Merchav Am Visit
– We stopped in the middle of nowhere, Zecharia our wonderful bus driver, found us an Aroma Restaurant at Shoket Junction – one of CAARI’s favorite Israeli cafe chains! Then on to the Merchav Am community located on a hill between Sde Boker and Yeruham, with magical desert scenery. Our host, Allison, welcomed us. We admired her energy, enthusiasm, spirit, sense of humor and native English! She took us for a tour of community showing us the original caravan housing and the new housing which she and her family will be moving to in the next few months. Their new community service is amazing.
She explained that Merchav Am is the very first orthodox community established in Ramat HaNegev Regional Council and serves as a model of a developing settlement rich in community life. It is currently home to 42 families and has a local synagogue, mikveh, kindergarten, day care for infants, a members’ club and other facilities. The village also holds Torah lessons for men and women, cultural activities on festivals and other special events, lectures on matters of common interest, Sabbath meals together and more. The children enjoy high-quality religious education, including pre-school day care, a kindergarten up to school age. An orthodox elementary school, a high school Yeshiva for boys and a separate “Ulpana” for girls are only some of the educational options offered. Informal education for children and young adults is also afforded proper attention in addition to activities in the local branch of the B’nai Akiva youth movement.
The sources of employment for local residents include education, regional industries, private ventures and a khan (inn) offering lodging accommodations.