Lovely weather and lively spirits graced the “It’s All About Health” festival in Dimona, Israel recently. Visitors came from throughout Israel to explore the lifestyle and culture of the African Hebrew Israelite Community’s urban kibbutz – Shomrey HaShalom – and to partake in the many fun-filled and enlightening activities.
The festival, held on December 12, was a successful pilot project sponsored by the Negev Development Authority with assistance from Dimona’s office of tourism, designed to showcase to Israeli and foreign visitors alike, that the Village of Peace is indeed a tourist attraction with plenty to offer.
Visitors enjoyed a friendly and festive atmosphere wherein the healthy lifestyle of the community was on full display. The community’s vegan cuisine was featured through various food preparation workshops. A full array of delicious vegan foods was also sold. The organic honey and honeycombs produced at the community’s own organic farm, garnered plenty of interest and purchases.
Another fun feature was a flawless and energetic dance presentation by the New Beginnings dance troupe, comprised of women in the community, several of whom were in their 60’s and 70’s! This was a reflection of the community members’ commitment to the life-giving concept of “Holy Concern” – making sure to exercise at least three times per week. An interactive dance workshop afforded the chance for all of the guests to join in the fun. Entire families danced together, young and old alike, and it was a high energy event. Fashions that were beautiful and colorful, but modest and comfortable were on display in a fashion show featuring the youth of the community, who brought the designs to life. The adherence to the biblical laws to wear pure fabrics of linen, cotton and wool, make the community member’s closets as important to their health as much as their dietary guidelines.
Other activities included a drummers’ circle, a peek at the scholarly photographic and research exhibition “African Presence in the Promised Land,” and displays of handcrafted jewelry and arts and crafts.
Throughout the afternoon, electrifying and soothing music from a variety of the community’s various performing artists graced the atmosphere. Live performances from three renowned Hebrew Israelite artists – Shavakiyah, Kiyah and Nadeev – were met with the crowd’s delight.
A true mix of people and families came out to enjoy the festival, from Yehud, Ashdod, Sde Boker, Beer Sheva, Dimona and many other Negev communities, even as far as Safat. The mayor of Dimona, Benny Biton, was also in attendance. He mingled with the crowds enjoying the activities and displays, joined in for a cultural dance and took to the podium with kinds words about the community and their positive impact in the city of Dimona.
The festival proved to be worthwhile and enjoyable for all those who travelled to Dimona. Closing sentiments were expressed in the question, “When will you do this again?!” Tourists and Israeli citizens alike can look forward to future festivals, guided tours and other events, to enjoy southern Judean hospitality and learn the essentials of the healthy, vibrant lifestyle of the members of the Village of Peace,… where it’s truly “All About Health”!