By Josh Blatman, OTZMA
Israelis talk about Israel as though the only good parts about it are Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. That makes for some legitimate tourist congestion, but it’s also not entirely accurate. Jerusalem is obviously very religious, and heavily historic; while Tel Aviv is a bustling international center of consumerism in the Middle East. Living in Be'er Sheva, however, has made me realize this city has a feel all its own.
Be’er Sheva is located in the northern-most area of the Negev, Israel’s desert. There is no doubt these other cities have culture sights worth seeing and experiencing, but after living in Be'er Sheva for the last six weeks (with four more to go), I’ve seen and experienced some neat things you probably wouldn’t find anywhere else in Israel.
The Negev Brigade Memorial has an awesome view of Be’er Sheva. It’s on a hill and is just a series of concrete structures. I had fun checking it out. My more musically oriented friends and I went into a 20 foot high dome that resonated incredibly well and invented an unlikely-to-be famous opera. Regardless of how good our tune was, it was a lot of fun to create, and just outside it was a spot to overlook thow wholw of Be’er Sheva. Below is a picture of our grand operatic performance. We believed that the split in the dome, along with the lines in the floor and the holes in the dome above, made for a sundial, or lunar calendar, so we guessed.
Another thing we saw was the British WWI Military Cemetery. Some friends and I walked by it when we walked home from the Old Town of Be’er Sheva. The headstones had truly introspective quotes on them about life; they affected me because a lot of the plots belonged to soldiers who were younger than me when they died. I’m 24 years old, and there were people in the cemetery as young as 18. It’s a hard thing to imagine that my family and friends could have experienced my death, and even more difficult for me to imagine that my younger brother (22) could have been in that graveyard also.
The old town of Be’er Sheva is also a cool place to check out. There are several artisan shops with inexpensive things to buy. It has a relaxed atmosphere, you can basically just walk into stores and check stuff out if you want to, or not. The people are typically nicer than your average Israeli shop owner because they don’t have to deal with tourists as much. But be careful not go into a shoe store and try on a lot of shoes without walking out with a pair, you’ll get scoffed at by the employees. It’s a “no B.S. eclectic area.”
All the qualities I’ve just mentioned make Be’er Sheva a uniquely liberal town: a destination worth the trip!
Josh is currently living in Be'er Sheva as a participant on OTZMA XXI