roland@equalpartners.ca
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Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCXCVIII. A Return Visit (13 of 19)

October 26 & 27

My next tour took me to the Negev and Eilat.  In many ways, this turned out to be the best trip.  There was good chemistry between the participants, the guide, and the driver.  These things do happen, but otherwise cannot be explained.

I was going to visit the desert, and my expectations were low.  As we shall see, I was wrong.  We tend to think of the desert as being dull; and indeed, many parts were just sand dunes after sand dunes; but some segments were of great beauty and they amply made out for the dreariness of the rest.  As well, Israel took a desert, the Negev, and breathed life into it; and that perhaps has to be the most impressive part of a visit to the Holy Land.

The Negev

Beersheva

Beersheba (Seven Wells) is the largest city in the Negev.  You may remember that I stayed there for six months to learn Hebrew and did not find it particularly exciting.  But by the time of my visit, It was a totally different city; that said, there was not much to see for tourists, and therefore we just drove through it with our guide commenting on the places we were going through.

Sde Boker

A visit to the Negev is sure to include a stop at Kibbutz Sde Boker.  Visitors from across the world do not come for the kibbutz, but because David Ben Gurion (1886 – 1973) chose to retire there, once in 1953, which was followed by another term as Prime Minister, and then in 1963, this time for good.

Sde Boker (Hebrew for Ranchers’Field) is, in relative terms, new.  It was established in 1952 by settlers who wanted to raise cows in the desert.  Today, the kibbutz produces olives, fruit, wheat and corn.  The pioneers who attempted, and succeeded, in taming the desert deserve our admiration; conceivably, Ben Gurion felt the same way, and that it why he chose to retire there.

Ben Gurion’s hut is only slightly larger than the other haverim’s houses.  Everything has been left in its place, so that future generations can come and see the home of this great statesman.

The accommodations were quite spartan and do not compare with the modern houses of the kibbutz’s members; but remember that I was visiting in 1992, and Ben Gurion’s home has been left as is back in 1973; that no doubt account for the stark contrast.

The hut included the bedrooms of David and his wife, Paula.  (Yes, they had separate bedrooms).

How did he occupy himself?  He read a lot; apparently, woke up early and walked five kilometers every day; and received visitors and members of the government who came to solicit his advice.

Paula died in 1968, and David in 1973. Their graves are near the Zin rim, and it overlooks this beautiful canyon.

Avdat

11 kms south of Sde Boker are the ruins of Avdat; this is a 3rd century BCE Nabatean city which was named after King Obodas II.  It prospered during the reign of his son Aretasa IV.  In 106 CE the Romans incorporated the Nabateans into the Roman Empire.  In the 5th and 6th centuries, Byzantine monks took an interest to the city; most of the buildings on the castle hill are from this period.  The next occupiers were the Persians followed by the Muslims.  In the 10th century, Avdat was abandoned for good.

The Nabateans must have had remarkable irrigation skills judging by the remains of canals, cisterns, and dams they left us.

Mitzpe Ramon

From Avdat we drove to Mitzpe Ramon to visit the new visitor centre overlooking the Ramon Crater.  We watched an audio visual presentation on the crater, and next went to visit it.  The only adequate word for the Ramon Crater is majestic.  It is the largest crater in the world; it has astounding geological formations going back thousands of years, remains of ancient civilizations, and fossils from the dinosaur period.

After lunch we headed to Eilat; since this was a two hours trip, I used the time to catch up on my sleep.

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