Annual Festivals & Memorials

Festivals and Marathons

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 afterparty with well-known local D.J.s and celebs.

Fringe theaterIn Be’er-Sheva, every July is the time of the International Multidisciplinary Fringe Festival, open to the public and with attractions for all ages and tastes–theater, dance, music, street arts, comedy, drama, improvisation, etc. This quality festival was recognized by the European Festivals Association (EFA) in 2017 as being the best festival held in Israel.

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 timeframe, 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.

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.

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.

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.

Music & Songs, Musicians & Singers

Apologies–this is a very large post, because Be’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” seeks more tenors and altos. Sivan – 054-4949854; Diana Eidelszstein – 052-5013327.

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.

“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 Abuhatsera (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.   

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.

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 Be’ershevan, is a leading Israeli 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.

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.

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. 

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 2012-2017, 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:

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).

More local DJs:

Lior Badash (b.????; owner of “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:

In 2012, the city was awarded the “Design Medal” by the international architecture and design magazine “Domus” in conjunction with: Bezalel’s Dept. of Architecture; the Technion’s Dept. of Urban Planning and Construction; the Israeli Union of Landscape Architects; the Planners Union of Israel; the United Architects’ Association; the Center for Local Government; the Union of Urban Engineers; and the Israel Ministry of Construction and Housing–for the many aesthetic and interesting water features around Be’er-Sheva. I2017 alone, the city received an Israel Culture and Sports Prize; National Prize for Proper Management; and the Israel Minister of Interior’s Prize for Social Responsibility and Municipal Innovation. In 2018Be’er-Sheva leads the major Israeli cities with the highest percentage of women elected and serving on its City Council (33%).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be’er-Sheva‘s E. Levant Chess Center (founded 1973 by Eliahu Levant, a.k.a. “Mr.Chess Club of Beer-Sheva Chess”) is renowned in all the international chess circles for having the second-highest rate of Grand Masters per capita in a city the World (9 and counting, as of 2017)–a longstanding chess superpower. The current director is Ilana David (b.1961-), who is also the Captain of the Israel Women’s Chess Team. The center has players aged 4-90 (in 42 competitive groups). As of chess club-1January 2018, Be’er-Sheva remains well-represented by the promising, young grandmaster Maxim Maxim Rodshtein 2018Rodshtein (b.1989-), currently ranked no.2 in Israel, after participating in two Israeli teams that brought back international Olympic gold medals and ranked no.50 in the World for his strength in the FIDE international chess ranking – 08-6277431.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  

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 1993, 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. In the true spirit of detente, the AACI has been sharing its hall with the Russian Language Sci-Tech LibraryOccasionally, literary events, such as English poetry readings or book review clubs, are held here. This facility is managed by volunteer librarians. In 2017, the AACI Library holds over 6,000 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 is a free public book-exchange located just Exchange libraryoutside “Bazar Darom” at the “Hen” Commercial Center in the Bet neighborhood (corner of Bialik & Einstein streets). You’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 another book, left by someone else, to read and return when done

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

  

 

 

 

 

 

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.

In 1993, a Russian Language Sci-Tech Library was established inside the Yud-Alef Community Center, located at 11 Mordekhai Namir St. In the true spirit of detente, this hall is shared with the AACI Regional Public English Reading Library.

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