Negohot's Light Glows from the Hevron Hills

The Jewish town of Negohot, located on the western slopes of the Southern Hevron Hills, shows that idealism and hard work build a community.

Tags: Negohot
Elad Benari ,

Negohot students celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut
Negohot students celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut
Israel news photo: Negohot.org.il

The Jewish community of Negohot is located on the western slopes of the Southern Hevron Hills (Drom Har Hevron), a range adjoining the Judean Hills, and about 25 kilometers from the southern city of Kiryat Gat in the Lachish area. The communities of Otniel and Beit Haggai are located east of Negohot, a 15-minute drive away.

Negohot, originally a Nahal outpost, was established in early 1982 and was called Mitzpe Lachish. The name was changed to Negohot following a suggestion by the poet Yitzchak Shalev, who suggested the name as a way to note that the light emanating from the Jewish community glowed from the top of the Hevron Hills. The word "noga" in Hebrew means "aura" or "glow".

In 1998, as no new Jewish communities were being established in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the IDF was looking for ways to reduce its presence in the area, it was suggested to take hesder yeshiva students, have them guard the community as part of their army service, and then move into the community when they conclude their service. The Otniel and Yeruham hesder yeshivas recruited men for this task.

At one point it was decided that more families should be brought into Negohot. An IDF officer who asked the IDF authorities whether it would be possible to bring in a rabbi and his family to the community to help the students learn Torah, was answered with: ‘Find a rabbi, then we’ll talk.' After a long search a rabbi with a family, who was willing to immediately move to Negohot, was found.

Thus, slowly and gradually, young and idealistic Torah true families joined the developing community. It was connected to electricity, water, sewage, and neighborhoods with caravans were built. In 2002, construction of permanent houses in the community began.

Today, Negohot’s children study in the school in Otniel. This underscores the transport link between Negohot and the southern Hevron hills, as it becomes more difficult to close a road used by schoolchildren. In addition to the students, some of Negohot’s residents study and work in the communities and institutions in the southern Hevron Hills.

On Erev Rosh Hashanah, September 26, 2003, as Negohot’s residents were enjoying their evening holiday meal, terrorists infiltrated Negohot and a sniper murdered Eyal Yeverbaum and the infant Shaked Avraham. The terror attack dealt a difficult blow to the community, but its residents proved their strength and moved towards building a community center named Shaked after the murdered infant (which was dedicated on Passover of that year). Later, a new neighborhood bearing the name Eyal was inaugurated.

In 2001, a neighborhood named Givat HaBustan (lit. Garden Hill) was founded in the western part of Negohot. The neighborhood delineates the planned boundaries of the community to the west.

The residents of Negohot work in a variety of occupations in Kiryat Gat, Ashkelon and the Hevron Hills communities. Within the community itself, there are initiatives mainly in the field of agriculture: growing tomatoes and squash, olive oil groves, and vineyards.

In addition, the NegoOp company, which develops components and tests equipment for telecommunications and medical industries, operates in Negohot. Another local company has developed a program called “Trumot.net” (trumot meaning donations in Hebrew), which aims to streamline the work of NGOs.

Midreshet Negohot is a school which combines national service in Israel’s southern cities with religious studies in the evening. It too operates in Negohot.

Negohot families got a taste of wht the side effects of the PA's recognition bid might be, when a convoy of jeering Arabs in cars drove by clost to the community's fence on September 19th.



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