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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 12, 2011 The crater will rock By Deborah Hirsch Jewish Exponent A slight breeze rippled the turquoise water of the other- wise perfectly still "infinity" pool extending from the new Beresheet Hotel in Mitzpeh Ramon. Where the deck ended. the country's largest crater began, swallowing onlookers with endless sky, colorful rock formations and more stillness. This natural geological formation. Machtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater) has been in Israel's Negev desert for millions of years. But tour- ist itineraries, aside from those catering to Jewish youth on extended summer tours, often skip the region altogether in favor of bigge~ cities or well-knoWn high- lights like the Dead Sea. That's something the de'- velopers of Beresheet, and a number of smaller hoSpital- " ity businesses who call the Negev home, hope to change. Beresheet , the work-in- progress from the Isrotel hotel chain, is the most ob- vious sign of a push to draw - tourists to the neglected Negev, which extends south over more than 60 percent of the country's landmass. There are also a number of small, boutique wineries and rustic bed and breakfasts dotting the sandy landscape as well as the geothermal- heated pools at Neve Midbar spa, and the new French restaurant and adjoining inn that opened in Mitzpeh Ramon in late 2010. From an economic stand- point, Mitzpeb Ramon doesn't seem so hospitable for new business. Founded in the 1950s as an outpost for miners and road work- ers, the dusty village evolved into a small "development town" after immigrants were settled there in the 1960s. Population today hovers around 5.500. But Isrotel managers believed people would come to See the area as a vacation destination if it had the right amenities, explained Beresheet public-relations coordinator Keren Glaser. as she gave a preview tour to our group of American journalists in la~e March. Even half-complete, the place was commanding. All A camelcaravan is one way to see the Ramon Crater area in the Negev Desert. The Ramon Crater is often overlooked by tourists to Israel. the standard rooms have bal- conies overlooking the crater and some ground-floor "cha- lets" open into private pools similar to what you might find at a Caribbean resort. Such luxury, however, doesn't come cheap: Glaser said developers had already spent more than 160 million shekels (roughly $46.5 mil- lion) on the lll-room resort. She was quick to note that much of that investment was going back to the com- munity, because developers had made a point of using stones from local quarries and hiring area workers. Not too far away from the hotel. Frenchman Arnaud Rodrigue serves gourmet respite at the Boker Valley Vineyards Farm where owner Moshe Zohar hosts guests in small cabins over- looking his fields. Forget about MBA grads with high-tech start- ups Zohar embodies the Israeli entrepreneurial spirit. Aside from farm: ing, the jack-of-all-trades businessman constructed every building on his prop- erty, from the wine barrel- shaped shop/restaurant to the ecologically friendly bathrooms. In addition to growing grapes on ancient terraces 500 meters above sea level. Zohar cultivates severalvari- food with Georgia O'Keefe- .eties of olives andpomegran- inspired decor at his newly opened Chez Eugene. You can stay there, too. if you're lucky enough to snag one of the six hotel rooms . Those seeking a more re- mote experience might find ates fo~" a BGU professor's research. Of course, gazing out at the khaki-colored hills only occupies so much time. Fortunately, Zohar and other hotel operators have built connections with tour outfitters eager to guide visi- tors through the raw desert. At Beresheet. one employee has the lucky job of coordinat- ing whatever activity a guest could want, whetherjeep, bike or hiking tours of the crater. rappelling, winery visits, hot- air balloon rides, tai chi or natural spa treatments. For a more "traditional" desert ride. a Bedouin group will lead you around on a chain of camels. Apparently, you can even rent a personal llama from the nearby alpaca farm to carry your supplies to a desert picnic. Other sights within an easy drive include Ein Avdat spring and nature reserve, and the Ein Akev, Ein Zik and Ein Shaviv desert oases. History aficionados will want to reserve time for Avdat, originally a seasonal camping ground for Naba- taean caravans carrying trade goods along the early Petra-Gaza road between the first and seventh centuries B.C.E. While there's not much in the way of traditional museums in the desert, the Mitzpeh Ramon Visitors Center has a small exhibit documenting the geological and natural history of the area as well as a stunning view of the crater. Not quite so picturesque but certainly pivotal in the modern-day evolution of the Negev is the former home of David Ben=Gurion, the country's first prime min- ister. Ben-Gurion believed the future of Israel was in the Negev and lived there in a kibbutz at Sde Boker. where his namesake uni- versity now is operating a satellite campus for high- tech research'. The country has a ways to go before living up to Ben- Gurion's vision, but surely the developing tourism industry is somewhat of a start. In any case, the natural beauty alone is worth at least a long weekend. Deborah Hirsch is a staff writer for the (Philadel- phia) Jewish Exponent, from which this article was reprinted by permis- sion. Hirsch participated in the Sixth Annual Murray Fromson Media Mission to Ben-Gurion University, sponsored and hosted by the American Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. A B R'A" -ET ; go D 0 -U" R" V-ff T TT T EEE Answers from 08/05/2011 T E -6 M g A g Sudoku (see page 19 for solution) 6 9 4 587 34 2- .5 5 ..... 2 3 7 - 6 1 2 958 287 6 8 5 PAGE 7A Central Florida Synagogue Service Schedule and Directory Orlando Weekday Morning Minyan (Conservative/Egalitarian), services Monday-Friday 7:45 a.m. (9 a.m.- national holidays); 2nd floor Chapel - Jewish Academv'of Orlando: 851 N. Maitland Ave.. Maitland. For information call "407-298-4650. Celebration Jewish Congregation (R), services and holiday sched- ules shown at www.JewishCelebration.org; 407-566-9792. Chabad Lubavitch of North Orlando (O). 39 Skyline Drive, Suite 1017; Lake Mary, 407-878-3011. www.jewishorlando.com: services: 2nd Friday of every month, times vary depending on the week. Please call to find out service schedule for that particular week. Chabad of South Orlando (O), 7504 Universal Blvd., Orlando, 407-354-3660; www.jewishorlando.com; Shabbat services: Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.; services, Monday and Thursday, 8 a.m. Chabad of the Space & Treasure Coasts (O), 1190 Highway A1A, Satellite Beach, 321-777-2770. Congregation Ahavas Yisrael/Chabad (O), 708 Lake Howell Rd., Maitland, 407-644-2500;www.chabadodando.org; services: Sunday, 9 a.m.; Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.; Shabbat services: Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.; Family service, 4th Friday of the month. Congregation Bet Chaim (R), 426 Lakeport Cove, Casselberry, 407-830-7211: www.bet-chaim.org; Shabbat services: Friday, 8 p.m.; 2nd Saturday of the month, 10:30 a.m. at Emeritus in Lake Mary. Congregation Beth Am (C), 3899 Sand Lake Road, Longwood, 407-862-3505; www.congbetham.org; Shabbat services: Friday, 8:00 p.m. (7 p.m. on Fourth Friday of the month); Saturday, 10 a.m:, Congregation Beth El (C), 2185 MeadowlaneAve, West Melbourne, 321-779-07407Shabbat services, 1st & 3rd Friday, 8 p.m.; 2nd & 4th Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. Congregation Beth Emeth (R), 2205 Blue Sapphire Circle, Orlando, 407-855-0772; Shabbat service: monthly, 8 p.m. Congregation Beth Sholom (R-C), 315 North 13th St., Leesburg, 352-326-3692; www.bethsholomflorida.org; schedule of services on website. Congregation Beth Shalom (Progressive Conservative), Orange City congregation holds services at Social Hall of Our Lady of Lakes Church, 1310 Maximillian St., Deltona; 386 -804- 8283; www.mybeth- shalom.corn; Shabbat services: Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. Congregation B'nai Torah (C), 403 N. Nova Rd., Ormond Beach, 32174, 386-672-1174; www.mybnaitorah.com; Shabbat services: Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. Congregation Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Daytona (O), 1079 W. Granada Blvd., 0rm0nd Beach, 386.072.9300; Shabbat service~ Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.rn. Congregation of Reform Judaism (R), 928 Malone Dr., Orlando, 407-645-0444; www.crjorlando.org: Shabbat services, 7 p.m. 1st Friday; 8 p.m., 2nd and 3rd Fridays; 6 p.m., 4th and 5th Fridays; Saturday: 10 a.m. Congregation Mateh Chaim (R), EO. Box 080847. Palm Bay, 32906.321-768-6722. Congregation Ohev Shalom (C), 600 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland, 407-298-4650: www.ohevshalom.org; Shabbat service. Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.; Junior Congregation., 10:00 a.m. Congregation Or Chayim (Rec), Leesburg, 352-326-8745: egrae@ hotmail.com; services last Friday of each month at 3:30 p.m. at vari- ous private residences. Congregation Shalom Aleichem (R), 3501 Oak Pointe Blvd., Kis- simmee,407-935-0064;www.shalomaleichem.com;Shabbatservice, 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month, 8 p.m. Congregation of Shaaxei Yerushalyim IO), 9869 Kilgore Rd., Or- lando. 407-928-8972; services: Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.. Shabbat services: FridayHinha. 7:30 p.m.; Kabbalat Shabbat 8 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. Congregation Sinai (C/R), 303A N, S.R. 27. Minneola: 352-243- 5353; congregationsinai@cfl.rr.corn; services: first, second and fourth Friday monthly at 7:45 p.m. Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregatjon/OhaleiRivka (C), 11200 S. Apopka-Vineland Rd.. Orlando. 407-239-5444: Shabbat service, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Temple Beth El (R). 579 N. Nova Rd., Ormond Beach. 386 - 677-2484. Temple Beth Shalom [R). P.O. Box 031233. Winter Haven. 813-, 324-2882. Temple Beth Shalom ICI. 40 Wellington Drive. Palm Coast. 386- 445-3006: Shabbat service. Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. Temple Beth Sbolom (C), 5995 N. Wickham Rd. Melbourne. 321-254-6333; www.bethsholombrevard.com: Shabbat services: Friday. 5:50 p.m.; Saturday: 9:30 a.m. Minyan. Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, 10:00 a.m. Temple Beth Shalom t RI. 1109 N.E. 8thAve.. Ocala. 352-629-3587: Shabbat services: Friday, 8 p.m.: Torah study: Saturday, 10:00 a.m. Temple B'nai Darom (R), 49 B. anyan Course, Ocala, 352-624-0380: Friday Services 8 p.m. Temple Israel (C), 50 S. Moss Rd., Winter Springs. 407-647-3055: www.tiflorida.org; Shabbat services: Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday. 9:30 a.m. Temple Israel (R), 7350 Lake Andrew Drive. Melbourne. 321- 631-9494. Temple Israel It), 1400 S. Peninsula Ave.. Daytona Beach. 386- 252-3097: Shabbat service. 8 p.m.: Saturday: 9 a.m. Temple Israel of DeLand (R). 1001 E. New York Ave.. DeLand. 386-736-1646: Social Hour. 6 p.m.; Friday Shabbat service, 7 p.m. Temple Shalom (formerly New Jewish Congregation) (R), 13563 Country Road t01, Oxford, 352-748-1800;www.newjewishcongrega- tion.org; Shabbat services: Friday, 7:30 p~m.; last Saturday of the month, 9:30 a.m. Temple Shalom of Oeltona (R/C), 1785 Elkcam Blvd., Deltona, 386-789-2202; Shabbat service; 7:30 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. Temple Shir Shalom of Oviedo (R) Services held in the EPICenter at University Carillon United Methodist Church, 1395 Campus View Court, Oviedo, 407-366-3556, www.templeshirshalom.org; Shabbat services: three Fridays each month, 7:30 p.m. Traditional Congregation of Mount Dora (T) Mount Dora, 352- 735-4774; www.tcomd.org; services: second and fourth Fridays and Saturday of the month. (R) Reform (C) Conservative (O) Orthodox (Rec) Reconstructionist