journalist in the South.” As of 2017, he is also the Channel 10 presenter of the Friday evening series: “Ototo Shabbat”  (lit., it’s almost the Sabbath).

Be’er-Sheva-born singer, Adi Cohen (b.1980-) was discovered on the 2nd season of the TV show: “A star is born” (2004). In 2006, she performed on U.S. stages in a HebrewAdi Cohen - singer musical show called: “Like a movie,” consisting of covers of songs from Israeli films. In 2013, she acted in an Israeli movie entitled: “Snails in the rain.” 

Gal Gabai (b.1970-, in Be’er-Sheva) is a well-known Israel TV presenter, journalist, mandolinist & a social activist, who says: “Whenever I come back to Be’er-Sheva, my heart-beat changes. The food tastes better, the wind’s more Gal-Gabaipleasant, something inside me relaxes and is reconnected. This city taught me about diversity, about wisdom, about love, and about simplicity.”

Ya’ir Nitsani (b.1958- in Be’er-Shevais a singer, comedian, song & script writer, TV & radio host, and has starred in a number of Israeli comic & satirical TV shows. He first Yair Nitsanibecame famous as a singer in the “Tislam” Rock Band (1980-1983), especially for his solo as Hashem. Since 1985, he has also acted in a number of Israeli movies.

Another, very successful, Beer-Sheva-born comedian & actress is Orna Banai (b.1966-, sister of singers Meir & Eviatar Banai). She began as a stand-up comedian in a number Orna Banaiof clubs, began acting in films from 1994 and on television from 1997. Her most popular comic character is “Limor.” In 2011, she outed herself as a lesbian and, in 2012, she returned to doing stand-up comedy shows. She has always been an outspoken animal-rights activist.

Negev Community Television is an NPO founded in 2012 and based in Be’er-Sheva. It frequently films and airs Hebrew programs about significant things going on in theCommunity Television - Beer-Sheva Negev’s capital. The video photographers, producers, actors, etc. are all volunteers. The broadcasts appear on satellite channel 98 under the title: “Southern exposure” – Ora Levin – 08-6424865.

The local news channel “Mi-Kan” (lit., from here) is sponsored by Kivunim”, a municipal corporation that provides recreational, cultural, and community services, such as clubs, extracurricular classes and activities in the Be’er-Sheva community centers.

Zion Rubin is a prolific, multi-tasking, TV personage: photographer, writer, editor, director, etc. from Be’er-Sheva. He created the highly-rated Hebrew “Combat medics” (Heb. “Taagad”) TV series first aired in 2016 on Israel’s “Yes” Channel. In the summer of 2017, Rubin filmed for an upcoming movie in the Gimel neighborhood, where he grew up. He claims he’s considering returning to Be’er-Sheva to pass on his expertise by teaching the television and film-making arts.

Bat-Hen Sabag (b.1984-, in Be’er-Sheva) created the Israeli Hebrew TV series “Metumtemet” (lit., stupid woman) that has had 2 seasons since 2016, with an upcoming 3rd season slated for 2018.

Films

On the night of May 25, 2017, starting from 20:00, Be’er-Sheva held its first free, public alternative Short-Film Festival in the Old City; a variety of short Israeli films were screened at different venues, including pubs and other popular night-spots, with some of the film-makers in attendance. Afterwards, the public was able to react to the films and to interact directly with their creators. It is hoped that this will become an annual event.  

“Forty-thousand horsemen” (1940) is an Australian film (100 min.) about the last horse-ridden charge in modern warfare, when, against all odds, on Charge on BeershevaOctober 31st, 1917, Australian, New Zealander & Commonwealth (ANZACmounted riflemen (not cavalry) charged and conquered the Ottoman-Turkish city of Be’er-Sheva, effectively marking the beginning of the end of WWI.

“The Lighthorsemen” (1987) is an Australian feature film (131 min.) about the WWI horse-ridden charge on Be’er-Sheva and its liberation from the Ottoman-Turkish 18861Empire on October 31st, 1917 by ANZAC forces. This charge will be re-enacted in Be’er-Sheva, on the centenary of this astounding charge on October 31st, 2017, as the culmination of the ANZAC Trail  – www.kkl-jnf.org/people-and-environment/kkl-jnf-projects-partners/dfu-2012/anzac-trail.

“Wassermill” (2007) was written and directed by a native-born Be’er-Shevan, Mushon Salmonah, and tells the story of three Be’er-Sheva youths, each from a different cultural soccer playersbackground, each striving to succeed as a soccer player, and how their friendship evolves. This movie won the 2007 Judges’ Prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival and represented Israel in the 2007 International Film Competition in Salonici, Greece. Wassermill Stadium was Be’er-Sheva‘s first stadium (decommissioned in 2016).

Theater institutions

The Be’er-Sheva Theater (founded 1973) produces at least 5 new plays in Hebrew each season and employs ca.50 professional actors/actresses. In 2010, it got a record numberBeer-Sheva Theater of 9 nominations for the Israel Theater Prize mostly for the play Performances & shows“The Count of Monte Christo.” The Be’er-Sheva Theater was awarded Israel Theater Prizes for one or two of its productions in: 1997, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 & 2016, and counting. In conjunction with the Municipal Welfare Dept., a Theater for Children & Youth was founded in 2015 – 08-6209259, and another for senior citizens (08-6463901). The Be’er-Sheva Theater – 08-6266442, www.b7t.co.il.

The Larry & Lillian Goodman Acting School of the Negev (founded 2005) is goodman-acting-schoollocated in the Gimel neighborhood near City Hall. The current manager, Idan Avisar (b.1981-) is a former Goodman student – 08-6464940, 08-6658080, www.act-b7.co.il.

The Youth Center in the Old City has an Acting Studio for young people aged 10-17 (founded 2016). The participants put on an end-of-the-year performance annually – 08-6783890/1.Youth Culture Center

LOGON – The 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, singerslogon-logo & dancers are volunteer amateurs of all ages and from diverse backgrounds. LOGON is always on the lookout for new talent.

The Be’er-Sheva “MiKan” (lit., from here) Fringe Theater was founded in 2010 by Idan Avisar and is located in aFringe theater cheerful blue building in the Old City at 15 Mordekhai Anilevitch St. It promotes ‘fringe’ art, music, drama & dance, and holds all manner of open public events, including special events and activities for children and an annual International Fringe Festival (IFF) http://www.iffb7.com, 08-6466657.

“Shlofta” (founded 2012, in Be’er-Sheva) – a genuine, live comic show performed by an improvization ensemble with audience interaction. In 2013, “Shlofta” wonShlofta comic improvizations the “ImproLeague Competition” sponsored by the Israel Improvization League. They also give improvization workshops. If you’ve got an audience–they’ll gladly provide you with a one-of-a-kind, very funny show – 050-8655402; 054-2622167.

The Be’er-Sheva “Playback” Theater (founded 1995) began on the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Campus and later moved to the Old City, where performances are held at the “Ayalim Village” at he-Halutz 33 in the Old City – 054-5718893.

At BGU, the Community Action Department sponsors the “Barvaz” Theater (founded 2001), as a part of the University’s “Community Outreach Program.” Highschool children (in 7th-12th grades)

There are psychodrama groups for adults – 08-6469602, 052-4223878 and such groups specifically for mothers of teenagers – 050-6223812.

Children’s drama clubs are also given in the “Kivunim” community centers – Kivunim drama club-Fantasia 08-6290060, http://www.kivunim7.co.il/hugim, and by the Be’er-Sheva Center for Excellence in Theater (founded 2010) that gives drama classes in the schools – 08-6266485, he-il.facebook.com.

And there are even seniors’ drama clubs at some of the elder hostels and homes, such as the Yona Nursing Home, where they performed an original bet-yonah-seniors-home1play in 2009 entitled Grandma’s stories – http://www.myparents.co.il.

People in Be’er-Sheva theater

Native Be’er-Shevan Gilad Kalifa (b.1989-), despite his severe dyslexia, not only acted, sang & danced in many plays and musicals, but has become a successful playwright and Gilad Kalifatheater director, who has even directed musical theater in New York City and at Jewish summer-camps in the U.S. Moreover, he is a multi-talented musician and owns a recording studio.

Ex-Be’er-Sheva resident, comedian and actor David Kigler (b.1965-) still enjoys kidding about Be’er-Sheva in his stand-up routines.David Kigler

 

 

Authors & Literature

Literature on Be’er-Sheva

Zvika AloushActive local-patriot Zvika Aloush published a stunning book entitled My Negev (2007) in Hebrew and English.

Nissim Alsheich (b.1926-) was a co-founder of the Be’er-Sheva Municipal Music Nissim Elsheikh 2016“Conservatorion” and founder of the Be’er-Sheva Youth Orchestra, both in 1961. In 1973, he founded the Be’er-Sheva Chamber Orchestra and, in 1996, he founded and conducted the Be’er-Sheva Wind Orchestra (consisting of woodwinds & brass instruments) until his retirement in 2010. He published a Hebrew autobiography entitled My Life’s Symphony: The Realization of a Dream (2016).

Eitan Cohen published the Hebrew book entitled Beersheba, the Fourth City (2006)Eitan Cohen that suggests reinstating the Old City as the true center of Negev culture for both the Jewish and the Bedouin residents of the region.

Yehuda GradusYehuda Gradus and Eliyahu Stern (eds.), from the BGU Geography Dept., compiled and published an academic sourcebook of Hebrew essays entitled Beersheba (1979).

Asi Harazi (b.1972-, in Be’er-Sheva), known as the drummer of rock band “Carte Blanche, founded a nostalgic Hebrew Facebook discussion group in 2018 called —-“זכרונות ילדות באר שבעthat has taken off like wildfire.

Moshe Nir - photo by Avi LeviMoshe Nir wrote and edited the Hebrew compendium Who and What in Be’er-Sheva and the Negev (1987).

Yitzhack (“Ijo”) Rager (1932-1997), the 5th Mayor of Be’er-Sheva, who served from 1989-1997, published hisIjo Rager- late Mayor autobiography in Hebrew on the year of his untimely death. His family published the English version, entitled In the Service of Israel posthumously in 1999.

Journalist/author Aryeh Rappaport (d.2017) published Hebrew books about Be’er-Sheva and the Negev: Forty Years of Sports in the Negev (1989) and Between Ra’ananah and Be’er-Sheva (2007). He also published many Ha-Poel Beersheva 2017articles and had an Internet blog (2013-) called “Aryeh Rappaport, Historian.”

Noga Raved and Hadas Shadar wrote Beer Sheva: The Growth of a City: A Model of the Development of Public Housing in IsraelUrban growth (2008) to accompany an exhibit at the Negev Museum of Art.

Israeli playwright, Joshua Sobol (b.1939-), wrote a Hebrew play entitled Working-class hero (2006) that was performed by the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv. This play portrays the prolonged and somewhat unsuccessful  struggle of the Be’er-Sheva bus-drivers.

Since 1991, veteran local-patriot and journalist Isaac E. Stiel (Shatil, b.1941-) has Yitדhak Shatil & Ethelea Katzenell 11.2013managed to publish 20 Hebrew books, most of them about various aspects of Be’er-Sheva: journalism, sports, who’s whos, photographs, key women, city honorees, leading rabbis, and a Be’er-Sheva cookbook–and he’s always working on the next book …

BGU Prof. of Anthropology Alex Weingrod published a book entitled The Saint of Beersheba (1990) about the annual pilgrimmage traditions that developed surroundingTomb of Rabbi Haim Huri the enshrined grave of the late Tunisian Rabbi Chayim Chouri (1885-1957, Be’er-Sheva).

Joshua Zimrah, founder of the Pedagogical Biology Institute and the astronomical observatory at the Bet Yatsiv Campus in the Old City, Beer-Sheva trailauthored two Hebrew books: Nahal Kovshim: Instructions for an Educational Tour of the Be’er-Sheva Area and For the Amateur Gardener (2006).

Children’s books by local authors

Dan Goldman and illustrator Liron Yedidsion produced an illustrated Hebrew book for children ages 4-8 entitled Gili and the Wondrous Wave (ca.2010).

Mali Kalifah and her mother Rita Zakut published a Hebrew book of rhymed riddles entitled Elephant or Giraffe? (2009).

Non-fiction by local authors

Prize-winning French author, poet, translator and Holocaust survivor, Michael Adam (b.1939-) first published his French book Les Enfants de Pitchipoi (The Children of Pitchipoi) in Paris, describing childhood in a WWII concentration camp (at age 4, he was imprisoned in the Drancy Concentration Camp in France). This book was later Michael Adampublished in Hebrew (1988) in Israel. As an Israeli representative to the International French Writers’ Guild, he was awarded a gold medal for foreign writers in French by l’Ordre de la Francophone at their 2010 meeting. 

BGU English professor and prize-winning author Dr. Haim Chertok has published 5 biographical works, including his autobiography Stealing Home (1988) and countless academic articles.

The late physicist Menasheh Eni wrote a book on Hebrew numerology called Names and Numbers: Revealed, Hidden and Astounding (1998).

Harelah Yishai - matchmakerHarela Ishay, is Be’er-Sheva‘s veteran marital matchmaker (Heb., shadkhanit) and founder of “Doo-Lev” (lit., two hearts) matchmaking service (founded 1992), that has 4 branches located in: Be’er-Sheva, Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv & Ashdod. Ishay has published two Hebrew books, the first entitled Couples Status: The Role of the Matchmaker (c2015) and the second is: Two Sugars (2017). She often appears on Israel TV and speaks on local radio programs.  

Dr. Albert Jacob wrote a book on politics in Dundee, Scotland, entitled The Day It Hit the Fan: Memoirs of a Reluctant Politician (2005).

Historian Dr. Martha Lev-Zion (d.2014) courageously raised a Down-syndrome child toMartha Lev-Zion1 adulthood as a single mother and then wrote a book about her experience called Taking Tamar (2010) before her untimely death. She had also been the founder and first President of the Negev Branch of the Israel Genealogical Society.

Vladimir Shneider (1937-2016), a gifted linguist and artist, published a book on comparative linguistics both in Russian and in English, entitled The Traces of the Traces of the TenTen (2002), about the impact of the languages of the ancient Hebrews on Slavic languages, by following the linguistic paths of the ten not ‘lost’ biblical tribes of Israel. His paintings, mostly depicting biblical or mythological themes, were recognized and exhibited both in the Ukraine and across Israel. A second edition of his personal catalogue of selected works was published posthumously, entitled The Art of Shneider Vladimir: Monographia (2nd. ed. 2017).

Non-fiction about Be’er-Sheva by foreign authors

ANZAC supporter Jill Curry wrote the book Victory! Beersheba 100th Anniversary 18860(2016), to commemorate the ANZAC achievements during the Palestinian Campaign, 1916-1918.

Fiction by local authors

Shamai Atsmoni published a book of Hebrew short-stories and poems The Heart-Murmur of My Words.

Mike Diamond wrote a very clever suspense novel set in Be’er-Sheva and at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev entitled Subsurface (2008).

Mitzi Geffen, an outstanding English teacher, encourages the learning of the English Mitzi Geffenlanguage 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).

Gilad Kalifa is a playwright, screenwriter, theater director, producer  and owner of a recording studio, as well as a multi-talented actor, singer, dancer & musician. He has voluntarily helped to produce numerous shows in Be’er-Sheva highschools and old-age homes.

Ofir Oz published his Hebrew novella and short stories under the title  I’m Killing You (2007). His second, prize-winning Hebrew book is called A Name for a Beginning (2013). Since 2011, he has a Hebrew Internet blog called “To Break the Drawer” ofiroz.co.il.

Ora Patishya Hebrew feminist author, has been writing poems and short stories since the age of 17, mostly intended for young people. Her first book published was Shahar Ora PatishiTells Us (1977); then Contacts (1988), and Class Queen (2003), followed by a series of 6 more Hebrew novels and two compilations of her own poetry (2004-2016). She has been managing a private publishing company called “Tene Or” since 2004.

Dr. Sasha Paz (1927-2017) was a brilliant writer of Hebrew novels and poetry. His academic background in psychology and philosophy and his insatiable need to write produced his acclaimed first book Il Monsignore (2006), as well as another 6 rivetingSasha Paz novels awaiting publication posthumously. The large number of his excellent poems can surely fill 2-3 books as well, and are most worthy of publication.

Arieh Rodriguez‘ Hebrew stories were published in Hebrew periodicals throughout the 1970s. His collection of Kafka-esque, existential tales in Hebrew, The Lakes Garden (1977) won a prestigious literature prize in 1977. In 1990, Arieh published The Hosts, four Hebrew novellas, after which he also wrote a non-fiction book on the Jewish laws relating to blindness. 

Fiction about Be’er-Sheva by non-local authors

Shulamit Lapid (b.1934-) wrote a series of 6 Hebrew ‘detective’ novels set in Be’er-Sheva about a fictional heroine, a journalist named Lizzie Badihi, who writes for a local Shulamit Lapidpaper (Heb., mekomon) and gets caught up solving various crimes. These popular novels were published between 1989-2007 and introduced this genre to the readers of Hebrew fiction. She was the wife of journalist/politician Tommy Lapid  and is the mother of journalist/politician Ya’ir Lapid.

Famous Israeli authors in Be’er-Sheva at the University

The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is honored to host the personal archives of Amos Ozmany of Israel’s foremost authors: Amos Oz, Aharon Appelfeld, Ruth Almog, David Avidan, Yocheved Bat Miriam, David Schutz, Nissim Aloni, Shulamit Hareven, Yehuda Amichai, and Zelda & Yizhar Smilansky. Appelfeld, Oz, Haim Be’er and Etgar Keret occasionally give lectures on the BGU Campus and publishes his Hebrew short Etgar Keretstories in the BGU magazine. In 2007, Keret won a prestigious prize for his film “Medusas” at the Cannes Film Festival.

Art, Artists & Galleries

Where to see (and buy) art

The Negev Museum of Art (located in the former Ottoman Governor’sNegev Art Museum - Saraya Mansion, the Saraya, originally built in 1906 in the Old City), was restored and renovated in 2004 and exhibits the works of Israeli artists and occasionally has guest lectures by prominent artists – 08-6282056, http://www.negev-museum.org.il. It was cited by CNN as one of the 10 best Israeli museums. The adjacent Great Mosque of Be’er-Sheva (built in 1897), now serves as a Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures and displays relevant exhibits. 

Other local art and other exhibits are regularly held at: City Hall; “Yad la-Banim;” the Public Library; the Histadrut Buildingyehudit-meirs-studiothe Greenberg Teachers’ Center, and at “Be’er-Tseva” in the Yud-Aleph Community Center, as well as at a growing number of art galleries located in the Old City, such as: the Trumpelor Gallery;  or at ceramicist Judith Meyer‘s Studio; or at the home of photographer Dani Machlis; at Shimon [Pivko Sarussi]‘s Art-Design at 39 he-Haluts St.; at the Gershon 6 Gallery; and at the “Ella and Oleg” Gallery located at 12 Mish’ol Giv’on St. in Tet neighborhood.

Another municipal art project entitled: “Old City walls – street gallery” consists of murals painted by 7 young artists on various walls of buildings located around the Old City murals - Yesterday,today,tomorrow - Galina NekrasovaOld City. These artists are: Galina Nekrasova, Asya Keinan, Tefet Avrahami, Yulia Eisenberg, Daria Davidov, Shimon Sarusi & Tsipi Zohar. For example, one mural painted by Nekrasova is entitled: “Yesterday, today & tomorrow” on a building on ha-Atsma’ut St.

The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Marcus Family Campus has a number of galleries with various types of exhibits (some permanent & some changing) in several buildings: the Senate Building lobby; the Aranne Library lobby and stairwell; and the Faculty of Health Sciences, and more. Curator, Prof. Maor -050-2056044. There are also sculptures on the grounds (andOfra Zimbalista, d.2014 - Choir suspended above ground), Such as the sculpture by Ofra Zimbalista (1939-2014) – “The Choir.” Both the SCE and Kaye colleges also have regular exhibits.

Most Fridays, along the “Midrehov” (the pedestrian walkway) on KKL Crafts fairSt., down the center of the Old City, there is an arts-&-crafts fair, rife with local handicrafts, jewelry, paintings & sculptures for sale.

The Negev Artists’ House [photo by Haim Ohayon] of the Negev Creative Artists’ Association, is located in theartists-house-haim-ohayon Old City in a beautifully-restored 19th century Ottoman building. Always on exhibit are works by local Negev artists, including Bedouin and Ethiopian artwork, and most of the works on display are also for sale, as are souvenirs in the giftshop. On occasion, there are guest lecturers, musical performances, and cultural events held in the garden – 08-6273828.

amcha1Amcha – the Association for Holocaust Survivors and Their Families, also displays the works of Holocaust survivors – 08-6270224, http://www.amcha.org.

There are a number of Israeli postage-stamps with Be’er-Shevan themes, such as: The Negev Brigade Monument (1986); the Iraqi “Star” Synagogue (1983); the municipal city symbol (1966); and stamps commemorating the Israeli National Stamp Exhibitions held in Be’er-Sheva in 1982, 1990, etc. by the Be’er-Sheva Stamp-Collectors’ Society.

Much beautiful Jewish religious artwork may be found in the ca.237 synagoguesAdorned Torah scrolls in ark throughout the city, such as: stained-glass windows, woodwork, marblework, silver ornaments, embroidered curtains, etc. The Struma Synagogue in the Aleph neighborhood has a special historical exhibit commemorating the 791 victims of the sinking of the immigrant ship “Struma” during WWII, which is open to the public – 08-6235942.

The Be’er-Sheva artists and societies

Some of Be’er-Sheva’s many gifted artists include(d): Florence Amit, Julian Ashkenazi, Toft Avrahami, Meir Azriel, Ya’el Azulai, Peninah Barkai, Svetlana Belay,  Moshe Ben Attia, Melekh Berger, Uri Bet-Or, Ella Binstock, Alizah Burshak, Jonah Burstein, Pnina & Hector Calniquer, Dora Casapu, Jonathan Cohen, Kathryn Cohen, Daria Davidov, Shulamit Davidovicz, Ze’ev Deckel, Goel Drori, Ilanah Drori, Suzanne Eilat, Yulia Eisenberg,  Tamar Eitan, Suzi Elbaz, Irena Felstone, Shula Fremder, Moshe Gabay, Yoram Goren, Ariela Havin-Gardiman, Albert Gatot, Yaffa Gabriel, Ruth Gresser, Dora Gurevich, Alin Haviv, Barukh Karp, Asya Keinan, Avivah Krispel, Oleg Krotov, Leah Krugman, Henri Labouz, Ya’el Lapal, Lia Laufer, Miri Levin, Abraham Lucki, Dyna Malamed, Genia Manor, Keren Meisler, Daniela Meller, Judith Meyer, Georgina Meyer-Duellman, “Katcho” Oscar Alberto Monastirsky, Rachel Beatriz Mosches, Galina Nekrasova, Olga Novik, Ingrid Noyman, Edward Ostrovsky, Lev Otaveski, Ilanah Ravak, Connie Reisner, Lilia Reznikov, Hannah Helen Rosenberg, Shimon Sarusi, Liza Shabtay, Tamar Shachar, Gideon Shani,  Yehudit Shitrit, Vladimir Shneider, Hilla Spitzer, Sa’adya Sternberg, “Striko” (Aryeh Sorek), Simone Touati-Mo’alem, Lev Tukhner, Erica Weisz-Schveiger, Tsipi Zohar, and many others.

Some of Be’er-Sheva’s many gifted photographers include(d): Vladimir Chumikov, Garth Davis, Lev Dynkin, Vladimir Gershtein, Mila Katsenovich, Sapir Kuta, Dani Machlis, Alexander Makarenko, Olga Mukasheva, Irina Opachevsky, Andre Pandiurin, Moshe Perry, Shafir Sarusi, Valery Sheiman, Michael Schneider, David L. Swerdlow, Nikolay Tartarchuk, Veronika Zvenigorodsky. 

There are a few artists’ societies active in Be’er-Sheva and the Negev Region: the “Fruits of Peace” Association, the Negev Creative Artists’ Association, and the Israel Creative Artists’ and Sculptors’ Association – http://www.art-desert.co.il.

ethiopian-art1An Ethiopian-art workshop is located in the Old City on Sheloshet Bene En Harod St., where traditional Ethiopian sculpting and basket-weaving are done and some pieces are sold. 

Art education is available in Be’er-Sheva for all ages. Children may attend classes youth-art-centerat: the Youth Arts Center in the Old City – 08-6239565, http://www.artb7.org.il;  or may study at “Afik” – Elementary School of the Arts (nicknamed “the red school”) in the Yud-Aleph neighborhood; and students may study at the Visualelementary-school-of-the-arts1 Arts Center of the Negev at Kaye Teachers’ College Kaye Teachers Collegeomanut@kaye.ac.il, 08-6402751. Private and group lessons may also be booked: handicrafts with Liza Shabtay – 08-6418789; origami with Jonathan Cohen – yonaty@netvision.net.il; or the use of water-colors, oils & acrylics with Ruth Gresser 08-6104728. Finally, “Kivunim” – the Municipal Company for Recreation Culture in Be’er-Sheva offers various art classes for all ages in the many Be’er-Sheva community centers – 08-6290069, http://www.kivunim.co.il.

More on artists in Be’er-Sheva

Australian sculptor Peter Corlett (b.1944-) created an impressive, lifesized statue of a mounted lighthorse-charge-statueANZAC soldier in the Australian Light Horse Brigade charging the city of Be’er-Sheva to conquer it on October 31, 1917, which stands in the excellent Park of the Australian Soldier in the Yud-Aleph neighborhood.

Painter Moshe Gabay (d.2010) was known world-wide for his naive/primitive oil paintings, mainly on Moroccan-Jewish and abraham-in-beersheba1biblical themes, e.g. “Abraham receiving his guests in Be’er-Sheva.”

gressers-greeting-cardsPainter Ruth Gresser not only teaches painting, but produces “RuthArt” – specialized greeting cards and personalized painted gifts on order –  08-6104728. 

Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan (b.1930-) produced an interactive 100-square-meter work in the raw concrete (Art Brut) style located high above the Negev Brigade Monumentgrowing Be’er-Sheva metropolis. This permanent installation, comprised of 18 different elements, known as Andartat ha-Negev (Negev Brigade Memorial) commemorates the liberation of Be’er-Sheva from the Egyptian Army and honors all the soldiers and military units that fought to do so on October 21, 1948. It’s considered to be among the world’s dozen best examples of brutalist art. It can be windy atop the hill, but the site also provides a panoramic view of Be’er-Sheva.

soroka-landscapingIsraeli sculptor Dani Kafri (b.1945-) donated several large, outdoor sculptures that stand in the Soroka Medical Center lawns. 

Photographer Dani Machlis (b.1972-) has had his photographs published in international magazines, such as National Geographic Traveler and Popular Science, as well as in Israeli newspapers, like Ha’aretz and the Jerusalem Post. In 2017, his cover photo for the Baltimore Jewish Times earned him the “Best Newspaper Cover Photo Award” granted by the Journalists’ Association of Maryland, Delaware & Washington, D.C.  He has a private gallery in his home in the Old City that he opens to the public – 052-8795883, http://www.danimachlis.com.

Georgina Meyer-Duellmann (b.1943-) and Connie Edell Reisner (b.1925-) foundedGina & her painting 7.2018 Fruits of Peacethe “Fruits of Peace” Association in 1997, to bring together artists from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Gina specializes in woodcuts and monotypes, and also teaches art to the blind, to children and seniors – http://www.ginameir.com.

American artist/sculptor Phillip Ratner (b.1937-) donated a special collection of his biblical art (paintings, bas-reliefs & sculptures) for permanent display at Yad la-Banim (memorial to the city’s fallen soldiers) located next to City Hall.

Photographer Shafir Sarusi won the photography prize for 2 films: “Hitching a ride” and “The way home” at the Southern Cinema Festival (2007).

Joyce Schmidt (1942-1991) founded Israel’s first hand papermaking mill in Be’er-Sheva in 1979, making natural paper out of Thymelaea hirsuta (a local wild plant known by the Bedouin in Arabic as mitnan).

Liza shabtai portrait 2009Miniature artist & photographer Liza Shabtay (b.1947-) creates unique and humorous pieces out of all that comes to hand, natural and recycled materials, including: seashells, buttons, bones, blobs of dry glue, pine-cones, seeds, used bottles, etc. Liza has exhibits permanently displayed at the BGU Aranne Library and at the BGU Dept. of Biology.

The late painter Vladimir Shneider (1937-2016) had a very distinctive style. Many of his The conductor by Vladimir Shneiderpaintings depict biblical or mythological themes. His artwork has been recognized and exhibited both in Europe and across Israel. In addition to his artistic talent, in 2002, he published his extensive research in comparative linguists. In 2017, an updated catalogue of his selected works was posthumously published, entitled The Art of Shneider Vladimir: Monographia (2nd ed.).

Young painter Hilla Spitzer (b.1985-, Be’er-Sheva) was given an “Art Promotion Award” by the Negev Development Authority and will be presenting an exhibit of her works entitled: “Paintings from Be’er-Sheva” in the BGU Senate Gallery from 25.10.17-9.1.18 – http://www.theartlab.co.il.

Sa’adya Sternberg (b.1963?-) is a brown-paper structural origami sculptor. He  his published a book entitled Sculptural Origami in 2011. Sa’adya teaches his personal technique for paper folding and curates exhibits

Most graffiti artists usually don’t have formal, indoor exhibits of their works, but the Negev graffiti artist, nicknamed “Striko” (b.1949-, nee Aryeh Sorek), has had exhibits of his works in Be’er-Sheva at the Youth Center in the Old City. In 2017, the Youth Center also presented an exhibit featuring”free-style” graffiti art curated bySpine's graffiti another graffiti artist “Spine” (Avi Tal) and fellow graffitists, such as: “Remo,” “Sliz,” “Dope,” & others. Some of their signed streetside works appear around Be’er-Sheva. 

Sculptor Don Winton (d.2007) contributed a life-like bust of visionary and “founding father of Israel” David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) to his namesake, the Ben-Gurion ben-gurion-bust1University of the Negev. It’s located in front of the Aranne Central Library on the Marcus Family Campus. Ben-Gurion, Israel’s 1st Prime Minister, always said that the future of the State of Israel will depend on the future of the Negev Region.

Unique art exhibits

In Nov. 2017, a special exhibit, marking 44 years since David Ben-Gurion‘s demise, was displayed in the City Hall Gallery. This exhibit was entitled: “The Vision of Be’er-Sheva through the Camera’s Lense,” and consisted of photographs, taken by photographer Hanan Epstein from Sedeh Boker. 

In light of the centennial celebrations of the conquest of Be’er-Sheva by the ANZAC & British Commonwealth forces on October 31, 1917, and for the first time in Israel, the Negev Museum of Art is displaying an exhibit of contemporary Australian art: paintings, photographs and video-clips by internationally acclaimed Australian artists – 30-31/10/2017. Two of the Australian artists will be present to talk to the visitors in the gallery.

Annual/biannual art events

Kaye Teachers’ College, Visual Arts Center of the Negev sponsors an annual, Kaye Teachers Collegeprofessionally-guided marathon for the drawing, sketching and photography of nude models. Participants must pre-register & come fully-equipped. There’s a minimal entrance free – omanut@kaye.ac.il, 08-6402751.

Maccabi Health Services holds an annual Children’s Art Contest and the winners’ drawings are published on the Maccabi yearly calendar.

Following the legacy of papermaking artist Joyce Schmidt (1942-1991), thepaperart-biennale31 2nd International Biennale for Paper Art was previously held in Be’er-Sheva in 2015. In September 2017, the 3rd International Biennale for Paper Art exhibited various paper-art, created by 66 artists from 13 countries, at three different venues: City Hall Gallery; the Artists’ House in the Old City; and at the Carasso Science Park. It is hoped that this will become an ongoing biannual Be’er-Sheva tradition. 

Every year at the beginning of September, the ‘temporary-resident’ Indian-Christian community of caregivers in Be’er-Sheva celebrates their traditional Indian holiday, Onam, by creating lovely mandalas out of flower petals, for example: connie-e-reisner-5-9-2017-onam

 

indian-oman-holiday-mandala

Lost Be’er-Sheva art

There had been a marvelous mural painted across two adjoining walls on the outside of a building in the Old City that I dubbed “A building is born,” apparently done by Rami Meiri a building is born– http://www.ramimeiri.com. Sadly, it was obliterated during structural renovations.

From 2000-2014, upon entering the BGU Marcus Family Campus via the “Aliyah Gate” (lit., the immigration gate) those arriving were greeted by a memorable aluminum sculptural installation entitled: “Three blue coats and a travel trunk” by Ofra Zimbalista (1939-2014)–ostensiblyaliyah statue representing new immigrants just arriving. In 2014, mere days before she passed away, she suddenly had it removed and replaced by “The Choir.”

One sign that Be’er-Sheva had developed an urban sub-culture, and perhaps some gang activity,  was when graffiti began to appear on the long wall marking the northern edge of the Vav graffiti1neighborhood and elsewhere in the 1990s. It’s gone now, painted over and replaced by some ceramic-art plaques.

 

 

 

 

 

Architecture

Be’er-Sheva’s “Old City” is a complete Ottoman-Turkish city, built by the OttomanGreat Mosque of Beersheva Empire at the start of the 20th century. Some of the restored buildings currently serve as the Carasso Science Park Carasso Science Park, Beer-Sheva– http://www.sci-park.co.il, the Negev Artists’ House – 08-6273828, and the Negev Museum of Art – http://www.negev-museum.org.il.turkish-train-station

Be’er-Sheva is a perfect place to learn about the Art brut (raw concrete or brutalist art) style of architecture, because it is rife with examples, including most of the aranne-library-at-bgu1University Campus buildings, many municipal edifices, some buildings in the Soroka Medical Center complex, as well as:  the Be’er-Sheva City HallYad la-Banim House (memorial to the City’s fallen soldiers)Merkaz ha-Negev (the Negev Center); and especially the earliest raw concrete artwork, perched above the city–Andartat ha-Negev (the Negev Brigade Memorial) createdGideon Shani - Andartat ha-Negev by architect/sculptor Dani Karavan in Negev Brigade Memorial1968 to commemorate the liberation of Be’er-Sheva from the Egyptian Army on October 21, 1948 and painted by Gideon Shani.

Be’er-Sheva is also the ideal location for studying the history and development of Israeli architecture, because it has prime examples from each decade. In 2008, the Architect’s House Gallery in Jaffa featured an exhibit entitled: “Architecture in Beersheba – Landmarks in Israeliness,” presenting 60 years worth of unique, prize-winning, desert-proof construction by leading Israeli architects. In fact, every year, all the students of architecture in Israel are brought to Be’er-Sheva for a day to see the variety of real examples in their practical contexts.

1951-1957 Two-storey, 4-family houses, built rapidly in the first residential poured-concrete-house-1950sneighborhoods to accomodate the incoming Jewish residents, were poured-concrete structures nicknamed “bate totah (lit., cannon houses). Aleph neighborhood (1951-1953) was planned by Architect M. Kohn; Gimel (1952-1953), Bet (1955) & Hey (1956-1957) neighborhoods were designed by M. Cecik.

1959 TheCarpet Settlement,” a successful .(experimental) model for a residential patios-in-heyneighborhood providing an alternative public housing solution for thousands of new immigrants, designed in a patio-house grid with covered internal passages, located in the Hey neighborhood. Architects: Yaski, Alexandroni, Zolotov, Havkin & Carmi. 

1960 Architect Avraham Yaski completed the “Quarter Kilometer Residence” on stilts, whichquarter-mile-building became the Ye’elim Immigrant Absorption Center in the Hey neighborhood, where many new immigrants lodged upon arrival. It is thought to be the longest building on pillars in the world.

1967 Lupenfeld Gamerman Architects constructed the prize-winning modular “14-storey building” or “drawer-tower” in the Bet neighborhood; it was the first pre-fabricated, stacked-module, high-rise residential the-14-story-buildingbuilding in Israel, mentioned in an article in the New York Times in 1970. By 2003, the tallest residential highrise in the Be’er-Sheva was Rambam Tower 2with 32 floors, reaching 112 meters. Currently, several taller high-rises are under construction.

1975-1980 Architect Nahum Zolotov, a master of raw concrete architecture, completed the Central Synagogue of the Iraqi-Jewish Community of Be’er-Sheva (in memory of Eliyahu the-star-synagogueHalachi), nicknamed the Star Synagogue” or the Pyramid, due to its rare star-of-David shape. It has a central podium, around which the men sit, while the women sit in the 6 points of the star, under stained-glass windows. At night, when lit, a beam of light shoots out of the point at the top of the star.

1985-2008 Architects Sarah & Salo Hershman created the angular, post-modern, clay-colored stone, silver metal and green glass Pais Performing Arts Center, including a performing-arts-hall-21large hall that seats 915 people and a small hall that seats 427. It literally shines at night.

1989-1999 The Hall of Justice, designed and built by Barchana Architects,  is an elegant and awe-inspiring marble and glass edifice, featuring beautiful woodwork inside the courtrooms. Hall of Justice - mineIt houses all the secular local and regional courts: criminal, civil, juvenile, labor, family, and small-claims. One-hour tours may be booked in advance; note that no weapons may be brought inside – 08-6470505.

1997-2000 Architects: Ruth Lahav, Tony Rigg & Len Warshaw built the award-winning Government Complex and Mall that covers an area of ca. 18 acres, housing many government-mall31regional government offices and services, as well as a commercial mall. All under a roof resembling ocean waves and with an adjacent outdoor pedestrian walkway and plaza.

 1996-2017 Daring, internationally-acclaimed, award-winning Architect Haim DotanSCE flying-saucerdesigned and built Be’er-Sheva’s environmentally-friendly, 21st century Sami Shamoon College of Engineering Campuslanding the first “Spaceship” in Aleph neighborhood. He also designed and built the University’s Alon Hi-Tech Building, which has a 3-storey, suspended staircase, hung from steel cables, somewhat like a suspension bridge.10353

2010 The Makleff House, originally built by the Delouya Group in 1963 to house the offices of Bromine Compounds, became the first buildingbet-maklef-green-bldg in Be’er-Sheva to be converted into a green edifice during renovations.

2013 Be’er-Sheva‘s first “green” mall, the huge (160,000 square meter) red “Ofer Grand Canyon Beer-Sheva #1Grand Mall opened. It was designed and built by the very large Israeli firm of Moore-Yaski-Sivan Architects, and is considered the largest mall in Israel to date.

2017-2020 The Be’er-Sheva Municipal Development Plan is meant to complete the renovation of the old neighborhoods and infrastructures, to fill in empty lots withhighrise-apartmentsSkyscrapers1 highrises and public parks, to develop urban ‘green lungs‘ and provide more shade & cover for pedestrians, while not destroying the unique habitats within the Be’er-Sheva metropolitan areaAmen to that! In 2018, the tallest highrise in Be’er-Sheva (32 stories), is still under construction by the “Ahim Um” Construction Company in the new Pelakh 5 area adjacent to the Neveh Ze’ev neighborhood, expected to be habitable in 2019.

Other interesting local architecture

1995 As part of the First International Biennale of Ceramics, held in Be’er-Sheva, artist Israel Hadany created a large outdoor installation entitled: “Oasis environmental ceramicssculpture” in the Hadassah Women-J.N.F. Ceramics Park, located just off Rager Boulevard at the northern edge of the city.

2006 A covered 380 meter long pedestrian walkway and a covered 160 meter long bridge across a heavily-trafficked road connect the BGU Campus with the mexico-pedestrian-bridge“University” or “North Be’er-Sheva” Train Station. It’s nicknamed the “Mexico Bridge,” because the sponsors were Pedro Dondisch of Mexico City and the Mexican BGU Associates, built by Architect Danny Lazar. 

2011 The “Pipes Bridge” is a 110 meter steel, wood and aluminum construction built by Architect Rami Marsh over the old Mekorot” Company water pipes. One of its two lanes enables pedestrians to walk directly from the “Old City” of Be’er-Sheva to the Neveh Noy neighborhood, located just across the Be’er-Sheva seasonal watercourse.PipesBridgePedestrianPath The other lane marks the start of the longest biking trail in Israel (60 kilometers), named in memory of Supreme Court Judge Shneur Zalman Heshin (1903-1959), who was run over while riding his bicycle. This bike path goes all the way to Nitzana via Neot Hovav Industrial Park, the I.D.F. Military Training Base, and Golda [Meir] Park.

2016 The lovely double-helix-style double-helix-bridge4“DNA Footbridge,” Double-helix footbridgedesigned by Architects Gidi and Tal Bar-Orian, opened for use, spanning the 75m (=246 feet) distance between the “BGU/North Be’er-Sheva” Train Station and the “Gav Yam” High-Tech Park. In 2017, it won the prestigious long-span International Triannual Footbridge Award in Berlin.

2017 The restoration of the Ottoman-Turkish railway bridge (built  at the start of theturkish-train-bridge 20th century and partially destroyed in WWI) has been completed. This 200-meter arched stone bridge has been re-purposed and now serves asOttoman train bridge restored another pedestrian bridge for crossing the Be’er-ShevaFlooded Beersheva watercourse seasonal watercourse, even during the winter’s flood rains.

 

The International Prep-School for Design & Architecture has opened a branch in Be’er-Sheva – 1-700-508-550.

Since “Our future is inspired by our past” – join the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites  www.shimur.org.il. 

בית טוביהו3For example, we’re currently trying to save the house of the first Jewish Mayor of Be’er-Sheva, David Tuviyahu (located in the Old City) from destruction for historic preservation.