ago, Saar and Hadas Badash quit their jobs in the Galilee, and
headed for the wide open space and unforgiving climate of the Negev desert.
Therapists by profession, the couple sought to create an environmental and
organic experience that reflected their own personal philosophy. Twenty months
ago, they unveiled a cultural, educational and culinary center that is wholly
Hadasaar, a combination of the couple's first names, is primarily
a dairy restaurant, serving dishes containing locally-grown ingredients. A small
shop, Hadas' project, stocks organic produce, as well as jewelry and clothes
from local artisans. They hold regular concerts and performances too, making the
desert bloom with spiritual life.
"We wanted to live our dream", Saar tells The
Jerusalem Post. "We are therapists, not business people. And so we tried to find
something ideological that connects to what we believe in. We live and think and
do everything we can to connect to sustainable systems in every way."
is not the ideal location for a new, kitchen project, both freely admit. The
landscape is bare, the human population scarce. "The desert is harder, less
flexible; it demands more. In the quiet, you can hear yourself. Everything here
takes on a new significance."
Mitzpe Ramon certainly seems to be enjoying a
revival. The crater (Machtesh Ramon) that shares the town's name has perennially
had a steady flow of visitors eager to see one of Israel's most famous natural
phenomena – a massive naturally formed valley that cuts across 40km of the
Negev. But a brand new luxurious hotel has opened in recent years, and the
number of visitors has increased. The old industrial area, where Hadasaar is
located, is gradually transforming into a tourist hotspot. "Slowly Mitzpe is
getting itself on the map," maintains Saar.
And Hadasaar, despite its early
struggles, is there to reap the benefits.
"It was a slow process," recalls Saar.
"Hadas opened a small shop, which we had for eight months, and then we started
to think about the future. We started with niche [products] that were new, like
an organic café. We wanted everything we have in the shop to be like how we live
at home, like with the organic cleaning products. There is no place that does
this like we do."
The center strives to be an extension of its surroundings,
rather than an intrusion. They cite the example of their mud oven, which they
built themselves, rather than buy one. "We had a workshop on making mud ovens,"
Saar explains, "with idea that everything we do can be passed forward."
no doubt that it was tough at first, the couple says, but the 5,000- strong
community of their small, far-flung town (Beersheba, the nearest city, is 85
rocky kilometers away) was on hand to help. The first customers were the town
residents, who were quick to support the couple as they sought to make their
"When you decide to live here, you have a shared language - more than
those people who by chance live in Bat Yam, for example. When we opened here we
had not one shekel for marketing or posters. No one knew about us. For the first
three months, the community kept us going. People here invest in each other,"
Saar says. He quotes a friend's homespun wisdom: "Either we hang together, or we
hang side by side."
The couple has long-term ambitions for their 225-meter
center. A guesthouse is a future plan - for now, they direct visitors to the
nearby Rujum boutique winery and farm, which does cater to overnight guests at
its Desert Eco Lodge, another reflection of the community feeling they aim to
And when Hadasaar did begin to take off, success for them meant success
for the community. "Everything is circular in the area," says Saar. "Every step
has meaning. If I grow, then everyone else grows, like the boutique bakery next
door that we buy from. It's hard, but in the desert if you do right by it, then
you can make your dreams come true."
Opening hours: Sunday-Wednesday 8A.M.-8P.M.; Thursday 8A.M.-11P.M. (or last guest); Friday 8 A.M. until start of Shabbat
Address: Har Boker 6, Spice Route Quarter, Mitzpe Ramon
Tel: (972) 8-940 8473