Protest: Ramat Bet Shemesh expands, the environment pays the price.

Apparently, this is the next big developmental overstepping/environmental boundary  issue in our corner of Matte Yehuda… This time featuring the ever-glamorous Ramat Bet Shemesh expansion.

If you haven’t heard, Ramat Bet Shemesh Gimmel is a controversial funhouse and construction is already well underway. The projects are promising to expand even further (D and E!) and cut into a lot more of the nature areas around the city into Matte Yehuda.

Here’s a quickly translated English version of the email we received as local residents. The original Hebrew is below. If you’re interested in getting involved, the time and location details for the first meeting are included.

Join the fight: For the environment, the community, the heritage of Israel and future generations

Plans for expansion of Ramat Beit Shemesh advanced rapidly and already started construction in Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimmel, and other parts of this neighborhood are expected to get final approval processes in the near future. The next expected approval processes and construction of neighborhoods D and E, where Highway 375 reaches the east, the slopes of Ella Valley in the south and Moshav Zacariah in the west and an access road to bridge it all across the Ella Valley.

This includes areas of nature reserves and the valley’s northern side includes historical sites favored by the general public and future generations. It’s also a matter of damage to the nature surrounding.

Residents of Matte Yehuda, Beit Shemesh and the environment are invited to meet the organizers of the campaign. The discussion will take place on Monday, December 10, at 19:00 in the tourist area of Kibbutz Halamed Hey (turn left at the gate, follow signs).

מצטרפים למאבק
למען הסביבה, הקהילה, מורשת ישראל והדורות הבאים

התוכניות להרחבה של רמת בית שמש מתקדמות בקצב מואץ וכבר
כעת החלה בניה בשכונת רמת בית שמש ג, חלקים נוספים משכונה זו צפויים להיכנס להליכי אישור סופי בזמן הקרוב ובשנים הקרובות צפויים תהליכי אישור ובניה על שכונות ד’ וה’ שתגענה עד לכביש 375 ממזרח, מורדות עמק האלה בדרום ומושב זכריה ממערב וכן כביש גישה שיבנה לרוחב עמק האלה. בימים אלה החל להתגבש מטה מאבק לצמצום תכניות הבניה, והקמת גן לאומי על רכס הגבעות הצפוני של עמק האלה כולל האתרים ההיסטוריים המצויים בו לטובת כלל הציבור והדורות הבאים ולמניעת פגיעה בתוכניות הפיתוח של המרחב כולו

תושבי מטה יהודה, בית שמש והסביבה מוזמנים למפגש הקמת מטה המאבק הדיון יתקיים ביום ב’ ה 10 בדצמבר,בשעה 19:00 ב מתחם התיירות קיבוץ הל”ה – פניה שמאלה לפני השער – שילוט יוצב במקום

מטרות הדיון
הצגת שיטת הפעילות
דיון בערכי המאבק והאני מאמין של המאבק
תחילת הקמת קבוצות עבודה :נא לאשר השתתפות אצל דלית ולמן, בדוא”ל

למען הסביבה, הקהילה, מורשת ישראל והדורות הבאים

Israeli gan system, here we come.

Yowsa. Seven years from the month I made aliyah, I’m registering my first kid to ‘gan trom trom chova’ (compulsory kindergarten registration).

The Israeli gan/school system baffles me. And I get the feeling it isn’t going to get any clearer any soon.

But fortunately, the education registration website experience was spectacular! Smooth form-filling, clear instructions, and it even – are you sitting down? – worked perfectly in Chrome!

Yep, in seven years, we’ve all come a long way.

A picture is worth… wait, what?

Here I am, reading the latest copy of בקיצור, the biweekly Matte Yehuda ‘news’ publication. It’s got its usual collection of local fare – who’s who, what’s new, sales, sales, sales.

But now, something new. I came across this ad and my first reaction was, Oh, how horrible… Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words… What caused that poor Jerusalem mountain goat deer to get caught in that horrible barbed wire fence?

Then I kept reading: “B’Kitzur newspaper invites its readers to send photos from around Matte Yehuda.” To report the horrible dangers to animals in the area, right?

Kept reading: “The photos can be covering anything local: nature, animals, sport, agriculture, business, education, and of course, people and towns.”


“In every issue we’ll present the chosen photos and you can choose the best one, which will be shown in the opening of the newspaper and Matte Yehuda’s website.”

So this is a… photo contest?


Tell me, fine publishers of B’Kitzur: WHY would you use THAT photo to advertise your photo contest? Of all the beautiful things in our lovely area of Israel – like vineyards, rolling hills, horse farms, artistic homes – you chose a dead gazelle thing hanging from a fence?

Tzur Hadassah update: new council, more mail.

Lots of interest in Tzur Hadassah these days, at least in my crowd. Thought I’d update on how the yishuv is doing since our local election and a new local council has letter-bombed all of us residents with their promises. Here are some of those promises: 

  • Plans to finish a locale for the Tzofim (scouts) and the 60+ forum. 
  • Work with the moetza (local council for the area, Matte Yehuda) to solicit certain funds for direct Tzur Hadassah projects. 
  • Work on a better system for recycling to the benefit of the environment. 
  • Lobby for more independance for Tzur Hadassah from Matte Yehuda regional council. 
  • A new school will be opened next academic year as a joint project with the rest of the moetza. 
  • New security service for the yishuv. 
  • Working with the other small yishuvim in the area (called yishuvay mazleg, fork towns – Mavo Beitar, Matta, Bar Giyora and Nes Harim) on more cultural, educational and community programs.

If they work on the security, the programs and the school I’d be happy, personally. 

A word about the school: I’m not sure if the school they mention in the letter is the same school that  leaders of the miniscule dati leumi community are planning to open next year… But yes, the (itsy bitsy) dati leumi community, HaTzur V’haTzohar, is working on a new dati school to serve this area, beginning with first grade next year. It’s supposed to be dati-style but catering to a masorti-plus audience, principaled by the community rabbi’s wife. If all goes well, they’ll add a new grade every year.

Ella Valley winery.

My father’s in town, and as I got my habit of fermented grape-consumption from somewhere, we took him over to Ella Valley winery.

The Ella Valley is just about my backyard, nestled in Matte Yehuda. It’s lush, it’s green, and according to the winery’s 6-minute propaganda video, it’s the perfect place to grow the right grapes to create premium, first class wine.

It was an excellent experience. We paid twenty shekel each for a thirty-minute tour (available in English) and then the wine-tasting. You get the twenty shekel back if you buy a bottle at the end.

The wine was excellent. Their products include red and white wines from two lines, Ella Valley (regular) and Vineyard Choice (upscale). My personal favorite? Probably the proprietary RR blend, although their dessert wine was probably the best Muscat I’ve ever had.

(And their website is the best I’ve seen in Israel so far…)

B’kitzur… Israeli advertising is scary.

So I’m going through my July edition of “בקיצור” (b’kitzur, in short)  which is a newsletter for yishuvim in the Matte Yehuda region. It’s packed with ads and superficial articles, but once in a while there is a gem – or two – that must be shared.

Take the following advertisement, for example. It’s a sale at Super Pharm, everyone’s favorite Walgreen’s attempt. It’s having a sale on its home brand products – three eyeliners for the price of one, various hair products for two shekel each… and then this:

Buy a box of condoms, but don't forget the bandaids!

‘Buy one get one free’ between first-aid gear and condoms. What kind of kinky sex do you think we’re having, Super Pharm?

Which leads to the second bizarre inappropriate ad in the bunch… Dancing is big in Israel, especially folk dancing. What a wonderful chug to send your kids to during the summer. You might want to consider this dance instructor:

Um... what kind of dancing do you teach, exactly?

On second thought, you might not. Her name is Pipi Nes. Go on, say that quickly. Drop one of the ‘p’s and say it again.