Annual Festivals & Memorials

Festivals and Marathons

A new Be’er-Sheva Old City music and arts festival, called Petrichor (lit., the smell of the first rain on parched earth) was initiated in December 2019–featuring live music, experimental art and music, & psychedelic, digital and virtual media. Futuristic arts featured against the backdrop of the historic setting.

Since 2016, the Be’er-Sheva MiKan Fringe Theater has held an Annual International Fringe Festival (IFF) Dance Week and Competition judged by professional Fringe theaterchoreographers, dancers & theater VIPs. Location: Old City, Anilevich St. See: http://www.iffb7.com, or call: 08-6466657.

At the end of February/beginning of March, during the week of the Purim holiday, the Old City and all of Be’er-Sheva fills with children and adults in costumes, street parties, parades with floats, and comic events in the parks. Three-cornered cookies, called ozne Haman (lit. Haman’s ears; see the biblical Book of Esther), traditionally filled with poppy seeds, but also filled with: prune jam, pressed dates, chocolate, nuts, marzipan, etc. are eaten. 

Chess Club of Beer-ShevaThe 1st annual Israel national Be’er-Sheva Quick-Chess Tournament, in memory of the founder of the Be’er-Sheva Chess Club, Eliyahu Levant, was held mid-March, with 89 participants from across the country, including 14 grand masters, 8 international masters & 1 woman grand master, Ilana David, Director of the Be’er-Sheva Club

Glow RunEvery year since 2012, in the Spring and after sunset, Be’er-Sheva holds a city-wide night “Light/Glow Run” with over 5,000 active participants of all ages and large cheering crowds lining the streets, managed by “Kivunim. Before the race, all the registered runners are given a warmup session and painted and equiped with glowing colors. There are three well-lit courses provided: for 2.5, 5 and 10 kilometer runs. After the race, there is an after-party with well-known local D.J.s and celebs.

Fringe theaterThe annual Smilansky Street Festival originated in July 2005 and by July 2010 had developed into an Annual International Multidisciplinary Fringe Festival held in the Old City of Be’er-Sheva, open to the public and with attractions for all ages and tastes–theater, dance, music, street arts, comedy, drama, improvisation, etc. This high-quality festival was recognized by the European Festivals Association (EFA) in 2017 as being the best festival held in Israel.

A new festival was born in July 2019, the Eat & Drink Festival,” held inside the Design Plus Complex, located at 12 Eliyahu Nawi St. (an extension of  the Hebron Road near the large industrial area). Three gourmet chefs (incl. Avi Biton), a cocktail bar, a beer pub, are all accompanied by street performers, DJs and live bands. 

Each August since 2015, a 40+08 Artistic/Cultural Marathon is held in the Old City of  Be’er-Sheva. During this designated 48-hour period, visual artists of all kinds produce their novel creations, that are then presented to the public as a part of the “Zohar Deromi” (lit., southern glow) Festival at various Old City venues. The name of this marathon refers not only to the time-frame, but also suggests route 40 (that reaches Be’er-Sheva) and telephone area code 08 (for dialing the southern region). Free night-time tours of the Old City are also provided. In August 2019, this multidisciplinary, multimedia, open-to-the-public, interactive festival was renamed the Fountain Festival, lasting for 3 whole days and nights, including: graffiti painting on street-side walls, art workshops, athletic workshops, roving minstrels, various musical shows, singles get-togethers, dance classes, cooking classes, special lectures, Old City tours, etc. 

Beer-Sheva engine no. 70414Every year in September, Be’er-Sheva holds a Wine Festival at the restored Ottoman-Turkish Train Station.

Since 2013, at the start of every academic year in the Fall, the students at BGU hold a huge and loud welcome-to-Be’er-Sheva street party in the vicinity of the University. All are welcome to attend the festivities. 

An annual Beer Fest is generally held in October (as it is in Europe) in the Mall 7 area, just south of (below) the Old City. 

Womens Day in Bell Park 11.10Come November every year, an “Atena” Womens’ Fitness & Sports Day is held outdoors in Be’er-Sheva’s Bell Park for women from the entire southern region. This free event includes aerobic sports, zumba, yoga, a Women's fitness walk Nov. 20102-kilometer march and other healthy activities, as well as a guest artist performance.

Since 2008, an annual conference has been hosted every November on the  green campus – the Marcus Family Campus of BGU –  to grant “Marks of Distinction for Negev Environmental Quality” to worthy individuals and bodies, sponsored by the NPO Sustainable Development for the Negev.

For over a decade, there have been several English-language folk-music festivals each year, originally held at Ashan ha-Zeman and, in recent years, at the Hen Commercial Center in the Bet Neighborhood (26 Bialik St.)–thus called “Bialik Folk Time” (organized by Negev folk-singer Lauren Ornstein (b.1950-). Each event features well-known folk-singers from across Israel (e.g., Sandy Cash, Eli “Dr. Blues” Marcus) and guests from abroad.

Memorials

Terror_Attack_memorialEvery year at the very end of August, a municipal memorial service is held in City Hall square, commemorating the murder of the 16 victims of Hamas16 terrorist victims terrorism in Be’er-Sheva, who died in suicidal bus bombings on August 31st, 2004. The monument (established in 2004) was designed by architect Ya’akov Cohen.

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.

 

Music & Songs, Musicians & Singers

Apologies–this is a very large post, becauseBe’er-Sheva is rife with music and musical talent and, as such, it will never be entirely complete and up-to-date. I want to include examples of everything and everyone associated with music in Be’er-Sheva to date.

Classical

Music education: 

Ruth HillmanThe Be’er-Sheva “Conservatorion – the municipal conservatory of music was founded in 1961 (in memory of philanthropist Samuel Rubin, 1901-1978), by pianist Ruth Hillman (1917-2010) and conductor Nissim Alsheikh (b.1926-). Each year, over 600 students from the entire Negev Region (including Bedouins) attend classes to learn music theory, music appreciation, and how to play all the various instruments.The Conservatorion houses the Hillman Concert Hall and the Municipal Music Library. The current director (2017-) is Jacob (“Yaki”) ReuvenOutstanding students are invited to perform in the various ensembles and orchestras. Many of Israel’s well-known musicians began their musical careers here, such as: mandolinist Avi Avital (b.1978-); mandolinist & musical director Tom Cohen; mandolinist & conductor Shmuel Elbaz; Jewish music producer Gabriel Hassonmandolinist & Conservatorion” Director Jacob (“Yaki”) Reuven; accordionist & conductor Eti Tevel (b.1985-); cellist Ariel Tushinsky (b.1969-); conductor Omer Meir Wellber (b.1981-). It is located at 10 ha-Meshahrerim St. (adjacent to the Municipal Public Library) – 08-6276019. 

Orchestras and instrumental ensembles:

ConservatoriumThe Israel “Sinfonietta” Orchestra (Be’er-Sheva) was first founded in 1973 as a small ‘cameri’ orchestra (22 new-immigrant musicians) by international prize-winning conductor Avi Ostrowsky (b.1939-). After expanding, in 1978 it became a full, classical symphony orchestra, performing under the baton of another internationally acclaimed conductor Mendi Rodan (1929-2009), who served until 1991. Rodan was then followed by violist & conductor Uri Meir (b.1946-) from 1991-1999. Next were: conductor Menachem Nevenhoiz (b.1960-) from 2001-2002; pianist & conductor Yaron Traub (b.1964-) from 2002-2005; classical guitarist & conductor Doron Salomon from 2005-2013; and, most recently, pianist & conductor Justus Frantz (b.1944-) from 2013. The “Sinfonietta” was awarded the 1995 Prize by the Israel National Council for Culture and Art and the 1998 “Wandering Cylinder” Prize by the Israeli “Art for the People”Organization for its service to the entire Negev Region. Office: 08-6266422.     

Nissim Elsheikh 2016Nissim Alsheich (b.1926-) was a co-founder of the Be’er-Sheva Municipal Music “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, when lawyer, conductor Micha David took Micha David - lawyer, conductorover. Alsheich published a Hebrew autobiography entitled My Life’s Symphony: The Realization of a Dream (2016?).

The Be’er-Sheva String Orchestra was re-established in 2014 by “Conservatorion” Director Jacob (“Yaki”) Reuven. The current, internationally- acclaimed conductor (2017-) is Maestro Barak Tal,  was also the recipient of the 2006Barak Tal - conductor Oedoen Partos Award for outstanding performance of an Israeli composition, granted by the Israeli Ministy of Culture.

Be’ershevan accordionist & conductor Eti Tevel (b.1985-, in Be’er-Sheva) received her early classical music training in the city, then studied at the Rubin Academy of Music & Dance in Jerusalem, played with the Israel Police Orchestra, and Eti Tevel - conductorwas a soloist with the Jerusalem Symphony & Philharmonic Orchestras (studying under conductor Mendi Rodan), also playing with the Junior Andalusian Orchestra from 2004. In 2012, she became the conductor of the reconstituted Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon. In 2016, she also became the first Israeli conductor ever invited to conduct the German Philharmonic Orchestra. 
 

Be’er-Sheva-born and trained mandolinist & conductor Shmuel Elbaz andElbaz & Andalusian Orchestra his Israeli Kerman Mandolin Quartet took the 1st prize at the 2003 International  Music Competition for Plectrum Instruments held in La Rioja, Spain. Then, his Israeli Andalusian Orchestra (founded 1994 in Ashdod, Israel) was awarded the 2006 Israel Prize for Music

 The Kerman Mandolin Quartet was created in 2000 by 4 talented Be’ershevan musicians trained originally at the “Conservatorion”Jacob (“Yaki”) kerman-mandolin-quartetReuven, Shmuel Elbaz, Avi Avital & Lev Haimovits (with standby mandolinist Tom Cohen). In 2017, the Quartet is now comprised of: Jacob (“Yaki”) Reuven, Mari Carmen Simon (Spain), Fabio Galluci (Italy), & Vincent Beer-Demander (France). This Quartet renders musical works originally written for string quartets on 4 mandolins.

A Be’er-Sheva trio ensemble consisting of local soprano Isabel Marie Hass and local musicians–French hornist Roman Kott and pianist Raimonda Sheinfeld, give classical performances.

Choirs and vocal ensembles:

Cantacapella Choir 2017“Cantacapella” Choir (established 2011), sings classical & world music under the musical direction of bass/baritone & conductor Yoel Sivan – 054-4949854. It has performed at a number of venues in southern Israel and, on a few occasions, with the Israel Sinfonietta Be’er-Sheva and/or with soloists from the Israel Opera Company“Cantacapella” is currently seeking more tenors and basses. Sivan – 054-4949854.

Joel SivanYoel Sivan also founded and sings in a Renaissance vocal ensemble called “Gloriana” (founded 2010) with soprano Lucy Blochtenor Hillel Sherman, and baritones Yoram Bar-Akiva and/or Guy Pelc. Sivan is also a performing member of the Israeli Vocal Ensemble. Sivan – 054-4949854.

“Coloratura” classical ensemble, founded in 2019 by Diana Eidelszstein (052-5013327) meets every week on Wed. evenings at Matnas Yud Aleph and is currently seeking more singers.

“LOGON” – Light Opera of the Negev (founded 1981) puts on an English-logon-logolanguage operetta or musical production annually, which it performs across the country. Rehearsals are held in Be’er-Sheva. Participation is voluntary, but those who volunteer must perform, excepting cases of illness or injury. To join the cast or stage-crew – 08-6414081 or http://www.lightopera.2ya.com. There’s even a book about LOGON entitled: The stage is our worldIf anyone can tell me who wrote this book and the year of its publication, I’d be grateful. Thanks, Ethelea. By the way, I sang inMerry Widow LOGON 1993 the choir, danced a can-can and a waltz & had a great time with LOGON in 1993, when we put on an English adaptation of the wonderful operetta “The Merry Widow” by Franz Lehar.

***I heard from someone that years ago Prof. Shalom Altman produced an album entitled: “One God” for the Philadelphia Jewish Community Choir, which includes a song that begins with the words: “Here is Beersheba, where Abraham the Patriarch, leader of …” If, by chance, anyone has this album or knows this song, please contact me in Be’er-Sheva at 972-77-4180008. Thanks, Ethelea

***P.S. I made ‘aliyah’ to Be’er-Sheva from Philadelphia in 1972,after dancing & singing in the late Rabbi Efry Spector‘s Israeli performing troup (in support of Israel). I remember handing flowers to the late Abba Eban decades ago. I also took great pleasure when appearing with the 120-voice University of Pennsylvania Choir and the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra at the elegant Academy of Music under the baton of the fiery-tempered Maestro Zubin Mehta, who has only recently retired as conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Not to mention how exciting it was to sing Carl Orff‘s “Carmina Burana” in a huge, old cathedral in Philadelphia–and making the chandeliers shake…

Classical/operatic/cantorial soloists: 

Retired academic librarian Pinhas Ziv resided in Be’er-Sheva and worked at BGU’s Aranne Library from 1970. Around 2010, he began to sing Jewish cantorial music, performing and also recording an album of the same material.

Classical composers:

Max SternContrabassist & composer Max Stern (b.1947-) became a resident of Be’er-Sheva in 1976. Much of the inspiration for his classical and choral works he derived from biblical sources and from the desert environment. In 1990, his chamber-music work “Balaam and the ass” won the Israeli Composers League’s Lieberson Prize Competition. In Tokyo, Japan in 1991, his work for orchestra & narrator, entitled “Perek Shirah” (lit., a chapter of song), was awarded 1st place by the Japanese Contemporary Music Association. From 1993, Stern established the BGU Music Dept., a student choir & a student orchestra.  In 2017, Stern released a classical music disc entitled: “Me’ever le-nehar ha-Sambatyon” (lit., across the [legendary] Sambatyon River, i.e., in exile), that he dedicated to the city. 

Classical musicians conductors:

Vladimir Bob Yourochkin - violinistClassically-trained violinist and music teacher Vladimir (Bob) Yourochkin (b.1966-) frequently gets up on an upside-down pail in the Central Bus Station (“The Terminal”) and plays his violin for the public. He has been in Be’er-Sheva since 2015.

Avi AvitalBe’er-Sheva-born mandolinist Avi Avital (b.1978-) made Be’er-Sheva proud not only by performing with the “Sinfonietta; the Israel Philharmonic; and other European ensembles but, in 2007, he appeared as the mandolin soloist with the “Metropolis Ensemble” at the New York Center for the Arts, playing the U.S. premier of Israeli composer Avner Dorman’“Mandolin Concerto.

Blachmans in actionFreelance cellist, pianist, music teacher & vocal coach HannahHannah Blachman Blachman and her  husband Asher Blachman, a professional violinist, sometimes perform as a piano & violin duo – 08-6413119 (not on the Jewish Sabbath, from sunset Fri.-sundown Sat.). Hannah also gives cello performances with pianist Gila Perach-Hirsch–they call themselves “Tsemed Kol Avi” (lit., the voice of my father duo). 

Accordionist Alexander Suslov (b.1979-) often plays for the public at the central train station and in the Old City since his arrival in Be’er-Sheva in 2014.

Modern genres and folksongs

Institutions: 

The Hebrew/Israeli Song Club usually offers a series of 6 evenings of Israeli folk and pop music at the Hall of the Performing Arts each year – for tickets *8557, line #1. 

Yossi LevFor decades, accordionist & emcee Yossi Lev (father of “Bat Dor” dancer Lior Lev) has given public Hebrew sing-along evenings, accompanied by guitarist & singer Dov Birkenfeld and drummer Alex Bellaish (father of “Bat Dor” dancer Natan’el Bellaish) – 08-6518139, 053-9428780.

Rafi Shaked - accordionistAccordionist Rafi Shaked came to Be’er-Sheva in 1970 to study at BGU and stayed to live here, becoming known as: “the king of evenings of song,” thanks to his frequent public Israeli folk-music sing-alongs – http://www.rafi-shaked.co.il.

Vocal groups, combos and bands:

ha-Hadim Rock groupFor over 45 years, “ha-Hedim” (lit., the echoes, established 1968), the first genuine pop & rock combo originating in Be’er-Sheva, started by guitarists & singers Shlomo (“Momi”) & Avi Asaf (father of Israel Beauty Queen, Ravit Asaf), gave shows filled with nostalgic Israeli and foreign classics from prior decades with: Uri Kariv on synthesizer; the late Ruby Serge on keyboards; and David Ya’akobi on drums. In 1972/3, they had an original English hit single entitled: “Fascination” on the radio, written by the late Ruby Serge and some clips on YouTube.

Signon Acher“Signon Acher” (lit., a different style) is a local vocal jazz ensemble created by Musical Director Yoni Shacham (b.1943-) that does humourous, jazzy & scat singing a-cappella in English and Hebrew, specially arranged by Shacham. In 2014, they put out a double album entitled “SomeSingElse” –http://www.facebook.com/besignonacher.

“Blueband” was a blues & alternative rock combo that existed from ca.1998-2002, founded by songwriter, guitarist & singer David Peretz; with lyricist & singer Elad Chopin; guitarist & singer Yohanan Kressel; keyboardist & guitarist Ya’ir Schleider; and songwriter, guitarist & singer Hagai Nahtomi. They put out one album in 1999.

“Lenses” (existed 2001-2009) was founded by songwriter & soloist Jo’an Safadi (b.1973-) with songwriter, guitarist & singer David Peretz and songwriter, guitarist & singer Yohanan Kressel, that lasted until 2009 and released 3 albums in Hebrew and Arabic.

Hoodska Explosion“Side”Be’er-Sheva‘s British-style electro-rock combo (established 2003) performed original English songs and toured Israel & Europe. Its original 6 Be’ershevan members were: bassist Shai Zrihan; drummer Itamar Abuhatsira (owner of “Feedback Studios”); guitarist Or Dahan; synthesizer Shahar Yampolski; guitarist, drummer & soloist Yossi Shitrit; keyboards & effects David (“Dudu”) Hemed (who is also a soloist in the “Machrumah” Band), later joined by soundman Nir Raveh. Some clips on YouTube.

Marionetta Sol“Marionetta Sol” is an alternative rock combo (formed 2003) by Be’ershevans Amir Grohman (b.1976-) and Ido Karov produced its 1st, mostly instrumental, rock & house album in 2004; in 2005, their 2nd album was released for free on Internet. In 2005, their vocal single “Hey” was aired on Israeli radio. They did a short performance tour in 2006. In 2008 they released 2 more singles. Album no.3 came out in 2009; then, in 2013, their 4th album was released. Current membersAmir Grohman – vocals, guitars, keyboards; Ido Karov – guitar, keyboards, drums, voices; Tal Fogel – bass guitar, sounds; and Nadav Gorali – drums. Former membersElad Chopin – bass guitar; Yaniv Dagan – bass guitar; and Gil Namet – drums.

Pinky combo“Pinky” (formed ca.2004) – a Be’er-Sheva-born punk-rock combo consisting of bass guitarist & soloist Tal Leibel, guitarist & mixer Boaz Even-Ezra & drummer Avishai Hazan. Their first album was “Pink world” (2007) and they put out at least 2 more albums by 2015. Tal Leibel put out his first solo album in Dec. 2017.

Jah-Nos Band“Jah-Nos” Band (formed ca.2006) – comprised of brothers from the Be’ershevan Zennou family: Avi, Ben, Lavi & Shlomi, with three other backup musicians, had 2 ethno-rock hit singles on the radio and put out an album of original songs, some on YouTube.

The combo “ha-Shkhenah mimul” (lit., the neighbor lady across the way; formed 2006) started in Be’er-Sheva and plays original pop music. This combo includes: composer, keyboards & singer Ronen Yarkon; acoustic guitarist, singer & mixer Oren Steinitz; bass guitarist & singer Idan Weisman or Jonathan Balter; guitarist Yitshak Me’ir; drummer & singer Yuval Ben-Hai; and singers Roni Bratslavski and Hilla Millstein.   

“Duo Azulay/Namet” was founded (ca. 2008) by two talented Be’er-Sheva-born singer/songwriters, Nadav Azulay (b.1987-) and Gil Namet (b.1987-, previously in “Marionetta Sol”), who contrast and complete each other. Together, they’ve put out 3 albums: “Ba-tsad shel ha-ra’im” (lit., On the side of the bad guys, 2009); “Ze’ev! Ze’ev!” (lit., Wolf! Wolf!, 2013); and “Telamed oti lirkod” (lit., Teach me how to dance, 2018). They are some of the key representatives of the so-called “Be’ershevan music” scene. 

Karin Shapira“Ensemble Peham” (lit., the coal ensemble; active 2016) is a local Canaanite-blues band that combines the talents of Karin Shapira (former soloist with the punkband “Tsenzurah” (lit., censorship)) and of Aviv (“Yaniv”) Noiman. Separately, Shapira released her personalAviv Noiman album entitled “Tsemer” (lit., wool) and Noiman released his own entitled “David.”

Lotem Asner“Two Girlz Cookin’ Duo” (established 2017) consists of classically-trained keyboardist, vocalist, composer, yukalele player & percussionist Lotem Asner (b.1983-, in Be’er-Sheva) with vocal coach, vocalist, composer & looper player Maya Maya PenningtonPennington. This very creative duo creates brilliant pop/jazz/classical mashups and gives performances across Israel. Asner released an original solo album “Dived and disappeared” in 2015.

“Havruta Ensemble” (lit., band of buddies, formed ca.2018) – performs classic Hebrew/Israeli songs and provides the words on screen, so the audience can sing along. The band consists of: singer Itamar Abuhatsira on percussion; singer Shlomi Mathias on keyboards; Sha’ul Blachman on bass guitar; and Yossi Shitrit & Daniel Adda on guitars. 054-2030717 – havruta27@gmail.com  –  https://www.havrutamusic.co.il/

Singers, songwriters and DJs:

yosi-mustakiJoe (“Yosi”) Moustaki (b.1939-) composed many Hebrew folksongs and sings a Hebrew & Ladino repertoire. He has lived in Be’er-Sheva since 1949 and was among the first 500 Jewish families to reside in the new Israeli desert town. In 1969, he wrote music for Talmah Alyagon-Roz‘s poem “Be’er-Sheva Iri” (lit., my city Be’er-Sheva). Moustaki is especially well-known for his original song “Yam u-shkiyah” (lit., the sea & the sunset) and the music he composed for the poem by Israeli poetess Rachel (1890-1931) entitled “Zemer nugeh” (lit., melancholy song) – soundcloud.com/yosi-moustaki.

Yehudit RavitzYehudit Ravitz (b.1956- in Be’er-Sheva) is a famous, veteran Israeli pop, rock & jazz singer/songwriter and music producer. She has appeared on stage, on TV, in Israeli films, & on YouTube, has had many hit songs on the radio during her successful ca.40-year long career. In 1977, 1982 & 1987, she had the “Best song of the year.” Ravitz released 9 Hebrew albums between 1977 and 2013.

Avi Eilot AloushAvi Eilot Aloush (b.1959- in Be’er-Sheva) is a soul and R&B singer/songwriter who’s been singing in the Old City (ha-Simtah; Ashan ha-Zeman; etc.) since he was a boy (from 1973). Most recently, he’s been doing successful shows with singer Shivhiyah Bat-Israel, one of the black Hebrews from Dimona.  

Mike KaroutchiMike Karoutchi (b.1963- in Casablanca, Morocco), a Be’er-Sheva resident, is a violinist, a pop ‘cover’ singer, and an events performer of traditional Moroccan folk-music. He was honored in 2014 by the King of Morocco for being an ambassador of Moroccan culture. 

Zahava BenZahava Ben (shortened from Benishti; b.1968- in Be’er-Sheva, twin sister of Etti Levi) is a highly-successful Middle-Eastern-style singer, who has released 16 studio albums and another 16  collections. She is known and admired even in Morocco & Turkey and has performed at a number of European venues. 

Etti LeviEtti (nee Benishti) Levi (b.1968- in Be’er-Sheva, twin sister of Zahava Ben) is both a vegetarian and a prolific Middle-Eastern, Moroccan & Arab-style singer. In the years from 1993-2009, she produced 21 music albums, including some duets with Iraqi singer Jacob Nashawi.

David Peretz (b.1970-) is a guitarist, singer & songwriter of alternative rock, blues & Hebrew folksongs. He even started his own record company in Be’er-Sheva, under the “Cactus” label. He put out his first, original solo album “Haiku blues in 2007 and two more albums in 2009 and 2016. He founded the “Blueband” that existed from ca.1998-2002 that put out one album in 1999. In 2001, Peretz became a member of david-peretzthe first Jewish-Arab rock band in Be’er-Sheva  “Lenses”  together with Jo’an Safadi (b.1973-), that lasted until 2009 and released 3 albums. In June 2014, together with Amir Grohman & Ido Karov, he organized a special event combining local poets and songwriters, to present a collection of works relating to the theme: “Ru’ah dromit” (lit., a southern wind or spirit) –  a (primarily) Be’ershevan poetic and musical fantasy; the Hebrew contents of this event may be seen (but not heard) online in the blog “Kikar ha-Ir” of June 11, 2014, in the section by Guy Tene “Shney yesodot.

Yohanan KresselYohanan Kressel (b.1972-) has been a resident of Be’er-Sheva since his student days, and is a songwriter, guitarist & singer; previously a member of “Blueband” from 1998-2002 and of “Lenses” from 2001-2009. Besides working as a physiotherapist, he released 3 albums: the 1st, a solo light-rock album (2008); the 2nd, a dark-rock collaboration with members of “Marionette Sol” (2013); the 3rd, a ‘kick-ass’ rock album with soloist Yossi Shitrit from “Side” (2016).

Dikla_(israeli_singer)Dikla Dori (b.1973-) is a live-performing Be’ershevan singer/songwriter, described as a Middle-Eastern (Hebrew & Arabic) rock diva, who produced 5 albums between 2000-2016 and released many videoclips online. In 2002, Dikla performed in the Summer Festival at the Lincoln Center in New York. In 2004, she was named the “Best Female Singer of the Year” in Israel. Later, she appeared in the Israeli movie: “The ballad of the weeping spring” (2012). In 2015, she was awarded ACUM‘s “Uzi Hitman Achievement Award” and she also performed in Be’er-Sheva at the LGBT celebrations.

Eviatar BanaiEviatar Banai (b.1973- in Be’er-Sheva) is a guitarist, keyboardist, singer & songwriter. (His sister is comedian Orna Banai). Between the years of 1997-2017, he released 6 albums reflecting different musical styles: the 1st chamber pop (1997); the 2nd electronic (1999); the 3rd melodic rock (2005). Then he returned to his Jewish-religious roots, as reflected in the next 3 albums of 2009, 2013 & 2017. Many of his singles were radio hits.

Erez BitonErez Biton (b.1973- in Be’er-Sheva) is an eclectic singer/songwriter & DJ, who released his 1st original rock album in 2009. He sings western-style pop, rock & soul music, as well as Middle-Eastern pop – www.erezbit.co.il. 

Rinat Mor - singerRinat Mor (b.1974- in Be’er-Sheva) is an events singer and YouTube ‘cover’ singer, who has also acted in a number of Israeli films since 1985.

Alon de LocoAlon (“de Loco”) Cohen (b.1974-), a native & resident Be’ershevan, is a leading Israeli & international DJ and producer of hip-hop, R&B, reggae & dancehall music. In 2011, he appeared on the competitive Israeli TV reality show: “Living in La La Land” and won the competition. He’s currently signed to Geffen Records – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alon_De_Loco.

Amir BenayounAmir Benayoun (b.1975-) is a very prolific (though occasionally controversial) Be’er-Sheva-born singer/songwriter, who has released 14 full & 2 mini-albums (one in Arabic) between 1999-2017. In 2006, he was given an AKUM Award by the Organization for Music Composers, Lyricists and Publishers in Israel. In 2011, Benayoun made an album in Arabic “Zini” in support of the Syrian people.

Amir Dadon (b.1975-) is a singer-songwriter and actor born in Be’er-Sheva, who will be starring in Ha-Bimah‘s production of “Les Miserables.” His first solo album, entitled “Amir Dadon” came out in 2010.

Sima Levy-DuchinSima Levy-Duchin (b.1976- in Be’er-Sheva, wife of singer/songwriter Arkady Duchin) is a sing/songwriter in her own right, who released her 1st album in 2006 and her 2nd album a decade later, in 2016. Her eclectic albums present a mixture of musical styles: pop, soft rock, folk and even some country-western, mostly in Hebrew, but also some English songs.

Roy EdriRoy Edri (b.1978- in Be’er-Sheva) is a bilingual (Hebrew/English) singer/songwriter who does soul music, reggae, rock & even hip hop. He spent 16 years touring abroad and returned to Israel and his Jewish-religious rootsEdri released 2 albums: one in English“Hear me out” (2008) and the other in Hebrew: Ad ha-sof” (lit., to the end, 2008).

Itay PearlItay Pearl (b.1978-) was born in Safed, moved to Tel Aviv in 1999 to further his musical career; then, in 2012, Pearl chose to reside in Be’er-Sheva. He is a successful singer & guitarist, and writes and produces rock, pop, blues & jazz music for other popular Israeli singers. His 1st solo album came out in 2005; his 2nd in 2008; no. 3, with Dana Berger, in 2010; his 4th original solo blues album was released in 2012; no. 5, with Dan Toren, in 2013; and the 6th solo album in 2018 here in Be’er-Sheva. Pearl says: “I fell in love with Be’er-Sheva, because here I don’t have to pose for anyone.”

Adi CohenAdi Cohen (b.1980-) was born in Be’er-Sheva and says: “It will always be home to her. She’s a Hebrew pop singer who gained national recognition when she appeared on the Israeli TV reality show “A star is born 2” (2004). In 2006, she appeared in U.S. theaters in a live musical production called “Like a movie” consisting of ‘covers’ of theme songs taken from many Israeli films. Cohen released her 1st album in 2008 and her 2nd in 2012. In between, in 2010, she gave an extensive tour, singing in: France, India, the Philippines, the USA & Canada. After studying theater arts, she also became an actress, and first appeared in the Israeli film “Snails in the rain” (2013). She has appeared in over 21 Israeli musicals. Between 2005-2015, she released at least 9 singles on radio & YouTube.

Dana Mazal Malka (b.1982-) spent her childhood in Be’er-Sheva. She has become a prolific songwriter for many of Israel’s popular  singers of the Middle-Eastern genre, such as: Moshik Afiya, Gili Argov and Etti Levi

Noa BabayofNoa Babayof (b.1982- in Be’er-Sheva) is a folk & alternative pop/rock music singer/songwriter, whose first English-language album From a window to a wall” was released in both Israel & the USA in 2007. Her 2nd English album “Blue bound” came out in 2016. 

Mor Luria (b.1982-), a resident Be’er-Sheva lyricist, put out an album including many of her original songs in 2017, together with some originals by songwriter & musical producer Moni Amarillio and with the help of singer Moran Sela and other singers of her lyrics.

Avia Barkao (b.1983-), a resident of Be’er-Sheva, is a singer both of American pop songs and Ethiopian songs; since 2011, she has also been writing original songs in Hebrew. https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Musician-Band/אביה-ברקאו-210777753030610/

Re'em CohenRe’em Cohen (b.1983- in Be’er-Sheva) is a singer with a radiophonic voice that has his own weekday radio program “Brizah” (lit., a breeze) at 101.5 FM. In 2006, he released his first Hebrew single entitled “Transparent in your eyes.” 

Danah LapidotDana Lapidot (b.1983- in Be’er-Sheva) is a pop music singer & songwriter, who became a soloist with “Hamsah” in 2001. She released her most popular Hebrew single in 2008 – “Meshuga’at” (lit., Crazy woman) and then her own 1st album: “Dana Lapidot.” In 2009, she gave a performance tour across Israel and in 2012, she released her 1st videoclip of a song Ve-ulay ha-yom” (lit., and maybe today). Then, in 2015, her 2nd album came out. In 2017, she made Hebrew & French pop-music clips in collaboration with Eli Henree.

Noam Vazana (b.1983-, in Be’er-Sheva) grew up and received classical and jazz music training in the city. She is pianist, trombonist, composer and singer. Now, performing in Holland and in Israel, together with her musical partner, Turkish classical guitarist Aktash Fatih Erdogan (b.1980-), she sings and plays in her original show entitled “In the name of the mother,” based on his mother’s life story. 

Asaf WeitzmanAsaf (“Cortex”) Weitzman (b.1984-, in Be’er-Sheva) is a rare specimen, a religious Jewish DJ doesn’t work on the Jewish Sabbath–so no dance, trance & house on Friday night or Saturday. He put out his 1st album in 2005 and immediately set out on his first DJ tour abroad in Mexico. He owns his own private record label. From 2015, he produces karaoke and musical events.

Sivan Talmor (b.1986-, in Be’er-Sheva) is a singer/songwriter who released 3 original English-language albums between 2016-2019. She gives live performances and has a personal music website at sivantalmor.com. In  2012 , she appeared on Israel TV in the 1st season of Israel’s “The Voice.”

Israel_Bar-OnIsrael Bar-On (b.1989- in Be’er-Sheva) is a modest Hebrew pop/rock singer/songwriter, who was discovered when he won the 6th season of the Israeli “A star is born” (2008) with his original Hebrew song: “Just as it used to be” that soared straight to the top ten on all the pop-music charts. He went on from there to perform in many children’s musical shows. Bar-On‘s 1st album, consisting of 13 of his original songs, came out in 2010. He continues to do live performances and has clips on YouTube.

Miki UzanMiki Uzan (b.1990-) from Be’er-Sheva composed and released his first pop single “Mukhshaf” (lit., bewitched) on YouTube in 2014. In 2016, he appeared on the Israeli reality show: “Eyal Golan’s calling you!” In 2017, he sang a duet with guitarist and singer Reuven Carmel.

Tal Fogel (b.1991-), a resident Be’ershevan singer/songwriter/lyricist, released her 1st Tal Fogel - songwriterHebrew solo album “Piles of dreams” in 2014 and her second solo album “To the large courtyard” in 2016. Musical arrangements done by Amir Grohman.

Shanim Maimon (b.1992-, in Be’er-Sheva) sings pop, soul, R&B & rap originals and ‘covers’ in Hebrew, English & Spanish and resides and often performs in London and Tel-Shanim Maimon - singerAviv. She was a winner of the Israeli music TV reality show called “Yeshnan banot” (lit., there are girls) on Channel 24 and has a number of video-clips on YouTube. 

Noam Cohen (“Numi”) (b.1993-) is a Be’er-shevan rapper/singer who put out his first Hebrew album in 2019, entitled: “Rockstar kapara.” He claims to be a proud representative of the City of Be’er-Sheva.

Amir Abu (b.1994-) is a Be’er-Sheva-born Muslim-Arab resident, who participated in the musical reality show “The Four” on Israel Channel 13 in 2018. He sings covers in Hebrew and Arabic. In 2020, during the Corona pandemic, he released his first single: “Balagan.” 

Ofir Alhayani (b.1996-, in Be’er-Sheva) is a singer/songwriter who used to sing with “Tse’ire Be’er-Sheva.He debuted on YouTube singing covers. In 2019,  his original Hebrew song: “It’s still not too late” came out, & has over 22,000 views as of 4.2020.   

Ron Ribak (b.1999-) is an upcoming Be’ersheva-born singer/songwriter with several covers on YouTube. During her mandatory I.D.F. service, she sang in the I.D.F. troupe.

Maya Cohen (b.2002-) from Be’er-Sheva reached the final round (Sept. 2019) in the 5th season of the Israeli version of  “The Voice” aired on Israel TV Channel 13.

Yolanta is a multi-talented, classically-trained contemporary musician–a singer, lyricist, composer & keyboardist who resides in Be’er-Sheva. She has released 4 Yolanta - musicianmusic albums between 2013-2017, some with classical or electronic influences, all featuring her unique voice and special sound. Frequently, her music producer is Amir Grohman from “Marionetta Sol.” 

Musicians:

Daniel Adda (b.1987-) plays some 20 instruments, teaches instrumental music at the Be’er-Sheva Municipal Music “Conservatorion”, and has his own personal recording studio at home in Be’er-Sheva. The international music journal BassLove raved about his unique cover clip of Bon Jovi‘s song “It’s my life” that went viral on Internet, in which he played all the instruments himself (like Andre “3000” Benjamin from “OutKast” in “Hey ya!” in 2003) and sang (though not as good as Bon Jovi).

Adiel Azrai (b.1990-), a graduate of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, combines music and art when he fashions his unique drums, such as the panticodrum (Kojix) at his studio in the Artists’ Quarter in Be’er-Sheva‘s “Old City.” These drums produce special musical tones and rhythms. He crafts, sells and teaches how to play them.               

Alex Bellaish (father of “Bat Dor” dancer Natan’el Bellaish) is a well-known drummer in Be’er-Sheva.  

Desert drummersThe “Desert Drummers,” founded in 2000 by Dudi Bar-Yosef, give performances and teach drumming in Be’er-Sheva – Sarit 052-4457700.

Avinoam Lasry & his guitarsAvinoam Lasry, a Be’er-Sheva resident, builder of guitars and teacher of guitar building, also writes, sings & produces indie blues & reggae music, including his Be’er-Sheva blues. 

Native Be’ershevan Alon Shacham (b.1980-) is a trained tenor saxophonist & composer of original, Middle-Eastern reggae, funk, traditional ska & jazz music. He’s a member of the “HoodSka Explosive”big band’ (founded 2004) Hoodska Explosionthat produces original dance music, has done a European tour, and released a double album entitled “The misleading” (2007). Shacham is the CEO & co-founder of  Compoze Music Solutions Ltd. (founded 2014).

Local DJs:

Mor Avrahami (b.1988-); Lior Badash (b.????-; “Red Music”); Idan Hagai (b.1985-); Guy Haliva(b.1993-); Oz Zigron (b.1989-).

***If you are interested in the world of Hasidic music, the resident expert in Be’er-Sheva is Rabbi Avraham (“Avi”) Sandik – 054-4805607 (He works with Bet Moriah). It’s also easy to find local klezmer bands, such as: “Tamid be-Simhah” (lit., always joyful); “Mazal Tov!” (lit., Congratulations!); “Nigunim” (lit., melodies); etc. listed in the local Hebrew weekend paper of the Haredi (i.e., ultra-Orthodox) community Mekomi dati (lit., local religious).

Live music and concerts are held in various venues relative to the size and type of the performance and audience. They may be held in the: River Park AmphiHall of the Performing ArtsHillman Hall at the “Conservatorion”Be’er-Sheva Theater; Youth Center; on the Art Museum lawn; and in various halls and many other educational and residential institutions. 

Recording studios

Youth Culture CenterY.R.S. Recording Studio is located at the Youth Center in the Old City – 12 Herzl St., 08-6205003, 050-5872743.

Beer-Sheva Firsts & Feats

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

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 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. As of chess club-1January 2018, Be’er-Sheva remains well-represented by the promising, young grandmaster MaximMaxim Rodshtein 2018 Rodshtein (b.1989-), currently ranked no.2 in Israel and ranked no.50 in the World by the FIDE International Chess Ranking. In 2019, the Be’er-Sheva Chess Club won the Israel National Cup.

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.

 

Libraries & Archives

The Be’er-Sheva Municipal Public Library (founded 1950) is located on Derekh ha-Meshahrerim (next to the Conservatorium [of Music]) and provides Hebrew literature,Public Library educational reading materials, and a good place to sit and study for the entire population of Be’er-Sheva. The Library also regularly sponsors guest lectures by authors, art exhibits in the foyer, and occasional poetry readings. The Public Library also has two small branches: in the Old City (in Be’eri” Elementary School – 08-6283958) and in Neveh Noy (in Ma’anit” Elementary School – 08-6450908).

In 1961, with the founding of the Conservatorium, the Music Library & Archive came into being, keeping all the musical scores for the orchestra, theConservatorium  music teachers, and musicians, as well as exemplary record albums of classical music concerts and performances from various other times and places.

The original, basic academic library (only ca.1,500 books) was established at the Hias House in 1965 by the Institute for Higher Education to support Bachelor Degree studies in science and engineering. Then in 1969, the University was founded and the Library began to expand its collections toaranne-library-at-bgu1 support studies in the new and growing faculties and to enable the granting of higher degrees (Masters & Doctorates). By 1972, with the opening of the BGU Aranne Central Library (named for the late Minister of Education, Zalman Aranne, 1899-1970) on the “New Campus” (now called the Marcus Family Campus), the Library collections held ca.71,000 printed books. Today (in 2017), the Aranne Library offers open-shelf access to over a million printed academic books and periodicals and to electronic books, articles & databases, in support of the academic fields taught in all BGU’s faculties and schools. The Aranne Library (open to the adult Aranne Library viewpublic without charge) also has ongoing art exhibits and academic guest lectures, occasional book-sales and a “take-a-free-used-book” table, as well as an “Aroma” Cafe in the entrance lobby for study breaks and ‘refueling’. Main office – 08-6461402; Loan Desk – 08-6461412.

The 4th floor (room 402) of the Aranne Librarhouses the Tuviyahu Archives of the Negev (named after the first Jewish mayor of modern Israeli Be’er-Sheva, David Tuviyahu, 1898-1975) that preserves documentary materials about BGU, David Ben-Gurion, Be’er-Sheva and the Negev Region  08-6461425.

In 1999, the Americans & Canadians in Israel (AACI), Southern Region established AACI Library at Matnas Yud-Alpehthe AACI Regional Public English Reading Library inside the Yud-Alef Community Center, located at 11 Mordekhai Namir St. Occasionally, literary events, such as English poetry readings or book review clubs, are held here. This facility is managed by volunteer librarians. In 2019, the AACI Library holds over 8,000 reading books in all the literary AACI English Librarygenres, with some in simple English and some in large print, and the entire collection now has a computerized catalog – 08-6433953.

Award-winning community center “Beit Moriah (founded 1993) is located in the Daled neighborhood on Mendele Mokher Sefarim St. It has a library with Beit Moriahhundreds of children’s books from Israel & abroad that may be borrowed – 08-6288812.

The Yitzchak Shavit Library (dedicated 2001) and the Pamela & Stanley Chais Library (dedicated 2005) at the Sami Shamoon Academic College of Technology (SCE) in the SCE librariesAleph neighborhood primarily stock technical and scientific books, journals & databases. This library is located in a unique, eco-friendly, 21st century structure – 08-6475612.  

Since 2017, there are free public used-book exchanges located in many of the residential neighborhood commercial centers. Exchange libraryYou’ll see what looks like a bus-stop, but full of book- shelves where you may leave books and magazines you’ve read and no longer want and take others to read, left by someone else, that may be returned afterwards.x

ohel-shlomo-kiryat-wolfsonIn addition, there are a number of Judaica libraries in Be’er-Sheva, situated in various synagogues, institutes, kolels & yeshivahs, such as: the Misha’el Dahan Judaica Library located in the “Lev ha-Melakhim” Yeshivah at 125 Bialik St. in the Bet neighborhood; at the Bnei Akiva Yeshivah “Ohel Shlomo” on the Kiryat Wolfson Campus in the Daled neighborhood; at theOrot Yisra’el” Institute at 10 Ramhal St. in Bet – 08-6222030, Orot Yisrael kolelhttp://www.orotisrael.co.il;  in the“Lev Ahim” Judaica Library, near the“Shevet Ahim” Moroccan Synagogue on ha-Hidah St. in the Yud-Alef neighborhood; and in the new Chabad synagogue “Bet Mashi’ah” on ha-Shelah St. also in Yud-Aleph

Used Hebrew books may also be purchased for a symbolic sum at “Sippur Hozer” (lit., a repeating story), founded ca.2011 by Ms. Adi Nuriel-Avraham. It’s part of a national chain of ‘social welfare’ bookstores that hire temporary help requiring rehabilitatioAdi Nuriel-Avrahamn, a sort of halfway entry into the job market. This bookstore is located in the Old City at 1 Rambam St. http://www.rebooks.org.il. 

 

 

 

 

 

Judeo-Arab Cultures

The Judeo-Arab (Sephardic) cultures originated in three different geographical areas–from two continents, Asia and Africa, and from the Middle East, bringing Be’er-Sheva Jews from: Algeria, China, Cyprus, Egypt (+Karaite Jewry), Erithrea, Ethiopia (+Falash Mura), Greece, India, Iran (+Persian Jewry), Iraq (+Babylonian Jewry), Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and other countries. In general, all of these Judeo-Arab immigrant communities (with the exception of the Karaites) share the same core Jewish traditions and customs, but each one also has its own unique Hebrew dialect, ethnic/national history, Jewish liturgical style & elements, extra-rabbinic customs, and separate community synagogue(s). One lovely tradition shared by the variousMy beautiful picture Judeo-Arab ethnic groups is the celebration of henna parties (engagement parties) for brides/grooms. When I first married in 1973, my kind Yemenite inlaws-to-be threw me a henna party along with that of my husband-to-be and bedecked me accordingly. 

Algerian Jewry

The Algerian-Jewish community celebrates a unique holiday they call “Molke Tsiyon” or the “Feast of Siyum” in adoration of Zion on the Thursday preceding the reading of the Hebrew Bible portion “Yitro” (“Jethro”) in the synagogues (usually in February). Traditionally, at this feast they have soup. Little is know about the true origin and meaning of this celebration and custom.

Babylonian/Iraqi Jewry

The Be’er-Sheva Association  & Center for the Preservation of the Tradition of Babylonian (Iraqi) Jews, founded in 1991 by 5 key Iraqi figures in the city: Chairman of the Scholarship Fund (and my neighbor for decades), Ovadya Kalai; historian, Dr. Nissim Kazaz; lawyer & notary, Balfour Kvity; former Director of the Public Library, David Sa’ad; and car-dealer & philanthropist Ezra Yerucham (who funded an advanced Cancer Research Laboratory at BGU in 2014). This center maintains a fund that grants academic scholarships to students of Iraqi origin who reside in Be’er-Sheva  www.universities-colleges.org.il/P32473/?show=4&f=91163.

From 1975-1980, architect Nahum Zolotov, a master of raw concrete architecture, completed the unique Central Synagogue of the Iraqi-Jewish Community of Be’er-Sheva (in memory of Eliyahu the-star-synagogueHalachi) at 5 Montefiori St. in Aleph–nicknamed “the Star Synagogue” or “the Pyramid,” due to its rare star-of-David shape. It features a central lectern 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.

In 2016, the Park of the Babylonian Immigrants, located in the Gimel neighborhood (on Babylonian immigrant park 2016Wingate St.) was dedicated in memory of “Operation Ezra and Nehemiah” (1950-1951) that brought the bulk of Iraqi Jewry to Israel, many becoming founders of the City of Be’er-Sheva. It’s right near the oldest Iraqi community synagogue in the city “Magen David.” 

Egyptian + Karaite Jewry

The first synagogue you encounter, “ha-Avot” (lit., the fathers), located on Be’er-Sheva‘s unique “Synagogue Row” on Shabazi St. in the Aleph neighborhood, belongs to the Egyptian-Jewish community.

Most of the original members of the Karaite community and synagogue in Be’er-Sheva came from Egypt. This congregation is mostly located in the Old City, under the leadership of Rabbi Moshe Firrouz. The Karaites are accepted as Jews and their marriages are recognized by the State of Israel. They are distinct from mainstream Judaism, since they do not accept Jewish ‘oral law’ and the post-biblical rabbinic traditions and strictly adhere to the fundamental dictates of the Hebrew Bible. For example (like Muslims today), they remove their shoes before entering holy places, as indicated in the Hebrew Biblehttp://www.karaite.korner.com.

Persian/Iranian Jewry

The central organization of the Persian/Iranian-Jewish community in the Negev Region is called “Tsiyone Iran” and is located in the Bet neighborhood at 40 Bialik St. at the corner of Betsalel St. 08-6413253, 08-6463023, 050-5690390, 052-3235374.   

The fifth synagogue you encounter on Be’er-Sheva‘s unique “Synagogue Row” on Avraham Erets-KedoshahShabazi St. in the Aleph neighborhood belongs to the Persian-Jewish community and was built in memory of Avraham Erets-Kedoshah (1931-1955), who was randomly shot and killed by snipers on the road to Eilat.

Libyan Jewry

The third synagogue you encounter, “ha-Nasi,” on Be’er-Sheva‘s unique “Synagogue Row” on Shabazi St. in the Aleph neighborhood belongs to the Libyan-Jewish community.

Moroccan Jewry

The Association des originaires du Maroc en Beersheba, currently headed by Haim E. Melca, holds Moroccan culture evenings, the proceeds of which are used for student study-grantshttp://www.melca.info, 08-6433751.

A Moroccan community synagogue “Minhat Ya’akov” (once called “Tehillat David”) located in the Daled neighborhood, contains a memorial corner where some congregants light candles in memory of Rabbi Chaim Ibn-Attar (or Hayyim Ben-Attar, a.k.a. “Or ha-Hayyim ha-Kadosh,” 1696-1743), a famous Moroccan Talmudist and Kabbalist.

“Maghreb” is a local Moroccan theater group that occasionally performs original or translated plays in Moroccan dialect at the Culture Hall.

The Mabrukah” (lit., congratulations!) – Moroccan Treasures Hall seats up to 350 guests and offers authentic kosher Moroccan cuisine, atmosphere and folklore & catering – 08-6450749, mabruka.mazaltov2u.co.il.

“Yakota” (opened in the 1960s) is a beautiful kosher Moroccan restaurant that totally Yakota - Moroccan cuisineimmerses you in a Moroccan atmosphere. ‘Veteran’ Chef Beber Ben-Moyal personally prepares every order and caters to every special request. Although it’s located in the Old City at 27 Morde ha-Geta’ot St., you feel like your sitting in Fez or Tangier and the food is delicious! – 08-6232689, 050-7949495.Inside Yakota Restaurant

Maghrebi/North African Jewry

Every year, on the night that marks the end of the Passover festival week (with its many dietary restrictions), North African Jews in Be’er-Sheva (and their guests) celebrate the “Mimouna” when returning toMimouna celebration an unrestricted diet by covering large tables with fresh fried and colorful baked sweets, donning traditional ethnic costumes, playing traditional ethnic music, and opening their homes to guests.  

An unique, annual “Rosh hodesh ha-banot” (“New-moon girls’ festival”) is celebrated by North-African Jewish women in the middle of Hanukkah (the Festival of Lights, usually in December)

Tunisian Jewry

“AYOT” – the  Be’er-Sheva Association for Jewish Immigrants from Tunisia has a Center for the Promotion of the Tunisian Heritage located at 103 ha-Shalom St. in the Gimel Neighborhood. The association provides remedial classes for school children in need of help. Some of the local founders and leaders of the community are: Dani Fitousi, Rene Teshuvah, former City Council Member Nissim Na’im, & Ruthi Tsarfati.

A new main synagogue for the Tunisian community of Be’er-Sheva is being built on Mivsta Uvdah in Yud Aleph, intended to be an exact replica of the “Great Synagogue” in TunisUnfortunately, it appears that the construction has been stalled for some time due to insufficient funds for its completion; obviously another donor is being sought.

An unique, annual “Seudat Yitro” (“Feast of Jethro” or “Fete de Yetrou”) is held by the Tunisian-Jewish community on the Thursday preceding the reading of the Hebrew Bible portion “Yitro” (“Jethro”) in the synagogues (usually in February). It ostensibly celebrates the end of a plague that killed many Jewish men and boys in Tunisia. It’s also considered a Sons’ Feast, at which a festive miniature 3-course meal is served to the boys on miniature dishes, in miniature cups, shot glasses and with small ‘desert’ utensils. Even the food portions are minimalistic and include: 1st course–smallTunisian deblah sweetbreads, traditional farina & date cookies shaped like children & animals (makroud) & bite-sized, rosebud-shaped, fried deblah; 2nd course–vegetable pies (ma’akouda), salads & green fava beans; and the unusual 3rd & main course: pigeons stuffed with hard-boiled eggs, each inscribed with the name of the boy being served. The origin of this strange, uniquely Tunisian, festival is still unclear.  

“Yasmina” is a newly-established (2017-, hopefully annual), specifically Israeli-Tunisian cultural event held in Be’er-Sheva in the middle of the Sukkot Festival (Tabernacles, usually in October), to bolster the Tunisian-Jewish cultural heritage through authentic Tunisian-Jewish music, stories & foods.

Yemenite Jewry

In Be’er-Sheva, the “Shabbazi Community” aids and supports new immigrants from Yemenite Heritage AssociationYemen and Aden, holds frequent religious and cultural events, and publishes a Hebrew weekly online journal. Some of the leading figures are: Zechariah Aharon, Zion Ahraq, Rabbi Shabbazi SynagogueNatan’el al-Sheikh, Attorney Moshe Danoch, David Erez, Zechariah Hajbi & Yosef Matana. Elgen Long-On wings of eagles,1949The Abba Shalom Shabbazi” Synagogue (baladi liturgy) and“Bet ShabbaziCommunity Center are both located on Shabbazi St. in the Aleph neighborhood. On Thurs. March 8, 2018, a special evening was held in honor of the last living crew member of Alaska Airlines, British Capt. Elgen Long (aged 91), who flew Yemenites to Israel in 1949; in the audience were 1 baby and 1 fetus who had been on that life-saving flight. Capt. Long, a righteous gentile, had never been back to Israel since 1949 and was amazed by all he saw. He also stated that he was only 1 member of the crew and accepts the honor on behalf of the entire rescue team posthumously.

Other Yemenite synagogues in Be’er-Sheva are: “Sha’are Tsedeq” (shaami liturgy) also on Shabazzi St. in Aleph; “Al-Sheikh” (baladi liturgy) in Daled; and “Afiqe Teman” in the Ramot neighborhood.

An amateur Yemenite theater group called “Penine Teman” (lit., Yemenite pearls) has put on original Judeo-Arabic plays in the Yemenite dialect, such as: “Sa’id and Sa’idah” (2006).

Authentic, kosher Yemenite cuisine is available in a number of places, for Yemenite foot-bone soupexample: Shabbazi Restaurant in the Old City at 16 Smilanski St., where one can order delicacies, such as: Beef foot-bone soup, head meat, tail meat, and pita-bread hot off the tabun-oven wall; “Falafel ha-Kerem 2” – “the most Yemenite in town” at 2 Shimoni St. in Bet with take-away – 052-2460530); “ha-Felafel ha-Temani” at 17 Gershon Shufman St. in Neveh Ze’ev (with take-away – 053-9377950); and “Megulgalawah” at 4 Yemenite jahnunYitshaq Ben-Tsevi in the Merkaz Ezrahi neighborhood (facing the Government Mall) that makes Yemenite foods like malawah and jahnun (fried breads); and Uri’s Yemenite Felafel at 35 Pinhas ha-Hotsev St.

Russian & Soviet Cultures

Some local Former Soviet Union (FSU) organizations and  associations

The Union of Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU). Located at 88 Herzl St. in the Old City –  

National Israeli Federation of Russian-Speakers (IFORS) http://www.ifors.co.il.

The Romanian Immigrants’ Organization (Asociatia Originarilor Evrei din Romania), founded and headed by Dr. Nathan Cohen, is located at the Immigrants’ House (Bet ha-Oleh), 2 ha-Histadrut St. in the Old City – 08-6232395, www.facebook.com/groups/145478502178171/members. In 2017, a cooperative agreement was made between the Be’er-Sheva Office of Commerce and Industry and the Bucharest Office of Commerce and Industry in Romania.

“AMIR” – Union of Former Romanians in Israel – www.amirorg.co.il/?page_id=24.

The Community of Immigrants for Georgia (Gamarjoba– www.kehila4u.co.il.

Hungarian Immigrants’ Club. Founded by Paul Weiss (1914-2003) and Prof. Gabriel Terek (1917-1991) in 1967 in the Daled neighborhood – www.tapuz.co.il/blogs/viewentry/1932921.

FSU culture in Be’er-Sheva

“Amcha” – located at 91 Herzl St. in the Old City, hosts special Hungarian culture evenings once a month to preserve the Hungarian language by presenting Hungarianamcha1 programs with guests from Israel and abroad. “Amcha” also hosts a Polish Literary Circle once a month that convenes to preserve the Polish language by discussing Polish literature, etc. – 08-6270224, http://www.amcha.org.

The Center for the Performing Arts occasionally presents Soviet cultural events, such as: visiting Soviet ballet performances; the Red Army Choir; playsperforming-arts-hall-21 performed in Russian; evenings of Russian music & songs; and even Russian stand-up comedians and other well-known entertainers.  

“Shalvah” – Georgian Folk-Dance Troupe was named after Shalva Georgian Dance Troupethe late founder, Shalvah Ephremashvili (founded 1973). The dancers are mainly family members plus other Georgian dancers. Director, choreographer: David Ephremashvili052-2709699, 08-6414051.

The “Terminal” [Russian] Discotheque/Dance Bar, located at the corner of Hadassah 61 & Herzl Streets in the Old City, has a FSU D.J. and plenty of good Vodka (for those who can stand the high decibels). Opens from 23:30 – 054-468-9644, https://www.facebook.com/terminalbeersheva.

Annual Passover tournaments are held for a traditional Georgian (Gruzini) outdoor Lelo Burti - Georgian rugbyfolk-sports game somewhat like contemporary rugbyLelo burti–in which the men’s teams, Dynamo Be’er-Sheva and Onas Bichi, and the women’s teams, MaraToni and MesameTaoba, compete. A propos rugby, the Be’er-Sheva “Camels” Rugby Club (founded 1992) practices at the BGU Sports Center; this club won the double in 2005–the Israel Rugby Cup and the Israel Academic Sport Association National Championship.

There are a number of (non-kosher) Soviet restaurants and events halls in Be’er-Sheva with cuisine from various FSU republics.russian-restaurant

 

In memorium

Memorial services are held annually on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Memorial for Fallen SoldiersRemembrance Day at the memorial statute in the plaza near the entrance of Yad la-Banim (near City Hall).

Soviet-Jewish author Shalom Schwarzbard, known as “The Avenger” (1886-1938) has a street in the Old City named in his memory, ha-Noqem, for his actions avenging the deaths of Ukrainian Jewry.

Russian media

 There are a number of Russian-language TV channels and programs and several Russian community papers, print and digital, such as: the weekly papers – NegevInfo – 08-6232504; Treugolnik – 08-6105457.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spanish & Ladino Cultures

The population of Be’er-Sheva is blessed with Jews from all over Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries , as well as people with a Ladino heritagewho enrich our local culture.

Video-clip on Be’er-Sheva in Spanish at: https://unitedwithisrael.org/es/video-beer-sheva-la-capital-del-desierto-de-israel.

Spanish speakers and culture

“Gente” (lit., people) is the association for immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries  that also publishes the Gente Latinoamericana Spanish newspaper. It has an ongoing project called: “Comunidad de apoyo” that tries to find the best residential solutions for the elderly. “Gente” also usually holds dinner-dance parties once or twice a year for all the members. The clubhouse is located on Yisra’el Yish’ayahu St. adjacent to the Rimonim” Elementary School in Yud-Aleph – Ophelia 10:00-12:00 & 17:00-19:00, 050-7248002.

“Olei Be’er-Sheva” also an immigrant union for Jews from Latin America, Spain &EL_GAUCHO Portugal, with a clubhouse in the Old City at 38 Gershon St. They also publish a digital newsletter and hold a couple of events each year – Office hours: 8:30-12:30, 08-6278758 or Gil 052-4708433.  

Conservative Congregation “Eshel Avraham” in Tet has a sizable Spanish-speaking membership and offers classes, clubs and consultations in Spanish, as well as in Hebrew – Claudio Beiter 08-6420989.Claudio Balter

Ladino speakers and culture

The Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture was founded in 2007 at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev inBGU logo2 cooperation with the University of Granada ladino-culturein Spain. The Gaon Center teaches Ladino, promotes Ladino culture & provides student scholarships for research on Ladino culture, as well as organizing occasional Ladino cultural events open to the public- 08-6479677. Some key academics at the center are: Prof. Tamar Alexander-Frizer, Dr. Yaakov Bentolila & Dr. Eliezer Papo. 

gaon-center-for-ladino-culture The National Authority for Ladino Culture in Be’er-Sheva is represented by Roni Arazi and Shlomo Ventura – arazi.r@gmail.com, shlomove@013.net.net.   

Yosi Moustaki (b.1939-) is a well-known singer/song-writer who was born in Cairo, Egypt, fled with his family during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, and reached Be’er-Sheva, Israel in 1949, among the first 500 Israeli families to settle here. Yosi MustakiHe has a special repertoire of Ladino music and folklore. In 2010, the City of Be’er-Sheva showed its appreciation, honoring him as an “Esteemed Citizen” and, in 2012, he also received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Union of Israeli Artists.

Annual memorials

Every year in July, memorial ceremonies are held, remembering the 115 victims of the Hizballah terrorist bombings that occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina in July 1994 at the Israeli Embassy and at the “Amia” Jewish Community Center

Other commemorative items

ladino_stamp               ladino-coin

 

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.

Rinat Matsliah, a Be’ershevan educator and writer of 5 children’s books since 2011, published her first book of Hebrew poems in 2019.

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.   

 

 

 

Jewish Culture & Tradition

World Jewry in Be’er-Sheva“The ingathering of the exiles.”

Be’er-Sheva has a truly integrated, international citizenry, consisting of Jewish immigrants from 72 countries of origin (from all 5 continents), including the last remnants of the Albanian and Yemenite Jewish communities, and a Karaite (Jewish) community, as well as 3 generations (and counting) of native-born Israeli Beershevans. Like Abraham the Patriarch, the metropolitan-oasis Capital of the avot-0102Negev welcomes newcomers, offering a full spectrum of sociocultural and religious traditions and lifestyles, so that everyone may feel at home. It is a pluralistic and multilingual city, with virtually no intra-religious or inter-ethnic tensions or urban ‘ghettos’. 

Jewish religious organizations

The Be’er-Sheva Rabbinate and Religious Council is located at 8A ha-Talmud St. – 08-620400, 1-599-515-959. As of 2017, the Chief Rabbi of Be’er-Sheva and Head of the Rabbinic Courts is Rabbi Yehuda Deri (b.1958-). The Rabbinate handles all Jewish ritual matters: kashrut – 08-6204026; bridal instruction – 08-6204017; weddings – 08-6204014; circumcisions – to find certified mohalim on Internet search in 144 – the online telephone directory;  funerals & Hevrah Kadisha (burial society) –  08-6204006; re. mourning customs Rabbi Abraham Tariki, 054-4586152; in case of afterhour emergenciesRabbi Abraham Lorber, 054-4348735 or Rabbi Shlomo Ohayon, 054-4458580. The Religious Council trains rabbis to supervise kashrut and to officiate at circumcisions, weddings & funerals in accordance with Jewish law and ethnic customs.

The Bnei Akiva Yeshivah “Ohel Shlomo” (founded 1962) on the Kiryat Wolfsonohel-shlomo-kiryat-wolfson campus in the Daled neighborhood prepares rabbinical students for ordination, most of whom not only graduate with honors, but pass the qualifying examinations to become practicing rabbis – 08-6411041.

Synagogue congregations

As of 2017, Be’er-Sheva has ca.237 synagogue congregations (thus far), categorized as follows:  ca.197 Sephardic; ca.22 Ashkenazic; ca.3 Yemenite; ca.2 Ethiopian; 1 Karaite; 1 Conservative (“Eshel Avraham”); 1 Reform (“Ramot Shalom”); and 10 named, but eshel-avraham-synagogueuncategorized congregations. With the development of each new neighborhood, more synagogues are built. Also as of 2017, there are ca.13 mikvehs (ritual bath-houses) in the city (thus far).

The Karaite community and synagogue are located in the Old City, under the leadership of Rabbi Moshe Firrouz; most of the members came from Egypt. They are distinct from mainstream Judaism, since they do not accept Jewish ‘oral law’ and the post-biblical rabbinic traditions and strictly adhere to the fundamental dictates of the Hebrew Bible. For example (like Muslims today), they remove their shoes before entering holy places. They are accepted as Jews and their marriages are recognized by the State of Israelhttp://www.karaite.korner.com.

Egalitarian Congregation “Eshel Avraham” (lit., Abraham’s tamarisk, founded 1977), located in the Tet neighborhood, belongs to the Conservative Judaism Movement and, as such, practices mixed family seating and grants women full equality and active participation in all the religious rites and ceremonies–some Conservative women are ordained rabbis or trained cantors, and they often lead the prayer services or chant the Torah (Bible)eshel-avraham-synagogue portion. “Eshel Avraham” also runs a kindergarten and an elementary school and provides classes and lectures in Judaica for adults (in Hebrew, English and Spanish). The congregation’s office: 08-6420989, 08-6100738, http://www.eshelavraham.org.  Menucha Nechona,” is an alternative Jewish cemetery (located just past theNew Cemeteryon the Hatserim Road) that provides non-Orthodox burial options. Office located in the Gozlan Building at 78 Hadassah St. – 08-6233239, http://www.menucha-nechona.co.il.

“Kehilat Beerot” (lit., the wells community; founded 2010) is a Jewish, progressive, Kehilat Beerotpluralistic congregation consisting of new immigrant and native Israeli families, situated at Beit Yatziv, 79 ha-Atsma’ut St. in the Old City, 050-2755149. 

Jewish education and resources

As of 2017 (5778), Be’er-Sheva has: over 83 Jewish-religious kindergartens (ca.82 public, 1 Conservative & additional private Ultra-Orthodox); 24 Jewish-religious elementary schools (16 public, 1 Conservative & 7 Ultra-Orthodox); and over 6 Jewish-religious high-schools  (6 public and several Ultra-Orthodox residential yeshivas, e.g. accredited “Torah Or” Yeshivah in the Old City). Ben-Gurion University of the Negev grants degrees in: Jewish History, Jewish Thought, and Middle East Studies, while Kaye Academic College of Education accredits the region’s Bible teachers.

Across Be’er-Sheva, there are now at least 13 programs for adults and senior citizens that teach Judaica: in the Old City at the Shirat ha-Rambam” and “Netivot Shalom” synagogues; in the Aleph neighborhood at the Central Chabad House; in Bet at Kolel Chabad House“Orot Yisra’el; in Gimel at Bet Moriah (the first Israeli religious military prep-school); in Dalet at Kolel “Iske Torah;in Hey at the Rambam” Synagogue; in Tet at Congregation“Eshel Avraham; in Yud-Aleph at Chabad’s “Bet Mashi’ah;  in Nahal Ashan at “Ahavat Hannah” Synagogue; and in Neveh Ze’ev at “Minhat Yehudah” Synagogue and the Chabad House (where they also check phylacteries (tefillin) and mezuzot for the doorposts).

Each Sabbath day (Saturday) at 11:30, the City of Be’er-Sheva provides free, openBet Yatsiv Youth Hostel public lectures (in Hebrew) on that weeks’ Sabbath Bible portion at the Public Library building, given by one of the resident rabbis or Bible scholars.

A special course that certifies volunteer to’anim rabbaniyim (lit., rabbinic pleaders), to help people present their cases in small-claims courts, is given at Yad la-Banim (locatedMemorial for Fallen Soldiers across from City Hall) in the office of Re’em –  the volunteer associations’ umbrella organization – 050-7333143.

For classic Judaica resources in English go to:  http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud. For a comprehensive database on Jewish prayer and prayer in rabbinic literature, see Dr. Uri Erhlich‘s “Mif’al ha-Tefilah” at http://hsf.bgu.ac.il/djt/sfiles/ehrlich.aspx

Jewish community life and religious experience

There are at least 3 currently active religious Jewish youth movements in Be’er-ShevaBene Akiva”; “Ezra”; and “Noar Dabesh (Religious Be’er-Sheva Youth)”; and one newly established traditional Jewish youth movement – “No’am Be’er-Sheva” – Emily Shapira, 054-9535651.

To share a communal Jewish experience, students are invited to attend Sabbath & BGU logo2holiday meals and prayers, Judaica classes and Jewish social events at the BGU Campus “Hillel House”http://www.HillelBGU.org.il.

Beer-SovaEvery year, open public Passover (Pesahseders are held at “Be’er Sova” (the Be’er-Sheva NPO ‘soup kitchen’); at the Central Chabad House; and at Congregation “Eshel Avraham.”

Jewish personages/key figures

Since 1997, Rabbi Yehuda Deri (b.1958-) has been serving as the Chief Rabbi of Be’er-Sheva and Head of the Rabbinic Courts.

Rabbi El’azar Abuhatsera, called “Baba El’azar” (1948-2011) was a descendant of the famous Moroccan Sepharadi rabbinic family of Cabbalists. He ‘held court’ in Be’er-Sheva and enjoyed a very large following, even including some Ashkenazim, until his murder by a deranged petitioner. His son (the wealthy heir apparent), Rabbi Pinhas Abuhatsera (1977-), remains  in Be’er-Sheva with his family in the Hey neighborhood, has adopted a more Ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi style and runs several educational institutions, frequently giving public classes.

Rabbi Mazor Bahaina (b.1973-) resides in Be’er-Sheva with his large family. He serves as the Chief Rabbi for the Ethiopian Community of Be’er-Sheva and as a member ofrabbi-bainah-KM the Be’er-Sheva Rabbinate. He also served as a Member of the 17th Knesset (2008-2009) on behalf of the “Shas” (Sepharadi religious) Party – 08-6442651.

Rabbi (ha-Ga’on) Benjamin Basri (1956-2013), born in Iraq, served as the Chief Rabbi of the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) community of Be’er-Sheva until his untimely death. He founded “Yeshivat Bet Yosef,” supported the Be’er-Sheva soccer team and instigated the mass public Selihot services held in the Soccer Stadium every fall (preceding the holiest day on the Jewish calendar – the Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur). 

Tunisian Gaon, Rabbi Chai Taieb “Lo-met” (1774-1836) is remembered and celebrated every winter by the Tunisian community of the “Chai Taieb” Synagogue in the Daled neighborhood and others in Be’er-Sheva.

Rabbi Chayim Chouri (1885-1957; born into the ancient Jewish priestly caste (kohanim), came to be known after his death as “The Saint of Be’er-Sheva.” He was a brilliant Tunisian rabbi, a tsaddiq (lit., a pous, righteous man) and the author of Derekh Hayyim (1905), consisting of commentaries on the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic Tomb of Rabbi Haim Huriliterature. After his demise, North African Jewry in Be’er-Sheva deemed him ‘a holy man’ and instituted a massive annual pilgrimmage to his enshrined tomb in Be’er-Sheva (also considered to be a holy place) on the anniversary of his death (May/June), accompanied by an imposing hillula (lit., an exuberant, Cabbalistic celebration).

Rabbi Misha’el Makhluf Dahan (1920-1997), dubbed “the Grandfather of Jewish Law,” arrived from Morocco and settled in Be’er-Sheva in 1950 and was promptly chosen to serve both as a judge in the Be’er-Sheva Rabbinical Courts and as the Chief Sepharadi Rabbi (1950-1997), which he did faithfully for 47 years, until his death in 1997. He published two Hebrew books: Lev Melakhim, a commentary on the Passover Haggadah and Musar Melakhim, on Jewish ethics. After his death, annual memorial hillulot are held in his memory every fall.

Rabbi Haim Hwati Twito was the founder of “Ets haim – ve-yatsa hoter”  (lit., the Tree-of-Life and its offshoot) Spiritual Center, located at 6 Ringelbloom St. in the Daled neighborhood. His hillula has usually been celebrated by the Sepharadi community (mid-May/June) every year since his death in 1987.  

Jewish religious art, architecture & music

Most commissioned Jewish religious artwork may be found in the synagogues throughout the city, such as: stained-glass windows, woodwork, kes-barukh-ethiopian-synagoguemarblework, silver ornaments, embroidered curtains, etc., created by local professionals or international artists. For example: the Tunisian “Ya’ir Mazuz” and the “Melits”  synagogues in Ne’ot Lon; the Moroccan “Or Hayyim” Synagogue in Yud-Aleph; and the Iraqi Central “Star” Synagogue in Aleph neighborhood and others have beautiful stained-glass windowsSpecial Torah arks, for instance, may be seen made of marble and wood in Chabad’s “Bet Mashi’ah” and in the “Kes Barukh” Synagogue in Yud-Aleph, or inset into a carved marble niche at the South African synagogue Bet ha-Aron” (lit., home of the ark), while the “RinatRinat Yerushalayim Synagogue Yerushalayim” Synagogue in Hey and the “Melits”  Synagogue in Ne’ot Lon have wooden bas-reliefs, silver Torah ornaments and embroidered curtains

The Be’er-Sheva Municipality with the Be’er-Sheva Rabbinic Council occasionally sponsor evenings of  Sephardic piyyutim (eastern Jewish hymnology); Ashkenazic hazanut (western Jewish cantorial music); and Yiddish cultural evenings.

There are a number of Be’ershvan artists who focus(ed) on biblical and Jewish motifs inHannah Helen Rosenberg their art, such as: Moshe Gabay, Hannah Helen Rosenberg, and Vladimir Shneider, to name just a few.

Annual Jewish events

***Note that Judaism observes a solar-adjusted lunar calendar with a 19-year cycle, which includes 7 ‘pregnant years’ that repeat the month of Adar (having an Adar A & an Adar B). These 13-month, ‘pregnant years’ are the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th & 19th years of each cycle. Thus, on the ‘pregnant years’, some Jewish holidays and memorial days, that are celebrated according to their Hebrew dates, may appear to be celebrated or observed one month ‘later than usual’ on the Gregorian calendar.

***Annual memorial hillulot (lit., exuberant, Cabbalistic celebrations) are held on the dates of the deaths of famous rabbis in honor of their legacies. In November 2017, a special women’s hillulah was also held to honor Rachel, the biblical matriarch, and this may also become an annual event in Be’er-Sheva

***Traditionally, Selihot (lit., penitential prayers) services are held in many synagogues at night during the Jewish months of Elul and Tishre (that precede the holiest day on the Jewish calendar – the Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur, Oct./Nov.). Annual mass public Selihot service is held in the Soccer Stadiumunder the auspices of the Chief Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) community’s rabbi.

On Jerusalem Day each year (May/June), a traditional flag-dance is sponsored by the Municipal Culture Dept. in conjunction with the local Rabbinate & Bet Moriah. Thousands of young people from the religious youth groups participate in this celebratory event.

Each year on Lag b’Omer (the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, i.e. the 49 days between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavu’ot, Apr./May), a special parade is sponsored by Chabad in the Vav neighborhood in honor of  Rabbi Shim’on Bar Yohai, also known by the acronym RASHBIin which hundreds of children participate.

Every year, at the end of Simhat Torah (the Jewish holiday celebrating the Hebrew Bible in Oct./Nov.), the public is invited to participate in haqafot sheniyot (i.e., marching, singing & dancing with the Torah scrolls outdoors), starting from the “Imre Yosef” Yeshivah and ending at the central plaza in the Ramot neighborhood, under the auspices of Rabbi Yoram Hacohen, the Head of the Yeshivah and founder of an entire “Imre Yoseh” Haredi education system: kindergartens, a kolel for young men, and classes for adults.  

Another annual spring tradition in Be’er-Sheva is to hold a special national meeting honoring the service of Israel’s dedicated beadles (gaba’im; volunteers who handle all the synagogue’s logistics and scheduling throughout the year).    

More interesting facts and tips about Jewish Be’er-Sheva

Regarding kashrut: Never assume that a food-stand, restaurant or store is kosher just because it’s in Israelnot all are! The Be’er-Sheva Rabbinate issues dated kashrut certificates that are usually clearly on display in the entrance; if not displayed, ask to see a valid certificate.

Regarding religious paraphernaliaThe Center for the Strict Observance of the Commandments, located outside the Central Be’er-Sheva Train Station, checks the kashrut of tefillin (phylacteries) and mezuzot (scrolls for doorposts), as well as selling kosher religious items. All the Chabad Houses in Be’er-Sheva also check the kashrut of religious paraphernalia.

Sadly, the City of Be’er-Sheva doesn’t have a municipal genizah (i.e., a respectable storage place set aside for ruined or invalidated sacred texts, religious paraphernalia, or even Israeli flags). Such items may be taken to the Be’er-Sheva Rabbinate  in the Daled neighborhood on ha-Talmud St. for proper handling and later burial in a Be’er-Sheva Cemetery; some synagogues do have small, interim genizot of their own, as well.

 

 

 

 

French Culture

French organizations and institutes

L’Institut francais de Beer-Sheva of the Centre culturel francais de Beer-Sheva is BGU logo2currently situated at Ben-Gurion University of the the Negev, Faculty of Humanities (Bldg. 72, Rm. 120), where French language and culture are taught by professors Deborah Dahan –  050-4321898 and Raya Koffman – 054-4724461.

The BGU Aranne Central Library grants adults free access to French literature and aranne-library-at-bgu2provides a comfortable place to sit, read and/or research – https://in.bgu.ac.il/aranne/Pages/default.aspx.

Union of Immigrants (Olim) from France, North Africa and Francophone Countries – 02-6799334, http://www.unifan.org.

Ambassade de France en Israel http://www.ambafrance-il,org.

French VIPs/key figures

Major Thadee Diffre (a.k.a. Teddy Eitan, 1912-1971) was the Commander of thefrench-commando “French Commando” during the Israel War of Independence in 1948His memorial plaque is on a round stone marker on the hill south of the Negev Bridage Monument. He was a non-Jewish volunteer from France who came to fight with the Jewish People in the Negev Region; he fought in the ranks of the Palmah during the conquest of Be’er-Sheva and was probably the highest ranking non-Jew serving in the I.D.F. at that time.

Chaya and Michael Adam have been doing French/Hebrew translations for decades – 08-6276593. French author, poet and Holocaust survivor, Michael Adam (b.1939-) first published his michael-adamFrench 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 published in Hebrew (1988) in Israel. As an Israeli representative to the International French Writers’ Guild, he was awarded the 2010 gold medal for foreign writers in French by l’Ordre de la Francophone

In 1986, Ya’el (b.1965-) and Yehudah (1964-) Gabay opened a Parisian-style cafe & patisserie calledRosaline,” where rosaline-cafe-patisseriethey make excellent brewed coffees, delicious Sabrinas, freshly-baked cakes (dulce-de-leche [my personal favorite], cheesecake [also excellent], etc.), located at 69 ha-Histadrut St. in the Old City, in the passage across from the red Post Office. Personalized cakes may be ordered for special events – 08-6434245.

French sports

There are two Petanque (French bowls) clubs in the city: the Be’er-Shevapetanck2 “Shavit” Petanque – Ami Sasportas, 052-4709932 and Bet ha-Lohem” (lit., fighters’ home) – Danny Segev, 052-6932915.petanque

 

 

 

 

Ethiopian Culture

Be’er-Sheva has the second-largest Ethiopian-Jewish community in Israel, nearing Ethiopian Jewish religious leaders6,500 residents (which is the highest percentage per capita).

Ethiopian centers, associations & projects

Bet Samuel” – the Community Center for Ethiopian Immigrant Absorption (lit., Samuel’s house; named in memory of the late Ethiopian paratrooper Staff-Sargeant Samuel Tayho, d.1993) is located at 3 Hatam Sofer St. in the Yud-Aleph neighborhood – 08-6199076, 08-6411432. “Bet Samuel” hosts “Tabaka”  the Association for the Administration of Justice for Ethiopian Immigrants (founded 2000). 

The “Shavu Banim” Center (founded 1994; lit., the offspring have returned) is situated in the Ethiopian-Jewry House” complex, is a spiritual center for the Ethiopian-Jewish Ethiopian social centercommunity also located in the Yud-Aleph neighborhood. This hilltop complex contains several buildings. The Kes Barukh Central Ethiopian Synagogue “Avona Aba Tsabra,” is shaped like a traditional Ethiopian hut; it has a Torah ark adorned by the 10 Commandments in Hebrew and Amharic. The complex also has a traditional Jewish ritual bath (mikveh) and a community center with: an events hall, a kindergarten/daycare center, an Ethiopian arts center, a computer room, and an Ethiopian heritage room. This center provides a wide assortment of community activities, in addition to the daily, Sabbath and holiday prayers held in the synagogue, and offers guided tours  – 08-6442986, 08-6411432, http://www.shavu-banim.org/page.asp?page_id=10.   

The Kalisher Immigrant Absorption Center in the Gimel neighborhood served for many years as a major Ethiopian hostel. In light of the centrality of traditional Ethiopiankalisher gardening agriculture in the lives of most of the Ethiopian-Jewish immigrants, “Earth’s Promise” – an eco-social NPO (founded 2007), created theCommunity Gardening Project” atkalisher-community garden Kalisher, with the help of the new Ethiopian immigrants, each family receiving a long furrough to plant and harvest at will, thus promoting sustainable urban agriculture and locally-grown foods, while literally helping them to ‘put down roots’ in Be’er-Sheva; this project was so successful that when the original immigrants moved out to fend for themselves, they bequeathed their furroughs to incoming immigrant family members – http://www.earthspromise.org. Another “Earth’s Promise” project recorded, translated & published personal stories told by Ethiopian immigants (in Hebrew) – Michal 054-8339449.

The Taubel Center for the Preservation of Ethiopian-Jewish Handicrafts is located in the Gimel neighborhood at 50 Arlozorov St. Typical Ethiopian clay sculptures and wicker baskets, platters and bowls are made & sold – 08-6235882. Another Ethiopian-art ethiopian-art1workshop 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. Ethiopian handicrafts are also displayed and sold at the Artist’s House in the Old City. There’s even a special “Women Embroider Their Dreams” Project for Ethiopian women run by Margalit Moshe – 08-6105731, www.nashimrokmot.org.

The Municipal Welfare Dept. has a special project Eshet Hayil (lit., woman of valor) – for the advancement of Ethiopian women – 08-6239604. Additionally, JDC-Israel runs ethiopian-dress1a “Parental Leadership Project for the Ethiopian Community” to get parents involved in their children’s education & schools – 08-6463901.

Ethiopian languages & traditions

Ethiopian-born Jews, descendants of the biblical Tribe of Dan, usually call themselves Beta-Israel (although others sometimes call them Falashas); while the Falash-Mura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who had at some time converted to Christianity, but now also wish to return to the promised Land of IsraelThere is a lovely short film on the Falashmura entitled: “People of the Falashmura” created by Lior Sperandeo that may be viewed at: Lior Sperandeohttps://www.israelvideonetwork.com/?s=people+of+falashmura&submit=Search, or at: https://vimeo.com/168155153. 

Ethiopian-Jews commonly speak one of two Semitic languagesAmharic (from urban areas) or Tigrinya (from the Tigray region).

There were serious religious debates regarding the ‘Jewishness’ of the Ethiopian Jews, but in 1973 the Chief Sephardi Rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, declared that the Beta-Israel are true descendants of the Israelite Tribe of Dan; the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Shlomo aliyah-gate1Goren, also accepted them as Jews in 1974. In 1977, the Beta-Israel were included in the “Law of Return,” after which the State of Israel made concerted efforts to bring them to Israel via the Sudan in a number of overt and covert rescue operations: “Brothers” (1979-1984); “Moses” (1984-1985); “Joshua”/”Sheba” (1985); and “Solomon” (1991).

Then similar religious debates occurred regarding the ‘Jewishness’ of the Falash-Mura. In 2003, the Israel Chief Rabbinate decided that if the Falash-Mura would undergo supervised Orthodox-Jewish conversion in Ethiopia, then they too would be eligible to become citizens of Israel under the “Law of Return.” Then, from 2003-2006 and from 2010-2013, the State of Israel made gradual and/or humanitarian efforts to bring the Falash-Mura to Israel–the last of whom ostensibly arrived in 2013.

Traditionally, Ethiopian-Jewry in Ethiopia (and some, though now living in Israel) celebrate a unique, annual Jewish holiday, the Sigdon the 29th day of the Jewish calendar month of Heshvan (in late Oct. or early Nov.), marking their Zionistic longing Ethiopian culturefor Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Celebrations are held in Be’er-Sheva at “Bet Samuel”  and “Shavu Banim” and elsewhere in the city and across Israel.

An important, traditional Ethiopian custom is the bunah ceremony–a strictly-stylized coffee preparation ceremony that is performed each time guests arrive and also under other specific circumstances. There is a special way of preparing fresh Buna ceremonial hutcoffee and for serving 3 cups of coffee, as dictated by custom. Generally, conversations held during the course of this ceremony are considered to be confidential. A light snack is served alongside the coffee, typically: sweets, roasted humus beans, popcorn, etc.

It is likely that over 4,000 Ethiopian-Jews perished en route to the Holy Land, many walking all the way from Ethiopia, through Sudan and Egypt, to get here. “Jerusalem Day,” celebrated annually on the 28th of the Jewish calendar month Iyar (in late Apr. or early May), has also been designated as a Memorial Day for the Ethiopian Jews Who Died en RouteAnnual ceremonies are held in Be’er-Sheva, remembering the dead and honoring those who survived the horrific trials and tribulations to reach Zion.

Ethiopian places

The City of Be’er-Sheva has a unique traffic circle, jointly dedicated in 2007 in honorAdis Ababa traffic circle of its ‘twin city’ in Ethiopia – Addis Ababa by the Mayor of Be’er-Sheva and the Ethiopian Ambassador to Israel.

In the Yud Aleph neighborhood on Abarbanel St. there are a memorial, a traffic circle Ethiopian memorial& a garden dedicated to a hero of the Ethiopian mass immigration projectFerede Yazezow Aklum (1949-2009), who risked his life to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel through Sudan.  

Ethiopian spices, imported clothing and items are available at Barukh Brothers’ Spices at 73 ha-Histadrut St. in the Old City. Mulu Barukh – 08-6233940, 052-5405099.

Ethiopian VIPs/key figures

Worldwide Ethiopian-Jewry is led by the chief kes (high priest) – currently Kes Barukh in Be’er-Sheva and the local community is also guided by the Ethiopian-Jewish Council of Priests in the Negev – ethiopia_kohen@walla.com.

Moshe Bhate (from Be’er-Sheva) has served as the Director of the EthiopianMoshe Bhate Immigrants’ Branch of the Jewish Agency since 2011.

Orah Tamano (b.1979-) is an Ethiopian lawyer specializing in family and bankrupcy laws who resides and practices in Be’er-Sheva, who left to study and came back to serve. Law & justiceShe has a private law firm – 08-9956505, 058-6678516, 8A Henrietta Szold St. (across from the Hall of Justice).   

 

 

 

  

Islamic Culture & Tradition

Be’er-Sheva’s Great Mosque (Jama’), financed by the local Bedouin population and built by the Ottoman Empire, was completed in 1906, but was never actually consecrated or used as a place of worhip. Until 1953, it served as the city’s courthouse, Great Mosque of Beershevawhen it was re-purposed to function as the Negev Museum of Archaeology. In the 1990s, it underwent a long process of restoration, followed by series of court cases to determine the appropriate future use of the edifice. Finally, in 2011, the Be’er-Sheva mosque finally reopened as the Museum  of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures. 

A smaller, private mosque without a minaret, the Baseiso Mosque, was built in 1931 by a wealthy local resident, Haj Isa Baseiso, and was consecrated and actively used for Muslim prayer until Be’er-Sheva was liberated from the Egyptian occupiers during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.

In the BGU Student Union Building, there is a room reserved for Muslim prayers.BGU Student Union

Hall of Justice - mineThe recognized, regional Islamic Shari’ah Courts are situated in the Be’er-Sheva Hall of Justice, with all the other regional courts.

The Muslim Cemetery is located at the edge of the Old City (across the highway from the Negev Mall) and has a number of graves of significant local Bedouin figures.muslim-cemetery1

 

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.

 

Indian Culture

The Be’er-Sheva Branch of the Indian-Jewish Immigrant Union (founded 1983) holds Indian social and cultural events and provides scholarships to former Indian/Pakistani students. The largest community of “Bene Israel” (lit., children of Israel) in the State of Israel resides in Be’er-Sheva. They were also known in urban India as the “Native Jew Caste,” where they usually served as clerks and in rural India as the “Shanwar olive-grove-at-bgu2Telis” (lit., Saturday oilmen, ironically, since their primary occupation was pressing oil, which they refused to do on the Jewish Sabbath, on Saturdays). They consider themselves to be remnants of the biblical “ten lost tribes,” and came to Be’er-Sheva from New Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Karachi (now part of Pakistan), etc. and most speak Marathi. Typically, their surnames were created from the name of the place in which they first resided with the addition of the suffix ‘kar’ (e.g. Wakrulkar = from the village of Wakrul). The Indian welfare association is “Tiferet Yeshu’ah” (lit., the glory of redemption).

Prof. Shalva Weil is an anthropologist doing research at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, specializing in Indian Jewry. She is also Founder and Chairperson of the Israel-India Cultural Association  02-588-2100.

An Indian community synagogue in Be’er-Sheva, “Magen Avraham” (lit., Abraham’s shield) is located in the Daled neighborhood.

“Little India” restaurant & take-away, with authentic (kosher) Indian food and atmosphere, is located just above the BGU Campus at 15 Ringelbloom St. – 08-648-9801, http://www.bgu.co.il/littleindia.

Classical and popular Indian dance classes are available at various community centers Indian dancingvia “Kivunim” – 08-6290069, http://www.kivunim7.co.il, mostly taught by members of the Avraham family, professional Indian dancers. Sarit Avraham has an Indian performing dance troupe called “Indian Bollydance” – 054-4511081, sarit_avraham@walla.com.

Many professional, English-speaking Indian-Christian caregivers are regularly employed sini-in-her-sari-8-17in Be’er-Sheva and give loving care to our elders and disabled family members. We are most grateful for their devoted assistanceEvery year at the beginning of September, they celebrate 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

English Culture

The AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel), Southern AACI logoRegion (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 Greenis located in the Yud-Alephmiriam-green-of-aaci Community Center at 11 Mordekhai Namir St. (#9 bus line), 08-6433953, and mgreen@aaci.org.il. 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 ReadingAACI Library at Matnas Yud-Alpeh Library (over 8,000 titles, including classics, best-sellers, biographies, all genres for all ages, large-print, simple English, etc.), open 10:00-12:00 Sun.-Thur.; English lectures (some 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 KKLthe Southern Branch of AACI started and maintains an ever-growing grove in Lahav Forest in the Negev, planted with funds contributed by AACI AACI Southern Region Forest dedication 1995members 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: anglobeersheba-subscribe@yahoogroups.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 Wizosometimes 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 theFlying camels 1 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-Black_Swarm football teamNehil 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 – chanit63@gmail.com.

 Cricket 2“The Be’er-Sheva Cricket Club” – www.isracricket.co.il/C0001; “Be’er-Sheva Men’scricket-club1 Premier Lacrosse League” (IPLL) that have been Israel’s major-league champions in 2016 and 2017 – http://www.facebook.com/Beershevalax;  etc.

English-language theater

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, singerslogon-logo & 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” – aMitzi Geffen highschool for religious girls and at Amit Junior High. She also writes original English plays, such as The Case of the Missing Taffy” (2006).

English-language education

BGU logo2Academic 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 Kaye Teachers Collegeteachers 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, AACI English Librarybiographies, 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 andPublic Library occasionally hosts guest lectures in English by American authors, illustrators, etc. – 08-6277899, br7.library@gmail.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 aranne-library-at-bgu1provides 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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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. In 2017, the 17 dancers in “Kamea”were: Ofek Admoni, Adi Avitan, Sagi Baleli, Jonatan Bukschtein, Noa Dahan, Tom David, Marco De Alteriis, Noam Ephron, Lorris Eichinger, [Eldar Elgrably, b.1987-2020], 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 and Hong Kong. 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 the company choreographer, Mr. 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 [in those days, my name was Leah Pinhas] 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 test. In fact, when 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.

Yael Gohorovski (b.1989-) is a dancer/choreographer who introduced pole-dancing to Be’er-Sheva in ca.2014 and founded the “Tet-a-Tet” Dance Studio in 2019 at 34 Rager Blvd., where she currently teaches dance and especially pole-dancing to over 30 people. [Pole-dancing may become an Olympic sport by the next Olympic Games in Paris 2024]. 050-7791774  http://www.tetatet.co.il                           

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” dancers (such as ‘rehearsal master’ Eyal Ganon ( in which I was honored to participate in 2017-2018). 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 Saadi, [Eldar Elgrably, b.1987-2020] and 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.

 

 

 

 

Christian Culture & Tradition

The WWI Commonwealth Cemeteris located just above the Old City and contains 1,238 well-kept graves marked by crosses for the Christian ANZAC soldiers (British, Australian & New Zealander) who died during the battles against the Ottoman Empire (Turks) at Be’er-Sheva and in the Negev Region between 1914-1918British-ANZAC CemeteryIn the last row on the right one can see the gravestone of Major Alexander Lafone (1870-1917), who was a recipient of the highest British award for bravery, the “Victoria Cross.” There is also one unusual group gravestone, marked with the British Airforce symbol in memory of 8 British pilots who had also perished in the region during WWI. Oddly, this memorial had actually been prepared out of a respect for their fallen peers by some German pilots who had fought for the Ottoman ‘enemy’; it was later found and added by the British to the Commonwealth Cemetery in Be’er-Sheva.

The large Ottoman-Turkish house (originally built in 1903 on ha-Avot St. in the Old City), now known as the “Mission House”  was first rented (1911) and then purchased (1913) by the American Christian and Missionary Alliance, serving as a pioneer center for missionary work with the region’s Bedouins and Arabs. Those missionaries were forced christian-mission-houseto leave temporarily during WWII, but the property was later restored to its rightful owners by the government of the State of Israel. From 1957, the Nachalat Yeshua” (lit., Jesus’ legacy) Messianic Congregation in Be’er-Sheva resided in another privately-owned building in the Old City (on Rambam St.) known as “The Bible House” and asHa-MaKoM(lit., the place or God). However, since 1995, this congregation has been using and preserving the historic Mission House building – 08-6277022.

To date, there is a small, international Catholic community that holds services on Sundays and Christian holidays, meeting in the Gimel neighborhood (51 ha-Shalom St.), under the auspices of Rev. Piotr Zelazko – 054-8061440.

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

For example, we’re currently trying to save the house of the first Jewish Mayor 

Tuviyahu house - photo Ofer Yogevof Be’er-Sheva, David Tuviyahu (located in the Old City) from destruction for historic preservation.

 

 

 

 

Bedouin Culture

Be’er-Sheva (بئر السبع), the Capital of the Negev Desert Region, continues to serve the surrounding semi-nomadic and sedentary Negev Bedouin populations (ca. 220,000) as their administrative and commercial center. Currently, about 60% of the Negevnegev-desert-surroundings Bedouins reside in Rahat (only 25 km from Be’er-Sheva) and in the six Bedouin ‘satelite’ townships, while the rest dwell in ca.39 “unrecognized villages” (informal shanty towns) inbedouin-tent an attempt to retain their traditional semi-nomadic traditions and ancestral lands. 

Bedouin history in Be’er-Sheva

Under the British Empire, Be’er-Sheva had many Bedouin mayors, such as–Ali al-Atawnah, Hamad al-Sufi, Friah Abu Maddain, Hussain Abu Kaf, Taj a-Din Sha’ath and Shafiq Mustafa; and two Bedouin regional governors: Aref el-Aref and Isak al-Nashashibi. The great-grandson of Be’er-Sheva‘s first Bedouin MayorAli al-Atawnah (who served from 1900-1922), is Sharif al-Atawnah (b.1979-), who currently runs the “Sharif Car-Wash” in Be’er-Sheva (18 ha-Melakhah St.).

Be’er-Sheva’s Great Mosque (Jama’), financed by the local Bedouin population and built by the Ottoman Empire from 1897-1906, but was never actually consecrated or used as a place of worhip. Until 1953, it served as the city’s courthouse, Great Mosque of Beershevawhen it was re-purposed to function as the Negev Museum of Archaeology. In the 1990s, it underwent a long process of restoration, followed by series of court cases to determine the appropriate future use of the edifice. Finally, in 2011, the Be’er-Sheva Mosque finally reopened, after further restoration, as the Museum  of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures and, in 2016, it was granted the prestigious Restoration Medal by the national Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites.

Aref el-Aref (1892-1973), also known by the Bedouin as “Abu Tsufian,” was the District Governor of the Be’er-Sheva District on behalf of the British Empire from 1929-1939; he also led Arif al-Arif's House2Bedouin uprisings against Jewish settlers. As an historian, he published several Arabic books on the history of the Bedouin tribes and on Bedouin law and justice. The distinctive building that had served as his home, built in 1938 in the Old City, was made of specially-brought pink Jerusalem stone

In 1930, the British Empire established the first Interterritorial Tribunal in Be’er-Sheva, consisting of Bedouin judges (qadis) and tribal leaders from the Negev, Jordan, and Sinai, along with British police representatives, who met every six months to rule on various criminal and other cases.  

The largest and most impressive Ottoman-Turkish edifice in the Old City was Carasso Science Park, Beer-Shevaoriginally built in 1933 to be the Agricultural School for the Sons of the Bedouin Sheikhs. During the wars that followed, it came to serve as a military headquarters, a field hospital, and a regional veterans’ center. Since 2013, after being restored, it now serves as the Carasso Science Park.

Also in 1933, the British Empire established and financed the first-ever, camel-mounted, Negev regional Bedouin Desert Patrol, with its headquarters in Be’er-Sheva, who worked in conjunction with the British Police. It was briefly disbanded from 1938-1939 (during the Bedouin anti-British rebellion) and then reinstated, lasting until 1948.

Throughout the 1930s, Be’er-Sheva had flourishing industries, plentiful crops of wheat, barley and sugar, and served as a central regional marketplace. The local archaeological remains attest to the presence of those and other crops. 

Since nearby Rahat was recognized in 1994 as the first Bedouin city in Israel and in the world, the traditional Bedouin market, previously associated with Be’er-Sheva, gradually relocated to Rahat, where the real sheep and camel trading is done at the crack of dawn. However, Be’er-Sheva has a daily standing municipal fresh-produce and commodities market closed only on Saturdays and holidays (for which massive renovations are forthcoming) and folk-fairs and flea markets in the Old City along the central KKL pedestrian promenade most Mondays and Fridays mornings and during the Passover (Pesah) and Tabernacles (Sukkot)  festivals.Beer-Sheva standing market

The Be’er-Sheva Muslim Cemetery is located at the edge of the Old City (across the highway frommuslim-cemetery1 the Negev Mall) and has a number of graves of significant local Bedouin figures.

Bedouins in the city

Many Bedouin professionals and non-professionals work in Be’er-Sheva: judges, lawyers, physicians, pharmacists, academicians, researchers, insurance agents, cooks, drivers, construction workers, etc. There are about 100 Bedouin families that reside permanently in the city. As of 2020, there are ca.490 women Bedouin students studying at BGU (70% of the  ca.700 Bedouin students currently enrolled).

The Bedouin population is the youngest population in Israel, with ca.54% under the age of 14, and they have the highest birth-rate in Israel (ca.5.5%). As such, most soroka-medical-centerBedouin women come to the Soroka Medical Center to deliver their babies, so that they can receive child welfare benefits. As the number of settled Negev Bedouins increases, and more receive a higher education in Be’er-Sheva, and their economic status improves–their birth-rate has begun to decrease.

Bedouin education in Be’er-Sheva

In 1913, the Ottoman-appointed governor of Jerusalem, Jawdat Pashabegan to encourage the Negev Bedouin sheikhs to send their sons to Be’er-Sheva to receive an agricultural education. In 1933, the Agricultural School for the Sons of the Bedouin Sheikhs was completed and dedicated. Then, in 1934, under British Imperial rule, for the first time, the Negev Bedouin tribes sent 134 young Bedouin women, daughters of the sheikhs, to receive a formal education in Be’er-Sheva as well. Now, in the 21st century, several hundred young Bedouin women get their teachers’ certificates at the Kaye Regional Teachers’ College and receive academic degrees at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and other local colleges each year. Kaye Regional Teachers’ CollegeKaye Teachers College offers some courses in Arabic. BGU accepts Bedouin students who meet the basic requirements; it also houses the Robert H. Arnow Center for Bedouin Studies and Development –  08-6472859, http://w3new.bgu.ac.il/bedouin.

The Hagar Kindergarten (founded 2008), opened in Be’er-Sheva by two organizations–“Hagar” and “Hand-in-Hand,” aims to prove that coexistence and peace can begin in the sandbox. About 60 children, 50% Bedouin/50% Jewish are taught by a mixed staff not only the standard curriculum, but also about social equality and pluralism in a bilingual/multi-ethnic environment. It boasts kosher food and a long day of education (to 16:00). Location: Hey neighborhood on Mintz St. – Anwar al-Hajuj 050-7250191 and Yifat Hillel, 052-3335298 or http://Site.2all.co.il/ganhagar.

Shatil – the Forum for Arab Education in the Negev is located in the Old City – call Iyliyl at 08-6282008, beer-7@shatil.nif.org.il.

Key Bedouin figures

Dr. Sarah Abu-Kaf (b.1976-, Be’er-Sheva) got her Ph.D. at BGU in 2010 and became a faculty member of the BGU Dept. of Psychology in 2012, where she teaches in the Conflict Management & Resolution Program. She was the first Bedouin clinical psychologist and was placed in the U.S. Sarah Abu KafEmbassy’s Women in Science Hall of Fame in 2014. She was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to do her post-doctoral research at Harvard University on mental health services for Bedouin women. She serves as a role-model for other Negev Bedouin women.

Prof. Aref Abu Rabia is a lecturer in the BGU Middle East Studies Dept. aref-abu-rabia1He has authored 4 books and many articles on Bedouin anthropology and folk-medicine. 

Iz’at Abu Rabia was Israeli’s first Bedouin tour guide, with the ability to speak 5 languages

Dr. Khalil Abu Rabia served for many years as an advocate in the Be’er-Sheva Shari’a Court and still lectures at BGU, at “Adalah” – Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, and elsewhere, and has published articles on the Bedouin legal system and traditions. 

Dr. Yunis Abu Rabia (b.1943-) became the first Bedouin physician (M.D.) in Israel in 1971, settingyunis-abu-rabia1 an example for other Bedouins to follow. He was also active in the Negev Labor Party. He was a senior physician at the Soroka Medical Center until his retirement in 2010.

Dr. Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder (daughter of Dr. Yunis Abu Rabia) got her Ph.D. at BGU in 2006 and is a faculty member of the BGU Dept. of Education. She was among the first Negev Bedouin women to get a Sarab Abu Rabia-Quederhigher education. Thus far, she has authored 1 book, edited 2 books, written many articles and received numerous awards. In 2019, the journal of the World Sociological Association, Current Sociologyfeatured her as their Sociologist of the Month.” In 2020, she heads the BGU Program for Conflict Management & Mediation.

Prof. Ismael Abu Saad has been a member of the academic faculty of the BGU Dept. ofismael-abu-saad Education since 1990 and also founded the Robert H. Arnow Center for Bedouin Studies and Development. He has published 6 books and tens of articles to date.

Other organizations for Bedouins located in Be’er-Sheva

The Directorate for the Promotion of the Bedouin in the Negev is located in the “Big” Commercial Area – 08-6232293/5, http://www.mmi.gov.il.

The “Fruits of Peace” Association, was founded in 1997 by Georgina Meyer-Duellmann (b.1943-) and Connie Edell Reisner (b.1925-) to bring together local JewishFruits of Peace and Bedouin artists, so they might enrich each other and exhibit their works together in various public venues – 050-4157425.

The Negev Forum for Co-Existence, Be’er-Sheva Center – Multaka/Mifgash meets in the Yud-Aleph neighborhood and hosts Jewish/Bedouin/Arab social activities regularly -info@dukium.org, 08-6483804.

Hall of Justice - mineThe recognized, regional Islamic Shari’ah Courts are situated in the Be’er-Sheva Hall of Justice. 

There is also a Center for the Fortitude of Bedouin Society in the Negev – 072-2212788.

Bedouin culture in Be’er-Sheva

Coexistence and peace can begin in the sandbox… The unique 50% Jewish/50% Bedouin bilingual, pluralistic kindergarten, Hagar Kindergarten (founded 2008) – 077-2708307, 08-6375345, http://www.hajar.org.il.

A new Bedouin coffee shop has opened in the restored section of Smilansky St. in the Old City, called “Jiran”مقهى جيران (lit., neighborliness), run by Ibrahim Azbargah, to encourage good relations between Jews and Arabs, while experiencing genuine bitter Bedouin coffee with cardamum prepared over hot coals, the scent and sound of the gurgling nargilah (Bedouin water-pipe), good music, and a friendly atmosphere.

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

For 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.

בית טוביהו3

 

 

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. In 2020, during the Corona   pandemic, Beershevan sculptor, Daniel Toledano (b. 1961-) opened Gallery 44 at 44 Hativat ha-Negev St. in the Old City, while also developing a new boutique hotel on HeHaluts St. in lieu of the abandoned old “Water Institute” building. x

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, Avi Asraf, Toft Avrahami, Meir Azriel, Ya’el Azulai, Peninah Barkai, Ruth Bauman, Svetlana Belay,  Moshe Ben Attia, Melekh Berger, Uri Bet-Or, Ella Binstock, Hedva Boger, Alizah Burshak, Jonah Burstein, Pnina & Hector Calniquer, Angel Cantor, 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, Mazal Galam, Albert Gatot, Yoram Goren, Ariela Havin-Gardiman, Albert Gatot, Yaffa Gabriel, Ruth Gresser, Dora Gurevich, Tami Hakham, Alin Haviv, Barukh Karp, Asya Keinan, Avivah Krispel, Oleg Krotov, Leah Krugman, Henri Labouz, Natalia Lange, Ya’el Lapal, Lia Laufer, Miri Levin, Michael Lippel, Abraham Lucki, Dyna Malamed, Mati Mann, Genia Manor, Bella Margolis, Keren Meisler, Daniela Meller, Judith Meyer, Georgina Meyer-Duellman, “Katcho” Oscar Alberto Monastirsky, Rachel Beatriz Mosches, Galina Nekrasova, Olga Novik, Ingrid Noyman, Vidik Noyman, Edward Ostrovsky, Lev Otaveski, Guillermo Rappaport, Ilanah Ravak, Connie Reisner, Lilia Reznikov, Hannah Helen Rosenberg, Moti (Asayag) Sadeh, Shimon Sarusi, Liza Shabtay, Tamar Shachar, Gideon Shani, Noah Shitrit, Yehudit Shitrit, Vladimir Shneider, Tatiana Shumova, Hilla Spitzer, Rina Stellman, Sa’adya Sternberg, “Striko” (Aryeh Sorek), Olga Svecharnik, Daniel Toledano, Simone Touati-Mo’alem, Lev Tukhner, Erica Weisz-Schveiger, Dalia Zakin, Lena Zilberberg, Tova Zinger, Gila Zohar, Tsipi Zohar, and many others.

Some of Be’er-Sheva’s many gifted photographers include(d): Haim Baida, Vladimir Chumikov, Garth Davis, Goel Drori, Lev Dynkin, Vladimir Gershtein, Mila Katsenovich, Ethelea Katzenell, Sapir Kuta, Maya Lombrozo, Dani Machlis, Alexander Makarenko, Olga Mukasheva, Irina Opachevsky, Andre Pandiurin, Moshe Perry, Shafir Sarusi, Liza Shabtai, 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 and photographers 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.

Photographer/Photography Teacher/Curator Goel Drori (b.1948-) has been residing in Be’er-Sheva since 1950 and has taken & collected artistic and documentary photographs of the city, as well as being the curator of many gallery exhibits showing historical and contemporary photographs of the Negev’s capital. He was honored by the Be’er-Sheva Municipality for his various contributions to local culture & preservation of local heritage. Drori founded (2017-) the “Tsalmaniyah” Museum & Gallery to house the unique Michel Zilberstein Camera Collection, to exhibit photographic works, & to serve as a Municipal Photographic Heritage Archive.   

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 & Landscaping

1900 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

1968-  Be’er-Sheva is a perfect place to learn about theArt 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 שכונה א' 1950 בתי-תותח - צלם, זולטן קלונרhouses). 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.

 

2019 Kaye (Regional) Academic College of Education is now offering a new course of study in Landscape planning & design. http://www.kaye.ac.il.

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 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.

 

 

 

Archaeology & Biblical Period

Prehistoric Negev

On display at the BGU Campus, one can see the giant head of an extinct, meat-eating, mosesaur-at-bgumarine Mosasaur lizard (Lat., Prograthodon currii), over 65 million years old, from the Late Cretaceous period, found in 1993 in the Negev Region. When alive, this prehistoric reptile would have been at least 14 meters long!

Biblical and Ancient Be’er-Sheva

The First Temple of Jerusalem was built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C.E. and was destroyed in 587 B.C.E. by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar IIThe typical4-horned alter Iron-Age Israelite altar was 4-horned, according to the Book of Exodus (XXVII, 2); just such a stone altar was discovered in Tel Be-er-Sheva, reconstructed and may now be seen at “Gane Bereshit.”

The ancient oasis settlement of Be’er-Sheva, amid the Negev Desert, sat at the critical junction of the caravan trade routes between Egypt in the South, Jordan to the East,Camel caravan and Lebanon & Syria to the North, some caravansBeer-Sheva artifacts reaching as far as Samarkand in today’s Uzbekistan. There is archaeological evidence of ca. 7,000 years of human settlement in Be’er-ShevaBe’er-Sheva is mentioned 34 times in the Hebrew Bible.

The real Tel Be’er-Sheva is currently inaccessible (located in Compound C facing the Mitham C - real Tel Beer-Shevamunicipal marketplace). Excavations supervized by Prof. Isaac Gilead from the BGU Dept. of Bible, Archaeology & the Ancient Near East and Dr. Peter Fabian from the Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered Real Tel Beer-Sheva sitesignificant relics from the biblical period and remains dating from 5,000 B.C.E., including buildings, shards and impressive mosaics. Also, artifacts dating ca.4,100 B.C.E.  indicate the existence of a distinct local culture called “Be’er-Sheva Culture.” This Archaeological restorationpotentially world-class sight is currently under retoration but has not yet been developed for public viewing for lack of a Artifacts found in Beer-Shevasponsor/entrepreneur.  

Two Chalcolithic (Copper Age) sites are soon to beChacolithic mortar and pestle developed at both ends of the 8-kilometer long “Be’er-Sheva River Park Project.” Pulverizing grain seeds

Byzantine/Nabataean Be’er-Sheva

On the section of the 42 km “Be’er-Sheva Ring Trail” that begins from the northern end nabatean-waterholeof the Ramot neighborhood, there are remnants of ancient Byzantine agricultural terraces, an aqueduct and one of several large cisterns, used to collect runoff water for drinking and irrigation. Perhaps they were made some 2,000 years ago by semi-nomadic pastoralists, such as the Nabataeans, trying to conquer the desert?negev-desert-surroundings

Segments of a Byzantine city were also discovered beneath the Central “Egged” Bus Station complex and are displayed underneath transparent flooring.

Recently, in October 2017, the remains of a 1,400 year-old Byzantine farm were uncovered by a team from BGU and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the Archaeological digRamot neighborhood. Since Be’er-Sheva has been inhabited for ca.6,000 years, there’s literally no place you can dig without uncovering some evidence of prior human settlement, if you dig deep enough!

Ottoman Be’er-Sheva

It was the biblical Matriarch, Rebecca, who said (Genesis 24:14): “Drink and I will give thy camels drink also …” On the ancient road leading from Be’er-Sheva to Egypt via the Sinai Desert, at the sabil-in-beer-shevaentrance to Narkiss St. in Neveh Noy neighborhood, one can see an Ottoman-Turkish sabil, a public roadside drinking place for travelers to quench their thirst and fill their waterskins before setting out into the harsh desert. The very deep well, reputed to have belonged to the biblical Matriarch, Leah (my namesake), is located in the desert leahs-well-is-very-deepjust beyond the new Pelah 7 neighborhood.

To reach the nearby Tel Sheva National Park and World Heritage Site, take the Be’er-Sheva-Omer Road and turn off on to the road heading towards the Tel Sheva Bedouin settlement. This biblical site displays restored archaeological finds dating back to the 10th century B.C.E., the period of the Hebrew kings in Judaea: fortifications, a deep well, warehouses, pubic buildings, a ring road, housing units, and a unique, horned altar. It also provides a panoramic view of the surrounding area – 08-6467286.

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.

 

 

 

Actors & Media Stars

Hanna Azoulay-Haspari (b.1960-), an award-winning actress, playwright & director, was born and spent her childhood in Be’er-Sheva. For her starring roles in the Hanna Azoulay-Hasfarifilms “Nadia”  (1987) and “Lovesick in Tenement Gimel” (1995), she received Israel Film Academy “Ophir” Awards for Best Actress. She has already acted in numerous films, plays and TV shows and often chooses roles and/or writes scripts & plays that promote her ‘eastern’ feminist agenda. Her screenplay for the film “Shehur” (lit., black magic) won the Israel Film Academy 1994 “Ophir” Award and the 1995 Best Filmscript Award at the “Troy Festival” in Portugal. 

Amir Dadon (b.1975-) is an actor, singer-songwriter born in Be’er-Sheva, who will be starring in Ha-Bimah‘s production of “Les Miserables.” His first solo album, entitled “Amir Dadon” came out in 2010.

Ronit Elkabetz (1964-2016), Be’er-Sheva-born, award-winning actress and Hebrew/French filmmaker, died prematurely of cancer, but not before winning 3 Israel Film Academy “Ophir” Awards for Best Actress in 1994, 2001 & 2007, as well as the “2010Ronit Elkabetz French Culture Award” at the Cannes Film Festival for the quality of her work, dealing with serious social issues. She first appeared in the Israeli film “The intended” (1990) and first starred in the French film “Origine controlee” in 2001. She wrote a number of film-scripts, directed several movies & acted in many memorable film roles. The last Israeli film she directed, and in which she starred, was “Gett” (2014). 

Zvika Hadar (b.1966-, nee Fruchter) is a very successful Israeli comedian, stage, TV & 

Zvika Hadar fan of Ha-Poelfilm actor, television host, & TV producer, as well as being the father of 5 + 2 step-children. He’s well-known for starring in various Israeli TV comedy series, e.g.: “Comedy store” (1994-1996) and “Shemesh” (1997-2004); acting in movies such as: “Pick a card” (1998), “Afula express” (1999), and “Hunting elephants” (2013); acting in the zvika-hadarHebrew TV drama: “Blue Natalie” (2010+2013); emceeing game shows like: Israel’s “Let’s make a deal” (1996) and “Hollywood squares” (1999+2001); judging Israel’s “A star is born” (2003-2012) and “The next Eurovision star” (2013); and hosting a comic/talk show: “Mahar Shabbat” (lit., tomorrow’s the Sabbath, 2016-2017). In 2010, he even wrote and aired an original song entitled: “Who could have known.” In Dec. 2017, he’ll star in the Hebrew version of the musical: Around the world in 80 days; and in 2018, he’s scheduled to encee a new gameshow called: “The Wall.”

David Kigler (b.1965-) is comedian who often jokes about Be’er-Sheva in his stand-up routines.

Ilana Man (b.1964-) is a singer/actress who appeared in Israeli movies such as: “Love victim” (1992) and “Afula express” (1999), and had a hit song “My worlds” (2009).

Ya’ir Nagid (b.1972-) has appeared in TV commercials on Israel’s Channel 2. He is well-known for founding and directing the “Be’er-Sheva Youth Performing Troupe” (1999-2004), directing the Youth Center and becoming General Manager of  the Center forBeauty queens Performing Arts (2010-). He also produced and hosted many of the Regional Beauty Pageants.

Moran Tawil (b.1983-) is a fashion designer who participated as a contestant in the TV reality show “Runway project” (2009).

Valeria Yapanova (b.1990-) is a stunning, green-eyed Israeli fashion model who appeared in Israeli ads for “Fox” (2007) and has since modelled for companies in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Spain.