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Visting the home of Ben-Gurion in the Negev

  March 27th, 2009

Yesterday, a couple of us had the opportunity to visit the kibbutz in Sde Boker which David Ben-Gurion started when he retired from his office as the first Prime Minister to Israel. Having little knowledge about the history of the state of Israel and the Jewish people in general before diving head-first into preparation for this trip – I’ve had (and possibly even more than half of us have had) a real crash-course in getting to know the history of the area… which is a huuuuuuge amount of history… as the oldest continually inhabited cities are here.

Anyways, back to Ben-Gurion; he was a man of simple means who meant so much to the Jewish people and those who wanted to start the country of Israel after the 1948 statehood to this country. He was the first prime minister- you could liken the American ideas of our founding fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Adams…) to those ideas of the Jews of Israel. He left the post as Prime Minister to start the Kibbutz in Sde Boker because he felt the Negev Desert was the best place for the Jewish in Israel to make their home—he felt there would always be too much conflict in the northern region of the country- and that they would have less persecution and/or conflict from other groups as long as they populated the very difficult-to-live-in southern desert.

The home was very simple, but built of concrete from the outside. All of the windows were high enough that you could only see out from your head-up (meaning, they were at about shoulder height). This was so that he could be protected from any attack that could happen upon him, considering his high-profile political status. There was a small living room with trinkets and gifts from other countries’ governments, political and social groups whose lives he touched. His house had a tiny kitchen, two small single bedrooms, a couple of bathrooms – just like any other standard small, simple house. But, there were a couple of things that really stood out to me in the home; he had a small library/office room at the back of the house (actually it was bigger than the living room) and the library had over 4,000 books! It was wonderful. There were pictures of Ben-Gurion sitting at his desk, newspapers floor-to-ceiling, and I could see that all of the books were more-or-less in the same place there were before he died. By the way- Ben-Gurion specifically willed his home to the Kibbutz so that it would become a museum for people to be able to experience (like myselfJ). He also had a HUGE globe in the living room which I thought was very cool (I mean, 3 feet in diameter!). While in the house, a young Israeli Soldier struck up a conversation with me and started to tell us about Ben-Gurion’s thirst for more knowledge—his house in Tel Aviv actually has 22,000 books! And I believe the soldier said Ben-Gurion was self-taught in some nine languages. What a fascinating man; I hope to learn more of him when we return to the states.

As I write all of this, I keep thinking of more and more I could include just about that one simple home I visited – which really only spanned an hour of my time in just one day on this whirl-wind of a trip. I’m so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to visit Israel and the West Bank. Any person who just came over here on a trip of their own would not have gotten to do all the things we’ve done, see all the things we’ve seen. I am sooooooo eager to be able to share my pictures with family and friends when we return in a couple of days. This trip has been amazing every single day!

Shabat Shalom from Jerusalem!


-PS: A few of us are going to Bethlehem tomorrow, which will be an adventure slightly because we have to take an Israeli taxi to the border (10 minutes drive), then switch to a taxi that is allowed into the West Bank (Bethlehem is in WB)… and then do the same on the way back. I’m excited to visit the Church of the Nativity.

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6 Responses to “Visting the home of Ben-Gurion in the Negev”

  1. as an israeli living in corvallis i am so happy that your trip is a good one. I have tried for years to tell people of the beauty of the region and people but it always gets clouded by politics and fear.
    thank you

    Comment by moshe - March 31st, 2009 @ 9:49 AM
  2. Sara: Excellent reporting and a good and objective account of yout visit especially to the sites and places where I grew up and lived. It brought back happy memories. However,one comment on Ben-Gurion. He may be a geniues politician for his people who were persecuted in Europe, but the day he declared Statehood in another people’s land he triggered the greatest robbery in contemporary, living history: The land of Palestine. His actions brought,wars, terrorism, land confiscation, continious political unrest, ongoing bloodshed of thousands of Palestinians and Jews and counting, etc. Let us pray and hope peace will finally come to the Holy Land. Thanks for IIFET for publishing the blogs on its site for its members.

    Comment by Izzat Feidi - April 1st, 2009 @ 1:24 AM
  3. Wonderful Page at Israel and Palestine Trip » Blog Archive » Visting the home of Ben-Gurion in the Negev. I will be back, and make available a link to it on the webpage I’m working on right now.

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  5. Excellent reporting! Good and objective account of yout visit.

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  6. I was there and I felt a little different because I discovered that no matter language, nationality, religion or age, we all want the same; feel alive and be recognized as such.

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