Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Be'er Sheva

Last week's parsha (Torah Portion) begins, "Vayetzeh Ya'akov MeBe'er Sheva vayelech Haranah" (and Jacob left Be'er Sheva and went to Haran,) so, appropriately, last Shabbat, "Vayetzeh Ephraim MeYerushalayim vayelech Be'er Shevah," (and Ephraim left Jerusalem and went to Be'er Sheva). Be'er Sheva is where I studied as an environmental engineering student for a year and a half starting in 2000. I enjoyed seeing all of my friends, and had a wonderful shabbat, but the town itself was somewhat depressing. It wasn't the poverty or the heat that got to me. It's just that the place reminds me of a very difficult time in life. In some ways my time in Be'er Sheva was great and in other ways miserable for me personally. I was learning the Jewish language, making new friends, and living in Eretz Yisrael, which I loved. But I was also enrolled in a graduate program in Environmental Engineering entirely in Hebrew, which I didn't speak at the time, suffering from a seemingly endless array of sicknesses, totally broke, heavily in debt, constantly struggling and falling behind in classes, and I was working on a research project I didn't really understand as well as I should have. It was the first time I had ever set out to accomplish something big and not made it. At the same time, it laid the groundwork for my so-far-successful aliyah this time around, as I knew exactly what to expect.

Endless building continues in Be'er Sheva

A street vendor under a bridge, on David Hamelech Street.

Ben Gurion University, with a series of brand new buildings.

Still, despite my personal feelings, it's exciting to see the new development going on. A new, glitzy glass and steel building has replaced the old stucco hut that used to be the Ben Gurion University / Be'er Sheva North Train Station. Row after row of new university buildings, and new housing, have popped up around the city. It's strange, when I was away, I always considered Be'er Sheva my "home city" in Israel, where I would be going back to some day. But now, while I like to visit, I think I'm going to end up somewhere else.

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