During the first decades of the State of Israel, Jews from all over the world made aliyah to Israel. Hoping to live their eternal dream of settling in their homeland, they expected to move to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the other metro areas in Israel’s center. But, in order to maintain secure borders, Israel needed to settle the periphery, areas in the far north and throughout the Negev Desert. So, these new immigrants, who loaded onto buses upon arrival, were driven to these towns. They often arrived in the dark of the night, slept with glee on their first night in their new home, only to wake up, look around, and realize they were in the middle of nowhere.
The Israeli film סוף העולם שמולה, “Turn Left at the End of the World” depicts this very well, as the new immigrant families from India are dropped off in Yerucham and have to deal with their new situation and their Moroccan neighbors.
Yerucham is a real city, and still serves the role of a development town, maintaining a population presence in the remote areas of Israel and providing housing to new immigrants. But Yerucham has also reinvented itself. After a financial meltdown in the early 2000’s it has become a model of economic and social progress. Not without its challenges, the city has focused on creating unity and cooperation between its various ethnic groups (there are 27 synagogues in this town of 9400) and on developing among its young adult population a desire to stay in and/or return to Yerucham after their military service and education to pick up where today’s leaders will leave off and do the next generation’s work of maintaining and thriving the city.
It is an inspiring story of vision, cooperation, and the Zionist mentality of getting one’s hands dirty with the business of building a home.