Beersheba - City of Israel
Beersheba is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Often referred to as the "Capital of the Negev". Located in the Southern District of the country, the city is the district's administrative centre and is home to the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Soroka Medical Center, and the Israel Sinfonietta Beersheba.
ISRAEL National Animal : Mountain Gazelle
Beersheba has grown considerably since Israeli independence in 1948; a large portion of the population is made up of Jews who immigrated from Arab countries after 1948, and has been significantly boosted since 1990 by newcomers from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. The city is surrounded by a number of satellite towns including the predominantly Jewish Omer, Lehavim and Meitar, and the Bedouin towns of Rahat, Tel as-Sabi and Lakiya.
From the findings unearthed at Tel Be'er Sheva, an archaeological site a few kilometers northeast of modern day Beersheba, it is believed that the region has been populated since the 4th millennium BC. The city was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries.
Beersheba was the southernmost city of Israel in Biblical times, hence the expression "from Dan to Beersheba" to describe the whole kingdom. Beersheba is mentioned in the Book of Genesis in connection with Abraham the Patriarch and his pact with Abimelech. Isaac built an altar in Beersheba . Jacob had his dream about a stairway to heaven after leaving Beersheba.
The last inhabitants of Tel Be'er-Sheva were the Byzantines, who abandoned the city in the 7th century. The Turkish Ottomans, who had controlled Palestine since the 16th century, took no interest in Beersheba until the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, Beersheba was portrayed by European pilgrims as a barren stretch of land with a well and a handful of Bedouin living nearby.
The city also has several private schools and Yeshivot which cater to the religious sector. In terms of higher education, Beersheba is home to one of Israel's major universities, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, which is located on an urban campus in the city. Several local colleges also operate in the city, including the Kaye Academic College of Education, the Sami Shamoon Academic College of Engineering and the Practical Engineering College of Beersheba. Also in the city is a Government college , a technical college, and an art and performance college. Furthermore, the Israeli Air and Space college is located in the city.
Beersheba is the home base of the Israel Sinfonietta, founded in 1973. Over the years, the Sinfonietta has developed a broad repertoire of symphonic works, concerti for solo instruments and large choral productions, among them Handel's "Israel in Egypt," masses by Schubert and Mozart, Rossini's "Stabat Mater" and Vivaldi's "Gloria." World-famous artists have appeared as soloists with the Sinfonietta, including Pinhas Zuckerman, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Shlomo Mintz, Gary Karr and Paul Tortelier.
The Light Opera Group of the Negev, established in 1980, performs musicals in English every year.