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Monday, September 23, 2019

From the Tanach—where Hashem told Avraham that his descendants would be numerous, the place where the Jews first entered Yisrael—close to Har Grezim and Har Evel is situated the revived, thriving community known as Elon Moreh. Beauty, tradition and strength of character characterize both the natural setting and the residents living here. Mountainous terrain as well as many flowering plants define this ever-growing vital stronghold in the Shomron. A glimpse of this area will reveal many biblical sites as well as a unique perspective on life.

From the Tanach are caves on Har Kabir (in this region) with blackened interiors; perhaps fires that inhabitants started while living there caused the blackening? Furthermore, a stone structure resembling a mizbei’ach and animal remains have been spotted close by. Could korbanot have been offered here by the residents of long ago? Also found on Har Kabir is a cave with a very old Alon tree growing at the cave’s entrance. Is this one of the trees that gave shade to many of our ancestors?

The history of this modern-day yishuv reveals much about the resilience, perseverance and stamina of its founding fathers and mothers. A core of eight families began the yishuv under very difficult circumstances. After seven different attempts at establishing a yishuv that was government approved, the current site was finally established 40 years ago. The yishuv had to move to four different government-defined sites before arriving at its current location. During these moves families lived in caravans, an army base and one family even lived in an abandoned jail. Currently, families live in multi-level homes in nine different neighborhoods. The community consists of several generations of highly committed Modern Orthodox Jews, including many of the founding families’ married children with their children and grandchildren.

This modern, hard-working village contains noteworthy attractions as well as Biblical ties. There is a winery adjacent to Mount Kabir that produces wine that has won several national awards; its grapes are all grown locally. A new tourist center there boasts not only a tour demonstrating the methodology of wine making, but also has a restaurant that serves a scrumptious menu of dairy fare. Through the extensive window-bank of the facility is a view overlooking the spectacular mountains. Also very recently opened is a colorful, innovative playground where multi-aged children’s needs, desires and safety are accommodated. Much time, effort and ingenuity make this playground a model for other municipalities that wish to encompass a large age-range population of children.

In addition, there are several unusual places of employment here. There is a facility where parchment for sifrei Torah are created (one of only two such places in the world). Although there is a very distinct aroma here, it is a fascinating place to visit as one sees hides being stretched, dried and prepared for use as klafim. A kitchen-cabinet factory is also located in the industrial area near the klaf facility. Three extensive farms where sheep and chickens are raised as well as homegrown watermelons, eggplants, tomatoes and herbs are an integral part of the fabric of this yishuv.

Common to this region where houses are built into mountains are many fruit trees planted by the house-owners upon moving into their new homes. Such fruit as cactus, figs, dates, lychee and almonds abound, along with an occasional slithering garden snake in the roadway! Several single-family homes boast their own chicken coops, incubators for chicks and/or large coops for a variety of colorful birds.

A military base is adjacent to Elon Moreh. Residents feel very safe here as they allow their very young, unaccompanied children to run freely throughout the yishuv. There is also a large hesder yeshiva with its nearby dormitory; these are nestled in the high mountains. The yeshiva provides both indoor and outdoor patios for studying, introspection and tefillah. Many bachurim are seen making use of these inspiring outdoors spaces. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to see tallit-clad men in suits and chayalim walking to and from shul with rifles slung over their shoulders.

Finally, a return to Tanach is perhaps reflected in the endeavors of several of the women of Elon Moreh. These women have studied many texts describing the exact form and content of the korbanot that were and will be brought to the Third Beit Hamikdash. Through experimentation with different types of pots, heat sources and temperatures they believe they have found the type of barley that was brought as a korban. Currently, they are working on the species of wheat that was used during the time of the Beit Hamikdash. These women have had exhibitions in the Shomron, Yerushalayim and elsewhere, bringing their pots, pans and sources of heat to explain their findings. They and the rest of the yishuv may have a significant part in bringing the final Beit Hamikdash b’m’heira b’yameinu.

By Anita Kolat