A recent surge in Ariel’s religious population has added a new element to life in the city. Ariel, traditionally a secular city, is known for its democratic tolerance and its open-mindedness. That open approach has given life to a new dynamic interaction between members of Ariel’s religious communities and those who are not religiously observant.
One of the most interesting phenomena of new olim (immigrants) to Ariel is their tendency to search for their roots. Many of Ariel’s immigrants from the former Soviet Union are introduced to Judaism for the first time in the city of Ariel. Those who are Jewish may choose to attend religious services while others often chose to undergo a Jewish conversion. Similarly, though perhaps surprisingly, Ariel’s recent influx of English speaking olim from North America and from South Africa have also been characterized by a tendency for these new residents to delve deeper into developing their Jewish foundations. It seems as though something in Ariel is bringing them home.
The city of Ariel has 13 synagogues. As in America, many of those synagogues have developed into community centers. In addition there are several outlets which provide non-observant residents with a comfortable accessibility to religious life. These include a clubhouse for teenagers, an active neighborhood center and informal parlor meetings and classes throughout the city. Religious youth groups, national service volunteers and other community members all take part in enhancing Ariel’s religious environment.
The most obvious explanation for a healthy religious element in an otherwise secular city is Ariel’s deeply rooted foundation. Ariel, the capital of Samaria, is built upon the Biblical inheritance of the tribe of Ephraim. Joshua, Israel’s “pioneering father”, walked and lived in these mountains. He, along with Caleb, is buried opposite the city of Ariel. The pioneers who built the city of Ariel were dedicated to Israel’s development and to its security. Today the full Israel experience has come forth, as the city of Ariel renews its connection to religious life.
A Breath of Fresh Air in the Mountains of the Shomron
Rabbi Hillel and Dr. Yael Maizels have led the Ohel Efraim synagogue and community here in Ariel since 2008. Yael shares their experiences, their vision and their joy in contributing to Ariel's diversified community life.
The 16th Annual Bible Quiz
The theme of this year's Ariel Bible Quiz was “Giving and Kindness”. After many hours of study led by bible teacher Chai Hazan, eight pupils from Ariel's elementary schools qualified for the final stage of the competition.