Tuesday, May 15, 2012



Kibbutz Nirim was established in June 1946 as part of the 11 points in
the Negev plan aimed at establishing a Jewish presence in the Negev in
order to claim it as part of a future Jewish state. It was named after the
Nir brigade of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, some of whose
members helped establish the kibbutz, and was originally established
on a site now known "Dangour" or "Old Nirim". At the outbreak of the
1948 Arab–Israeli War on 15 May 1948, the kibbutz was first Jewish
settlement in Israel to be attacked by the Egyptian army, in the Battle
of Nirim. It had 39 defenders. During the battle, the Egyptians came
within 25 meters of the kibbutz perimeter and eight of the kibbutz
defenders were killed, before Egyptians withdrew. All of the houses
were destroyed in the attack.]

Nirim remained an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) outpost against the
Egyptian army throughout the war. After the war, the IDF wanted the
site because of its strategic location, while the kibbutzniks wanted to
move north, to the line of 200 millimeters of rain a year, so the kibbutz
moved some 15 kilometers northeast to its present location, next to the
site of an ancient synagogue at Horvot Maon.


The synagogue and its mosaic floor were discovered during a
construction of a road in 1957.

The original date of the synagogue is uncertain but is before the 6th
century. In a sixth century renovation, the northern wall was opened
and a semi-circular apse to contain a Torah Ark was constructed. The
floor level was raised and marble columns and a beautiful mosaic floor

At the bottom of the mosaic floor is a amphora flanked by a pair of
peacocks. A vine flows out of the amphora, forming loops. In each
loop is a bird, animal, fruit, or a depiction of steps in the wine making
process. The design is so similar to the mosaics in the church floor at
nearby Shallal that they are thought to have been designed by the
same artist. Both floors depict animals and have similar patterns: the
synagogue floor is distinguished by a menorah flanked by two lions
and several other Jewish ritual objects. Alongside the menorah are the
symbols of Judah, palm trees and lions. Ethrogs, a shofar and a lulav
are depicted nearby. The Mosaic has an inscription in Aramaic. The
upper part of the inscription blesses all members of the community,
the lower part honors three donors. An identical floor was found in the
ancient synagogue in Gaza.



The Steel Division (84th Division) of the Israeli Army, under the
command of General Israel Tal, fought in the north of the Sinai Desert
in the 6-day War. They captured the Rafiah area on the present border
with Egypt and continued through Sinai to the Suez Canal.

The monument is situated by road 232, behind Moshav Yahad. It was
designed by Israel Godovitz and was originally erected in Yamit on the
Sinai coast on 5th June 1977, exactly 10 years after the war. It had
295 concrete poles with tank parts on top. When Sinai was evacuated
in 1982 after the peace agreement with Egypt, the monument was

The monument was rebuilt at its present site. It now has 400 concrete
poles. In the centre is a 25 metre high observation tower.



This stream is mentioned in the Bible:

1 Samuel 30:9-10

 9 So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the
brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.

 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men; for two hundred stayed behind, who
were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

The Besor Stream is one of the largest and most impressive streams in
Israel, with a drainage area of 3,400 sq km. It forms a border between
settlement in the northern part of the country and the desert. The
stream reaches the sea at Gaza. Along its sides is thick and varied
stream vegetation and above it is Tel Sharuhen, an archeological site

which was a part of a chain of settlements along the Besor Stream. It
was inhabited from the Bronze Age and until the Roman period. The
Besor Stream is crossed by an 80 meter long suspended rope bridge,
the only one of its kind in Israel, which provides the travelers with
a unique experience. Near the northern part of the Besor Stream is
the Eshkol Park, which is also known as HaBesor National Park, and
includes lawns and an artificial lake.



Mitzpe Revivim (Revivim Observatory) was established in 1943, along
with Bet Eshel and Gevulot, as an agricultural experiment station in the
Negev. A small group, cut off from other Jewish settlements, set out to
conquer the wilderness and thus determine the fate of the Negev and
its inclusion within the State of Israel. The settlers' first home was a
cave - a Byzantine water hole, originally dug by the Nabateans along
the Spice Route. Their first task was to plow a furrow. The land had
been purchased from the Bedouin but, under Turkish law, a further step
was necessary: the land had to be cultivated, so plowing was the first

They named their new community Mitzpe (outpost) Revivim (rain).

In the first year, they constructed the enclosure and castle. During the
War of Independence, Revivim was cut off until the Egyptian invasion
was halted at Bier Asluge. The siege of the Negev was not over until
Operation Horev in December 1948.

After the war, the settlers moved to an adjacent hill and established the
permanent location where Kibbutz Revivim now resides. In 1983, the
obsevatory - its buildings, bunkers and hidden ammunition stores - was
reconstructed and turned into a museum of the settlement history and
period, attracting many visitors, both adult and youth.


After Independence in 1948 the Negev was split up into new Moshav’s
(agricultural villages), with 40 dunams for each family. However the
immigrants had no agricultural training and so the results were not
very good. In the 1980s it was decided to do things differently – each
family was given just 3.5 dumans on which to grow 1 niche product.
This plan succeeded and the farms became profitable. Israel is now the
second largest exporter of avocadoes in the world (after Mexico).



1946 warning sign

Ruhama is a kibbutz in the Negev desert in southern Israel. The original
settlement established in 1911, is considered the first modern Jewish
settlement in the Negev,

Located around ten kilometres east of Sderot and surrounded by a
nature reserve, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Sha'ar HaNegev
Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 399.

Ruhama was first established in 1911 as a workers farm, on
land purchased in the same year from the village of Jamama by
the "Remnant of Israel" company, set up by Russian Jews in Moscow,
under the leadership of Simon Velikovsky to invest money in Jewish
agricultural settlements in the Land of Israel. At first all water had to
be bought and brought from the Arabs in the village. An artesian well
was dug in 1912, and a rather plentiful supply of water was found at a
depth of fifty meters. The group also included members of the socialist
Zionist movement Hashomer Hatzair. However, the initial settlers were
expelled by the Ottoman Turks in 1917; a dilapidated museum building
is all that is left of that original settlement. The artesian well prompted
the Allied forces under General Allenby to select Ruhama as their
headquarters from which base they conquered Palestine.

HaShomer used the Ruhama farm as its main forward base along the
Gaza-Beersheva line.

Two subsequent attempts to re-establish the settlement during the
period of the British Mandate were curtailed by the Arab riots in 1929
and 1936. The kibbutz was eventually successfully re-established in
1944. During what was called the “Black Sabbath” in 1946 the British
searched the kibbutz and found illegal arms. They destroyed the well.

In 1947 a pipe was constructed to bring water to the kibbutz, but the
Arabs kept damaging the pipe, so in 1948 a new well was built.

The kibbutz economy is based on four agricultural branches: field
crops, irrigated cultivation, orchards and henhouses, but agricultural
crops do not generate enough income to support the kibbutz, so to
earn a living, many of Ruhama's members have taken jobs outside
the kibbutz. The kibbutz operates a factory which produces brushes,
including toothbrushes, which are exported. In 1984, Ruhama
established a PCB design company.

Like many kibbutzim, Ruhama went through a process of privatization
in the late 1990s. A symbol of how greatly times have changed, the
kibbutz cut community services like the dining room, so that every
family now cares for itself.

Atar Ha-Rishonim, or The Negev Pioneers, just outside the fence
surrounding the kibbutz, is where the first Jewish settlers in modern
times settled in the Negev. The site includes several buildings and a
well, as well as farming tools used almost 100 years ago.


There is a 360 degree view from this viewpoint.

To the north can be seen:
Galilee hills
Har Moreh
Har Tavor

To the left Nazareth and further left Migdal Haemek.
The Yarden Star Crusader fort.
In the middle is the hills is a dip where the Yarmuch River runs.
To the right (east) Jordan, including the town Irbid, and Beit Shean.
To the south west there is Faqwa and Jenin.
To the west the Carmel range can be seen.

This is a good place to show tourists the total width of Israel. It takes 3 minutes to
fly across the country.

On this hill there is also an ancient grape press (gat). Pressing of grapes was
done barefoot because if shoes had been worn, they would have also crushed the
pips, which would have made the juice bitter.


There is a magnificent view from this hill.

Below are Kibbutz Hefzi-Ba and Kibbutz Beit Alfa, and their fish ponds can be
seen. There is also Shata prison.

All the trees on the Gilboa range were planted by KKL. There is no natural tree
growth. After Passover “Wheat Art” is made with a tractor in the fields below and
can be seen from this viewpoint.

The battle of Samuel against the Philistines took place below. This is where he
and his sons were killed.

1 Samuel 31

Saul Takes His Life

 1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and
many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his
sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. 3 The fighting
grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him

 4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these
uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”

   But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword
and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his
sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all
his men died together that same day.

 7 When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the
Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their
towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them.

 8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and
his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They cut off his head and stripped off his
armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim
the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10 They put his armor in
the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.

 11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12
all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the
bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where
they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk
tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.



The ruins of the synagogue, which dates from the 6th century CE, were discovered
in 1928 by members of Kibbutz Beit Alpha and Kibbutz Hefzi-Ba. It is located in
Kibbutz Hefzi-Ba, at the foot of Mount Gilboa. The site was excavated in 1929 by
E L Sukenik of the Hebrew University.

The mosaic floor is one of the most beautiful discovered in Israel. The synagogue
included a central hall with 2 aisles, that were separated from the hall by 2 rows
of columns. On the southern wall is a semi-circular niche, where the Holy Ark
probably stood. Underneath was a small cavity covered with stone slabs, which
served as the synagogue Genizah. The women’s gallery seems to have been in
the balcony, over the aisles. The structure was covered with a tiled roof, remains
of which were found in the main hall.

On the floor of the main hall is an elaborate, well-preserved mosaic. The part
near the ark depicts Jewish ritual objects – a Holy Ark flanked by lions, birds and

menorot, surrounded by animals, fruit and geometric designs. The central section
of the mosaic contains a zodiac with the symbols for the months, and their names
in Hebrew and Aramaic. In the centre is a picture of the sun god, Helios and in
the 4 corners, figures of women, symbolizing the 4 seasons of the year. The
zodiac was probably used just for decorative purposes, as this was a synagogue
and not a temple for idol worship.

At the base of the mosaic is a depiction of the sacrifice of Isaac, accompanied by
passages in Hebrew. There are 2 inscriptions near the main entrance: “The well
remembered artists who carried out this work, Marianus and his son Hanina” in
Greek and “The mosaic was laid in the year of the rein of Emperor Justinus for the
price of 100 measures of grain donated by the villagers” in Aramaic.

The use of synagogues started in Babylon after the destruction of the 1st Temple.

8 synagogues from the 2nd Temple period have been found in Israel at: Gamla,
Herodian, Messada, Jericho, Modiin, Kiryat Safer, Shvilat Edri and Migdal. Jesus
used to visit the synagogues in each community he visited.

At first, synagogues were used as a kind of community centre for the purpose of
religious learning of Torah and Mitzvot, and for public ceremonies. They were
simple buildings. After the 2nd Temple was destroyed synagogues were also
used for prayer. Older synagogues were decorated with geometric designs and
later it became fashionable to lay elaborate mosaic floors with Greek symbols
(astrological and Greek gods). 250 synagogues from the Byzantine period have
been found in Israel.

Also at Kibbutz Hefzi-Ba is a small Japanese garden, donated by the Japanese
Mokoya cult. These people come to this kibbutz for a period of a year, and built
the garden.