Only in Beer-Sheva

Be’er-Sheva has many unique things, not found anywhere else in the world.

Only in Be’er-Sheva can you find the “Peace Gate” at the second entrance to the BGU Marcus Family Campus, commemorating the historic meeting between Israel’s Prime peace-gate-at-bgu1Minister Menahem Begin and Egypt’s President Anwar al-Sadat on May 27th, 1979 to sign a lasting peace treaty. Amen!

Only in Be’er-Sheva, the city of Abraham, the Patriach, can you drive past a traffic circle named “the Patriarch’s Circle,” where the roads of the three biblical patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, meet in the Daled neighborhood.

Only in Be’er-Sheva there are the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at BGU; Ilan Ramon Way; the Ilan Ramon traffic circle; and the Ramon rocket park–all dedicated to phantom-traffic-circlethe memory of Israel’s first astronaut, Colonel Ilan Ramon (1954-2003), who grew up in Be’er-Sheva. He was one of the pilots who flew the mission that successfully bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. He perished in the Columbia space shuttle disaster that occurred during the attempted re-entry to the Earth‘s atmosphere on Ilan Ramon Rocket ParkFebruary 1st, 2003. In addition, his namesakes include: the Ramon crater on the Moon; Ramon Hill on Mars; and the Ilanramon asteroid #51828. NASA regularly invites gifted students to visit the Kennedy Space Center and do special projects at NASA during summer vacations or intersessions.

Only in Be’er-Sheva you can see “Synagogue Row” on Shalom Shabazi Street (in the Aleph neighborhood), that consists of a row of 5 synagogues, surrounded by another 4 the-star-synagoguesynagogues within a 1-block radius: the 1st is “Ha-Avot” and belongs to the Egyptian-Jewish community; the 2nd is “Abba Shalom Shabazi” belonging to one Yemenite-Jewish family; the 3rd is “Ha-Nasi” of the Libyan/Tripolitan-Jewish community; the 4th is “Sha’are Tsedek” of another Yemenite-Jewish family (Hajbi); and the 5th is “Ole Paras” which belongs to the Persian/Iranian-Jewish community. The otherstrumah-synagogue 4 nearby synagogues are: “Yad Ramah” for the Tunisian-Jewish community; the Ashkenazi/European-style synagogue and yeshiva “Netiv ha-Shavim;” the Iraqi-Jewish “Halachi” (“Star” or “Pyramid” Synagogue); and another Ashkenazi-style Romanian synagogue – “Struma.” On Sabbath and holidays, the Jews from 3 continents pray in accordance with their own special liturgies, melodies & customs. 

Only in Be’er-Sheva The only chain hotel in Be’er-Sheva changed its owners and its name 4 times within a span of ca.12 years! First it was the “Be’er-Sheva Hilton”; then thegolden-tulip-hotel2“Paradise Be’er-Sheva”; then the “Be’er-Sheva Golden Tulip;” and lastly (and still) the “Leonardo Negev Be’er-Sheva Hotel.” For over a decade, the Be’er-Sheva maps, phone listings and municipal street signs were constantly outdated…

Only in Be’er-Sheva Ben-Gurion University of the Negev offers an accredited workshop in drumming given by the Desert Drummers (founded 2000) – Desert drummers055-9703747.

 

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

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

 

Beer-Sheva Trivia

Interesting namesakes

Beersheba Springs is a small resort town located in Grundy County, Tennessee, U.S.A., lat. 35.466N; long. -85.654W and about 1,850 feet (= ca.564 meters) above sea level. It has a very small population of ca.467 residents (as of 2016).

“Beersheba Farm” Bungalows is a bed&breakfast establishment located in Lelant, St. Ives, Cornwall, United KingdomOnly one kilometer from Atlantic Ocean beaches – info@beersheba.co.uk, 07795-284356. 

“Be’er Sheva” is the name of a Christian rock band from Germany that has visited here several times and given performances at the Youth Center in the Old City.

Trivia quiz

Where can you find…?

a real airplane hanging from a ceiling? Answer: On the BGU Campus in the Mechanical Engineering Dept. (Bldg. 55).Suspended airplane at BGU

two genuine fighter planes in the middle of traffic circles? Answer:  1) A decommissioned Kefir jet is mounted on a traffic circle on the roadKefir traffic circle to Kibbutz Hatzerim, pointing the way the Airforce Museum; 2) a decommissioned Phantom jet is mounted on the memorial traffic circle for Israel’s first astronaut, Colonel Ilan Ramon (1954-2003), near thePhantom traffic circle entrance to the Airforce Technical College.

a decommissioned battle tank in the middle of a traffic circle? Answer:  Mounted on “Kikar ha-Mofet” traffic circle, at the intersection of Haphtali Herz imber and Rabbi Tank in traffic circleEliyahu Katz Avenues, commemorating Captain Dr. Igor Rothstein and Captain Shai Bernstein, two Be’er-Shevans who lost their lives during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. However, note that the muzzle of this tank is always pointing towards the Sinai Peninsula, as if eternally protecting Be’er-Sheva from another Egyptian incursion.

–a large gorilla? Answer: In a small park area at the corner of Mivsta Nahshon andBiggest gorilla Mivtsa Yo’av in the Vav neighborhood.

–a parade float of a man seated on a ceramic toilet? AnswerIn the Harsah Ceramic Harsah toiletCompany compound on the Hebron Road.

–a real Foucault pendulum in action? Answer: On BGU Campus, in the east wing of the Sacta-foucault-pendulum-at-bguRashi Physics Dept. building (Bldg. 54), hanging from the 5th floor atrium ceiling; it was donated by the California Academy of Science in San-Francisco.

–the happiest big fish in Be’er-Sheva? AnswerIt’s a sculpture standing in the entrance of the The biggest fishAvisror Building, across from the Central Train Station.

–a white grand piano? AnswerIn the lobby of the new Emergency Wing of theblachmans-in-action1 Soroka Medical Center. On occasion, free, open concerts are held there. And there’s another in the lobby of the Youth Center in the Old City, too.

-the 10 Commandments in Amharic script? AnswerIn the central Ethiopian amharic-10-commandments1synagogue, the“Kes Barukh” Synagogue, located in the Yud-Aleph neighborhood–under the auspices of Kes Barukh, the High Priest of world Ethiopian Jewry.

–a small rendition of the famous New York Harbor “Statue of Liberty,” designed by French sculptor F. A. Bartholdi? AnswerIn the Neveh Ze’ev neighborhood, in the entrance to the “Manhattan Gardens” Apartments.

–a suspended boulder, reminiscent of a Magritte painting. Answer: Above the trafficTank in traffic circle circle at the intersection of the Imber Promenade and Naphtali Herz Imber Avenue.

–a hall designed like a mini-U.N.? Answer: The Senate Hall at BGU, BGU Senate hallwith flags by the podium, wooden terraced seating and a personal microphone at each seat. This special hall hosts numerous international and national conferences each year. 

Castle facade in Beer-Sheva–the facade of a medieval castle? AnswerAt the Milestone Bar (founded 2015), located at 46 Ya’ir Avraham Shtern Street in the Old City – 054-7439060.

–a chef mannequin in a stairwell? AnswerIn the Chef mannequinGovernment Mall, main entrance, on the staircase leading to the Health Dept. on the first floor.

Wall with a face–a wall with a face? Answer: In the park situated between Golda Meir and Abba Ahimeir streets in Yud Aleph.

mention of “Beersheba” on a carved-stone memorial to those ANZAC soldierscharge of the light brigade 4 who fought/fell in “Palestine, 1916-1918.” Answer: In New Zealand.New Zealand greeting

–the tallest skyscraper? Answer: In Pelakh 5, adjacent to the Neveh Ze’ev neighborhood–a residential apartment building reaching 32 floors in height, built by “Ahim Um” Construction Company for habitatioin in 2019.

Artzieli traffic circle–the biggest harp? Answer: A 6-meter high steel harp created by visual artist Israel Fraiman (b.1967-) is located amid the Mordechai (“Motke”) Artzieli traffic circle in the Bet neighborhood at the intersection of Yaakov Cahan and Leonard Bernstein streets. Artzieli (1924-2004) had been a veteran journalist, also known as “The Voice of the South.”

Who was…?

–the first performing magician in Be’er-Sheva? AnswerMeyer Buyum, also known Buyum, the Magicianas “Buyum, the Magician” (1934-1994), who resided and performed in the city from 1958 until his untimely death. On rare occasions in the 1970s & 1980s, when his regular magician’s assistant was either ill or very pregnant, I replaced her as his on-stage partner. He often did free shows for sick children or wounded soldiers in the hospital.   

the first woman bus-driver in Be’er-ShevaAnswer: Leah PinhasThough we shared the same Hebrew name for 20 years (1973-1993), we never actually met. I believe she still resides somewhere in the Gimel neighborhood.  

the first woman taxicab driver in Be’er-ShevaAnswerAyala Bokobza. She began driving a cab in 1980.  

the first woman Israrails train conductor from Be’er-ShevaAnswer: Hanit Benjamin (b.1984-), who has been driving trains between Be’er-Sheva and Natanyah since 2014.

–the first woman crime-scene investigator (CSI) in the Negev Region Police ForceAnswerStaff Sergeant Major Hadas Bel

Special events

* In November 1948, one month after Be’er-Sheva was liberated from the Egyptian Army on October 21st, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra came down from Jerusalem to give a special concert for the soldiers of the Palmah’s Negev Brigade. This concert Leonard Bernsteinwas conducted by a Jewish guest conductor – Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), who also played the solo in George Gershwin‘s “Rhapsody in blue.” Sixty years later (in September 2008), on the exact same spot in the Old City, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra repeated that historic performance, under the baton of conductor Zubin Mehta (b.1936-). In 1970,Zubin Mehta at the stunning Philadelphia Academy of Music, I had the honor of singing in the 120-voice Penn Chorale with the prestigious Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra under the batons of Eugene Ormandy (1900-1985) & guest conductor Zubin Mehta–an unforgettable experience! Mehta is retiring as conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of the 2017/2018 season.

* The longest divorce proceedings in Israel (41 years!) was a case filed in Be’er-Sheva in 1966 and only closed in 2007.

* The world-famous Jewish-American singer/songwriter Bob Dylan (b.1941-, nee Robert Bob DylanAllen Zimmerman) gave an entire performance in the Wassermill Soccer Stadium on June 19, 1993. In 2016, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature.

In 1999, the Be’er-Sheva Branch of the Association for Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders (GLBTs) was established in the Old City. The first “gay-pride parade” in Be’er-Sheva was held on the BGU Campus in 2003, under the auspices of the active BGU student homo-lesbian club “Segol” (lit., purple, founded in 1995). On 2 August, 2009, ca.400 people marched from the BGU Campus in sympathetic protest of the homophobic murders committed in Tel-Aviv. The third GLBT parade was held in June 2017, when ca.5,000 GLBTs and their supporters from the entire region marched from Wingate St. (below the Soroka ER) down to City Hall Square, where they held a happening in support of social tolerance.

* In the third week of June 2007, the first Sudanese-Israeli citizen, a baby boy, was born at the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er-Sheva to a Sudanese refugee named Ayam Matyah.Soroka Medical Center

* On 07/07/07 (the 7th of July, 2007) 27 babies were born in the Soroka Medical Center Maternity Wards!

Special collections

Collector Yossi Brains (b.1958-) is the founder of a collectors’ association called “A Taste of Bygone Days.” Yossi is an obsessive collector of: antique cars, knives, letter Collectable carEthelea in BGU racing caropeners, telephones, watches–virtually everything! All his collections are displayed at his home in Be’er-Sheva. He is also the founder of the Israel Association of Motorcar Sports & Cross-Country Rallies and the AssocCollectors car #2Biation for Drag Racing – 052-326581; 050-8334182.

Photographer, curator Goel Drori (b.1948-) has ca.400 old cameras in his collection that he displays at the “Tsalmaniyah” in the Old City.Goel Drori, photographer

Collector Ran Levi (b.1975-) has ca.40 unusual instruments from all over the world. HeAfrican drums also produces historical podcasts in a series entitled “Making history” http://www.ranlivi.com.

Collector Shmulik G. Moskowitz has been collecting old radios since 1975. The ca.50 exemplars he has are on display at his spare-parts & auto-repair shop “Hamehadesh” (lit., the renewer) – 08-6234886.

In the last 25 years, Be’er-Sheva‘s Bella Pesikov (b.1930-) has collected ca.500 teapots and kettles of all sizes, shapes, colors and materials, that fill her tiny apartment, at the “Amidar sheltered residence” in Nahal Beqa.

Dentist, Dr. G. Ribitzky, has created a Museum of Dental Antiques at his dental clinic in “Rassco City” – 08-6279640.  

Professor Lior Rosenberg (b.1945-), founder of the Israel Burn Association and former Head of the Plastic Surgery Dept. at the Soroka Medical Center, provided all the historical medical tools for the History of Medicine Museum that is permanently on display in the lobby of the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences.   

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

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