400+400 new homes approved

This morning, after a long period of a building freeze, the Defense Minister announced approvals for many new homes in the Shomron, including an additional 400 homes to the 400 that had been approved last year. The location of homes will be south of Ron Nachman road between the amphitheatre and Sheshet Yamim.

Below, Mayor Eliyahu Shviro makes the local announcement at the actual location.


A news flash about the approvals on Channel 20:


List of nice Kosher Restaurants in Ariel and Shomron

This page is a list of non-fast food places which will have waiters and usually food prepared fresh on demand. Recent years has shown an increase in people looking for a nice place to eat around the area of Ariel and some restaurants have popped up in addition to the more established ones that were pioneers. (Updated Jun 4, 2018)

Cafe Cafe Ariel – Mehadrin dairy, Sun – Thu 8-23:30, Fri 8-14, post-Shabbat (contact to verify it is open) reopened June 2018 as the Shipudia – meat ->

Shipudia – meat, (in the ‘country club’, Matzada 2), Sun -Thurs 11-23:30, Summer hours: Fri 10:30-16, Sat 21-midnight.

Charolais – meat, Sun – Thu 10:30-23, Fri 8-14

Munchies – meat, Sun-Thu – 10 – 00:30, Fri 10-16, Sat 20:30-00:30 (before and after Shabbat times will change during ‘winter time’)

Greg’s Ariel – Mehadrin dairy, Sun – Thu 8-22, Fri 8-14, and post-Shabbat – 23


Outside the city (best to confirm they are open before travelling):

10 minute drive: Cafe Emma – dairy (Barkan), Fri 9-13, 03-906-0658

15 minute drive: Asader leSeudata – Mehadrin ‘Gourmet’ Meat (Givat Harel/Eli) – Wed&Thurs 12-23 – (all other days open for events/groups) – Contact Guy 052-373-8234

20 minute drive: Merlot – Mehadrin dairy (Shilo) – Sun-Thu 8-23, Fri 8-13, Sat post-Shabbat – 23:00, Contact 02-6284601

20 minute drive: HaTzrif shel Tamari – dairy (Havat Yair/Yakir) , Contact 052-4653942

30 minutes drive: Bracha al HaHar – Mehadrin meat/parve (Har Bracha Winery), Sun-Thu 9-18, Fri 9-13, Contact 052-8070798

50 minute drive: Yekev Kabir – Mehadrin dairy (Elon Moreh) – Thu 19-23, Fri 9-13:30, Sat one hr after Shabbat until last customer – (all other days open for events/groups) Contact Itamar 052-796-6638


Please feel free to write positive reviews in the comments and let us know of a location to add.


Work and pray in Israel high-tech

dina 1 (3)When I started working at my current IT company in 2000, we (the religious employees) would have an makeshift mincha prayer in the lobby of the company gym each day at 1:30pm, and we’d get a minyan of about 15-30 men. It wasn’t the idea place to pray, but it wasn’t possible to get a permanent time reservation for a conference room, and none were big enough in any case. We used a shoebox to hold the small paperback prayer books, a tzdedaka box and some kipas for the occasional non-religious guys. Someone later donated about twenty Sephardi mincha/maariv siddurs, which we had to put away after each session. The nusach style of prayer depends entirely on the hazan and tolerance is high enough to accept any flavour such as Edot Mizrach, Chabad, Sefarad and Ashkenaz as well even though that is a minority.dina 2

After a few years, we decided to try our luck with HR (human resources) and ask for the company to set aside a room or two for a dedicated synagogue. While we were officially ignored, off the record we were told that if we were given a synagogue, then other people might demand their own place of worship. We had to accept that answer, but nonetheless, all this time, we did appreciate the access to the area during off-hours the gym.

On fast days, we could not bring a sefer Torah, so we had to close down and recommend people go into the nearby cities for alternatives.dina 3 (2)

As we gradually grew in size, we moved into the actual training room with the gym equipment but later, the gym was closed and turned into more office space, and we had to move to a basement hallway in another building . Our new location was able to fit more people, and a combination of growing number of religious guys as well as a wish to offer an additional minyan, gave us the encouragement to open a new ‘second-chance’ mincha at 4pm. Someone donated a shelf and we were able to give a more proper display for the prayer books.dina 4

We never gave up on looking for some place else because this location had disadvantages of having the people come through (some would be considerate and wait, others could not [be expected to] wait 10-15 minutes), and we were continuing to grow, with overflow into side hallways as the company grew and adjacent companies began to populate the building expansion and their employees joined as well. Around 2011, we decided to go over the heads of the HR department and
approach our company maintenance / operations department for a better location. This time we were happily surprised beyond our highest expectations. The company was still not going to allocate any office space but they decided to relay our request to the building complex owners who happily accepted the idea with no hesitation.dina 6

Over the next few months, adjacent to a busy intersection, yet tucked discretely into a quiet side of a typical glass covered IT office building, a contractor closed off a section of the parking lot and turned it into a fully furnished synagogue that can seat over 50 as well as a women’s section (who also come), with aron kodesh (including a cage to lock in a sefer Torah), and a nicely stocked library with more siddurim and seforim – all donated by the building owners with no strings attached except the name of a family matriarch for this small chapel now called Ohel Dina. On fast days, a Torah is now brought by one of the workers and we can have a regular prayer with reading, and the attendance swells to more than double the usual (including standing room). During the wintertime when the sun sets early, we also organize a Maariv prayer. When there is a mourner, he does not need to search for a nearby synagogue, and there are never any struggles to be the hazan either. The synagogue is open to all people who work in the area’s office buildings and visitors. Having this synagogue at work is really convenient and another awesome reason to live in Israel.

dina 7 (2)dina 9 (2)


RFI: community, shul, schools and the different communities

Tamara asked for information on the Facebook group, and I decided to go all out and put together a longer answer than normal to update the blog.

Tamara: Hi we would love to visit Ariel as part of our Aliya pilot trip and out looking for more information on the various dati communities in Ariel. Grateful for any information re: community, shul, schools and how far/ separate the different communities are from each other. Thanks in advance

Ariel is a relatively new town of over 35 years, and while religious people have lived here for virtually the whole time, a major growth and increase in size, activity, and identity started happening only over ten years ago and is still underway. More younger families are moving to Ariel to take advantage of the lower cost of living and the ability to contribute to the community. If you come to live in Ariel, be aware that you will be part of creating something, there is still much to do, no matter which community you decide to move to. Most of the shuls/communities are not as established as older ones in the other Israeli cities. ‘Ariel Aliyah’ means integration and yet also a little bit of nurturing our Anglo-ness. Is there an Anglo shul? Shvut Ariel in the central Rova B neighbourhood has a larger number of Anglos but calling it the ‘anglo shul’ is somewhat misleading label. It just means that they get the most Torah Tidbits each Shabbat 🙂 IMO, there is no anglo shul. The Anglos (and religious people) are spread out around the city. There is no anglo ghetto, for better and worse, depending on each individual’s needs. Coming to Ariel means you will probably become Israeli faster and learn Hebrew faster if you get involved even partially in the community. Some shuls are more active than others. There are two neighbourhouds which will have a higher (it is relative) concentration of religious families and that is the central ‘HaArava’ and the eastern Moriah areas (perhaps a subject for a future real estate update).

(Are we assuming right that you are Ashkenazi?) There are actually six Ashkenazi shuls/communities in the city (and nine other Sepharadi shuls + the university). Ohel Efraim (west), Shvut Ariel (central) already mentioned. There is also Chabad (central), the new Almog (central-east), and on the further eastern side, Netzarim north and Netzarim south. Currently, most of the dati nurseries/kindergartens are in the central area but that is temporary and they will be spread out around the city in the coming years. The two religious schools mentioned are actually on the east and west sides so if you are thinking long term, you might want to live near the schools, IMO.

The Netzarim community on the eastern side that has not really been mentioned yet in comments is the largest and most active shul/community in the city. They have an office, they have community committees, they have community activities as well as activities open to the general public and are also very active in the university coordinating two separate streams to integrate religious and academic studies as well as social initiatives. They have a hesder yeshiva and a small kollel and are in general have the most community-oriented culture similar to a shul overseas (IMHO). They have a north and south branches and still coming to grips with many in the community moving into the new main neighbourhood. And even though they are probably the most established oranization, there is still a lot of work to do and place for someone to find their way to contribute to community building. In other communities, there is even more areas to contribute to existing initiatives and the create new ones too.

Schooling – daycare, nurseries/kindergartens, elementary day school, middle school, high school, university, hesder yeshiva, we are only missing a yeshiva gedola to top it off. How many other cities can claim all of that? Only seven others in Israel.

Daycare for 0-3 is definitely cheaper than the other central Israeli cities where it might be over 2000NIS a month, maybe not including Friday which some private and public places in Ariel might offer. There are a few mishpachtonim – which are literally family-oriented day care options and there are two ma’ons which are government-regulated and (perhaps subsidized if the family is approved).
Religous Nurseries/Kindergartens – In 2000, there were 3, than 4, 5, 6, 7 and this is still expanding. Some religious families even sent/send their children by bus to the Chabad nursery in Emmanuel because of its superior offering, and IY”H Chabad Ariel will be opening its first nursery in Ariel this fall, already overbooked by 50%.
G1-6 Elementary schools – already mentioned briefly and still a subject that brings out some emotions. You can PM Rechelle Hochhauser about the Mamad or me about the talmud torah boys and girls schools. Just to add that next year, the Neve Ariel Talmud Torah will be growing into G7 and there are plans for a middle school and more.
As for the other middle school and high school options, there are only a few anglo kids at those ages, and I am not familiar enough with them to comment with options of those grades.

And last but not least – without any hard stats to base this on – the majority of Anglos who have made aliyah to Ariel in the past ten years stay around, they buy homes shortly after, they find jobs, and they participate in the community BUT we also appreciate and tolerate that some people have a peculiar humour (or none), some are grumpy, and we all enjoy the Israeli civil right to criticize everything. I think another aspect of Ariel Aliyah is that we will also tell you the downsides and this is from the belief that more awareness makes for a stronger and more informed decision process.


It’s been a while.

Contributions to the blog dropped off since the official community program contracted and Facebook made it easier to keep in contact but perhaps we can jump ahead five years and give some updates.

Building and Reuniting

Originally posted in the English E-Newsletter for Yeshivat Har Etzion Alumni Tishrei 5770Building and Reuniting Hillel Maizels and Avi Zimmerman2

As the years pass by, it’s not uncommon for Gushnikim to bump into each other and sometimes even get together to catch up. Yet, how often does it happen that Gushnikim find their paths not only coinciding but also intertwining?

After completing Rabbanut Semicha at Yeshivat Har Etzion, Rav Hillel Maizels’95 MTA and his wife Yael participated in the Rothschild Foundation’s “Likrat Shlichut” program, which trains community rabbis in Israel. Rav Hillel and Yael, who were familiar with community life as it exists in South Africa and Buffalo, New York (their places of upbringing, respectively), identified the need for a similar system here in Israel. They sought the appropriate community, with both the desire to develop itself and the potential to do so.

Avi Zimmerman ’95 was living in the City of Ariel with his wife Dana and their two children, Gilli Shirah and Eytan Ohr. Though he is an occupational therapist by profession, Avi accepted the city’s offer to run the new Community Aliyah Program for North American olim. The program, sponsored by all of the major aliyah organizations and institutions, encourages olim to make aliyah directly to Ariel. Many olim have been drawn to Ariel with its substantial benefits and assistance, affordable housing, easy access to Israel’s employment centers, an incomparable quality of life and an ever-developing vibrant religious community. Nonetheless, Avi recognized that the success of Ariel’s aliyah program would be dependant not on the initial arrival of the olim, but rather on their comfort level in the city and their subsequent commitment to build their lives there. The city needed a community oriented rabbinic figure, who could both provide personal guidance to the new olim and assist them in integrating into the framework of an Israeli society.

When Rav Hillel heard that the city of Ariel was looking for an Anglo community rabbi he immediately pursued the contact details. Moments later, the two Gushnikim, who spent 5 years of yeshiva together, were talking about community life in Israel, the future of the Jewish People and the earliest opportunity for the Maizels family to visit Ariel for Shabbat. A few visits later, Rav Hillel, his wife Yael and their daughters Hodaya and Elisheva were all geared up to make the move to Ariel. Rav Hillel now serves as the Rav of the Ohel Efraim community in Ariel and is teaching in a local school.

Maybe it’s not such a coincidence to see Rav Hillel and Avi teaming up. Back in Yeshiva, when Avi was the madrich for the American students, Rav Hillel was themadrich for the MTA students from South Africa and Australia. A few short years down the line, and the Maizels and Zimmerman children are playing in gantogether, while their fathers and mothers are working to develop a paradigm for community life in Israel. Whether it’s a reunification or a natural continuum, Rav Hillel and Avi are taking what they developed in Yeshiva and giving it as a gift to so many others.

The big day- back to school

Jonnah and Sami at SchoolAs we approached the beginning of the school year, there was a feeling of excitement in the air. For about a week prior to school starting, whenever you met another parent, the conversation always started with – it’s almost time for school to start. Hooray!!!!

Gan started on September 1st, Jonah’s 5th birthday. So it was a good day in general! He is in Gan Chova this year which is the equivalent of Kindergarten. He also switched from the 3-4 year old gan to the 4-5 year old Gan.

The Big Day

Jonah was mostly looking forward to his new Gan and we had gone to an Orientation the week before. We met the teachers and saw the Gan and the yard (complete with basketball net). Although as we got closer, he was a bit more hesitant and as we passed his old Gan he said, “I don’t think I want to go to a new Gan”. But he put on a brave front and we arrived at the Gan. The teachers greeted him warmly and he sat down at a table to play with the other kids. I stuck around for a few minutes, taking pictures, and chatting with him and some of the other parents. Every once in awhile he would glance at me and give me a shy smile. He was fine with me leaving…..I was the one who was having a harder time. Well, Sammy (my 2 year old) was really excited to go to Ma’on (daycare) and kept pulling on me, “Let’s goooo”. I waved goodbye to Jonah and off we went.

I cannot begin to compare the difference between leaving him last year and leaving him this year. And I am NOT envious at all of the new Olim going through this with their own kids. I remember the tears, the emotion, and the heartbreak. In fact, one day I too left in tears. I kept wondering, what did I do to my kid??? How could I take him away from a Gan he loved going to every day and put him somewhere that he doesn’t know the kids, doesn’t speak the language, and is in tears as I leave. Those were a rough couple of weeks in the beginning.

But now I look at him and listen to him talk about Gan and I want to burst with pride. Because not only does he enjoy going (and his teachers seem to love him) but he is helping out the 2 other Olim boys that are in his Gan. Whether it’s translating between them and the teacher or showing them different toys, or playing with them in the yard, he is helping them fit in and feel comfortable. And next year, those boys can help the next batch of Olim. It’s a good cycle we have going here. And a fantastic community. Baruch Hashem, Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d!!! Life is good. 🙂

Natalie Zacks