Sde Boker – Ben Gurion’s Home

Sde Boker (literally meaning “herding field” in Hebrew) is a kibbutz in the Negev Desert in southern Israel.This is where Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion settled. Ben Gurion had a strong vision in making the desert bloom – by which he meant making this large barren area of Israel a fertile area contributing to the Israeli economy and providing housing for its citizens. Ben Gurion practiced what he preached and he moved here. His house is now a small museum of his life.

History of Sde Boker

The community was founded on May 15, 1952, by a number of pioneering families. Despite the inhospitable conditions in the Negev desert, they were nevertheless resolved and committed to establishing a permanent settlement there.

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David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister

One day Prime Minister Ben Gurion, while on his way to Mitzpe Ramon, saw a group of tents and basic buildings beside the road. He asked his driver who was living there, which he was told that a group of pioneering families relocated from the center of the country to Negev desert to establish a settlement there. The community’s vision of creating life and industry in the hot and inhospitable Negev desert touched and impressed Ben Gurion, who asked his driver to stop off at the kibbutz. When he was told that it wasn’t easy for a Prime Minister to just pull over, he gave his aides two hours to arrange a visit and he was thoroughly fascinated by what he saw.

When he returned to Tel Aviv (which was the capital of Israel at the time), Ben Gurion wrote a letter as a request to join the small and struggling community. This led to some discussion and debate. The community would be very happy to have a Prime Minister who would give immense support to their cause and development, but on the other hand, they were concerned about his age — by then he was an elderly man. In the end, though, Ben Gurion was accepted with a margin of one vote, and he made Sde Boker his home.

Although he returned to politics in the mid-1950s, Ben-Gurion continued to live in Sde Boker until his death in 1973.

Ben-Gurion and his wife Paula are buried nearby, at a spot over-looking Nahal Zin. It is a beautiful spot and they are surrounded by ibex.

red-tiled house
Ben-Gurion’s house in Sde Boker, which later turned into a musuem

Ben-Gurion’s passion and commitment for developing Israel’s desert and membership of the kibbutz have, no doubt, played a significant role in securing investments for its infrastructure and overall development, as well as the creation of various industries there, which continue to thrive and flourish.

Today, Sde Boker has relocated a few hundred feet from the site of the original community and is now part of the Ramat HaNegev Regional Council. Tourism and winemaking are among Sde Boker’s main industries, as well as agriculture.

Sde Boker is also known for its Bedouin-style tents. In 2014, a festival was inaugurated near Sde Boker, called Midburn festival.

There are some beautiful hikes in Ein Avdat NP.

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