2048 Partners Meeting

 

50 government officials, professionals, and key leaders in the fields of environment, transportation, housing, employment planning and more participated in the second 2048 Partners Meeting led by OR Movement. These professionals hail from all areas who don't generally have the opportunity to sit and meet together to plan.

The meeting was met with much enthusiasm and the partners have been essential in refining and developing the vision.

A Gem in Ofakim

We love finding hidden gems in cities.

OR Movement and other organizations are working hard to turn Ofakim into a demographic magnet and bring the city to new heights. We have initiated many projects including the Barkai Collective Impact, with our partners the Ness Fund, that brings all the hard workers in the government, the business sector, and the non-profit sector together to work on one vision for the future of Ofakim.

The Young Adults Center in Ofakim is working to create fun and interesting opportunities for the young adult population in and around Ofakim. Check out the video all about their initiative and come visit them anytime. Young Adults Center Ofakim

 

Eat, Meet, and Greet in Israel's Capital in the South

As part of OR Movement's vision and mission for Israel in 2048, we plan to create two new centers in the country: one in the north and one in the south. The center of the south, Be'er Sheva, is already well on its way to being the southern hub of culture, entertainment, and nightlife. Our efforts in Be'er Sheva have included bringing culture and events to the Old City, bringing partners to help launch new initiatives, providing relocation guidance and incentives to new residents and businesses, and opening the new state-of-the-art Gateway to the Negev Visitors Center in the Bloomfield building located in the heart of the Old City.

Here are a few great examples from Trip Advisor of how Be'er Sheva is turning into a featured hotspot in Israel!

Museums and Visitors Centers

The Gateway to the Negev Visitor Center

Start off your trip in the Negev’s capital of the south at the Gateway to the Negev Visitors Center for an excellent hi-tech tour about the past, present, and future opportunities of the Negev.

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Nightlife

Be’er Sheva is full of wonderful events, pubs, and a happening college scene. The Old City is especially known for its animated southern style nightlife.

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Other nightlife to check out:

Barbasaba, Ashan Hazman, Tapas bar, HaHalutz 33, Munchilla, Donkeys Bar, Cocoa, Roza, Manga and more>>.

Restaurants & Pubs

Some of Israel’s finest culinary secrets and friendliest Barkeeps in Be’er Sheva

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Other restaurants to check out:

Hasifriya, Goomba , Kepasa , Caldo , Arabica , Cafe Lola , Humus Said from Akko – Beersheba branch , The Green Falafel , and Pastina 

Enjoy Israel's capital of the south! Cheers!

From Western Australia to the Negev; When Communities Collide

They’re 11,000 km apart, speak two different languages, and now they’re in the most inspiring relationship we know.

It started in 2014, when a delegation from JNF Perth, the capital of Western Australia, came on a mission with KKL-Israel to OR Movement. Until then, they had been raising funds for the larger JNF-Australia pool, now they were looking for a cause of their own; a project in Israel that they could personally connect to.

“We took them to visit a few projects,” recalls Reut, Director of Resource Development at OR Movement. “Merchav Am caught their eye, but it wasn’t until they met a community member, Allison Levine Speiser, that it really clicked.”

Merchav Am, established by OR Movement in 2001, was then a small community of just 50 families pioneering in the middle of the Negev desert. These idealistic pioneers saw their dream of flourishing the Negev, but they didn’t imagine that the JNF community of Western Australia would see it too.

A birds-eye view of Merchav Am in 2015

“In the beginning we had no idea what this would turn into,” recalls Allison. “We thought maybe it would be a three-year partnership, and that’s it. We didn’t realize how important Merchav Am’s success would be to them. It’s inspiring.”

In 2014, Allison flew to Perth to join the JNF-WA Annual Dinner, as a representative of the Merchav Am community, marking the beginning of a very special relationship. The two communities quickly became one, with one joint mission to build an incredible little town in the Negev.

“For Israel itself to be sustainable, the Negev needs to be supported, it needs to thrive.” Dan Springer, CEO of JNF Australia said at a recent dinner. “Communities like Merchav Am – they’re living that dream for us.”

While the community in West Australia raises funds to create beautiful landscaping and other projects in Merchav Am, they also get to know the people who use it and live the pioneer life in the Negev. When visiting Israel, the Australians now make sure to travel down to Merchav Am, their second home, to visit their pioneer friends and see first-hand the contributions they've brought to the Negev.

“It was incredible to experience Merchav Am and meet so many inspiring people who live there.” Nikki Levy Leib wrote after making a trip from Perth. “It was so nice to finally see our JNF playground in full use after school. Thanks for the warm welcome.”

The next generation is just as involved as their parents. Every year the community of Perth sends a group of tenth grade students on a trip to Israel, with a special stop in Merchav Am.

“The first year they came here, there was some skepticism over how it would go,” recalls Allison. “The teens spent just an hour here, being with our teenagers, and making real connections – it was wonderful!”

The next year the student delegation came for a full day and a half, which went so well that the following year they came for a Shabbat. The teens agreed that it was the highlight of their three-week trip to Israel.

Despite the language barrier, with the Israeli teens speaking a broken English and the Australians a broken Hebrew, the communication went great. “They just hit off, there was a lot of laughter,” observed Allison. “I definitely remember big hand gestures and lots of pantomiming.”

Every year the relationship grows stronger and deeper. Allison serves as the community liaison, and makes an annual trip to join the JNF Western Australia Dinner and meet the community. She spends time speaking with parents, students, board members, and donors alike. Everyone shows a genuine interest in the important aspects of Merchav Am.

Hylton Rodkin, President of JNF-WA summed it up, saying, “We want to be with Merchav Am for the long-term. In years from now we’ll look back and say, “Look at what we’ve done together!””

Today, Merchav Am is home to beautiful landscaping around their community center, an incredible children’s playground, and a perfect yard for their early education center – all in thanks to generous donations from JNF-WA. The community has grown to over 80 families and 340 children. Their first neighborhood is nearing completion, and eventually the community will count 500 families.

While the little Negev town grows, a heartening bond grows even deeper. The JNF-WA community looks to Merchav Am as their home in Israel, and the pioneers of Merchav Am find inspiration in their friends who believe in their dream, even from the other side of the ocean. As for the future; teens from the coastal city in Australia now have real friends in a desert community in Israel. The relationship is ready for the test of time.

Would your community enjoy an impactful relationship with an Israeli pioneer community? Contact Reut Bendet-Didi and we'll arrange: reut@or1.org.il 

Watch: JNF WA Dinner Highlights 2017, and JNF WA Merchav Am 2017 Feature

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ISRAEL AT 70: LOOKING AHEAD AT THE NEXT CHAPTER IN ISRAEL'S HISTORY

The New Generation of Zionists is Forging the Way for Israel 2048.

By: Lidar Grave-Lazi | Jerusalem Post | April 21, 2018

Nobody has written the next chapter in the State of Israel,” Roni Flamer, co-founder and CEO of the OR Movement, recently told The Jerusalem Post.

He made these remarks ahead of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, looking to the past for inspiration and outlining his vision for the future – Israel in 2048.

“The State of Israel is a very rich country, one of the strongest economies in the world, has a great GDP, but on the other hand, the majority of the population is not in good shape – the country is succeeding, but its people are not,” Flamer said.

“Two years ago we decided to look 30 years into the future of the State of Israel,” Flamer explained. “We were sure that someone had a plan for the next 30 years, and when we asked people in the government, we understood that there is no plan for the future.”

As such, the OR Movement decided to develop an ambitious plan for the next three decades which would see Israel’s periphery expand and grow to match the Center.

“In 30 years there are going to be 17 million people living in Israel,” Flamer said. “They will not be able to all live in the Center; it is simply unsustainable.”

“How can nobody look ahead and not take advantage and realize that if we don’t do something now, Israel will become a third-world country?” he added.

As such, Israel 2048 aims to see a reality in which Israel’s population is spread out with some nine million people living in the Center and in Jerusalem, 3.5 million people living in the Negev, and 4.5 million people living in the Galilee.

The idea behind the vision is that Israel would become a country with three major centers – like Boston, New York City and Washington, DC, in the United States – three distinct major cities with different characteristics, all centers in their own right.

“We feel that we are writing the new Zionism, one that needs to care for the poor and the ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israelis and that is inclusive to lots of different people,” he said.

THE OR Movement has been a longtime dream for Flamer and a group of his childhood friends, three of whom studied together in the same school.

“The idea came when we flew to Poland in high school to see the concentration camps, Flamer said. “When we came back, the thought was that we need light in the face of all the darkness that we saw.”

After graduating from high school and serving in the army, all the while harboring this idea, the group of friends decided to do half a year of trekking around in Israel to talk with and interact with people all around the country.

“After the army we found a text that [David] Ben-Gurion wrote to Amos Oz in 1954 in which he said that if 1,000 youth will stand up and do good and take on extra responsibility above what the state requires of them, ‘the light will banish the darkness,’” Flamer said, adding that this has become the organization’s guiding principle and the origin of its name.

“We realized that the Negev and the Galilee comprise 75% of the country, and if we can develop a new narrative about these areas, then this can be a new opportunity for the youth,” he said.

Flamer and his co-founder, Ofir Fisher, executive vice president of the organization, decided to put their all into their idea and set the example for other people to follow.

As such, in 1999, when he was just 22 years old, Flamer left the Center and moved to the Negev, in an effort to found a new settlement – Sansana.

“Somehow, we built this settlement as a model, and today there are around 950 people living there,” Flamer said.

After the success of Sansana, the two decided to establish another settlement – Merhav Am – in 2000.

“We never really thought about it, we just jumped into the water, without really knowing anything,” he said. “Every year we built another settlement – we were living in a dream; we didn’t understand the reality.”

In their early years, Flamer and Fisher encountered numerous difficulties along the way.

“This is not a simple task. What does it mean to build a new settlement? You have to build streets, to bring people,” Flamer said.

“The difficulties are that you are taking on the responsibility of bringing people to come and live in a new place.”

As such, the two also decided to try another approach – namely, to expand the existing development towns – but were met with resistance.

“We tried to go into existing moshavim and development towns, but nobody would let us in,” Flamer said. “Nobody understood why, when everybody just wants to leave the development towns, two young guys want to come in.”

After three years of living in the Negev trying to pave a path for others, Flamer and Fisher understood that their youthful idea had become a lifelong mission, and they officially established the OR Movement in 2002.

Since that time, the organization has established eight settlements in the periphery, strengthened existing kibbutzim, and helped some 60 towns to expand and grow.

“There were kibbutzim that in the past 30 years no new families had come, no new children were born – and we have helped them to grow,” Flamer said.

While these are incredible accomplishments, Flamer recognizes the fact that there is still a long way to go to realize the vision.

In 2005, the OR Movement was involved in the Tochnit Darom, Plan for the South, a NIS 50 billion government plan to bring 600,000 people to the Negev and the Galilee.

“We said: ‘Wow, our dream has come true,’” Flamer said. “But after two years we realized that the fact that the state made this decision is nice, but the implementation is extremely difficult.”

TODAY, FLAMER is much more seasoned and realistic when it comes to expanding the Negev, though he still maintains his youthful optimism.

“Today we are working very closely with government ministries to expand the Negev,” Flamer said. “We have helped the state invest NIS 4b. so far.”

In fact, one of the projects the organization is involved with is the establishment of a Disneyland-like theme park on the outskirts of Dimona.

In 2010, Flamer said, the organization understood that establishing settlements would not be enough to develop the Negev.

“We left Sansana and went to live in Yeroham [a development town]. You can’t ask people to move here without living here yourself,” he said.

“The future of the South is through the existing development towns,” he said.

Flamer explained that the first wave of “pioneers” needs to resettle in the development towns in order to bring new ideas to the periphery.

“If we can bring 110,000 new people, they will bring new ideas, and there will be a snowball effect, so that in 30 years there may be three million people living in the South,” he said.

Flamer said that while his organization is pursuing this vision, ultimately it needs the support and backing of the government in order to succeed.

“We have learned that the government really wants this to succeed,” he said. “The government can have a historic role – it has the opportunity to think in advance, to build and develop and expand the country in advance.”

Flamer added that he also believes the Israeli public understands the need to expand and strengthen the periphery, and as such he hopes the OR Movement will become a nationwide movement.

“We are doing what nobody has done before us,” he said. “We feel that the last 15 years have just been training for the next 15 years, and we will not rest until we see this vision fulfilled.”

Negev Communities on Fire

Western Negev communities along the Gaza border are facing a type of attack that is unlike anywhere else in the world.  For the past 4 months, flaming kites, incendiary balloons, and explosive condoms have been scorching huge areas of farmland and wildlife. The communities in the area are dealing with the daily threat of their homes under siege. The animals in the area, unfortunately, have no place to run and can't escape fast enough. 

Many border communities are affected from Kerem Shalom and Sufa to Yad Mordechai and Karmia, throughout the western Negev up to 20 kilometers from the border. This week, the first incendiary balloons reached all the way to the city of Be'er Sheva, 40km from the Gaza border. 
Batia Holin, Kfar Aza Resident (Gaza border community) & retired OR Movement employee, has been documenting the attacks since the beginning through Facebook posts, photography, and videos giving updates on day-to-day life there.
Sources on the ground estimate more than 1,500 fires destroying 40,000 dunams (nearly 10,000 acres) of land, including wildlife reserves.
The communities try to maintain their daily routines as much as they can. The farmers continue to work, but in addition to their daily work, they have now become firefighters as well. The parents and staff are working hard this summer to give children the freedom and safety to have a fun and normal summer vacation, but many have resorted to sleeping in the bomb shelter rooms in their homes and keeping kids inside due to poor air quality and the concern of new and continuing fires.
Photo Credits: Batia Holin
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Despite this cruel new method of terrorism, the communities with many families from all parts of Israel sent a message of peace by sending a few thousand balloons across the border.

Prepare Yourselves for a Tsunami of People

Itai Ilanai, Yedioth Ahronoth

So, how crowded will it be? Well, very. By 2048 the population of Israel will double itself. Israel’s population density is expected to be beyond bearable: 800 residents per square kilometer. How do we deal with traffic? Where will we all live? And how come we won’t have our own living room?

In the Tzoran community, not far from Netanya, a new and promising career for young people is becoming a reality; a career that lets you get off work before 8 AM. This new profession, which is expected to become very popular in upcoming years, is known as a "traffic babysitter."

 

"The babysitter arrives at 6 AM, wakes up the kids, makes sandwiches for them, and takes them to school. While all of this is happening we, the parents, are stuck in traffic,” explains Tzoran resident Braun Salman. “And why? Because Tzoran is basically under siege. To get out of town in the morning, we need to sit through 45 minutes of traffic just to get to Highway 4, where the rest of the country is stuck on the way to work.”

Some 10,000 people live in the picturesque town of Tzoran in the eastern Sharon area, which was founded in 1992 to offer a better quality of life for the neighboring regions. However, ultimately, this high quality of life has become restricted to the confines of one’s private vehicle. “It has gotten completely out of hand,” complains Braun Salman, who spends at least four hours on the road every day.

Over the past few months, Tzoran and residents of other nearby towns have been attending a series of demonstrations, in an attempt to bring about a solution for the transportation problems in their region. In all likelihood – if nothing changes – you will be joining them soon. On Ayalon North, the average speed at rush hour is 12 km/h, and the last five kilometers between Hayarkon and Morasha Junctions takes more than 30 minutes (for the sake of comparison, in the olympics, it takes less than 13 minutes to run the same distance). It is therefore evident that heavy traffic and congestion has become a national problem. Now imagine the traffic you go through on your way to work and double it.

Strengthening Israel's Peripheral Regions

The ever-worsening traffic is just one symptom of central Israel's ever-growing population density – as are the soaring housing prices. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2048 Israel will house approximately 17 million people, exactly twice the number of people who live in Israel today. Israel is already one of the 30 most crowded nations in the world, and this is true even when we disregard the millions of Palestinians who live among us between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Assuming we will not gain any more territory in the near future, and assuming, hopefully, that natural disasters or nuclear bombs will not annihilate a substantial part of Israel's population, on Israel's 100th birthday, the population density will reach a daunting 800 people per square kilometer. In central Israel, the number will be much higher.

The question is, what can we do right now, before the year 2048’s Independence Day, apart from already looking for a free spot for the traditional Independence Day barbecue. The OR Movement (for the development of the Negev and Galilee) is not waiting for the human tsunami that is expected to overflow the country and has decided to start preparing for the future right now. “We are currently writing the next chapter of Altneuland,” says OR Movement CEO, Roni Flamer.

The OR Movement was founded by four childhood friends from Petah Tikva who looked around and realized that Israel’s future is looking very grim – long before the words "housing" and "crisis" became inseparable. Since its establishment in 2002, the OR Movement established 8 new towns in Israel’s peripheral regions, and bolstered dozens of other existing villages and towns with new, young, and strong residents. “We believe that development and relocation bring about a stronger economy, culture, and commerce. The idea was to bring the people in, and everything else would follow,” says Flamer. Two years ago, however, OR looked around and discovered that while the emphasis they place is on Israel's peripheral regions, most of the country is still flocking to the center. "We realize that we have a problem," says Flamer.

Image: Yariv Katz

Recent analyses predict a bleak future. These analyses indicate that by 2048 humble cities such as Rehovot, Ramla, and Hadera will absorb all of the neighboring towns and will transform into monstrous metropolises with millions of people. For example, the Petah Tikva District, which currently houses 700,000 people, will have 1.6 million people in 2048 (with that in mind, we offer our blessings to anyone passing through Geha Junction). The populations of Ramla, Rehovot and Sharon Districts will also double themselves. It is no coincidence that all of these cities are located in central Israel. If the current trend continues, there will be 13 million Israelis between Nazareth and Kiryat Gat in 2048, with only 4 million people expected to live in the Negev and Galilee regions. In other words, 75% of the population will live on 25% of the land.

And if this is not enough, all of these millions of people are also expected to work at the same place. According to OR, approximately half of Israel's workplaces will be located in Gush Dan region and central Israel in 2048, as is the case today. Flamer is convinced that “the entire country will depend on a single economic center, a dependence that will result in societal gaps and an overall deterioration of Israel's quality of life." People who already belong to Israel’s lower socioeconomic echelons will be driven into Israel's peripheral regions, resulting in a "second" Israel, in which Arab Israelis and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews are a clear majority, and in which the average income is profoundly lower than it is in central Israel. "In central Israel, we will see a developed, but highly crowded country, while everywhere else we’ll see a third world country," he warns.

OR’s solution, the new chapter of their Altneuland, is the continuation of their current agenda: sending more people from the Center to the Negev and the Galilee, in large numbers. The OR Movement’s Israel 2048 Project includes a plan to prevent the Center's overcrowding and Israel’s de facto subdivision into two separate entities. Its goal is to turn the Negev and Galilee into economic engines of growth that will attract strong population groups. According to this vision, on Israel's 100th anniversary, the Negev will have 3.5 million people and the Galilee will have 4.5 million people.

In such a country, we could visit the Disneyland of Dimona, a city of 200,000 inhabitants (current trends suggest that the city will house only 70,000 Israelis) on our way to the international Riviera in Eilat. Before we do so, we will pass by the Bedouin High-Tech Center of Rahat-Tel Sheva-Hura, with the next stop on our way south being the future city that will be built in the Negev, not far from Mitzpeh Ramon, and which will be founded upon the aerospace industry.

Bringing Prosperity to the Negev – Roni  Flamer

In Search for a Better Quality of Life

In addition to Flamer’s and OR Movement’s Ben Gurion-esque vision, according to which wealth and prosperity will become defining features of the Negev, other ideas stand out as well. "We need to make all of Israel similar to Central Israel," says Professor David Pasig, a futurologist from Bar Ilan University. “What I’m talking about here is a ‘city state’."

In Pasig’s vision, in 2048 most of Israel will become a type of Hong Kong, Singapore or Manhattan: a large and densely-populated urban center, a forest of skyscrapers, with traffic mainly being based on highly developed public transportation that takes place mostly underground. "Population density is not a bad thing," he says, surprisingly. "The greater the density, the higher the employment rate. If you do the right thing and transform Israel into a smart city-state, using new technologies and a better understanding of transportation, then this city-state will become a beacon of success.”

But even if the city-state built on the ruins of the Gush Dan is able to offer employment to everyone, how will it be possible for us to provide housing to the millions of Israelis who will live in such a dense and overcrowded area? “By 2048 more than 1.2 million new housing units will be built in Israel, an increase of 50% relative to today's number of apartments. It’s insane,” says Ronnie Daniel, the professional director of the Israeli Green Construction Council. "The entire country will become absurdly overcrowded. We need to know how to give a good quality of life to all these people."

For this purpose, the Council, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, founded the Israel 2048 competition, in an attempt to encourage professionals from a variety of disciplines to find solutions for Israel's built-up landscape on its 100th anniversary, with thinking outside the box being the main focus of the competition. Some of the solutions include a dramatic change in the way we perceive our most intimate living spaces.

According to Hila Beinish, the CEO of the Israeli Green Construction Council, with Israeli cities becoming more and more crowded, there will be no choice but to develop the concept of communal living, and to apply that principle inside Israeli homes. "The apartments themselves will become smaller, and communal spaces will become larger," says Beinish. "Since more and more people around the world have access to the Internet, and one can basically do everything remotely, it is more than possible that in the future will be a small workplace in each apartment building, which will save dwellers the daily trip to the office. In the evening, if you feel like entertaining guests, it will be possible to invite your guests to one of the building's living rooms on the "hosting floor,” using a computer system that serves the entire building. The “hosting floor” will include a kitchen and perhaps even catering services. Vegetables, for example, will be available in the many gardens that Israelis will grow on their roofs, as part of Israel’s future development of urban agriculture."

Who needs a car?

As part of the state-sponsored attempt to solve the housing crisis in central Israel, more and more agricultural spaces have been converted in recent years into a new type of crop: towers. Anyone who has spent any time in Israel recently has certainly noticed that the architectural emphasis of the 2000s is placed on tower-based neighborhoods, which have sprouted all over the outskirts of Israeli cities. These neighborhoods have been built in accordance with strict planning standards, which emphasize the need to prevent density and traffic congestion: towers are relatively far away from each other, the roads that connect them are wide and the distances between each intersection are substantial, thus enabling a better flow of traffic.

According to experts, however, this achieves the exact opposite. According to architect Dror Gershon, the CEO of “Merkhav – Israel’s Urban Movement,” recent studies show that despite the emphasis on towers, tower-based neighborhoods exhibit poor population dispersion and poor rates of land utilization.

Except that the biggest problem with these neighborhoods has to do with traffic. “These neighborhoods force dwellers to own two cars in order to maintain a normative household," explains Dr. Yoav Lehrman, an associate with the Planet Urban Planning company. “In these neighborhoods, the main entrance to the building is the parking lot, and if you don’t have a dog, it’s most likely that you’ll never actually take a walk in your own neighborhood.”

The solution is that in 2048 more and more people will live in neighborhoods in which owning a private vehicle is not obligatory. How do we do this? "We need to grow inward, not outward," says Gershon.

The neighborhoods of the future, then, are much denser, and they herald a return to the old urban landscape that meets all of the city dweller's needs – from employment and shopping to recreation and culture – and all within walking distance. Take Tel Aviv’s Florentine neighborhood for example. “Florentine is a crowded neighborhood that fails to meet any current architectural standard," says Lehrman. "And yet it is a highly sought-after neighborhood in which a small and old apartment costs four times as much as a new three-bedroom apartment in Rosh HaAyin. And why? Because people can live in the neighborhood without having to use a private vehicle for everything. The problem is that the current system does not know how to approve construction projects of this kind today, and this will have to change. And soon. Otherwise, it’s going to get worse and worse."

First published on August 8, 2018, 7:52 PM. 

 

Seven Negev Wildlife You Might Not Know About

There’s the cute and fuzzy, and then there’s the one that snacks on deadly scorpions. Negev wildlife is as beautiful and exciting as it gets. Check out these seven desert-dwellers and tell us which is your favorite!

1. Syrian Striped Hyena

Photo: By Sumeet Moghe – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24265680

If you’re out at night in the underpopulated areas of the Negev desert, you might just hear some chatter and high-pitched laughter – from wild hyenas. Don’t worry, these peculiar creatures won’t bother you, so long as you leave them alone. They like to stay inside their dens, and Negev hyenas make some of the largest hyena dens on the world – they’re pretty good at chilling.

These fellows mostly eat fruit and scour the garbage, but occasionally they’ll steal a sheep or goat.

 

2. Dorcas or Negev Gazelle

Photo: By מינוזיג – MinoZig – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50246000

A metaphor for beauty and grace, these gazelle are a favorite to biblical poets.

The Dorcas Gazelle have adapted incredibly well to the Negev – they can go their entire life without drinking! They mostly get their hydration from the plants they eat, but given the chance, they will drink water. The gazelle are also great at handling the incredible heat, although they do like to stay in the shade until early evening when the sun begins to cool down.

If you’re luck enough to spot one of these gorgeous animals, be careful to keep a distance. They are very shy and afraid of humans, and might run off very fast, possibly with high jumps to warn their buddies.

 

3. Middle East Tree Frog

Photo: By Dûrzan cîrano – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11949448

Although they once lived as far as the Dead Sea, these jumpy amphibians have become an endangered population, and are now mostly concentrated in the Northern Negev, where there may be a few thousand. Look out for these frogs when you’re near marshes or water springs. You’ll have to look closely, since their green color camouflages them well into the shrubs and grass where they love to roam.

 

4. Otonycteris Hemprichii Bats

Photo: Charlotte Roemer, Wikimedia Commons

Are these the rebels of the bat world? Probably. Something about the Negev makes things stronger, because these bats snack on the deadliest of scorpions without batting an eye. These Negev bats are 7-8 centimeter long, a lot larger than their fruit bat buddies, so these meaty scorpions are a big plus on the nutrition board.

The Otonycteris Hemprichii Bats can switch between two flying modes when hunting for food, the “whispering gleaning” mode for hunting on the ground, and the “screaming” mode for the flying bugs they’ll eat when they’re being a little more normal.

Bats might mean nightmares for some, but the humans of the Negev are probably glad to have someone fighting the scorpions.

 

5. Ibex

By Little Savage – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1975262

You think you're a good climber? You've got nothing on these guys. Travel through the Negev and you'll find them casually walking up the steepest of cliffs and slipperiest of slopes – and when they're hungry, you may find them chilling atop acacia trees, nibbling on juicy leaves. The biblical verse "High mountains for ibex and rocks to shelter hyrax" (Psalms 104:18) is still true as ever today!

Israel's National Parks Authority have made these wily goats their symbol, and it's well deserved; the world's largest herds of ibex live in the Negev. Actually, there are so many ibex in the Negev, that in the city of Mitzpeh Ramon they have pretty much achieved pet status to the local residents, with almost no fear of the humans.

 

6. Rock Hyrax

By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23030418

These critters are cute. You’ll mostly find them in the rocky areas around the Dead Sea, the hyrax of the Negev are lighter and more orange in color than their family up in the Golan Heights. Here they tend to hide under the rocks, as they dehydrate rather quickly in the sun.

It’s adorable to watch these highly social fuzzballs, as they tend to live in groups, with one adult standing guard while the others feed or rest. Listen out for them too – they communicate with more than 20 different noises, and the higher ranking hyrax will give themselves away with the most chatter of the group.

 

7. Desert Hedgehog

Photo: By Max Korostischeveski – @, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2684142

So tiny! The desert Hedgehog is one of the tiniest in the world – weighing in at just 10 to 18 ounces. But don’t think that makes them easy to catch! When threatened, they’ll stick out their quills, which are incredibly long compared to regular hedgehogs, giving them an easy escape from danger. If you’re lucky enough to spot newborn hedgehogs, you’ll note that they’re born with their quills under the skin, so that they don’t hurt their mother during birth.

These tiny but fierce creatures are highly adaptable, and can be spotted even in busy Negev cities like Be’er Sheva.

Which one is your favorite? Tell us in the comments, and share on Facebook to ask your friends!

Seven Photos that Perfectly Capture the Beauty of the Galilee

The enchanting Rakefet flower, by Or Alexenberg for OR Movement.

1. The Enchanting Rakefet Flower

The Rakefet flower, also known as the Cyclamen, is a native of the Galilee hills. In 2007, it was as elected as the national flower of the State of Israel and as its official representative in the botanical exhibition "We Are One World" held in Beijing. Ancient Greek mythology holds that the flower is a cure against any poisoning; can be used to induce labor; and is a powerful aphrodisiac. We’re just happy to be a home to this incredible beauty.

 

 

The mountains around Kibbutz Misgav Am, by Or Alexenberg for OR Movement.

2. The Mountains Around Kibbutz Misgav Am

This scenic kibbutz was established on November 2, 1945 – the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, by young members of the Palmach Brigade. Misgav Am literally means “fortress of the people,” since it’s located 840 meters above sea level overlooking the border between Israel and Lebanon.

In 2015, OR Movement began a partnership with the community to strengthen their numbers, and ensure a future by bringing young members to live in the kibbutz. Since then, the kibbutz has welcomed over 60 young members, and a new playground.

 

 

Rosh Pina after the rain, by OR Alexenberg for OR Movement

3. Rosh Pina After the Rain

Rosh Pina, a town with rich history, is full of lush greenery, inviting an enchanting beauty with every rainfall.

The town was established by local Jews from nearby Tzfat in 1878, and then boosted with a new life by a group of 30 Jewish families who immigrated from Romania in 1882. Some of the local greenery was imported from France in the 1920s by Baron Edmond D. Rothschild who provided financial assistance and guidance to the pioneers of Rosh Pina.

 

 

The mystical hills of Safed, by Or Alexenberg for OR Movement.

4. The Mystical Hills of Safed

Located at an elevation of 900 meters, Safed is the highest city in the Galilee, and in Israel. Safed is also known as the city of mystics, and is biblically classified as one of the four holiest cities of Israel. Something about the ancient stones and modern homes give the hills of Safed a rare hypnotic beauty.

Today OR Movement is working on several projects to make Tzfat a stronger city, including the marketing of new neighborhoods.

 

 

The vineyards of Kibbutz Manara, by Or Alexenberg for OR Movement.

5. The Vinyards of Kibbutz Manara

The mesmeric mountains of Kibbutz Manara have made it into a popular destination for scenic cable car tours. Around the small community you’ll find vineyards, orchards, and cotton fields, as well as extreme sports attractions along the cliffs.

Kibbutz Manara was established by a strong group of young pioneers in 1943, with the intention of keeping a strong presence along Israel’s border with Lebanon. Recently the kibbutz was facing an extreme threat of abandonment, with the majority of members being above retirement age. In 2015, OR Movement began working with the kibbutz and brought over 50 new residents – the first new members in two decades, bringing a new hope for the future.

 

 

The fields of Kibbutz Hukok, by Or Alexenberg for OR Movement.

6. The Fields of Kibbutz Hukok

Kibbutz Hukok is surrounded on one side by their rich agricultural fields, and on the other, the famous Sea of Galilee. In 2013, the kibbutz was awarded a Blue Flag for environmental excellence in their operation of a small beach.

In 2015, OR Movement began a campaign to bring more residents to the small kibbutz, and since then over 100 new members were welcomed in.

 

 

Kibbutz Gesher of the Galilee, by Or Alexenberg for OR Movement.

7. The Colors of Kibbutz Gesher

The Kibbutz was founded in 1939 by a group of Jews born in the Holy Land, along with Jewish immigrants from Germany, on lands bought by Baron Edmond D. Rothchild. The kibbutz is named after the neighboring bridge (“gesher” in Hebrew) over the Jordan River. The investment of the pioneering members along with their generous benefactors clearly paid off, painting the kibbutz a luscious green.

The Galilee is an incredibly beautiful place, full of green hills, beautiful flowers, and biblical history. There was a time, not long ago, when the hills were running bare and swamps swallowed large planes. Today the Galilee is alive and well thanks to many generous philanthropists and hardworking pioneers. The future of Israel now depends on these guardians of the Galilee who will keep the communities strong, and tend to our national treasures with love.

Be the Rothschild of today – help us develop the beautiful Galilee! Donate here:

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The Growing Negev Tour!

"You have no idea how inspiring was today's tour! We admired this development effort greatly, even years ago before Aliyah—-and now we get to see it firsthand! We will find a way to help, somehow. Thank you so much.”
Tamsen and Andrew D'Souza.

WOW!

What a wonderful trip we held with OR seed group Neve Chabad in partnership with Nefesh B'Nefesh Go South program!

English speaking Olim visited the Gateway to the Negev Visitors Center and OR Communities in the Negev last week. They travelled and spoke with different staff members from OR to learn about the process of building a community from start to finish, upcoming opportunities, and what it takes to be a modern pioneer.

They started off in Giv’ot Bar and OR community established in 2004 as an example of a successful final product. Then they went to Carmit to learn about the building stages, and the challenges of making a cohesive community lifestyle. Their final stop was at Shizaf, a temporary camp south of Be’er Sheva, and the start of a new community where the residents are still living in Caravans and going through the process of establishing their community!

For more information about trips like this, check out our missions page.

See the video of the tour here.

 

This is Why You Shouldn’t Move to Tel Aviv, Told In GIFS

Once in a while, a friend tells us they’re moving to Tel Aviv, and this is how we react:

But we’re compassionate people, so our faces quickly change to:

Because, let's be real, we know what they’re in for,

(no, really)

and the tiny apartment they'll be able to afford,

and all the money they’ll have to spend on it.

Meanwhile, they'll just be another person squishing up Tel Aviv,

and helping the income gaps grow.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We could be living it up in the spacious Negev or Galilee.

We could be living the good family life.

Okay, sometimes living away from the center is hard.

But we're a nation of pioneers.

We need to keep on building a better future for Israel.

Stop the Tel Aviv madness today. #Dontbethatfriend

⇒ To help us build up the Negev and Galilee, donate here.
⇒ To find your home in the Negev or Galilee, call: 1-800-215-216 or email: info@or1.org.il
⇒ Share this post, and tell your friends to please #dontbethatfriend

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