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Todah Rabah Yerucham

Updated: Apr 3

Yerucham, In the Negev, Israel May 13, 2015

Today was a tour of the Negev. Like the rest of the Middle East, the Negev is a complex balance of dust swirls, magnificent vistas, Beduin’s following their goats and then when you think that it is the most inhospitable place on earth up pops a grove of Date Palms.

Kibbutzim and their spartan buildings are like colonies on the moon, the very survival of their members depend upon them working together. Like the space station the kibbutzim had to develop new techniques to live. New irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation were developed due to the sparcity of water.

Diversion of the sporadic floods into holding ponds, while successful at first was insufficient to supply the growth of the Negev. Potable water is transported and deep wells of brackish water feed the crops.

Ben Gurion’s dream has not been fulfilled as most Israeli’s live to the north, but the Negev is like a flower which takes years to bloom.

By supporting the Development towns such as Yerucham, the central government acts as the gardener. With programs and grants, with incentives to settlers, the government fertilizes this flower.

Yerucham is a bud waiting to bloom. Its people are the strong roots which seek the nourishing water. Through its Mayor and Council’s vision it has expanded its tax base to the new military base.

400 houses will be built for the officers stationed at the base and their families. These families will be customers of local commerce and in turn will bring new businesses.

The Mayor explained that the military base will provide millions of shekels in tax revenue while costing about 10 percent of that in additional services. This will help fund many of the programs which Yerucham sorely needs.

Ben Gurion was a man of vision and his gravesite, which he chose, overlooks a magnificent canyon complete with free roaming Ibux.  Like the Negev which he loved he was a complex man with many detractors.

Today’s trip wrapped up our two weeks in the Negev. Could we have appreciated the sights we visited today without living in Yerucham, perhaps but we never would understand it as we did today.

A final thank you to my new friends. You have made this trip one which I will cherish. You have given me insight which will benefit my clients and community. The smiling faces of Yerucham are permanently etched in my memory as are the sounds of your beautiful children.

At our final “seder” tonight we quipped that perhaps the Haggadah should be changed to “Next Year in Yerucham”! We laughed but all thought, what a wonderful idea.

Todah Rabah Yerucham

Howard Schneider

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