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?ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 probablyย 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 Anglosย 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.

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