Onward Israel 2019 Week 5: Be’er Sheva and Southern Fun

As our summer quickly comes to an end, we face the inevitable final times we do things together as a group. Sunday, we took our third and final day trip to Be’er Sheva and Kfar Aza. This excursion wasn’t as glamorous as our first two, but it gave us a different perspective on what living in Israel can look like. 

Before we started our walking tour of Be’er Sheva, we met our guide, Nama, at Allenby Park, where a statue and plaque recognizes General Edmund Allenby. Before walking through the biggest city in the desert, we talked about its historical context from the view of a local. 

Our tour guide, Nama, talking to the group before our walking tour of Be’er Sheva.

Be’er Sheva used to have a lot of local businesses in one area, but a nearby surge of malls and shopping centers drove all the city’s business to the edge of town. The few local businesses that could afford to move that direction did, but the others stayed put and either ran out of business or suffered financially. In the last few years, however, the city center has seen a bit of a revitalization despite Be’er Sheva’s status on the periphery, socioeconomically. 

The first of two stops on our tour that shed light on what Be’er Sheva has to offer was a place called Brew Shop. Pretty much no matter where you are in Israel, it’s easy to see the country isn’t too fond of beer. Outside of Goldstar and Maccabi, and big names like Carlsberg, Corona and Tuborg, it’s not all that easy finding a vast collection of beers. Israel might be partial to wine, but Brew Shop owner Gilad believes there are plenty of people in Israel looking for beer outside the aforementioned, big-name brands. Gilad started brewing as a hobby, but since opening Brew Shop has promoted and sold a unique variety of microbrews and IPA’s, limited editions, and some of the most interesting flavor combinations I’ve ever heard of (like Rogue’s Sriracha Hot Stout). The shop also offers brewing workshops and events in hopes of growing the city and country’s beer culture. 

The second stop that impressed the group was the Switzerland Youth Center. The area was lacking a space for youth activities, especially the arts, until a few years ago when the Keren Hayesod Switzerland Youth Center was established. The large building houses recording studios, rehearsal rooms, a performance hall, and musical equipment for local youth and artists to use. The colorful, mural-esque walls promote exactly what the youth center is after: creativity. 

The walls outside the recording studios at Switzerland Youth Center in Be’er Sheva.

After our time in Be’er Sheva, we headed west to a kibbutz in Kfar Aza. We met with an older lady named Leora who raised her family in the kibbutz and still lives there today with some of her children and grandchildren. Given the kibbutz’ proximity to Gaza, Leora’s near-40 years in Kfar Aza hasn’t necessarily been easy. Leora was more than happy to share what it’s like living in that state of fear, knowing that any day an alarm could sound and warn people they have just 15 seconds to find safety because of nearby rockets. Leora’s self-proclaimed “contribution” to the kibbutz and similar communities is a children’s book she made to help kids cope when living in that type of environment. Leora leaned on an online platform for funding and was able to publish enough books for not only her kibbutz, but other kibbutzim that are close to the Gaza border. 

Our final day trip gave us a view of Israel from a different lens in comparison to Haifa and Jerusalem, but I think overall we were impressed with what Be’er Sheva and the South had to offer. On next week’s blog, we’ll be talking all about the group’s various chugim electives throughout Tel Aviv. Until next time, Will Coleman.



Intern Spotlight


Name: Sheli Gilman, sophomore at Ohio State studying Finance and Computer Science

Sheli Gilman works as a business development intern at Duco, the same innovation firm that Caroline Abel (week 3 spotlight) works at. Duco helps other companies develop their businesses and gives them tools to come up with new ideas. Sheli’s workload is mostly comprised of searching for research companies and sponsors that might want to team up with Duco. Sheli’s work environment is a casual one that makes her feel as if the office is “like a big family.” By the end of the summer, she is confident to have gained significant experience in her field while working in a different country and a new environment. 

“Living in Tel Aviv is amazing. There is never a dull moment with museums, art galleries, food, nightlife, the beach and so much more.”


Name: Sam Parsons, senior at Miami (Ohio) studying Interactive Media Studies

Sam Parsons is interning at Joy Group, a collection of music labels with several rappers, singers, songwriters, DJ’s, producers, and more. Sam is a jack of all trades at work, which he is ecstatic about. He is able to exercise his knowledge of social media and marketing all while taking in other aspects of music creation, artist outreach, and event planning. There’s always music playing in the office, and Sam doesn’t shy away from the chance to walk into a studio session with his boss and an artist. Sam has learned a lot already, but one thing he wants to bring back home with him is the understanding of the disconnect between Israeli and American music cultures. 

“Living in Tel Aviv is awesome, especially when you’re on Sheinkin street, right across from the shuk. This is my first time staying in another country for more than a week, and I have to say it has its challenges but also its benefits.”


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