Darom adom: Rolling out the red carpet

Where to go and what to see in the annual southern festival

Fields of anemones (photo credit: MATHKNIGHT AND ZACHI EVENOR/CC BY 3.0 VIA WIKIPEDIA)
Fields of anemones
February is finally here and with it has come the blossoming of anemones, which of course means that the 12th annual Darom Adom Festival – which takes its name after the red (adom) color of the protected flowers – is in full swing.
This year, the festival is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Negev’s first water pipeline. The traditional JNF-KKL march in Bitronot Ruhama in memory of singer Shoshana Damari will take place, along with the agricultural fair, bike race and beloved anemone run. On Thursday evenings during the festival there will be live musical performances, including appearances by Shlomi Shaban, Shlomo Gronich, Ehud Banai, Evyatar Banai, Rami Kleinstein, Keren Peles, Yizhar Ashdot and Amir Dadon.
Here are a few of the festival’s highlights.
Duvshanit, Kibbutz Re’im
I love starting my morning with a fresh, sweet pastry and there’s no better place to find one than at Duvshanit, the boutique bakery located in Kibbutz Re’im. Seven years ago, bakery owner Keren Borovski- Oren turned her love of baking from a hobby into a full-fledged business.
With lots of ambition and self-assurance, Borovski- Oren began her career as the pastry chef at the local restaurant where she began experimenting and discovering where her talent lay. Then, four years ago, she enrolled in a confectionery course, after which she opened her own business and is excited to finally be fulfilling her lifelong dream.
Every Friday, Borovski-Oren sets out tables and opens her small, cozy café. The Friday brunch menu includes breads, such as focaccia, French flute and Jerusalem beigeleh, salads and desserts.
Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
(08) 994-0534
Gutik, Kibbutz Re’im
Just around the corner from Duvshanit you’ll find Gutik, a lovely art gallery run by artist Michal Merom. An experienced potter and sculptor, Merom focuses on recycled materials such as iron and wood, which she picks up during her walks around the kibbutz. In her gallery, she displays a collection of beautiful things she loves, as well as works of art and jewelry made by her colleagues that are available for purchase.
During the Darom Adom festival, Merom will be holding Shishi Nashi (women’s Fridays) on February 17 and 24, which will include a natural massage station, short lectures, ceramic workshops and psychodrama workshops. There will be plenty of vegan food and drinks for sale, as well as multiple tables showing off artwork. And don’t worry – men are welcome to come participate, too.
February 17 and 24, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Gallery is open all week long 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Details: 077-729-5786.
Nahal Habesor Scenic Route
After a nice breakfast and a stroll through the art gallery, you’re probably ready to venture out into nature for a scenic walk. The trails in the Nahal Habesor area are the perfect place. When you come out of Kibbutz Re’im, turn left onto Road 232, and then immediately after the Re’im intersection turn onto the north part of the Nahal Habesor scenic route. This road has recently been paved and is now open to motor vehicles. The new JNF-KKL trail is 15 kilometers long and is one of the most amazing paths snaking through pristine natural surroundings.
You can stop along the way at the vantage point overlooking the Nirim reservoir, from which you’ll have an incredible view over the gorge and loess cliffs. Farther along, you’ll come upon the Shai scenic overview, another great place to look out over the river and surroundings, which also has a map that describes the landscape.
Once you’re back on the trail, you’ll see a red trail marker that turns left. This trail leads to the dam and shallow pools, which is a fantastic place to stop and have a picnic. But if you’re not hungry yet when you reach the pools, don’t worry, because there’s another great JNF-KKL picnic area farther on with picnic tables and lots of eucalyptus trees.
If you prefer going on a guided tour, licensed tourguide Doron (Jack) Peleg will be leading groups to Nahal Habesor every Friday during the festival. Participants will drive in their own car.
NIS 160 per family. Preregistration required.
Hanagariya Restaurant
If you find yourselves with an appetite after hiking, about 20 minutes from here in Moshav Dekel, you’ll find Hanagariya, a nice restaurant run by Keren and Hagai Gilboa. The restaurant is located in a wooden house with a huge balcony built by Hagai, a carpenter by trade. They’ve outfitted the place with lots of comfy chairs so guests can spread out and relax. The Gilboas, kibbutzniks from northern Israel, moved to the Negev 18 years ago after spending a decade in Tel Aviv. Last year, they decided to transform Hagai’s carpentry studio into a restaurant and so far they’ve been enjoying this exciting change.
The restaurant is open from Tuesday through Saturday.
26 Ela Street, Moshav Dekel.
Isis microbrewery
Not far from Hanagariya, you’ll find the Isis microbrewery (which existed before Islamic State – ISIS – came into being). Owner Itzik Levy has been making beer for 11 years now. Although he started the business thinking it would just be something small to bring him in a little extra cash, nowadays, Levy produces over 3000 liters a month, most of which he sells to bars throughout the country that are happy to sell his boutique beer on tap.
On any given Friday, Isis microbrewery will be packed with guests enjoying beer, snacks and live music. On other days, Levy is happy to receive groups (pre-registration required). Isis produces five different types of beer all year long, plus a few extra seasonals. The name is derived from the ancient Egyptian goddess of health, marriage and wisdom.
NIS 15 to NIS 20 per bottle.
Details: 054-642-8598.
Netiv Lashalom
Another spot that you shouldn’t miss while you’re in the northern Negev is Netiv Lashalom in Moshav Netiv Ha’asara. It’s a mosaic wall on the border between Israel and Gaza, which is located just a few meters from the first houses of the moshav. The mosaic was created to add color and hope to a place where residents live in constant fear of being hit by rockets.
The project, which was initiated by Tzameret Zamir, is a work in progress and Zamir is always inviting people to donate their time and energy. Visitors can join a tour of the visitor center, which is located next door to Zamir’s home, in which they’ll hear the story of how Netiv Ha’asara residents have been living under the threat of rocket fire for 16 years now, and are very connected to the land. Zamir also talks about her desire to transform the huge, ugly wall into something beautiful and colorful so that residents will feel happy and hopeful.
Visitors can purchase a mosaic set for NIS 50 from which they can create a symbol of hope and peace that can then be attached to the wall along with all the other tiles. During the Darom Adom Festival, visitors can participate in workshops from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.