Shavua Tov – Volunteer Momentum

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Visiting tourist sites in & around Yerucham

Visiting tourist sites in & around Yerucham


We are back in Yerucham having spent a wonderful Shabbat at Sde Boker taking in the extraordinary Ben Gurion University in the Negev.  We learned about research from solar energy innovations to new algae applications and growth possibilities. Among other things we learned that the original desert architecture which was pointed out to us was appropriately called “Brutish, ” and that Safti, and others  misunderstood the desert climate in their designs forgetting that it actually gets cold there. We were surprised to learn that the Negev aquifer with its brackish water is actually the largest in Israel.

On Saturday night we again met with the mayor and began to share some ideas and conclusions we had come to. We think he liked them. Well at least he said ” Yofi!” One of the day’s minor conclusions was that Israelis pay no attention to to the multiple English spellings of the town name  because of course they are not reading the signs in English and are, therefore, completely unaware of the confusion this could cause. We believe that if  we can get Yerucham spelled consistently all the time, this would be of help to English-only visitors or potential tourists, especially when looking the place up on-line.

We split up on Sunday –  Larry once again working with Debbie at Atid Bamidbar, Gerry and Ron meeting with Edna, the Park Manager to talk about a strategic plan for the lake/park and Queenie and Heather with Rachel Knoll  ( see Queenie and Heather’s blog.)

Typically, at every meeting cell phones ring incessantly sometimes interrupting every other sentence. Israelis at every level are unphased and unconcerned. Presumably if the phone did not ring they might wonder what was wrong. This meeting was no different except that we were now used to and accepting of the interruptions. Meeting times are also far from sacrosanct. Our meeting was cut short because another meeting time had been moved up, a matter of little concern to Edna ( we would catch up later) and now to us as well because we had been informed of another possible meeting ourselves which we wanted to attend.

Dan and Eyelet, a new immigrant couple, he a physician and she a lawyer from all over but most recently Indiana, had called to introduce us to the resident bee keeper so that we would have a taste of a current cottage business and its utility as a blueprint for others.  Fascinating story. Jimmy Rogers would have loved it.

The four of us then met again with Etai,  the young man in charge of Yerucham’s economic development, and discussed an upcoming JNF-US visit.  We focused on strategy to be considered in respect of the visit, his management approach, his priorities and his different sources of funds for the park. We mentioned the idea of a retreat to get everyone together and thoughts and actions aligned. He seemed positively disposed to the idea. We did not get to discuss a time frame. In retrospect he probably is thinking in terms of hours and not days. Who has time to plan??? Oh well! It’s a start.

Engliada was taught again today after a weekend’s hiatus. More students than ever showed up and we almost ran out of chairs. If we had another two weeks we would need another venue to satisfy the demand. Yeruchamites seem to recognize, as does the Mayor, that lack of English is a very real limiting factor in upward mobility. We assume that a lack of English is endemic throughout the Negev.   We intend to try to build sustainability into our programme so that it will continue after we have left the town.

We were offered a a visit to the Hesder Yeshiva tonight but we were all too tired from the day to accept.  This is the first time since arriving that we declined an opportunity!  Meanwhile it is almost midnight and we are still blogging. Yawn! Time to turn out the light.

Lila Tov,

Ron Hoffman and Gerry Rich


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