A Day in Merchav Am

Written by on December 30, 2013 in ,
2012-12-10 15.52.26          Merchav Am is a tiny yishuv in the heart of the Negev. While it’s true that we are isolated, we are near a bunch of other places that are also situated in the middle of nowhere. We moved here in the summer looking for a change, but also looking to be part of a vibrant community and contribute to the greater ideal of building the Negev. It’s a religious Zionist and open-minded place trying to contribute in every way they can. People live here primarily because they are committed to living in the Negev, though work can be found in nearby Yerucham, Dimona and Be’er Sheva.
          What is a typical day like here? Mornings at our house are chaotic and noisy and predictable. My second-grade son is often ready before the girls, and goes outside to ride his bike or play until it’s time to head for the bus. Our kids go to a mamlachti dati (national religious) school in Yerucham (though there is a more Torani option in Mitzpe Ramon, as well as other schools both in Mitzpe and Dimona). We are really happy with the school so far, and believe it or not, the choice of educational programs in the area was one of the main considerations for our move. So far this year – and it’s only November – my fifth grader has been on two field trips, has put one one play, and has been set up with extra help in math. The older kids have a mini-tutoring program with the younger kids, and by chance my fifth grader was set up to do learning with my first grader’s class, so they are really enjoying that arrangement. I still think it’s amazing that my son went on a hiking trip just to see a certain desert flower in bloom. So school is good, kids enjoy going, but mornings are still sleepy and full of procrastination and then eventually they get out the door.

          Our little guy goes to maon (daycare) part-time on the yishuv. Along the walk up the hill, we have to stop to look at all the flowers around, chickens crossing the road, and a quick visit to our friend’s animals – so far they’re raising chickens, ducks, sheep with a dog thrown in for good measure. Our yishuv rabbi has goats.
          Later I catch a cup of coffee with a neighbor, and chat about what chugim (extra-curricular activities) our kids are doing. Her boys are learning Capoeira, which is Brazilian martial arts and dance program that’s become popular in Israel, and is taught right here on the yishuv. My older daughter does triathlon training in Mashabe Sade (transportation provided by the moetza – awesome!), my younger daughter is doing gymnastics in Sde Boker (five minutes away) and my son was learning karate nearby but switched to soccer on our yishuv. Not bad for the middle of nowhere, eh?
          I happen not to be working right now, but find myself quite busy with kid stuff and generally trying to arrange our lives to best work in the caravan we are living in now. We are in the process of building a house on the yishuv – so far we’ve bought a bit of land, are working with an architect on plans and permits, and have spent more time than we’d care to talk about chasing down various documents at various government agencies. But we’ll get there.
          Afternoons we spend with homework, playing outside, and sometimes we’ll go for a walk around the new neighborhood where the permanent houses are going up. It’s fun to see the progress from week to week, and to see the literal community building happening around us.
          Something that has impressed me from the start is that even in a yishuv that only numbers 46 families, there’s always something going on. Be it shiurim, aerobics classes, guest speakers visiting, monthly women’s gatherings, and the ever popular guys’ night out events, there seems to be quite a lot here for a place of this size. Of course it’s easy to find a quiet evening as well, alone surrounded by the desert hills, watching the paintbox-spilled horizon as the sun sets. Time to get ready for another day.

Tags: , ,

About the Author

About the Author: .


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Instagram Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Join Our LinkedIn Group Connect on YouTube

Comments are closed.