Civic/Civil Action

Be’er-Sheva, Israel is part of a democratic, pluralistic society with both a strong social-welfare system (to care for the weak) and an open, capitalistic economy (where the strong may do what they can to succeed). We have freely-elected public representatives, a legal/justice system, civil rights and civic duties. Individuals enjoy many freedoms: of religion, of expression, of self-determination, of privacy, gender equality, and more. Citizens have the right: to live in accordance with their personal beliefs, to get an education, to work, to build families and homes, to have a social life, to enjoy local and international culture–and they also have the right to lodge complaints or to take legally-sanctioned action when they feel something is amiss or can be improved. In fact, Be’er-Sheva has a very active ‘third sector’ comprised of civilian volunteers and activists.

Local leadership and good citizenship

The Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev is located on the 9th floor of the Train-Mandel Leadership CenterStation Tower at 10 Ben-Tsevi St. and runs numerous leadership training programs and seeks to promote a thriving, pluralistic civil society – 08-6201444.

Courses in mediation, arbitration and conflict management & resolution are often given by various bodies in Be’er-Sheva. BGU now has a special, accredited M.A. Program in Conflict Management & Resolution. Some semesters, B.A. courses are given in the Dept. of Social Work on social justice/social welfare – 08-6472318/332.

The “Bar Si’ah” (lit., worth talking about) A.D.R. Mediation Center, located at 4 Rambam St. in the Old City, houses the Mediation Forum, currently chaired by lawyer & certified mediator Amir Ziman, where A.D.R. (i.e., alternative dispute resolution ) mediation is taught – 08-6650110/12. 

CEPAC – Citizens’ Empowerment Public Action Campaign, to safeguard democratic values and pluralism in Israel – CEPAC.il@gmail.com.

Consumer and/or public complaints 

The Be’er-Sheva Municipality has a 24/7 complaints hotline (dial 106) where all manner of complaints regarding problems within the city limits or with municipal services may and should be reported. For example, if a citizen sees a dangerous things in the public domain, such as: a burst water pipe; a large pothole in a street; a dog that looks sick/dangerous loosed without a muzzle; or a downed electric line; a rat infestation; or something blocking passage on a public sidewalk (forcing pedestrians into a trafficked street); a fetid, stagnant pool of water (where insects may breed); or an abandoned car–a good Samaritan will dial 106 and report it and many other such things.

Complaints about defective products, misleading consumer information, public health or safety risks, etc. may be submitted to the Israel Authority for Consumer Protection and Better Business Practices – cpfta@economy.gov.il, or locally:

To lodge a citizen’s complaint about public health risks (e.g., unhealthy products or government-mall31conditions), turn to the Israel Ministry of Health, Be’er-Sheva Office for Public Complaints, located in the Government Mall, main entrance, building A, Sun.-Thurs. 8:00-15:00, 08-6263511.

To lodge complaints regarding public or industrial safety (e.g., dangerous products or conditions), turn to the Institute for Safety and Hygienelocated in the Central Train-Station Tower – 08-6276389. Be’er-Sheva needs more trained, professional safety inspectors; accredited courses are given on the Open University Campus at Bet Yatsiv in the Old City – 08-6273828.

Complaints about environmental hazards and/or local eye-sores may also be reported to the local community TV cable channel 98 “Mi-Kan” (lit., from here), based at the Youth Center in the Old City – http://www.98tv.co.il or to the local weekend Hebrew news magazines (published every Thursday afternoon), each of which has a column dedicated to spotlighting municipal foibles and faults, such as the “Sheva,” “Yedi’ot ha-Negev or “Zeman ha-Negev.

In cases of complaints having national importance, the Be’er-Sheva Office of the State Comptroller and Ombudsman takes civilian complaints about improper or harmful acts committed by public bodies or government agencies and their representatives. This Office is located at 8B Henrietta Szold St. in the “Rassco City” complex – 08-6232777, http://www.nezivut.mevaker.gov.il.

In regard to problems involving the Israeli military complex, the I.D.F. Southern Command Headquarters in Be’er-Sheva has designated a special phone number, available for civilian complaints and suggestions (24/7) – 08-9906565.

Legal matters and legal aid 

The local branch of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has an open line for the law-justicegeneral public, Sun.-Thurs. – 08-6521218 and 08-6480108.

The Israel Ministry of Justice has a local Legal Aid Office located in the No’am Building at 33 Shazar Blvd. in the Gimel neighborhood – 08-6404526/7/or 8. There’s also an office of public defenders at this address – 08-6404500.

The Center for Legal Aid to New Immigrants and the Israel Religious Action Center for Jewish Pluralism are both situated in the Levin Community Center at 3 Eliyahu ha-Navi St. in the Daled neighborhood – 08-6492193, as is thAssociation for Residential Tarbut ha-Diyyur logoCulture (“Tarbut ha-Diyyur”) that helps residents’ committees to resolve ‘in-house’ problems in apartment buildings – 08-9103830.

“Adallah” and “Ba-Makom” civil rights associations and other group for Bedouin rights meet regularly at the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev in the Train-Station Tower – 08-6201444.

Voluntarism

Be’er-Sheva is an exemplary leader in Israeli voluntarism and civic action, inBeersheba volunteers 2011 which 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. Those trying to get an idea of where they might like to volunteer may go to Re’em and learn about the many options.

In fact, in 2016, following the paradigmatic example established in Be’er-Sheva by the “Shlomit” Association for Alternative National and Civil Service (founded 1993) in conjunction with the  Israel gay youth organization “IGY” (founded 2001)–a first support team and commune was established up North in Afula to help homosexual youths by providing guided education and activities.

The Civilian Guard (“Mishmar Ezrahi”trains and certifies volunteers (18-65) to dealMishmar Ezrahi logo with traffic infractions & accidents, terrorism, and other security Mishmar Ezrahi2matters in the city. The headquarters are located at 63 ha-Avot St. in the Old City – 08-6274347; Raz Shwimmer – 050-6277797.  

The Be’er-Sheva soup kitchen “Be’er-Sova” (lit., the well of Beer-Sovasufficient sustenance, founded 2000) that provides free, hot cooked meals to ca.100 of the City’s indigent population each day and distributes “meals-on-wheels” to shut-ins. The food is served at  located in the Old City at 58 Morde ha-Geta’ot St. – Restaurant: 08-6233355; Office: 08-6412544. Donations of fresh food, contributions of funding, and hours of voluntary service are always appreciated.

The voluntary NPO, “Hesed Lema’an Ehay ve-Re’ay” (lit., benevolence towards brothers and friends, founded 2006) supplies hundreds of food packages, hot meals and household equipment to over 700 needy persons. More volunteers and donations of food donations money are needed to meet the evergrowing demand. Contact – former Be’er-Sheva Councilman Yakov Ohayon (b.1986-) at: https://twitter.com/OhayonYakov.

The Lions Club “Achva ba-Negev” (lit., brotherhood in the Negev), that engages in Lions Club - Achva BaNegevvoluntary social action, meets at the “Avot ba-Negev” Elder Hostel at 12 Alfasi St. in Yud Aleph – President Emily Burstein 054-4818903; Secretary Dorit Vartsman 050-2974009. 

 

Beer-Sheva Local-Patriots

As the author of My Be’er-Sheva,” a unique pro-Be’er-Sheva website and as the translator and publisher of the first English Be’er-Sheva guidebook, I’m certainly one of the city’s most dedicated resident local-patriots. I immigrated to Be’er-Sheva fromEthelea Katzenell portrait Philadelphia, PA in 1972 (at the age of 22), not due to persecution or dissatisfaction with my life there, but rather out of a sense of returning to my true home–the place where I really belong–and I’ve never regretted that decision. I may have been this city’s first real PR person and remain among its most senior ones. I voluntarily created and maintained a ethelea honored 2006similar website from 2000-2010, for which the city honored me in 2006I’m proud that my 4 (now adult) children and 5 (and counting…) grandchildren were all born here and still reside in Be’er-Sheva. I know no better place to live and thrive than in this timeless and prolific city.

Others also appreciate Be’er-Sheva [The Hebrew to English translations are mine.

Drummer/keyboard player Itamar Abuhatsera stated that: Be’er-Sheva‘s is a good place to make music … there’s no posing … and creativity comes straight from the guts … and amazingly enough, eveyone’s very accommodating to one another.”

Journalist Zvika Alousha, an active local-patriot, wrote: “Be’er-Sheva long ago Zvika Aloushreplaced its dusty countenance with a young, cheeky look.”

Inbal Amitai, a native Be’ershevan said: “There’s something special here and I’m proud to be a part of the city … There’s no other city I’d rather live in.”

Arieh Bar (b.1944- in Be’er-Sheva) served as the General Manager of 3 different Israeli Aryeh BarMinistries: Transport, Housing & the Interior, but never stopped living with is family in Be’er-Sheva. In 2011, he was honored by the Municipality as an “Esteemed Citizen.” On a few occasions he has stated“I truly love this city … I’ve never left and I’ll never leave.”

Singer/songwriter Israel Bar-On (b.1989 in Be’er-Sheva) claims that Israel Bar-Onwhenever he’s not in Be’er-Sheva“Somehow, my head’s always thinking of Be’er-Sheva … as the safest place to be.”

Perhaps in honor of the upcoming centennial celebrations of the liberation of Be’er-Sheva (on October 31, 1917) from the clutches of the Ottoman Empirein October 2017, a non-local, Israeli singer/songwriter, Hanan Ben-Ari (b.1988-), wrote & sings a charming (andHanan Ben-Ari well-informed) Hebrew parodic song on the City of Be’er-Sheva, entitled “Be’er-Sheva” that includes the lines: “I’m in love with her charms … From the North to the South, you’ll not find another city like Be’er-Sheva.”

Native Be’er-Shevan, Elad Cohen, has only praises for the city: “I had a great childhood … dancing all the time … Be’er-Sheva is a special city …  What makes it special is its good, familial atmosphere. It’s a fun city.”

Mayor “Ruvik” Danilovich (b.1971-, in Be’er-Sheva) has been serving and promotingRuvik Danilovich - Mayor the City of Be’er-Sheva as its mayor since 2008. His most recent vision for the burgeoning Negev metropolis describes ambitious projects for completion by 2020. He has often stated: “I owe a great debt to this city…Be’er-Sheva and the Negev are my life’s work, the pinnacle of my public career. I’ve promised the city’s residents that I’ll never leave and I’m a man of my word. I love this city and its residents. I was born here and I’m committed to transform our city into a leading, high-quality metropolis in Israel.”

police departmentAvi Dichter, former Minister of Internal Security, stated: The Negev District Police Station should serve as a model for all the other police stations in Israel.”

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

zvika-hadarZvika Hadar (b.1966-, in Be’er-Sheva, nee Fruchter), a very popular and prolific Israeli comedian & TV personality, stated: “Be’er-Sheva is part of my DNA…I immediately commit myself to anything related to Be’er-Sheva.”

Be’er-Sheva-born and educated Eyal Halali is the young founder of “HalaliComp” – a computer firm. Together with Sarit Greidingher, he created a Hebrew pro-Be’er-Sheva website entitled “Beer 7 streets.” Halali wrote: Be’er-Sheva is a mosaic of populations, a mini-model of the State of Israel, composed of new immigrants, native-born sabras, with different levels of education, students, and others. It hasEyal Halali - local patriot private businesses and companies that come and discover our amazing Be’er-Sheva, with its variety of places to have a good time. Be’er-Sheva’s the Capital of the Negev and the South, worthy of reclaiming its former glory and our love and esteem.”

Yael Lerner, a newpaper journalist, claims that: “Something’s happening in Be’er-Sheva … Today, its no longer that desert transit town, but rather an attractive and renewed city … The significant change that Be’er-Sheva‘s undergoing is successfully integrating modernization and authenticity, along with great respect for history and the varied multiculturism it encompasses.”

Rapper Idan Miro, a member of the combo “Mister I. and Shai,” states with pride: “It’s important that they know that we’re from Be’er-Sheva and we’re staying in Be’er-Sheva.” 

After completing his B.A. in Behavioral Sciences at BGU in 2013, Yaron Nitsan (b.1985-, in Jerusalem) decided to stay and live in Be’er-Sheva because: “Here, there’s fertile space for development. In Tel-Aviv, I wouldn’t have opened a pub, and I certainly wouldn’t have had time to do improvization theater [“Shlofta” Improv Theater], because I’d have found myself struggling all day to survive economically.”   

Avraham NumaAvraham Numa, one of the champion Ha-Po’el Be’er-Sheva soccer players, talked about the city: Be’er-Sheva‘s the best city of all … If you want to be a pioneer [a ‘soccer forward’], run to Be’er-Sheva!” 

Zohar Oholiav, an expert in Feng Shui, wrote the following about Be’er-Sheva“Be’er-Sheva is a power in feng shui, leisure activity & catering. The city puts on no airs, rather displays high-octane kindness, liveliness and exhuberance and, above all, is accessible.” 

Itay Pearl (b.1978-) was born in Safed, moved to Tel Aviv in 1999 to further his musical career; then, in 2012, Pearl made Be’er-Sheva his new home. He is a successful singer & guitarist, and writes and produces rock, pop, blues & jazz music for other popular Israeli singers. His 6th (solo) album was released 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.”

Be’er-Shevan singer/songwriter David Peretz, nicknamed “the suffering artist,” wrote aDavid Peretz song about Be’er-Sheva entitled “The smoke of time.” Some of the lyrics are: “Who would have thought we were meant to live here only with songs and dreams about Be’er-Sheva … The smoke of time rises to the white ceiling. It’s a new morning in the ‘Old City’.”

Eliezer RivlinSupreme Court Judge Eliezer Rivlin said that: “To be a Be’er-Shevan is to be a partner in pioneerism and renewal … to bear fascinating memories … to address the need for real equality as being a self-evident task … to maintain human dignity.”

Zion Rubin 

Ofer Sela - SinfoniettaOfer Sela, former General Manager of the Israel Sinfonietta Be’er-Sheva (2005-2017) stated: “You can take me out of Be’er-Sheva, but you can’t take Be’er-Sheva out of me.”

Reuven Teper - HeaDsWell-known “HeaDs” hair stylist Reuven Teper said: “We were raised and educated in the special Be’er-Sheva environment. I strongly believe in this city; it has enormous potential and, needless to say, I have great love for it.” 

Sha’ul Tsafani, former head of the Metrodan Drivers’ Committee, stated that, though their strike wasn’t completely successful: “Be’er-Sheva is full of warm, easy-going and hospitable people.”

Another native of Be’er-Sheva, Ms. Ori Nir-Winter, founder and CEO of “Creactive – Organizational Design,” stated that she loves the city: “People have no idea how astounding this city is … They aren’t aware that this city has a very high-quality population.” 

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

בית טוביהו3 For 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.