Sde Boker is a kibbutz in the Negev; about 30 kilometers north of Ramon Crater; Known, among other things, as the residence of David Ben-Gurion in his last years. Settlement in Sde Boker began with establishing an agricultural farm in the Negev. The idea of establishing a farm in this area matured with an American volunteer named Jesse, who fought in the country during the War of Independence. So in his imagination, he saw a farm such as a cow farm in Texas.
After the end of the battles, a group of members from the same unit began to form; who aspired to establish a farm in the Negev which would form the basis for an understanding that settlement can and should take place in the desert and uninhabited area. After many tours of the Negev, the area was chosen. In 1949, the group applied to the institutions for help establishing the settlement, but without much success.
Sde Boker Inauguration
In May 1952, the settlement was established as an agricultural cooperative; without political affiliation, which was supposed to make a living from raising cattle and therefore decided to call the settlement “Sde Boker – a farm for raising cattle.” The ceremony, in the presence of Moshe Dayan, took place on May 15, 1952. To survive, the group members engaged in agriculture; also building a chicken hen, and developing the desert—for example, mining minerals, hospitality, and guarding.
Their way of life was reminiscent of a collective way of life in specific characteristics such as areas of occupation. The property, however, remained privately owned. In January 1953, 200 sheep from Turkey were brought to Sde Boker. In October 1952, thirty days after the murder of local Barbara Proper, the first tree was planted on the site. At the end of 1952, an experimental water storage dam was built; in 1955, a lake with a capacity of 200,000 cubic meters was inaugurated on the site.
More About Sde Boker
During the establishment of Sde Boker, the military kept the Bedouin tribes from the area away from Israeli Arabs. So the precarious security situation in the area also gave its signals to the group members. Also, in September 1952, Barbara Proper was killed while herding a herd of goats. According to the murderer, the IDF confiscated him. Also in December, Yosef Yairi was killed by an ambush on the way to Sde Boker. About 60 soldiers came to settle Sde Boker, which significantly increased the number of members.
Then in 1954, another platoon of the Nahal arrived at the farm. After the soldiers’ service ended, members of the group sought a nucleus from a non-partisan movement who would agree to remain there even after their military service. Later, a nucleus of the Scouts moved to develop new branches in the economy: The establishment of a garage, a locksmith, carpentry, and the planting of peach orchards.
On my guided tours of the Negev, I take my guests to visit the tomb of Ben Gurion, which is buried near Sde Boker. And if there is time also to visit his desert home in Sde Boker. Apart from visiting the Kibbutz, there are many things to do in the area. For example, Ramon Crater is an option. Also, you can hike in the Negev Desert by visiting Ein Avdat National Park. Another option is touring Avdat National Park, the ancient Nabataean city that was part of the incense route.