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

  

 

 

 

 

 

Ottoman-Turkish Beer-Sheva

Be’er-Sheva‘s “Old City” is unique–it is the only virtually complete, planned Ottoman-Turkish city (Tur. Birussebi). It was founded in 1900 by the Ottoman Empire to serve as the Negev Region’s administrative, military & commercialbedouins-in-beersheba-of-old capital and to keep the local Bedouin tribes in check. The choice of this location was based on the existence of 4 advantageous criteria favoring Be’er-Sheva at that time: 1) it was the geographical meeting-place of the traditional boundaries of the territories of the 3 largest nomadic meta-tribes, where all the Negev Bedouin interacted; 2) it ancient-wellswas the primary source of drinking water, a major oasis, thanks to its many wells and the seasonal watercourse; 3) it marked the safest and most convenient place for crossing the seasonal watercourse; and 4) it stood at a main crossroads, at the intersection of: the Jerusalem-Hevron Road; the road to Gaza & the Mediterranean Sea; and the road southward to the Arava, the Sinai Desert & Egypt.

Detailed information on the “Old City,” plus maps and guided tours are available at theAbraham's well visitor's center “Abraham’s Well” International Visitors’ Center, located on the Hevron Road at the bottom of KKL St. – 08-6234613.   

The lovely Great Mosque of Be’er-Sheva, ostensibly built by the Ottoman Empire for the local Bedouins (who sponsored its construction from 1897-1906) was never actually consecrated or used as a place of worhip. Until 1953, it served as the Be’er-Sheva Courthouse, Great-mosquewhen it was repurposed 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  ofGreat Beersheva mosque 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.

The 2-storey Saraya (Ottoman-Turkish Governor’s mansion) was built in 1903 to be the seat of the Ottoman Empire in the Negev Region. With the end of the Ottoman reign, this building was temporarily used as a home for the British District Officer and then as a girls’ school. With the birth of the State of Israel, the edifice served as Be’er-Negev Art Museum - SarayaSheva‘s first, temporary City Hall, and then, after the Israeli City Hall was completed, it was repurposed to serve as the Negev Museum of ArtSince its restoration and renovation in 2004, it continues to function as the Negev Museum of Art.

The largest and most impressive Ottoman-Turkish edifice in the “Old City” of Be’er-Sheva was originally built in 1914 and was meant to serve as the Agricultural SchoolCarasso Science Park, Beer-Sheva for the Sons of the Bedouin Sheikhs. However, during the wars that followed, it came to serve as a military headquarters, a field hospital, and a regional veterans’ center. Since its restoration and re-purposing in 2013, this stunning structure is currently serving as the Carasso Science Park (the largest, interactive science museum in Israel).

Located just above the “Old City” on todays Tuviyahu Boulevard, stands the Ottoman-turkish-train-stationTurkish Railway Station that was inaugurated in 1915. The train tracks, ultimately intended to run from Damascus, Syria, through Jerusalem and Be’er-Sheva, all the way to Egypt, were laid during World War I, to enable the Turks to extend theBeer-Sheva engine no. 70414 Ottoman Empire all the way to Africa. In 1927, the Ottoman-Turkish Train Station was closed and the main building served as British Commandturkish-water-tower Headquarters until 1948. Adjacent to the train station, the Ottomans also built a water tower to provide water for the steam-engine locomotives.

The narrow Ottoman-Turkish Railway Bridge, originally built in Turkish train bridge1916 across the Be’er-Sheva seasonal watercourse (that becomes a raging river during the winter rains), was meant to enable the transport by train of Ottoman-Turkish soldiers, arms and provisions to the Egyptian front. This lovely arched stone bridge, spanning about 90 meters, was partially destroyed by flooding in 1964. In 2017, itOttoman train bridge restored was restored and repurposed to serve as a pedestrian walkway across the seasonal watercourse.

International relations

In the spirit of good international relations, the City of Be’er-Sheva built a monument in commemorating the 298 Ottoman-Turkish soldiers who fell in Be’er-Sheva during WWI. This inscribed obelisk (dedicated in 2002) is located near the Ottoman-Turkish Railway Station just off Tuviyahu Boulevard and an annual turkish-memorial-obeliskmemorial ceremony is held there every 31st of October.

To further the special relations existing between Be’er-Sheva and the Republic of Turkey (despite the often poor relations between the Turkish Republic and the State of Israel), a bust of the founding father of ataturk-memorial-in-beer-sheva1Turkey, General Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) was added to the Ottoman-Turkish Railway Station complex in 2008.

Turkish culture

Belly-dancing is thought to have originated in Egypt (male dancers) and Turkey (female dancers). It’s taught in several community centers by professional Belly dancinginstructors, such as Ofra Yifrah and her daughter Tsuf. To register – kivunim7.co.il.Ofrah Yifrah, belly-dancing coach

         

British Beer-Sheva

At sunset on October 31, 1917, the successful ANZAC charge of the 4th (Victorian) andCharge on Beersheva 12th (New South Wales) Australian Light Horse Regiments (4th  Light Horse Brigade) on Be’er-Sheva became the last mounted infantry charge in military history and marked not only the liberation of Be’er-Sheva from the Ottoman-Turkish Empire, but also the beginning of the end of World War IThere are a number of commemorative books and movies describing this remarkable, historic feat, as well as memorials commemorating the event, here and in lighthorse-charge-statuethe United Kingdom, Australia & New Zealand, such as our lovely Park of the Australian Soldier in the Yud-Aleph neighborhood that recounts Be’er-Sheva’s unique WWI history. On Centenary Day, ANZAC MuseumOctober 31, 2017, the brand new Be’er-Sheva ANZAC Memorial Centre, adjacent to the WWI Commonwealth Cemetery is to be officially dedicated.  

The WWI Commonwealth Cemetery is 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 1914-1918. In the last row on the right, there is one Jewish gravestone with a “Star-of’David” on it, British-ANZAC Cemeterybelonging to Captain Seymour Van der Berg, killed on October 27, 1917; his commanding officer, Major Alexander Lafone (1870-1917), buried right beside him, was the 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; it had actually been prepared out of a respect for their peers by some German pilots who had fought for the Ottoman ‘enemy’ and had later been found in the field and relocated by the British in the Commonwealth Cemetery.

On October 31, 2017, the Centenary Day commemorating the extraordinary Light Horse charge to take Be’er-Sheva from the Ottoman-Turks (that occurred in October 31, ANZAC Memorial Centre 1.11.20171917), with almost 3,500 guests from Australia, New Zealand & Great Britain present, as well as the Prime Ministers of Israel and Australia, the brand new ANZAC Memorial Centre was dedicated at 4 Ostrovsky St., adjacent to the WWI Commonwealth Cemetery  073-7689705.

Allenby Park, located in the center of the Old City, was one of the first public parks in Israel, originally created by the Ottoman-Turks in 1902 following a round, axial French-garden design. The British conquest of the Holy Land took place under the command of Field Marshall, Lord Edmund Henry Allenby (1861-1936). Subsequently, this park was named in British Imperialgeneral-allenbys-statue Governor Allenby‘s honor. His bust was commissioned and sculpted by Abraham Melnikov and situated at the hub of the park, atop a high pedestal, but was later damaged during the Arab rebellion of 1938. With the restoration of the park in 2015, the damaged bust was replaced by another sculpted by Etienne Millner, situated on a lower, broader column. In his diary, Allenby wrote: “Beersheba is a lovely place, in which it’s pleasant to be.”

Aref el-Aref (1892-1973), also known by the Bedouin as “Abu Tsufian,” was the ruler of Arif al-Arif's House2the Be’er-Sheva District on behalf of the British Empire from 1929-1939; he also led Bedouin 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.

Built in 1943 (under the British Mandate), Bet Eshel was one of the first 3 pioneering Jewish settlements/outposts in the Negev Desert. In 1947, after the U.N. partition of Israel, relations worsened between the Jewish Bet Eshel settlers and the tens-of-thousands of their surrounding Bedouin neighbors. In response, the British offeredbet-eshel1 the extremely-isolated Jewish settlers the option of evacuation, but they decided not to leave and held their ground throughout the hostilities, even when Be’er-Sheva was under seige by the Egyptians and Bet Eshel was cut off from the rest of Israel. In fact, the first defensive air-attack by the fledgling Israeli Airforce took off from Bet Eshel. During the course of Egypt’s attack in 1948, Bet Eshel was hit by ca.200 mortar shells that caused major destruction, but no casualties.

In honor of the 2017 Be’er-Sheva WWI Centennial, a special art exhibit is being displayed by the Be’er-Sheva Artists and Sculptors Association at the Kaye College of Education, the theme of which is “Be’er-Sheva love stories,” including: love for the city and its residents; love for its soccer team – Ha-Poel Be’er-Sheva; loving couples; love between animals; love of society & culture; and even sexual love–all against the background of Be’er-Shevan scenery

At the end of October 2018, the Israeli flag was once again hoisted above the British British tegartTegart Police Fort, centrally located atop the Ottoman Old City of Be’er-Sheva, in celebration of 70 years since the Israeli Police Force established its headquarters there in 1948, after the city was liberated from the Egyptian Army.

***All British/Commonwealth immigrants residing in Be’er-Sheva and the Negev AACI English LibraryRegion are invited to join the AACI – Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, Southern Branch, that welcomes all English-speakers into its fold and offers assistance (Miriam Green – 08-6433954) and English culture. The AACI English Regional Public Reading Library (with over 6,500 books that may be borrowed for a token fww) is currently situated in the Yud-Aleph Community Center.

***LOGON – The Light Opera of the Negev (founded 1981) puts on a semi-professional production of a different operetta or musical each year in English (with Hebrew translation). The players, singerslogon-logo & dancers are volunteer amateurs of all ages and from diverse backgrounds. LOGON is always on the lookout for new talent.

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-ShevaDavid Tuviyahu (located in the Old City) from destruction for historic preservation.