A Greenhouse for Civil Entrepreneurship
in Mitzpe Ramon & the Negev Highlands
About the region and Keshet
Mitzpe Ramon is the capital of the Negev Highlands and the most isolated town in Israel
The town of Mitzpe Ramon is situated on the edge of the Ramon Crater. It is surrounded by the country’s largest nature reserves. Its impressive scenery, which we like to name “After Genesis,” reminds us of the world’s creation.
We are a small, proudly heterogeneous community. Currently, Mitzpe Ramon’s population numbers about 5,500 permanent residents. In a nutshell, we’re pretty much a microcosm of Israeli society. Our community consists of native-born, Jewish Israelis (Sabras); new immigrants from various countries and decades; people with religious leanings from secular/traditional to orthodox. Among them, you will also find a Masorti/Conservative Havura. In addition to its large Jewish population, Mitzpe Ramon also features a sizeable number of Bedouin and members of the Black Hebrew community.
Within this multiple cultural and ethnic diversity, we share what brings us together in our daily lives. Apart from our beautiful natural environment, we all access communal services in our everyday life, such as a single road and bus route to Be’er Sheva, as well as a supermarket, bank, and post office. Since there are no defined separate neighborhoods, we all live close one to another, in the same space.
The desert’s expanses inspire a wide variety of people who live, work, and create here. Mitzpe Ramon’s geographic isolation and location in what is called the social and physical “periphery” of Israel, require us to draw upon our inner strengths. The challenges in our unique “back yard” create a sense of community, enhancing the significance and importance of education, culture, and the protection of the environment.
A group of residents in 1999 founded Keshet as a non-governmental organization (NGO). Keshet serves as a supportive framework for initiatives and projects designed to respond and provide solutions to multiple communal, cultural, and environmental challenges. As such, Keshet contributes to the empowerment of a united – though by no means uniform – community, as well as developing the Negev Highlands into a prosperous and sustainable area.
In the years since its establishment, Keshet has demonstrated how a group of determined residents willing to devote their own time and energy can convey the message of sustainability in the public discourse on development, and show how we can live in harmony in and with our desert environment.
The involvement of Keshet members in various projects in this area is significant, and we seek out partnerships with others who are interested in the same issues.
As Keshet successfully has prompted both social and environmental changes, its positive image and reputation grew. Consequently, Keshet has received both recognition and support from a wide range of governmental and social offices, and its activities serve as an example of local civic leadership.
Aims and Goals
Keshet seeks to serve as a supportive framework for local initiatives and projects in Mitzpe Ramon and the Negev Highlands in the following areas:
- Community and education – empowering the local communities.
- Culture – the arts, music, poetry, dance and sports.
- Environment – Maintaining natural resources and promoting sustainable development.
Efrat Kedem Silbert
Environmental and social activist – “Man and the Desert;” Educational entrepreneur environmental youth education.
Efrat is a desert tour guide and owner of the “Nature” desert tourism and guiding center. She regularly organizes and produces field trips, both for scientists and the public at large.
“The protection of the environment and the strengthening of the social structure of the Negev Highlands and Mitzpe Ramon communities are vital to me.”
Daria initiated Keshet’s lecture series and travelogues.
“Since joining Keshet more than 20 years ago, it has been a major part of my life. I enjoy contributing my part to Keshet’s multi-faceted activities and initiatives.
The preservation and advancement of the unique nature surrounding us here, its aesthetics and beauty motivate me to keep going.”
Social and Political activist for periphery promotion
One of the founders of the periphery movement in Israel and the Equality March.
Dina is an activist, fighting for social and Distributive justice and differential budgeting in the major government offices.
“I believe that in a strong and wealthy Israel, no kid should grow up poor.”
CEO & Bedouin Culture Preservation Program Leader
Leads and coordinates planning and environment department, as well as the field of Bedouin communities of the Negev Mountain in Keshet association.
Ezry is a project manager in the field of visitor centers and museums and is a partner in a website building studio. Landscape photographer, filmmaker, musician and lover of the desert.
“My leading principle is that there is no limit to the extent of which the land must be protected from the state.”
Resource Development Manager
In 2019, Yaakov joined the team of the Keshet NGO to strengthen its resource development system.
Yaakov has gained international recognition over the three decades, as a strategic consultant, media person, speaker, editor and project manager in the international diamond industry.
“the activity in the association is an important mission leading to the improvement of the quality of life of all the residents of Mitzpe Ramon and the area.”
Bedouin Heritage Tourism Enterprise Manager
Manages the travel stories lecture series in the NGO and the “Land of the tents” project of the Bedouin community tourism development.
Dan is a tour guide in South America and in Israel, has a degree in linguistics, loves languages, trips and the desert. He loves people and is happy to contribute to the formation of the Mitzpe Ramon community.
“Simplicity is the key to happiness.”
Music Ventures Artistic Manager
Director of cultural and musical projects
Founder and artistic director of the Negev Chamber concert series and “Crater Playing” events in Ramon Crater.
Yael is an extraordinary violinist who regularly appears in chamber concerts in Israel and Europe, and is a member of the 21st Century Ensemble.
Yael’s direct connection to Mitzpe Ramon and the desert created some of the finest cultural events in the area.
LGBTQ Community Project Manager
Manages the projects of the LGBTQ+ community
Raz is engaged in environmental-community projects alongside artistic creation, research, teaching and treatment based on body-mind. Graduated with degrees in linguistics, art, education and therapy.
“There is no limit to freedom”
A partner in the resource development team and helps in managing various projects in the association
In recent years she has been involved in music, cinema and social-political activism
– full equality of rights for all –
Control & Review Personnel
- Mrs. Roxana Dann, Authorized Signatory
- Mr. Aharon Kehat – Chairman of Audit Committee
- Mrs. Rachel Gilad Volner – Audit Committee Member.
Keshet faithfully complies with all legal requirements in Israeli law for the administration of a not-for-profit association. Therefore, donations to Keshet are tax-exempt under section 46A of the Israeli Tax Code and classified under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Code.
It retains a Confirmation of Proper Administration Certificate from the Companies & Associations Regulator, Ministry of Justice.
Its approved annual reports and returns for the last ten years are available (in Hebrew) on the website of GuideStar Israel.