Beer Sheva Travel Guide

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Beersheba ( Hebrew romanization Be'er Sheva ) is the largest city in the Negev desert of Israel , and is often called the "Capital of the Negev". In 2005 , Beersheba had a population of 185,500 making it the sixth largest city in Israel. 20 years before, the population was just 110,800. It is the administrative center for the southern region and home of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev , Soroka Hospital, and the Israeli Sinfonietta of Be'er Sheva. The city dates back at least to the time of Abraham . The city has expanded considerably since the founding of the state in 1948 . Today the town is inhabited mainly by Jews who originally immigrated to Israel from Arab countries and the former Soviet Union . Be'er Sheva is surrounded by a number of satellite towns: Omer , Lehavim and Meitar are mainly Jewish towns and there are a number of Bedouin towns around Beersheba; the largest are Rahat , Tel Sheva and Laqye.

Neighborhoods

Beersheba is divided into a number of small neighbourhoods that are mostly numbered. Shekhuna (Hebrew for neighbourhood) Alef (1), Bet (2), Gimmel (3), Dalet (4), Hey (5), Vav (6), Tet (9), Yud-Alef (11), Ramot, Neve Noy, Neve Ze'ev, Darom, the Old City, Nahal Beka and Nahal Ashan. (For no apparent reason there is no Shekhuna Zayin (7), Het (8) or Yod (10)). The Old City is somewhat run-down, and though it has a number of memorable buildings dating from Ottoman times, the municipality has done little to restore these gems. Some private organisations own these buildings and maintain them but most are ruins. North Dalet and parts of Gimmel have bad reputations for being populated by drug users, but the parts of these neighbourhoods that are closer to the University are full of students and are less affected by crime.

Beersheba Municipality

The current mayor of Beersheba is Yaakov Turner , the deputy-mayors are David Bumfeld and Rubiq Danilovits and the vice-mayors are Sima Navon and Yitshaq Marciano. Previous mayors are David Tuviahu , Zeev Zrizi , Eliyahu Nawi , Moshe Zilberman , Yitshak Rager and David Bumfeld . The Beersheba Municipality has been plagued for many years by an ineffectual leadership, a politicised work-force, plain corruption and a general lack of ability to fulfill even its basic tasks, as well as low income from local taxes and poor financial planning. [ citation needed ] The residents of Beersheba experience a low level of infrastructure, including cultural and educational facilities, and dysfunctional parks and litter departments. Some improvements have been made recently: as opposed to the previous year, in 2005 the Parks Department carried out street cleaning as well as park maintainance, some cultural centres have been built (the Youth Centre opened in 2005 and the Cultural Centre should open in 2007). Additionally, a street in the old city of Beersheba was renovated and the current mayor's term has been free of corruption.

Demographics

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), in 2003 Beersheba had a population of 184,500 making it the 5th largest town in Israel, compared to 110,800 20 years previous. (Currently its population is estimated to be app. 200,000.) In 2001 the ethnic makeup of the city was 98.9% Jewish and other non-Arab, with no significant Arab population (see Population groups in Israel ). According to CBS, in 2001 there were 86,500 males and 91,400 females. The population of the city was spread out with 31.8% 19 years of age or younger, 17.4% between 20 and 29, 19.6% between 30 and 44, 15.8% from 45 to 59, 4.0% from 60 to 64, and 11.4% 65 years of age or older. The population growth rate in 2001 was 2.9%. Many people come to live in Beersheba for short periods of time, e.g. to study in the university or to serve in the many army bases in, or near to, the town.

Income

According to CBS, as of 2000, in the city there were 61,016 salaried workers and 3,010 are self-employed. The mean monthly wage in 2000 for a salaried worker in the city is 5,223 NIS , a real change of 5.3% over the course of 2000. Salaried males have a mean monthly wage of ILS 6,661 (a real change of 5.2%) versus ILS 3,760 for females (a real change of 3.9%). The mean income for the self-employed is 6,533. There are 4,719 people who receive unemployment benefits and 26,469 people who receive an income guarantee. The major employers in Beersheba are the municipality, Israel Defense Forces , Ben-Gurion University and the Soroka Medical Centre . There are also a number of electronics and chemical factories in Beersheba and the vicinity.

Education

According to CBS, there are 81 schools and 33,623 students in the city. They are spread out as 60 elementary schools and 17,211 elementary school students, and 39 high schools and 16,412 high school students. 52.7% of 12th grade students were entitled to a matriculation certificate in 2001. There are also a number of private educational institutions mostly Yeshivoth that cater for the religious. Beersheba is also the home of the first class Ben-Gurion University and some local colleges such as Kaye Academic College of Education , the Negev Academic College of Engineering , the Practical Engineering College of Beer-Sheva etc.

Sports

The most popular sport in Beersheba is soccer led by the Hapoel Be'er Sheva team. The club was formed in 1949. The team has a history of two league championships (1975 and 1976), one national cup (1997) and two Toto cups (1989 and 1996). The local arena is the Wassermill stadium with a capacity of 14,000. The most successful sport in Beersheba is Chess. The Chess club has won national championships and cups many many times and represented Israel in the European Cup. It hosted the world teams championship in 2005. The Chess club was founded in 1973 by Eliyahu Levant, who is still the dynamo behind the success of this club. Beersheba has a higher percentage of grandmasters per capita - eight - than any other city worldwide, the majority of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union; the city of 183,000 has one grand master per 22,875 residents.

Beersheba is also the home of The Camels-ASA Beer-Sheva ;a successful rugby team—whose senior and youth squads have won several national titles (including the recent Senior National League 2004-2005 championship). Other sports in Beersheba are wrestling and tennis . Beersheba has one of Israel's fourteen tennis centers, which opened in 1991 and features eight lighted courts.

Contributors

October 30, 2006 change by giorgio

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