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10 Times The Negev Surprised Me

The Negev, The Desert of Israel....pretty simple, right?

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1. The Driving


When thinking about driving in the Negev, I thought open spaces, road trips, and smooth sailing. NOPE! The drivers here in the Negev are the same as everywhere else! There is traffic because people don't know how to merge, there are honks going off all the time, and people playing on their phones at red lights. As a native New Yorker, driving is a pet peeve of mine, and I really thought I was never going to see bad driving again when I moved to the Negev. Boy was I wrong!

2. The City


So the moral of this story is that I thought the desert was all open spaces all the time. But the Negev has real cities! Be'er Sheva and Ashkelon both have thriving city life with 24 hour stores, many options of restaurants, bars and clubs, and events happening all the time! By day you can be the working stiff and by night the queen (or king) of the party.

3. The Emptiness


So I know this is the opposite of the city, but emptiness 100% exists here too. About 5 mins south of the city of Be'er Sheva you feel like you are in the middle of no where. It is a cool experience to leave the noise and the people and get to have that quiet time. I just went on an amazing writers retreat in Sde Boker and the inspiration and the relaxation I got from the area was real! You forget sometimes when you live next to a University with a lot of life happening that you can drive a tiny bit and have complete quiet.

4. The Beach


Deserts are supposed to be dry! But because Israel is so small the beach is a hop and skip away! The city of Ashkelon has beautiful beaches and one of the best things about them is that they are not tourist destinations! And of course you cannot forget about the beaches in Eilat! Why fly out of the country when you can drive a few hours through the desert and arrive at the blue waters and white sand beaches in Eilat!

5. The High Tech


Many people call Israel the start-up nation because of the large amount of start-ups per capita. And when you ask most people where the start-ups are they will usually say Tel Aviv. BUT Be'er Sheva in the Negev is developing a massive high tech park to rival that of Tel Aviv. They are calling it the silicon valley of the Negev. Companies already there are Dell/EMC, Paypay, WeWork, and many, many more. When you hear that high tech is coming out of the Negev people usually laugh, but it is really happening!

6. The Wine and Beer


If I were to casually drop wine route and microbreweries on every corner you would probably think I was talking about Bolder, Colorado or Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or some place of the like. But I am talking about about HALF of Israel! I am talking about the Negev! Some of my personal favorites in the beer department is Negev Brewery in Kiryat Gat, Sheeta brewery in Arad, and of course stopping by the Coca in Be'er Sheva because they serve their own brews. As for wines, I like reds from Sde Boker and whites from Kadesh Barnea Winery.

Here is some more info about the wine route:

Here is some more information about breweries in Israel:

7. The Diversity


I come from New York City, it is a pretty diverse place...I thought when moving to Israel and to the Negev specifically that I would be around the "standard Israeli", because "different" people with "different" cultures flock to more well known cities, right?! NOPE! I was shocked by all the culture and diversity that is here! There is something like 45 different nationalities in Be'er Sheva alone (I believe that is the statistic). My neighbors upstairs come from Iraq, across the street is this amazing family from Ethiopia, and across the street at an angle is a cute young family from Moscow. And this is just in the line sight from my apartment! Lets just say that the smells that come from these houses right before Shabbat will make you gain weight instantly.

8. The Heat


I cannot talk about the Negev with out mentioning the heat during the summer! Every summer here I am shocked out of my mind when i start melting into the ground. Heat in the desert...not shocking. But at the end of September being able to see the heat haze rising from the road or feeling that burning sensation on your lips because it is just so dang hot outside will forever be surprising. And what is funny is that every rainy winter I forget and wish for summer. And when the summer finally comes I wonder how I ever wished for this kind of summer. Even though I am a Leo, I am a New York summer, or Israeli fall, kind of girl.

9. The English


I wish I was able to pick up Hebrew quicker. When moving to the Negev, this was my main concern, how will I communicate. Or even more, I don't want to sound like an incompetent idiot when I need someone to translate the most basic thing. I was so wrong! What I learned is that people in the Negev have an increased amount of empathy and are quicker to use their limited English than make me piece together the 50 Hebrew words I know. They also have a way of slipping in Hebrew words in a way that you actually learn as you go.

Another also, because of Ben Gurioun University and all of the High Tech I have met Israelis who are more fluent in English than I am! I hear it is common when people are learning a new language they start forgetting words in their native language. So I guess I need to be more worried about being language-less!

10. The People


As I am writing this I am thinking how cheesy it sounds to say how much I like the people. I find individuals to be generally lovely. But coming to the Negev I experienced something that has never happened to me before.

I have no family or connections in Israel and moving to the south of Israel, I thought would be a little isolating. And at first it totally was. But then I worked up the courage to post on the English Speakers of Be'er Sheva group that I just moved to town and needed to make friends.

I was shocked with the response! I was flooded with messages of people inviting me out, messaging me about events and social groups, and even offering to pick me up and give me tours of their favorite places in the city. Making friends here was so simple because I think everyone felt the isolation at one point and wanted to pay it forward. Now whenever I see someone on Facebook moving to town I always try to meet up with them. The community was so welcoming here that it is hard not to feel the spirit and welcome everyone into the fold.



I do not know what I was thinking when moving to the Negev, that I will be foraging for food or what! But my belly has been presently surprised and my increasing waist line is proof. Be'er Sheva has some of the best and reasonably priced food! I think with all the diversity here delicious food was a byproduct. On a Sunday I can get some buttery Yemenite Jachnun, Monday some spicy Indian curry, Tuesday a killer deli sandwich with a plethora of different sauces, Wednesday some soft, pillowy Italian gnocchi, Thursday a juicy and perfectly cooked burger with the works, Friday a beautiful steak with some chocolate souffle for dessert, and round everything out on Saturday with some Spanish paella.

I could go on but I think I will go order some take out instead.

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