A Shabbat in the hills of Judea or Samaria ("Yehuda v'Shomron" in Hebrew) is the best way to experience the Jewish spirituality of the land of Israel, outside of the four holy cities. We have provided here a list of contacts for the Jewish spiritual seeker to search for his or her roots in this most beautiful area, the Jewish heartland. Whatever your politics, you owe it to yourself to experience first-hand what goes on in a Jewish settlement, which are located in the "backyards" of Israel's major cities. Israel is small; there is virtually no place in Yehuda (Judea) and Shomron (Samaria) from where the lights of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, or Haifa are not visible at night. But much clearer than those lights will shine the stars of the heavens above. Before you decide to whom this land belongs, come and see the Jewish children playing in Hebron and the place where the Jews entered the land of Israel from the east near Shechem (Nablus) nearly 3500 years ago. Talk with the people who have made their lives in these places. But, hold on to your heart, because it's not called the "Jewish heartland" for no reason - the Land does not let you go easily.
Shomron (Samaria) - the northernmost Jewish settlement in Shomron is
located near what is sometimes referred to as the fifth holy city of
Israel - Shechem (Nablus). Shechem is presently an Arab town, but it
contains an important Jewish site: the tomb of Joseph the Tzadik. In the same manner that the cave of Machpela in Hebron was bought by Abraham, the site of the tomb of Yoseph was
bought by our forefather Jacob, and belongs to the Jewish people.
The important Jewish settlement overlooking Shechem is called Elon Moreh, and from there one can see the point where the Jews entered the land of Canaan forty years after the exodus from Egypt. The two Biblical mountains of Grizim and Eval are also there, as well as other breathtaking lookout points. It's worthwhile to see all of this and also to arrange a visit to Joseph's tomb, which unfortunately can only be done these days with an army escort. For Shabbat hospitality on Elon Moreh, call the Richter family, at (02) 997-3078.
Yehuda (Judea) - Aside from the city of Hebron itself, it's a good idea to spend a Shabbat in or at least visit one of the settlements of the Etzion block, in the Judean hills south of Jerusalem. A good choice is the settlement of Bat Eyn, which was established in the nineteen-eighty's and now consists of over one hundred families. Here, one finds an idealistic group of Jews who have built their homes on the land in their own inimical way, eschewing the fences and borders which are common to most settlements. The result is an organic style. The people themselves also tend to the natural and organic, with a decidedly Chassidic bent, whether of the Chabad, Breslav, Carlebach, or Rav Kook varieties. An additional plus is the relatively new Chassidic yeshiva, going by the name of the settlement, ("Bat Eyn"), founded and run by Rabbi Noson Greenberg. Many of the more spiritually included have found themselves at home in this yeshiva, whether in the men's branch, or the women's branch. For more information and Shabbat hospitality, call Rabbi Greenberg at (02) 993-2829, or the yeshiva students at (02) 993-3223, or Mrs. Siegelbaum at (02) 993-2642.
Golan Heights - it could be argued that no part of Israel is as strategically important as the Golan Heights, a beautiful stretch of mountains overlooking the northeastern corner of Israel on the one side and plain of Damascus on the other side. Although not technically part of the land of Israel, it was conquered by Kind David and has a long Jewish history, with many important Jewish sites located there. Today, it is dotted by Jewish cities and settlements, and serves as a secure deterrent to enemies from the north. For a lovely Shabbat, call the Bar-Horin family in Nov, at (04) 676-3579, or the Peli's in Keshet at (04) 696-0509, or the Epstein family in Keshet at (04) 696-0537, or the Yarem family, also in Keshet, at (04) 696-0579.