Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beer Sheva

This past weekend we were down south visiting some dear friends in Beer Sheva.

I took the train down on Thursday so that my aircraft mad kids could spend the afternoon at the nearby Air Force Museum. They spent a good couple of hours racing around the outdoor exhibits and calling out the names of the ones they recognised, but I think the highlight was

scrambling on the old trainers with open cockpits strategically placed near the indoor museum so that visitors can get that urge to climb on something out of their system before going on to the collection of historic aircraft with the big "do not touch" signs.

That evening we went on to Beer Sheva itself, dropped the kids off at our friends' flat with a babysitter while the four of us grown-ups went out for dinner at a modest studenty little Indian vegetarian place.

Friday dawned grey and overcast, a first real hint of winter. Still it wasn't too chilly so our host took us to a nearby park, built as a memorial to the Australian cavalry who fought for the British in the First World War and played a crucial role in defeating the Ottoman Turkish army. Aside from the memorial there is a lovely park and several fun playgrounds for children of all ages. A perfect blend of history and energy burning excitement for the kids.

As the rain clouds grew more ominous we headed to the Joe Alon Bedouin Heritage Centre, a museum showcasing traditional Bedouin life in the Negev and Sinai. The children were absolutely riveted, impressed by the skill with which the Bedouin mastered their harsh environment and the resourcefulness with which they made what they needed from what was to hand, from weaving baskets and shelters from palm fronds to recycling tin cans and bottle tops to make toys.

There was even a mini traditional Bedouin tent for the children to play in, and the kids got to work, inspired by what they had seen in the exhibits, pretending to grind wheat and bake pita, weave goat hair for their tent walls and pound coffee beans the traditional way. Our local Bedouin guide seemed chuffed by how they got into the spirit of things and taught them the special rythymn for pounding coffee along with a generous dose of folk tales.

We enjoyed a beautiful Shabbat in our friends' Beer Sheva community, visiting their shul, meeting families from the neighbourhood, the children playing happily together. The afternoon's excitement was seeing a bevy of horses going by, some local teenagers out for an afternoon ride on the usually busy main road, almost devoid of traffic in the lull of Shabbat.

And on the drive home we heard on the radio about the escalation in rocket fire on southern Israel from Gaza.

Over the last day or so around 90 rockets have been fired into southern Israel. Their range includes the small farms and villages close to the Gaza border, coastal cities like Ashkelon and Ashdod, all the way up to towns like Gedera and Yavneh, commuting distance from Tel Aviv.

Two of those rockets fired today targeted Beer Sheva and the sirens once again wailed over the city sending residents to seek cover wherever they could.

First World War Australian cavalry memorial with typical Beer Sheva blocks of flats 

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