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Netivot-Azata - Philadelphia


by Simon Griver

Simon Griver - in Ora's Backyard

Reuven and Ora Rosenblat will treat you for lunch with an educational experience in Ora's Backyard (photos by Simon Griver)


In recent months, Partnership 2000 delegations from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia visiting the Jewish Agency Netivot-Azata Region (http://www.partner.org.il/netivot) have been enjoying the food served up at a newly opened garden restaurant called BeHatzer Shel Ora (In Ora's Back Yard). Located on Moshav Kfar Maimon, the restaurant offers much more than a unique Yemenite Jewish culinary experience.

"The meal also includes a tour of our garden," explains Reuven Rosenblatt, "in which we have some 100 fruit trees encompassing 60 different species from around the world."

The food served by Ora Rosenblatt betrays her Yemenite origins but as her married name suggests, she married an Ashkenazi.

"In our house we don't think in terms of Ashkenazi and Sephardi," says Ora. "We have six children and 17 grandchildren. Five of our six children are married to people of diverse Jewish origins. We are one people. The Jewish people."

Reuven and Ora Rosenblatt both carry with them the tragedies that befell the Jewish people in the 20th. century. Born in Lodz in Poland in 1935, Reuven survived Bergen-Belsen before reaching Israel in 1949. Remarkably all his immediate family survived the Holocaust despite being split up and sent to different concentration camps. Ora was not so fortunate. Her family set out on foot from the Northern Yemen in 1943 to come to the Land of Israel. The trek took three years before Ora reached Israel and both her parents died en route.



"We met in 1956 during our army service," recalls Reuven. "We married in 1958 and came here a year later to set up Kfar Maimon, a religious settlement in the Northern Negev."

Over the years Reuven has served as deputy mayor of the Azata Region and mayor of the neighboring Gush Katif Council. Ora worked as house mother in a nearby caravan site set up for Ethiopian immigrants after Operation Solomon in 1991 and in recent years the Rosenblatts housed Russian immigrant families in the house that they originally built when they settled on Kfar Maimon.

"The idea of the garden and restaurant came about by chance," adds Reuven. "When I retired we planned all the fruit trees as a hobby that I would cultivate. It would be something we could enjoy with our grandchildren. Then it was suggested that we combine the attraction of the garden with Ora's renowned cooking to create a very special place to host people."

The restaurant, which caters for advanced bookings of groups of eight to 30 people, specializes in family parties and visiting delegations from overseas. Ora's original Yemenite recipes and Reuven's fruit trees have proven particularly popular with Patnership 2000 missions. Indeed the restaurant was set up with advice and assistance from Partnership 2000 within the framework of its efforts to encourage tourism enterprises in peripheral regions. Partnership 2000 is a joint effort of the Jewish Agency for Israel, United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Ora and Reuven also market jams and liqueurs made from the fruit trees. The trees, which include the traditional species from the Land of Israel such as olive, fig, date and pomegranate as well as exotic imports such as the banana and less known carambula and anona also includes Jewish curiosities such as a giant etrog.

HaHatzer Shel Ora
Moshav Kfar Maimon
D.N. Negev 85153
Tel: 972-7-9941285
Fax: 972-7-9932154
Mobile: 972-54-234883

Tevet 5760 - January 2000