The yishuv Merchav Am was founded in November 2001, and is located between Sde Boker and Yerucham across from the Halukkim Ridges. The first tractor started work on the road to the yishuv on the same day that MK Rechavam Zeevi was laid to rest, and Merchav Am was named in his honor. The establishment of this yishuv is part of a general long range plan of re-invigorating the settlement of the Negev, and doing literal Zionist building here (in fact more than 13 years had gone by without the establishment of a new yishuv in the Negev!).
How did everything start?
Merchav Am is an isolated, religious, pioneering yishuv (community) in the heart of the Negev Desert in southern Israel. Established in 2001, Merchav Am is a tiny, close-knit group of Israelis, just over 2⁄3 of whom still live in caravans (temporary housing), though eventual development plans call for 500 families. Yishuv members are energetic individuals involved in a religious lifestyle, community building on a daily basis, working towards the fulfillment of David Ben Gurion’s dream.
Merchav Am was established by a group of people who came together to start a new yishuv in specifically in the heart of the desert where the need for community development is crucial. Before the start of Merchav Am, over 13 years had passed since a new community was established in the Ramat Negev region. With the support and guidance of the Or Movement, the first families moved into Merchav Am in November 2001. Over the years, we have established nursery schools, kindergartens, a community center, mikvah and a synagogue. With the help of JNF of Western Australia, the community is in the process of developing a large playground, as well as other outdoor green spaces for our children and future.
Merchav Am is an anchor in an all but desolate area of the country. In order for Israel as a whole to survive and thrive, the country’s Jewish population must move south. The Negev at nearly 60% of the country’s area but barely 8% of the population, must be given the resources to absorb a larger number of residents while still maintaining the beauty and environment around us. Merchav Am is the hub of religious life in the Ramat Negev Region. Our growth is not only crucial for our own success as a community, but also positively impacts the residents of the entire region and helps to plant deeper rootsfor the continued flourishment of our country.
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