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Seeing Ben Gurion's Dream Realized

Leeds trio (from left) Barbara, Brenda and Rhoanna

Ben Gurion had always preached that it was in the Negev that Israel's future lay and that it was in the Negev that Israel's ingenuity would be tested. On December 11, 2019, ESRA Raanana was privileged to see the implementation of that dream.

Our group of 40 participants were first taken to the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BILD), which is a campus of Ben Gurion University situated two kilometers south of Sde Boker. BILD is a degree-granting institute which awards Masters and PhDs in various aspects of desert agriculture and water usage. The students come from all over the world, including neighboring Arab countries.

We were treated to a Powerpoint presentation given by Professor Simon Barak. To quote from the BILD description of Professor Barak's work: "My lab's objective has been to isolate and characterize genes that regulate the overall response of plants to environmental stress and that might be good candidates for engineering crop plants for enhanced stress tolerance."

The presentation detailed how micro-organisms are being used and combined with genetic modification in order to allow crops to grow in warmer climes and more saline water. There were a number of questions and Professor Barak answered them in considerable detail. One interesting fact he pointed out is that organic farming is more harmful to the soil than conventional farming!

We were also taken to the main BILD administrative building where we were given a talk about the environmentally-friendly building itself.

Trip members were eating their packed lunches when they were approached by Brenda habsuch (Kibbutz Sde Boker) who had heard her native English being spoken – and invited them home for hot drinks.
It turned out that she and the other ladies, Barbara Grant (Raanana)  and Rhoanna Sumroy (Raanana), had one thing in common: all have links with the city of Leeds in the uK! 

After lunch at the Sde Boker cafeteria, we travelled to Kibbutz Nirim, about an hour away. Ann Levin from our chapter had organized a shuk with the help of a kibbutz artisan.There were several merchants selling products such as olive oil, toys, blankets, decorative-weaved objects and jewelry, among other items.We had time for a walk around the kibbutz after being served coffee and cake.

We listened to a talk given by Kibbutz Nirim resident Adele Raemer, an olah of 35 years from the US, about the nightmarish life under the threat of missiles. Adele is both an English teacher and a medical clown at the kibbutz.Interestingly, she spoke to the UN Security Council on Wednesday about life under the threat of missile attacks and what it is like to suffer from them. Thereafter, we returned to Raanana.

The trip was enjoyed by all and the suggestion that there be an overnight trip to the Negev next year was met with enthusiasm. 

At the shuk on Kibbutz Nirim
 

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Monday, 21 September 2020

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