City Organizer: Batya Roded
Text by: Batya Roded
Photographs by: Batya Roded, Irit Eshet-mor, and Tova Mark
The Northern Park is located at the end of the built-up part of the city and for many years stood without vegetation. Today, its trees provide shade, it has a fruit orchard yielding fruits in the spirit of urban agriculture prevalent today in many cities, and it has a wide lawn, sun shelters, benches, and a high metal statue overlooking the desert.
The story of the statue is interesting. The artist, Sasson Sofer (1925-2009), was born in Baghdad and lived in the United States, where he became a famous sculptor and painter. He was the uncle of Avraham Sofer, one of the founders of Arad, and was persuaded by his family to donate a statue to the city. The sculptor sent the parts of the sculpture from New York, but they had a lengthy delay, first in the customs offices and later in the yard of the Arad municipality. The sculpture was finally assembled and built in the park in 2002. The sculptor wanted the statue to float in front of the desert, while the municipality wanted it fixed on the ground to meet safety standards. As a result, instead of a sculpture floating in front of the desert, we were greeted by a fixed sculpture surrounded by garden benches and shade umbrellas. Thus, his work of art became part of the furniture of the park. The sculptor was angry and hurt, and he never returned to Israel.
Arad extends over a plateau and sits on top of a system of streams. Between each neighborhood there is a stream. About a decade ago, it was decided to preserve the streams and the basin as nature reserves in the middle of the city. We descended from the park to Nahal Hesed, one of the beautiful streams that descends from Arad to the Dead Sea. It forms part of a large project that will connect the Northern Park with the stream. The Mayor spoke and described how the large, attractive Park will become part of the new neighborhood that is being planned, which will be built according to the principles of planning the “Good City”.
We wandered to the river’s outlook point where we met two school boys who told us how their school cleans and maintains the stream. These activities have helped them feel connected to the stream. It’s a way many of the school children spend their leisure time.