Looking over my schedule, I saw that I missed one important stop on our way to the Machtash Ramon Friday. We had a rest stop at Sede Boker. In 1962 Prime Minister David Ben Gurion was being driven back to Jerusalem when he saw a new kibbutz going up in the Negev called Sede Boker. He told his driver to pull over. When he learned about the kibbutz, he told them this is what he always dreamed of doing, redeeming the Negev by living on a kibbutz. He added that if they would accept him as a member he would resign from his position as PM and live with them. At first they didn't believe him. Why would a 60 year old man want to join a Gar'in of 20 year olds and give up the most important job in Israel. After a lengthily debate, he was voted in as a member (btw not unanimously either) Ben Gurion actually did resign from the government to live in Sede Boker to the shock of the entire nation. Ben Gurion was more than the father of the modern state of Israel. He founded almost every important institution that laid the foundation of the state. He was like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Ben Franklin all rolled into one person. You should know that he did go back into politics though later on.
He and his wife Paula are buried there instead of Jerusalem on Har Herzl so people would visit and be inspired to come and establish new kibbutzim in the Negev. Back in 1971 or 2 a group of Americans stopped by Sede Boker and asked if they could meet with Ben Gurion. He met with the group and told them as his wont that they should make aliya and found a new kibbutz in the Negev. A portion of them took his words to heart and made aliyah together and founded the kibbutz Ketura about 51 klms north of Eilat right after the Yom Kippur war in 1973. Today Ketura is a thriving kibbutz and the home of the Arava Institute.
We visited their graves and said a memorial prayer. On his tombstone thee are 3 dates, birth, death, and date of aliyah when he was reborn.
A branch of Ben Gurion U is at Sede Boker. Master students from the Aravah Institute study there as well to earn their MA. If you know of any students interested in environmental studies and want to study in Israel, they can get full credit thru Ben Gurion U.