A Lake in the Middle of the Desert at Dimona's Ben Gurion Park

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 3:05 PM

“It is touching that there are people living in faraway Holland who care about us. We in Dimona really needed a beautiful park like this. We can meet here and enjoy the beauty of the place to unwind and relax”.

On September 21st, a new man-made lake in Ben Gurion Park in Dimona was dedicated at a festive town event and ceremony, which was attended by the President of Israel and the KKL-JNF World Chairman. The lake, as well as the accessible area of the park, was established with the support of Friends of JNF Holland.

“When we know what we want to achieve, there is no dream that we cannot realize”, said the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin as he admired the lake. “Dimona, one of the key cities in Israel, is becoming a place that people will want to come to, even from Tel Aviv. Sometimes people of vision seem delusional, but the result is here, in front of us. The challenge of the Negev was, and remains, water. Water is not only a necessity of life for drinking and irrigation; the sight of it revives the soul. Thanks to the lake, Dimona has become a wonderful flower in the Negev”.
The lake compound includes a spectacular sound and light fountain, an amphitheater for events, an interactive science garden, and next to it, a garden with giant play sculptures that are accessible to everyone. A tourism complex and restaurants are also planned for the future. On the day that the park opened a joyful happening was held there, with jumping castles and inflatable slides, game booths, arts and crafts, fun activities for children and performances by popular Israeli singers.  The festive event was attended by thousands of Dimona residents.
KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar remarked that the lake in Dimona is one of a series of lakes that KKL-JNF is establishing throughout the Negev. “Anyone who lives in the periphery might sometimes feel that he lives alone. But there is no people like the People of Israel, because no matter where anyone lives, s/he matters to us”, said Atar.
The unique lake is surrounded by greenery and is an enchanting area in the heart of the burning desert. In addition to KKL-JNF and its friends in Holland, Israeli government ministries and Mifal HaPayis, the national lottery of Israel, were also partners in the project. The site is expected to attract many visitors and tourists, contributing to the city’s economy and the overall development of the area. Around the park there are an increasing number of new residential neighborhoods, which are an indication of Dimona’s growth. The transfer of IDF bases from Central Israel to the Negev, as well as the building of the Bahadim mega-base are expected to give additional momentum to the city.
“The lake is a symbol of the great change that Dimona has undergone”, said Benny Bitton, the mayor of Dimona. “We have been privileged to realize the dream and turn it into reality. I want to tell the younger generation that everything that you are experiencing here is meant for you to see Dimona as your future and your children’s future”.
During the ceremony, a blessing from JNF Holland was read to the residents of Dimona: “You have many friends in Holland, who care about you and your welfare. In Holland there is an abundance of water, and we know that water brings about happiness and life. You, the residents of Dimona, make the desert bloom; therefore it is appropriate for us to help you specifically in the area of water”.
“It is touching that there are people living in faraway Holland who care about us”, said 17-year-old Tali Ishakov. We in Dimona really needed a beautiful park like this. We can meet here and enjoy the beauty of the place to unwind and relax”.
Moshe Ohayon, poet and resident of Dimona, was also impressed with the wonderful serenity that prevails at the site and said, emotionally: "nature is a place of reconciliation”.
The rabbi of Dimona, Rabbi Elefant, blessed the residents with a good year for the approaching Rosh Hashanah holiday.
Lior Danino lives next to the park and visits it almost every day, sometimes with friends and sometimes when walking her dog. “Once, there was only sand and a few trees here, and look what a beautiful place we have now!” she said.
Next to the lake there is an accessible playground, which was also established with donations from Friends of JNF Holland. Unique giant play sculptures, inspired by the forms of insects, invite the children to enjoy an enchanting and exciting experience. The wheelchair accessible paths reach all the way up to the sculptures. The wide passageways through the structures are suitable for wheelchairs. The statues were built in such a way as to provide an experience for all of the senses, with a variety of materials that can be felt, strong colors and speakers that transmit sounds.
As well as the paths throughout the site for walkers and wheelchairs, there are support rails for those who have difficulty walking. Rough stones warn the visually impaired of curves in the paths.
Eran Etner, Deputy Director of KKL-JNF's South Region accompanied the establishment and development of the park from its planning stages until the completion of the lake today, as the vision slowly became a spectacular reality in the desert.
Seventy seven-year-old Eli Baruch sat on the bench with two of his retired friends, gazing out at the lake. “I came to Dimona 60 years ago, and I didn’t believe that the day would come that we would have a green park with such a charming lake. I sit here and feel as if I am on the Tel Aviv promenade at the beach. I think that this park adds at least 10 years to my life”, he added with a wide smile.
The opening of the lake is expected to turn the park into a regional attraction, which will draw tourists from the Negev and the entire country, and of course, the residents of the city. “We don’t have enough recreational places in Dimona, but now we have a new, attractive park, where we youths can meet instead of roaming the streets”, said 17-year-old Shai Rotberg.
The stirring evening ended with an exciting display of fireworks and sensational appearances by popular Israeli singers Muki and Eyal Golan.
Five-year-old Daliah Tzoref came to the park with her father, Meir, and her younger sister, Oriah. “This is the first time that I am visiting this park, and I for sure want to come many more times”, said the girl. “This park really improves the city, first of all for us residents but also for visitors from the entire country”, Meir emphasized.