The Merchav Am community resides on a hill between Sde Boker and Yeruham, facing Halukim Ridge, in magical desert scenery. This is an orthodox community named after the late Rehavam Zeevi (Gandhi), a renowned military leader, Knesset member and Israeli cabinet member.
In 2001, Rechav’am Gandhi was assassinated by terrorists in Jerusalem. On the day of his funeral, as a token of esteem for his actions on behalf of the Israeli people, the road to the community was opened for the first time and the first four families settled on the land. At first, like true pioneers, with no electricity and only part-time running water, the founders had to overcome many challenges. However, in due time other families joined them and boosted their efforts to renew settlement in the Negev and pursue Zionist action in order to fulfill and realize their pioneering spirit on the Negev soil.
Merchav Am is the very first orthodox community established in Ramat Hanegev Regional Council. Acknowledging the importance of the momentous event and the heritage its founders wished to instill, the newcomers held a moving ceremony, attended by the Israeli prime minister and many guests. At that event, members of the new community celebrated the welcoming of the first Torah scroll in the temporary synagogue they had built.
Merchav Am serves as a model of a developing settlement rich in a vibrant community life. It is currently home to 42 families and has a local synagogue, mikveh, kindergarten, day care for infants, a members’ club and other facilities. The village also holds Torah lessons for men and women, cultural activities on festivals and other special events, lectures on matters of common interest, Sabbath meals together and more. The children enjoy high-quality orthodox education, including pre-school day care, a kindergarten up to school age. An orthodox elementary school, a high school Yeshiva for boys and a separate “Ulpana” for girls are only some of the educational options offered. Informal education for children and young adults is also afforded proper attention in addition to activities in the local branch of the B’nai Akiva youth movement.
The sources of employment for local residents include education, regional industries, private ventures and a khan (inn) offering lodging accommodations.
The first permanent neighborhood is undergoing construction and inhabitation. Merchav Am is located between Sde Boker and Yeruham, approximately 35 minutes’ drive from Beer Sheba.