Archive for the 'Life in Ariel' Category

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.


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.

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

Aliyah Tales of Ariel


There are a few experiences in life – that you just get to have once. For better or for worse. They are the kinds of experiences that make you say, “Woah, is this happening to me?” The ones that can make you feel drunk on life. The major ones are “Lifecycle Events”. Births, Marriage, and Death.


I was privileged to add a Bonus Event to my Lifecycle this week, to my chain of events. I added Aliyah – I elevated my life, my family’s life, as we moved up to Israel.

I was not prepared for this experience. Even though I have been working for it and wanting it for 11 years. The week or so leading up to our departure, people kept asking, are you excited? Every other time I’ve gone to Israel, the adrenaline starts kicking up about that time. I get on the plane and my heart is pounding. This time, it wasn’t like that. I was just Ready. Emotionally. It was Time.

I expected the sad and tearful goodbyes. For the past 6 months or so, when I even thought of saying goodbye, I got choked up. I expected tears as we took off, but they didn’t come. I expected more tears as we landed – but there were just a few. Happy tears. Happy and thankful to be coming home for good.

And I was right, goodbyes were rough. And as we landed in Israel, I did get teary-eyed. I looked across the plane at My Shauli (we were each sitting with a kid at opposite window seats) and I longed to be able to hold his hand – as we landed in our new home. Our new country. And I fell in love all over again because he made this possible. He helped me realize my dream.

We landed, we clapped, we cheered. I cried – but just a little. We got off the plane and headed down the steps, waited for the bus and sped away to the terminal. As I looked out the window and saw the palm trees, I remembered my first view of the land. The palm trees, and the feeling of that blast of hot air. And my heart was overflowing. With love for Shu, Jonah, Sammy, and for coming home. FInally. My eyes started overflowing too at that point… The director of Nefesh B Nefesh, or the Rabbi who started it, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, was on our bus with us. And he saw me crying. He told me, “Don’t do that, now you are going to get me started all over again!” It’s cool that he still gets emotional with each new landing. I pulled myself together and we pulled up to the terminal. And no matter how many live or taped landings I had seen – no way was I prepared for what came next. For how I felt.

The shuttle doors opened and all of a sudden, there was Israeli music blasting. “Havaynu Shalom Aleichem, Havaynu Shalom Aleichem…..” Music blasting, people cheering, everyone waving and smiling. Cameras here, there, everywhere. Everyone welcoming us Home.

I gasped and the tears started flowing. There are no words that can begin to describe how I felt at that moment. No way to capture it. And I just stood there for a second, taking it all in. A random army lady saw me, she looked overjoyed to see me and told me, Welcome home. She gave me a little Israel flag and a hug, holding me tight. There were tons of cameras and video cameras in my face. Taking pictures of the boys in the stroller, Jonah almost asleep. 🙂 We walked along, through the aisle created by the masses of people and all I could see were smiles and tears of joy. I’m the one who came home – yet I can see the excitement in their eyes! I stopped, I covered my eyes, I was sobbing. This is my dream come true. Better even because I’m here with my incredible husband and 2 (and a ½) amazing children. We are home.

Well, if I was that emotional seeing strangers, you can only imagine how I felt when I saw the Zacks crew there to greet us! I saw Nava first and I just started yelling and waving wildly, “It’s Nava, it’s Nava! Shu, do you see her?” Then I saw Naphtali, Daniel, Aviva, Shevy – and I couldn’t get there fast enough!! I couldn’t get past the crowd but I just wanted to get over to them – to hug them. To thank them for paving the way for us! As soon as I got there, I wanted to hug everyone, I held onto Aviva for dear life. The crowd controller was trying to move us along, telling us we were holding up the line. Then Shlomo appeared and I followed him to get inside. Our friend Inbar for Sheirut Leumi in Detroit is there and I hug her – the crying starts again.

At that point, I’m about to faint. It’s almost too much to handle. Physical and emotional overload. Someone hands me a bottle of much needed cold water. Of course, then I notice my head scarf is practically off- woops and so I slip on the handy Nefesh b’ Nefesh hat they gave out. Now I know what those are for. Golda and Sarra arrive and more hugs, I don’t want to let go. Then Arye is there and Simmy and we are surrounded.

Avi Z. and the Ariel gang is there to meet us and I’m so grateful. I can’t wait to move there! We picked a good spot. We take a huge group picture. Go Zacks!

And on that note, since it’s almost 2:30 am and I’m running out of scrap paper to write on, I’ll bid you adieu. Or Shalom. Lehitraot. And for those in America, come soon! There is always room.

My Life By Donuts Mom

KASHRUT ALERT – bakeries

challahUnfortunately, the Yardena / Condituria Beitit has reduced their kashrut certification to regular kosher only, not mehadrin anymore. This is identical supervision as the bakeries at the two Megas. The immediate repercussion of this is that everything in the bakery becomes ‘behezkat chalavi / milchik / dairy’ – and one should not eat the assumed parve stuff (breads, rolls, challah, and pastries) directly with / at a meat meal. The only challah at the Mega that is approved parve is the Angel factory mass-produced (and price controlled) rectangle or simple needed ones, and the factory-produced sweet challahs that come packaged in cellophane. Beware of in house Mega bakery challahs that also come wrapped with a bonjour sticker. If the bag is not sealed, then it was probably cooked on site, behezkat dairy. Behezkat dairy does not mean it actually has milk in it, and usually means that it was baked in a dairy oven, and might mean that it was cooked in a dairy oven at the same time as dairy products.
Around the country, regular rabanut certification means short random (daily?) visits by a mashgiach. Establishments are either labeled meat or dairy. For an establishment, in our case, a bakery, to recieve a parve status, it needs to agree to a mashgiach that is on the premises for a lot more, even if it is run by a religious Jew. The mashgiach is there to verify that the pastries are not mixed, and that the parve and daity ovens are used properly and baking trays not interchanged. Without this extra supervision, we know, from experience, that trays are interchanged and other issues arise.
FWIW, the bakery at the Hezi Hinam has absolutely no certification at all and depends on a framed photocopied ‘kashrut approval’ from Hanukah 2005. ‘Kashrut permission’ is usually a certificate handed out from the original factory that is often sent to customers (bakeries and restaurants) who might hang it up when they do not have a kosher certificate to post. The legal meaning of this kashrut approval is that the food was ceritifed kosher at the factory, and is usually meant to show the local mashgiach, not to hang up on the wall.  I suppose that this might be enough for A) many non-religious people who might not insist on rabanut certification yet want to eat kosher-style, and B) to fool people into thinking that the establishment is kosher (a word which is trademarked in Israel to the rabanut).
On the other hand, the ‘Lechem HaAretz’ bakery in the industrial zone (anyone want to coin a better name for that area) still retains its ‘mehadrin’ certification meaning a strict seperation of milk and parve baking and products. 24 / 6.
Shabbat shalom,

Pesach shopping guide


Seder plate

Seder plate

In a follow up to the Kosher for Pesach (KFP) shopping list that I put in the files section (on the yahoogroups site), here’s my attempt at giving you some grocery shopping tips for Pesach.


First and foremost,

check each package you put in your shopping cart. Most KFP packaging is similar, if not identical, to the regular packaging, some stores are negligent in not separating the two. Kitniyot and non-kitniyot – be careful to read the fine print.

 Chief Rabbinate guidelines

Note that products are certified Kosher for Pesach 5769. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has attempted to make some order by issuing some guidelines such as: must have date, must be printed as part of the package and not a sticker applied to the regular packaging.

 Date stamp.

While we can joke about why something might be kosher this year but not be KFP next year, this is supposed to protect the consumer from recycled products. The day after Pesach, hundreds of KFP items become almost worthless to the store and the producer. Israeli producers have an incredible returns policy where a lot goes back to the producer who has no choice but to destroy the worthless products like potato-flour sponge cake, wine-based coconut cookies, etc… In the past, without a date stamp, the stores/producers could merely resell the stuff next year. Not anymore, almost. I’ve seen this appear with KFP baby formula a month ago. Theoretically, some stuff has an extended shelf life anyways, but you decided your limits. 

Stores selling chametz

make sure that the store has a receipt for selling its chametz. This will be important during and after the holiday.

 Store design

Store management awareness to KFP has grown tremendously. Many stores will have entirely seperate sections for KFP products days before the holiday. During the holiday, they will close off the non-KFP sections, or cover the shelves up with plastic sheeting. The stores catering for the religious/Haredi market will relegate their non-KFP stuff to a small corner and the rest of the store is KFP – truly awesome!

 Store hours are usually extended in all branches.

 Many packages that are normally Badatz will have writing stating ‘l’yamot hashana bilvad’, or something like that. It means that while the product is Badatz certified, it might have kitniyot inside and/or the product might need extra stringency for Pesach that the producer is not willing to pay for. Most Badatz’s are Ashkenazi meaning that most Badatz products are non-kitniyot. Yeah!  I am not endorsing ‘badatz’ food (at this time), just that around Pesach time, them make life a bit easier for us Ashkenazis.

A non-kitniyot tip – salami and other packaged meats. Tirat Zvi (orange packages) offers the widest (and virtually only) selection of non-kitniyot meats, some of which is non-Badatz meaning that it will be cheaper too, You also support the kibbutz up north 🙂

 Okay another tip – if you do not eat kitniyot (and not to start a discussion whether Canola is kitniyot or not), you will need either Palm oil (about 10NIS / litre) or Walnut oil (24NIS / litre). These are only available at the Haredi stores (more info to follow).

 Store locations and features for Ariel residents based on my experience.


Mega Ba’Ir (2 X Ariel)

– best to come prepared with Rav Tav coupons so you can save some money. At these stores. be EXTRA careful to make sure you are taking KFP products, ESPECIALLY during the holiday. Even after many complaints over the years, there are problems. On Pesach, a ‘minor’ problem is a major problem. Hopefully, this year there won’t be any. Like most of the ‘regular’ supermarket stores, you’ll see that they cover entire shelves but cut out little windows for KFP products. Many times, adjacent to these revealed KFP products is pure chametz. Often, the sheeting tears, it might even fall down, some people take advantage and take out non-KFP items. To the store’s credit, I once witnessed one of the cashiers refuse to sell a customer a non-KFP product. I think it was ice cream with cookie chunks. I try to avoid Mega Ba’Ir during the holiday and afterwards for a few weeks. Very hard to find non-kitniyot food here.


Yesh (Ariel, Kfar Saba, BeErot Yitzhak)

-Yesh is theoretically the Haredi branch of the Shufersol chain so many products are badatz, less so at the Ariel store which also serves different consumers. The Ariel branch is relatively small compared to the other branches. Good prices, no packers in lines. I’ll tell you a secret: the best time to shop for a small order is 15-20 minutes before closing – the store is really quiet then. It’s somewhat risky because there might only be one of two cashes open.



-The BeErot Yitzhak Yesh branch is my TOP PICK for KFP shopping. Massive (relative to Israel of course), all KFP food, kitniyot and non-kitniyit shelves/sections clearly marked. Mostly Badatz products. Very good prices too. During the week before the holidaym it is a madhouse. In the evenings and until closing, it might be hard to find a cart since there are many shoppers and some people load up more than one. You will have to stake-out people leaving the store and ambush them. Approach them ASAP asking them assertively to take their cart after they unload. Prepare a 5shek coin so you can make the trade at their car. Doors are open until almost midnight. Lines are horrendous, because of the masses and because people are making massive orders. I assure you that you will wait in line for no less than 30min, maybe even an hour. Take it with stride, be patient, talk with your new line friends, go back to search for more food. bring a book or MP3 player. It pays to drive here, car pool together, I promise that you will pay less here on products, but, but, but you will buy so much here – so take a shopping list. BONUS – frequent minyans in the shul at the back of the store. 


Yad Yitzhak (Yaynot Bitan) (Rosh HaAyin, Kfar Saba)

Good selection, many Badatz products but perhaps a small majority. I don’t do pre-holiday shopping here. Some baggers, not at every cash, long lines. Let the locals pack the place instead.


### BEST LINES ###

Hetzi Hinam (Yarkonim)

Tens of cashes, shorter lines than all other stores, ‘professional’ baggers at every cash, cashiers that work fast, good prices, large selection. Not many non-kitniyot stuff.


Bar Kol (Petach Tikva)

– Good prices, caters to Haredi/religious clientele so mostly Badatz food as well as non-food. Across from the Main Bus Station, but I think that parking is limited. I might recommend this store to people without access to a car because the store is much larger than the Ariel Yesh and size means thousands of more products. ‘Non-mobile’ folks could load up a trolley suitcase or two and put them on the 186 to Ariel and easily cover the return bus fare with the savings on food.


Bnai Brak

Shaul HaMelech road (Bar Kol, Yesh, and Ezra V’achva)

– the feeling of Pesach in Israel is just too incredible here on this street. PACKED, tons of Jews getting ready for chag, fighting for parking spaces in Yiddish. SO exciting. Virtually all Badatz food meaning large selection of non-kitniyot food. Even though we now do our major KFP shopping at the BeErot Yitzhak Yesh, I still like to visit this area to stock up on non-food items and for the atmosphere.



‘Supermarket Feely’ in the mercaz

Shufersol Deal (Segula)

Habiv (Segula)


Avoid the local Russian cornerstores. While awareness might have grown, there is no stringency. Some will openly sell chametz during the holiday. The 24hour stores should also be avoided. They ‘might’ cover up their pretzels, but still offer you whisky. One is notorious for selling bread and pitas. Hashem yishmor.



My family and I wish you all a kosher and happy Pesach.