July 19, 2024
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Itamar, a yishuv in the center of Israel in the hills of Shomron, was established on Israel Independence Day in 1984 by a small group of pioneers. Back then, according to Rebbetzin Leah Goldsmith, one of the first families to move to Itamar, all you saw were stones and stumps. The land was barren. Now that same land is lush.

Today, Itamar is the largest yishuv geographically in all of Judea and Samaria. It spans a large area and creates territorial contiguity and a Jewish presence between the middle of the Shomron to the Jordan River. In fact, Itamar is equidistant between Tel Aviv to the west and the Jordan River to the east. Yerushalayim is one hour to the south by car. Itamar faces the famous mountains of Har Gerizim and Har Eival—the mountains of “the blessing and the curse.”

A community that began in a barren wasteland is today known for being at the forefront of organic agriculture. “The farmers of Itamar are known as experts in organic farming,” shares Rebbetzin Goldsmith. “They grow lots of vegetables that are transported and used throughout the country.”

Currently, 280 families of diverse religious backgrounds, approximately 1,800 people, call the yishuv home. Thanks to its strategic importance, the Israeli government recently allowed the community to build more homes and infrastructure within the borders of the yishuv, creating the potential for many more families to move in to Itamar.

On Tuesday night, September 20, at 8:15 p.m., Friends of Itamar are bringing Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith, former mayor of Itamar, and his wife, Leah, to Teaneck to speak to the community about some pressing needs the yishuv has. The event is being hosted at the home of Mrs. Lois Blumenfeld and Dr. Norman Sohn, 1358 Sussex Rd, Teaneck.

Mrs. Blumenfeld says, “I became involved with Itamar on a trip a number of years ago when I met Leah and Moshe Goldsmith. They, like the people who live in Itamar, are unique, warm and welcoming people. I was so impressed by them and I felt I needed to support them. They’re doing what we should all be doing but don’t do.

According to Dr. Jonathan Gold of Passaic, who is a supporter of Itamar and one of the organizers of the Teaneck event, “Itamar is an unbelievable place. It has the potential to be the crown jewel of the Shomron. It’s the largest settlement in the whole country. It’s situated right in the heart of the country and it is ripe for development. It has so much potential to be so much more than it already is.”

“It’s incredible chizuk to hear the testimony of people who came to Itamar 32 years ago, to the barren hilltops of absolute nothing, and how it’s built up against the odds,” Rebbetzin Goldsmith told the Jewish Link. “The story of Itamar is that of one against the odds. All through this time, between building freezes and terrorist attacks, we’ve been able to overcome with Hashem’s great chesed and in the zechut of people coming to live there.”

Rabbi Goldsmith continues, “If Jewish people weren’t living there there’d be no Jewish stronghold. Our yerusha, identity and very roots go back to this place. From our window we can see Har Grizim and Har Eival. You’re looking out the window at the Parshat Hashavua. It’s nevuah coming true because we’ve returned to the place where we started.”

Current Needs in Itamar

Unfortunately, many know of Itamar because of the acts of violence that have taken place there. Because of the yishuv’s past history, safety is a big priority and that’s why the yishuv now has high-resolution cameras and specialized security systems to prevent further attacks by radical jihadists. The security budget for day-to-day operations is close to $6,600 per month. Several new infrared night-vision goggles and high-resolution binoculars, each costing approximately $1,500, are required to properly outfit the 25-member voluntary Rapid Response Team. In addition, the annual cost to train this team in defense and security tactics is $8,000.

But it isn’t only security where Itamar needs financial assistance. Itamar is home to Chitzim, a specialized high school with over 300 boys from across the country who struggle with PTSD, ADD and ADHD. The school has had tremendous success; the graduates do well academically and go on to serve in the most elite units of the IDF. Matching funds are needed to build dormitories, a study hall and a kitchen for the school.

On your next trip to Israel, please visit Itamar and see firsthand just what an amazing community it is. You can always visit the community virtually by going to their website, www.touritamarsupportisrael.com.

The community has established a non-profit umbrella organization called Friends of Itamar, which is a registered 501c3 organization to which you can write tax-deductible checks. Donations should be made out to Friends of Itamar and sent to: Friends of Itamar—Attn. Goldsmith, 1483 East 34th Street Brooklyn, NY 11234.

To learn more about Itamar, visit their website at www.touritamarsupportisrael.com. Or email Rabbi Goldsmith at [email protected]. To learn more about the event, email [email protected], or call Dr. Gold at 973-777-6444.

By Sara Kosowsky Gross

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