Tour Guide in Israel – Sabra – The fruit and the man
סברס – הפרי והאדם
Ever heard of a SABRA? When you are here on your guided tours of Israel you will hear this mentioned frequently. So what or who is a SABRA?
The term was used by the Zionist movement, to celebrate the “New Jew” that emerged in Israel. Unlike the bourgeois “old Jew” born in the Jewish diaspora, the “New Jew” was a kibbutz member or a farmer. The “Old Jew” often spoke Yiddish or broken Hebrew with a heavy accent, while the sabra spoke the Hebrew as a mother tongue. Unlike the “Old Jew” who did not fight for his self-defense, the Sabra fought in the Jewish resistance movements.
Our first Sabra Prime Minister was General Yitzchak Rabin. All the previous ones were new immigrants from Europe.Today 70% of all Israeli citizens are Sabres.
The term alludes to a tenacious, thorny desert plant and fruit, known in English as prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica), with a thick skin that conceals a sweet, softer interior. The cactus is compared to Israeli Jews, who are supposedly tough on the outside, but delicate and sweet on the inside.
The sabra cactus was used in the ancient world as a fence for corrals and villages or houses and calling it a barbed wire fence is correct.
The Sabra received an artistic and symbolic representation in the form of the illustrated character “Srulik” (little Israel), created by cartoonist Dosh (Kariel Gardosh).
Another character which became famous was that of the Israeli children’s TV program “Kishkashta” which was a speaking cactus. Anyone under the age of 60 today knows Kishkashta as a child or as a parent.
The Orly Farm, near Dimona grows sabres and makes jams and more.
Today, the Israeli sabra fruit has been genetically engineered and they come with no thorns – something that was an unpleasant experience in the past and made harvesting the fruit hard.
If you live in North America and love hummus, I’m sure that the Sabra Hummus is one of your favorites.
The sabra fruit ripens in the summer and is very tasty. You eat the fleshy part together with the very small pits. I have yet to feel constipated but they recommend no more 3-4 a day. Be sure that the vendor carefully removes all the tiny thorns – if it is not a thorn-free one.
You don’t have to be concerned about the prickly Israelis. It’s a great facade.