Gush Etzion גוש  עציון

Above is Kafar Etzion

The Gush Etzion settlement block is located as a southern gateway to the Holy city. It is comprised of 20 towns such as Bat Ayin shown in the above photo. It is spread out on the rolling Hills of Yehuda. Photos do not do justice to the actual beauty of this land; one must pass through the hills themselves, to find out that this is G-d’s Country.

  

Most of the settlements in Gush Etzion fall under the authority of the Gush Etzion regional council but larger towns such as Efrat and Betar Illit govern themselves but are considered part of the block. About 25 percent are English speaking Olim and over all there is a mix of diverse people. Gush produces some of Israel’s best educated young people and produces larger then average amount of young people in the Elite forces of the I.D.F. The map below will show that the towns are well connected by good roads and just 20 minutes from Holy Jerusalem. There is an absorption center, which meets the needs of the many English speaking Olim as well as others.

Efrat is seen in Photo below

Beitar Illit is seen in Photo below

The Gush Etzion settlement block is like a family that shares the resources. Kids might live in one town and go to school in the next. But each town is only minutes away making it convenient. Also public bus transportation reaches most places in the Gush Etzion Block.

 

 One Shining light in the Gush block is 

Alon Sh’vut אלון שבות   

    

Alon Sh’vut is literality a miniature paradise. This Holy community of 4,000 is growing and is post card perfect. The streets are immaculate and the children pure as gold. The community is 100 percent religious with about 35 percent English speaking. There is also some Russian speaking and Israeli as well. Here you can find Ashkenazi, Sefaradi, and Yemenite synagogues. 

 

 

 

There is also a regional ulpan for learning Hebrew in Alon Sh’vut as well as a store to buy groceries, a post office, a bank, a library, health clinic and a senior citizens center.

One Jewel of Alon Sh'vut is the Neve Chana Torah high school for young women seen in photos below.

     

Below they are seen at a Purim Simcha

     

The other Jewel of this community is the  Yeshivat Har Etzion for men shown in photos below.

   

      

       

Gush Etzion has a Sports Center, a community center, numerous day cares and kindergartens. Children get free public transportation to after school activities. Another      

wn in the Gush Etzion block is 

Neve Daniel  נןןה דניאל

The population of Neve Daniel is about 1,000 and it stands on a hill about 1,000 meters above sea level with one of the most scenic views in all Israel. On a clear day from its highest spot one can see Tel Aviv and Holy Jerusalem. Some recent Olim here have come from South Africa and North America and they have felt that they have been made part of the family. They have built themselves a fine community. 

Here one can find synagogues from the Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Chabad.  There is a Mikveh and a Shavei Rachel religious high school for girls. Neve Daniel has a grocery store and a bakery. 

   

There are bus services to and from Jerusalem, which is important for those who may go there to work or study and do not want to drive. Summers can be warm but there is a delightful fresh breeze on the high hill. It cools down at night making sleep, sweet. On occasions there is snow in the winter.  

     

about a kilometer or two north of Neve Daniel is the Sde Boaz out post.

 

Sde Bo’az

 

 

She (Ruth) happened to be in the part of the field that belonged to Bo’az from Elimelekh’s clan, when Bo’az arrived from Beit Lechem. He said to the reapers, “Ad-nai be with you”; and they answered him, “Ad-nai bless you” Rut.2:3,4

 

Sde Boaz (field of Boaz) is Special. It is an example to Jews everywhere. 23 Jewish souls working and living together for a common cause. That is “Eretz Yisrael”

Religious and non religious, native born and olim have come together to set a new standard of respect for one another while trying to build a nation. They are committed to be an environmentally friendly community with a focus on agriculture and be an example of people helping one another while living in ecological harmony with the planet.

The Sde Boaz photos below are by  Ezra HaLevi

   

 

Established on June 11, 2002 on the highest location in the Gush Etzion region, they are all ready making a name for themselves. It can be found west of Bet.Lechem, a little north of the settlement of Neve Daniel, which is minutes north of Efrat. The view is breath taking because one can see over vast regions of the country from here.

A visitor named Ze’ev to the region put it this way,

 

“….Sde Boaz is situated on one of the highest points in Israel, and as such, one can see for miles  in every direction. There are likely few better places in Israel from where one can take in so much of the Land of Israel — and I believe that it is for this reason that this area was frequented by our forefathers.  Sde Boaz is surrounded by beautiful hills and valleys full of nature. The air is crisp, cool and fresh. With every breath that one inhales, he is cleansing his body, both in a physical sense, as well as spiritually, as the very air seems to have a mystical quality to it….”

Sde Boaz is located on the ancient route taken by our forefathers, which traveled between Yerushalayim and Hevron. Not only the families of Avraham and Isaac but this area is believe to be the location where Ruth gleaned in the Fields of Boaz. Also King David when he was a young Shepherd of sheep most likely roamed his flock on these hills.

The founder of the outpost is named Hananel who started out living in a shipping container with friends standing guard. When 10 trailers homes were moved in they quickly filled in with people. The community has been built with Jewish only labor.

What kinds of people live here anyway? Are they fanatical people roaming the hills harassing Arabs? Well, lets have a look. There are many professionals and among them you will find a veterinarian, a dentist, a doctor of physics, a medical student, a security guard, a mechanic, teachers, journalists, Hi Tech workers and an organic farmer. However they explain most are active in agriculture projects. In the wheat fields, growing chic peas, chard, peas, beets, olives, cauliflower, tomatoes, watermelons, lettuce, vineyards, mulberries and fruit orchards. 

Although Arab attacks on their orchards and fields is not uncommon, they continue to persevere for G-d's land.

Each year just prior to the Festival of Shavuot many come to harvest the local wheat by hand as it was done in the days of Ruth. It is threshed by hand and bread is made for the festival. It is a type of first fruits of the local wheat harvest.

They would love to have you visit them. Call when you are in the area.

 

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Bat Ayin בת עין

The view from Bat Ayin Speaks for itself. The view is magnificent. Standing on this Hill top one can understand the tranquility but does one know that those up here are filled will a well spring of Jewish Torah Knowledge. Up here in this community of about 1,000, “G-d is King.” The town is located just west of Elon Sh'vut. Besides learning, many are involved in Organic agriculture.

        

             

Two things make this place special and that is the two Great institutions of religious studies. First there is the Midreshet B'erot Bat Ayin. This is a women's seminary situated in a unique environment. To put it this way, it is every women's dream learning environment. 

      

In their mission statement they say, “…it is for Jewish women of all ages and backgrounds seeking Jewish education and spiritual growth. Our mission is to educate women to integrate Torah learning and values in order to continuously work on perfecting their character while enjoying their role as women in the Torah world…. its emphasis on wholesome living and natural eating is especially conducive to developing a warm, supportive community of women who grow close together by sharing and nurturing one another” 

These daughters of Avraham have chosen the worlds best settings to better themselves and no doubt that each daughter has an eye on Israel. The programs here are continuous and they say that there is a place for adult English speaking women. In a way they are preparing Cohanot for the Avodah of life. All women are welcome from college grads to housewives, the religious and those seeking a deeper Jewish life. Recently one of their students named Yocheved got married right here in Holy Bat Ayin. What does your future hold here?

Then there is the Bat Ayin Yeshiva. Here students will learn Torah and Talmud, from the basics to advanced. And that’s not all. The school states the following, 

We wish to empower our students to integrate Jewish spirituality and Torah values with the modern world. We seek to educate and train people who can become role models, teachers and leaders in the Jewish world and beyond. We believe that the creation of an open, expansive, yet spiritually intense and learned Torah community can provide a refreshing alternative for those seeking a spiritual path in the Jewish world.”

 

One man named Pesach who moved here from Florida wrote,Yeshivat Bat Ayin is the opportunity for one to connect with G-d via all modes of the everyday experience.” Shaul from Seattle, Washington wrote, “In addition to the learning, singing and praying, Bat Ayin provides an amazing opportunity to engage the Land of Israel, picking olives, making wine and growing our vegetables. It is a special place to bring Torah to life,…” And Eliyahu who came here from San Francisco wrote, “I met Rivka, my bride-to-be, at a Shabbat dinner at the home of a Kollel family at the yeshiva. Now I have joined the Bat Ayin Kollel community with my wife and our newborn son.”

   

  

Students are taught in Hebrew and also there is teaching in English. The children of the Community are well educated in the things of G-d. It has been said that Bat Ayin is a community of volunteers. They look out for each other. There is a community volunteer rescue team. If an emergency develops near by they instantly mobilized to help. Look for future leaders of Israel to arise from this place.  

Have one last look at this delightful place.

 

Elazar אלעזר  

Elazar is a community of less then a thousand people but is expanding. Conveniently located in the center of Gush Etzion it is close to all the Gush amenities. It is another Gush block community with many English-speaking people and Israelis.

         

            

This is a diverse religious community with Jews coming from many ethic backgrounds but still are close to one another. There are 3 synagogues and has regular bus service. It is a place of Shalom.  

 

For people interested in buying in Judea and Samaria as a place to settle or as a Mitzvah to provide a home to rent to the many that would like to move here, visit the Amana settlement organization. They are in the business of building and settling people in this Holy Land. To visit them Click>> Amana

 

Tekoa תקוע

“The words of Amos (the prophet) who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uziyah King of Y’hudah….”Amos 1:1

           

  

Tekoa is unique and intriguing among the towns of the Gush Etzion Block. It is located on the east side of the Gush block. It is about 65 percent religious and 35 percent secular but everyone is like a family. Here you will find Israelis, Americans, some from Russia, France, Britain, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, India, Burma, Mexico and who knows what else. To put it in their own words, “We are old and young, farmers, urban professionals, artists, craftspeople, doctors, lawyers and nurses. And we will be more once you join. English, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Russian, Yiddish.”

     

In Tekoa they love their country life. About 1,250 people live here and it is growing. They have schools, a grocery store, a post office, a winery, a library, a theatre, a mushroom farm, an organic farm and 5 synagogues. Here is also a goat and dairy farm and if you like hiking the hills this is your place.

  

 They call it a paradise for raising a family. Yes here you can take your kids on a pony ride at Tekoa stables. They will love it. Or take riding lessons for Kids and Adults. Some adults come here to retire. In Eastern Gush Etzion there are two ultra Orthodox schools that also serve the towns of Ma’ale Amos, Metzad and Nokdim. In Tekoa you can find an integrated school with secular and religious. Come and see the land G-d has blessed.

 

From Tekoa they have a great view of Herodian.

  

 

In Tekoa they are looking for good people with a good Heart.

Kfar Etzion כפר עציון

 

Kfar Etzion is a religious Kibbutz located 20 Kilometres south of Jerusalem, just west of highway 60. There are less then 500 people here. The Kibbutz was re-established in 1967. In January 1948 the women, children and elderly were sent to Jerusalem because of the Arab threat. On may 13th 1948 that threat was greatly realized when at least 80 of them men were massacred by the Arabs who held on to the land until it was liberated in 1967.

  

In a plantation scroll written in 1944 by the founders of the Kibbutz it is written,

"Two thousand years ago these slopes reverberated with the sounds of a multitude of trees and life that teemed all about. Today they stand bleak and desolate. We have taken this oath upon settling in Kfar Etzion: We shall not rest nor know no peace until we cast off the shame of barrenness from these highlands, until we shall cover them with fruit and forest trees which together shall give forth a song of rebirth which the Prophet Ezekiel foresaw: "But you, mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people, Israel."

         

    

Today they are making progress in fulfilling the vision of those who sacrificed their lives to settle the Land. There is a beautiful guesthouse for those coming to check out the Kibbutz or help. A Yeffe Hod Hatchery is located on the kibbutz. The hatchery is a very successful turkey farm.  

    

The Shir HaShirim Nature Preserve located near by is a delight for those who love nature. See plant life, animal life, do hiking and visit the children’s farm where kids can pet animals.

      

Migdal Oz

Another excellent community located south of Efrat is Migdal Oz

 

Migdal Oz is a Kibbutz

 

But the Jewel found within its gates is the Herzel College for Women. See the photos below.

 

Below are a few more photos of communities in Gush Etzion

Nokdim

Metzad

Ma'ale Rechavam outpost

Pnei Kedem outpost

 

   The words of Miriam, a resident of Efrat,  “For just a few minutes, I will listen to singing birds and music, look out at the hills surrounding Efrat. It is the birds and the hills and knowing that this beautiful place is our home that gives me strength to cope in such terrible times.”     It seems that the sun is rising on Gush Etzion.

So When Are You Coming Home?!

“Those who trust in HaShem are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so HaShem surrounds His people, from this time forth and forever.” Tehillim. 125:1-2  

 

  הודו ל'' כי טוב כי לעולם חסדו

 

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