My Impressions of the Negev
Cheryl Kaplan Hughes
I was very reticent about going to the desert and Eilat, only because I’ve seen a lot of deserts and although I haven’t been to Eilat in 40 yrs.(oops), I thought it would just be another Miami Beach. Was I wrong. This part of the trip has really stirred me. To see Ben Gurion’s simple dwelling, to see where he lived in the harsh Negev and to envision the work he did on the kibbutz, have made a huge impression on me. That plus our visit to two other kibbutzim, Yotvata and Ketura, have left me quite thoughtful. We met kibbutznicks who are truly pioneers, Dr. Elaine Solloway, her husband Mike Solloway and Amnon Greenberg. In my young Zionist days, I thought I could live in a kibbutz. I soon found out how wrong I was so I am particularly in awe of the huge contribution these people have made in taming the desert and thus founding the nation. They have learned how to produce red algae, medicinal plants, irrigation systems that grow the sweetest dates, methods of sustainable agriculture to benefit not only Israel, but the entire world to name just a few of their accomplishments. As Israel advances into the 21st. century, we can’t forget these unsung heroes, the kibbutzniks who came in the 40’s, 50s, 60’s and 70’s bursting with idealism and enthusiasm.They believed that if you dream it, it will happen. Although there are only 70 viable kibbutzim today; in their prime, they made an enormous impact on the country. These young idealists settled the land, fought terrorism and worked tirelessly to be self sufficient. Especially in the Negev, these kibbutzniks are carrying out Ben Gurion’s prophecy that Israel will not survive if we do not conquer the desert…it’s a work in progress. As for Eilat, yes it may look like Miami Beach but it’s OUR Miami Beach..