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Ruhama – First Jewish Settlement in the Negev*

Just as I picked up my keyboard and began to type R-u-h-a-m-a my hands began to shake. Ruhama was the home of  Capt. Yori Harnash ז״ל, a dear buddy from IDF basic training. Yori was killed in the Yom Kippur War. Without his aid and encouragement, I could never have completed my army service. Yori, this post is in memory of you.

Kibbutz Ruhama

In 1911 the ״Remnant of Israel Company״ set up by Russian Jews under the leadership of Simon Velikovsky purchased the 5,000 dunam property that became Ruhama, near the Arab village of al-Jammama. This is the first Jewish settlement in the Negev in modern times. The name was taken from the Hosea:

“And I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy” (Hos. 2:23)”.

An artesian well was dug in 1912 to a depth of fifty meters.

The initial settlers were expelled by the Ottoman Empire in 1917 during World War I. However, General Allenby selected Ruhama and its source of water as the British army headquarters.

Despite several efforts by Jewish settlers to return to this site, the kibbutz was eventually successfully re-established only in 1944.

Atar HaRishonim Museum

Atar HaRishonim (“Site of the First”), located just outside the fence surrounding the kibbutz. A dilapidated museum building is all that is left of that original settlement. In my movie below you can see the Atar HaRishonim Museum building, the well and pump, as well as farming tools used almost 100 years ago.


Ruhama Poppies

The badlands of Ruhama, to the west of the kibbutz and to the south of Highway 334, are renowned as a tourist attraction. This region attracts large numbers of visitors, especially in winter – the rainy season – when it is particularly beautiful: fields of wheat paint the landscape green, while uncultivated areas are red with anemones (כלניות). A little later in the season poppies (פרגים) and crucifers (מצליבים).


Ruhama Tourism

This clip speaks for itself.


“Ruhama-wood”- Sweet Mud

The film Sweet Mud (2006) was filmed in Ruhama. Did you see the movie?

About Israel and You

Cameling in the holy land since forever
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