I love living in Beer Sheva. I love the desert. The expanse, the space and the heat. The B7, as we call it, is one of the oldest cities in the world- traveled by Abraham and all of the tradesmen, profits, families and pioneers since. It has somehow frozen throughout time- in between growth spurts and perhaps just now catching up. In so many ways Beer Sheva is the perfect place for my family. Small enough to avoid traffic and city-parking-battles and just big enough to provide a taste of culture and nightlife when you want it. The mood is calm, slow and less contentious than other cities in Israel. We can walk our son to daycare in the morning and my partner walks to work, yet when we get the chance to go out, there is always new restaurant or bar to check out. The local flavor includes diversity, community, and a real sense of responsibility for one another. A large, forward-thinking university and a new high-tech park- booming. Ever a place of contradictions, there is also extreme poverty here and deeply rooted streams of backward societal norms- embodied in racism, sexism and homophobia. I guess we have it all.
Somehow when I moved to Beer Sheva I felt at home. I fit here. I never liked the big cities. Tel Aviv was too hectic and hip for me and the tensions of Jerusalem grew strenuous after 5 years.
Though we call Beer Sheva the city of opportunities, alas, it will never be in the “center.” It is the very definition of peripheral. There has been A LOT of progress here and so many people are doing great work- from grassroots to the mayor- to increase employment opportunities, keep living costs low and foster culture here. But it isn’t always easy. In a job search it will always feel like 90% of the jobs in your field are looking for people who live in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Some of your friends and family will scrunch their noses up when you invite them down for the weekend, unaware of the utter greatness of this place. Also, you can’t always find canned black beans in the store so you will have to learn how to cook the beans from scratch. You will have less fabulously out LGBT neighbors and you have your work cut out for you if you openly take issue with racist and sexist “jokes” (like I do).
Despite its challenges, I wouldn’t live anywhere else in Israel. The quality of our life here is rich and abundant. All else comes together, with hard work and positive life energy. If home is where your heart is, then mine is in the Negev.