Tucked away from the congestion of the Jerusalem-Tel-Aviv
highway, the city of Bet Shemesh has undergone a major
transformation in the past decade. Fifteen years ago Bet
Shemesh was home to a handful of religious English-speaking Olim.
Currently there are over 2,000 “Anglo” families. Bet Shemesh
and its environs have also attracted a growing number of
Israelis. To date, approximately 80,000 people reside in this
What makes this city so attractive to religious olim from
North America, England and South Africa? One possible
explanation is the vast expanse of land. This suburban area is
sought after by those individuals who want an alternative to
city living. Many olim who never dreamt of owning a large
garden apartment or a private house discover that this is a
Another advantage of living in Bet Shemesh is the
convenience to both Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv. Bet Shemesh is
located forty minutes from Jerusalem by car. There are also
regular sherut, bus and train services. Tel-Aviv is a forty-five
minute ride also accessible by car, bus or train. Many residents
work in these cities as well as in Rechovot and Rishon Le’Zion.
Employment in Bet Shemesh is also feasible. Many olim find jobs
in their field whether it be as teachers, doctors, nurses,
lawyers, secretaries or in various other professions.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Aliyah is klitah
(absorption). Finding one’s place within Israeli society is
often challenging. Bet Shemesh offers olim the opportunity to
be an integral part of the community. One neighborhood of Bet
Shemesh, Givat Sharett, is very popular amongst English speaking
Olim. The Givah, as it is called by its inhabitants, has an
active Chesed organization. The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee
is comprised of volunteers who welcome newcomers. The Chesed
Committee also offers assistance to a community at large by
providing meals after the birth of a child, as well as financial
aid where applicable. In addition, the Givat Sharett Chesed
Committee acts as a bridge between olim and the general Bet
Shemesh population. Representatives are actively involved in
improving the quality of life for all sectors of the population.
Hundreds of needy families receive assistance to pay for food,
clothing, housing and medical expenses.
The Givah also boasts kosher restaurants and stores both
owned and operated by olim. Connections, the local English
language newspaper provides residents with current topics of
information. Within greater Bet Shemesh there are supermarkets,
banks, a large selection of stores, pharmacies and post offices.
A variety of health clinics offer full medical services.
There are six Ashkenazi synagogues in the area and many
Sephardi shuls. Parents have the opportunity to chose from a
variety of religious day care centers, nursery, elementary
schools, junior high and high schools.
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