History

Kiryat Arba and the Hebron Hills Region

Hebron and its neighbors enjoy close relationships in the rolling southern hills.

23.1.17, 13:28
It all started with a Passover seder back in 1968. The dramatic holiday meal at Hebron's modest Park Hotel was the beginning of the revival of Jewish life in Hebron and the Hebron Hills region. Today over 15,000 Israelis live here, a far cry from the days of the 1929 massacre that resulted in the expulsion of all Jews.
 
Hebron enjoys a close relationship with its neighboring city of Kiryat Arba and the surrounding communities that fall under the Hebron Hills Regional Council, known in Hebrew as Har Hevron.
 
The history of these communities goes back to the Bible where they are described as lush hills with a prolific grape harvest, just as they look today.
 
The Jewish Community of Hebron has about 850 residents, Kiryat Arba has about 7,500 residents and there are approximately 7,000 residents in the Hebron Hills Regional Council living in over a dozen different communities. The combine total is about 15,350 residents. 
 
The greater Hebron region also enjoys considerable tourism. In addition to the 700,000 annual tourists to the Tomb of Machpela every year, the Hebron Hills region attracts many for the wineries, nature reserves, and archaeological sites. 
 
Many of the communities that today fall under the Palestinian Authority, have Jewish roots, such as the ancient synagogue in Idhna and archaeological finds in Halhul and Dura.
 
The following is a brief overview of the greater Hebron district:
 
Kiryat Arba
 
 
In 1971 the first permanent residents of Kiryat Arba arrived. The community was founded by Hebron pioneers who had attempted to repatriate the Jewish community after the dramatic victory of the Six Day War of 1967. The saga began on the Passover of 1968 when a mass Passover seder was held at Hebron's Park Hotel. The new residents fought to stay, but the Israeli government worked out a compromise and created Kiryat Arba.
 
Kiryat Arba is often mentioned in the Bible as a neighboring community to Hebron and / or a neighborhood within the city.
 
Today Kiryat Arba has a thriving community of approximately 7,500 residents from a wide array of backgrounds. There is a healthy mix of Israeli-born residents as well as Jewish residents from India, Russia, America, Ethiopia and other countries who have made their homeland their new home. 
 
Kiryat Arba boasts a strong school system, a performing arts center, Hebron College, Judea Antiquities Museum,a local sports facilities including indoor swimming pool, and more. Local industry includes wine making, metal shops, print shops, and other light industry.
 
 
Hebron Hills Regional Council
 
 
The Har Hevron Regional Council was established in 1983, and is headquartered in Otniel. The council provides various municipal services to Adora, Abigail, Beit Hagai, Beit Yatir, Carmel, Eshkolot, Livne, Ma'ale Hever, Ma'on, Mitzpe Asa'el, Negohot, Otniel, Sansana, Shim'a, Susya, Telem and Teneh Omarim.
 
The Hebron Hills region, also referred to as the South Hebron Hills or Southern Hebron Hills, is mentioned in the Book of Maccabees as the site of fierce battles against the forces of Antiochus. It is also mentioned by the historian Josephus and other ancient documents.
 
A 2012 survey by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority discovered 54 rare plant species in the region, more than half of them in cultivated fields. They include Boissiera squarrosa, a type of grass; Legousia hybrida, a plant from the bellflower family; and Resesda globulosa, a rare mignonette.
 
 
Otniel
 
 
Named after Israel's first judge who is buried in Hebron, Otniel was established on 1983. Today it has a community of over 900 people. Landmarks in Otniel include a swimming pool, medical clinic, Yad Sarah branch, library, schools, and light industry.
 
 
Adora
 
 
Adora was established in 1984 and is named after the biblical town known as Adoraim, or Adorim, mentioned in II Chronicles 11:9. Adora is also mentioned in I Maccabees 13:20 as one of the battle sites that took place during the Hanukkah story. Today, a community called Dura is part of the PA's Hebron Governorate. Old cisterns and fragments of mosaics have been found there.
 
As of 2015 Adora had a population of over 400 and features a community center, library, grocery store, gym, synagogue, youth center and more. 
 
The industrial zone includes companies that manufacture for air conditioners, awnings and sunshades, and various metal products.
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/8/
Facebook for Adora/Telem nature hikes: https://www.facebook.com/TelemAdora/?
 
Asa'el 
 
 
Asa'el, also known as Mitzpe Asa'el, was established in 2002 in a central location connecting Hebron and Beersheba along Highway 6. The small, rural community has schools, community center, synagogue, and gardens.
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/31/
 
Avigayil
 
 
Avigayil (Abigail) is a rural community established in 2001 and is named after the biblical Abigail, the wife of Nabal, who lived, according to the Bible, in a place in Judea called Maon. 
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/7/
 
Beit Haggai
 
 
Beit Haggai was established in 1984 by friends and classmates of the six people murdered at Hebron's Beit Hadassah in 1980.  Haggai, is an acronym of the names Hanan Krauthammer, Gershon Klein, and Yaakov Zimmerman, three of the students killed in the ambush on Shabbat eve. In 1989, the residents of Beit Haggai founded a special needs children's village which has provided a home, education, and services for dozens of young people. Landmarks in Beit Haggai include synagogues, daycare centers, medical clinic, events hall, youth center and more. 
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/10/
 
Beit Yatir
 
 
Established in 1979, Beit Yatir was the first community established in the Southern Hebron Hills Region. At 900 meters above sea level, it overlooks the beauty of the Judean Desert and the broad expanses of the Negev.Residents include native-born Israelis as well as immigrants from France, Russia, Brazil and various English-speaking countries. Industry includes fruit orchards, a packing house, greenhouses for flowers and wineries. The Beit Yatir pre-army preparation program is located here. Beit Yatir has been identified as the location near Maon and Ziph where David fled from Saul in I Samuel 23:24-25. The remains of an historic fort from the days of the British Mandate is still in use today.
 
Website: http://yatir.org.il/
Nature hike and vacationing website: http://goyatir.co.il/

Moshav Carmel
 
 
The nucleus of Moshav Carmel started in 1978 and was officially founded in 1981. Named after the Biblical Carmel mentioned in Joshua 15:55, it is also identified as the home of Nabal in 1 Samuel 25:2. The moshav is home to Herbs of Kedem, a successful company that manufactures skin care products from all-natural organically grown locally sources plants and minerals. Other industry includes agricultural research and development, and a dairy farm for milk production and bio-organic compost and fertilizer. Other agriculture includes grapes, almonds, wheat, peaches, nectarines, and wine.
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/13/

Moshav Eshkolot
 

Moshav Eshkolot is a commune first established in 1982. It's name, meaning clusters, derives from the Biblical description of the Hebron Hills as being the ideal climate for grapes. Local residents are engaged in agriculture including grapes, figs, olives, pomegranates and dates. Local businesses include picture framing workshop, ceramics, and olive groves.
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/9/

Shavi-Livna
 

Shavi-Livna (Livne) is a commune established in 1982. The community was renamed Shani in memory of Shani Shacham, the son of former members killed in the line of duty. Livna was a city mentioned in the Book of Joshua 21:13-21 as being allocated by Joshua and Elazar to the Kohen descendants of biblical Aaron. 
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/28/
 
Maale Hever / Pnei Hever
 
 
Pnei Hever, also known as Maale Hever was established in 1982 and is nestled in the hills over looking the wilderness of Ziff and the Dead Sea Valley. 
 
Pnei Hever is the home to Holy Cacao, a boutique "bean-to-bar" artisan chocolate factory, two yeshivas, and an educational center for tour groups.
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/19/
 
Moshav Maon 
 
 
Maon was established in 1981 and named after the Biblical Maon mentioned in Joshua 15:55, I Samuel 23:24 and many other places. It is nearby the ruins of an ancient synagogue at Khirbet Ma'in dating to the Byzantine period. 
 
Ma'on and nearby Moshav Carmel jointly operate a dairy with about four hundred cows. The average daily production per head is about 38 liters of milk. There is also a local winery and farms which raising sheep, chickens and cows as well as farming grapes, cherries, tomatoes, potatoes, almonds, wheat and olives.
 
Notable residents include popular Israeli musician Udi Davidi.
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/17/
 
Negohot
 
 
Negohot was established in 1982. There are a number of industrial buildings in Negohot, one of which is a honey collecting factory. And a variety of crops such as tomatoes, zucchinis, squash, olives, and grapes can be found in the community and surrounding areas. 
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/20/
 

Sansana
 
 
Sansana was established in 1997. Its name is taken from the name of a Biblical village nearby (Joshua 15:31) and from Song of Songs 7:9 "I will climb up into the palm-tree, I will take hold of the branches thereof..."
 
Landmarks include a clinic, playground, synagogue and mikveh, culture center and library.
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/25/
 
Shim'a 
 
 
 
Shim'a, also known as Yonadav is located on a hill 600 meters above sea level and has approximately 600 residents. It was first established in 1982 and incorporated as a community in 1988. It is named after King David's brother Shimeah and his son Jonadab (2 Samuel 13:3). Public facilities include a teen center, community center, library and religious classes. It is also home to the Shim'a Student Village.
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/27/
Shim'a Student Village: http://kedma-hityashvut.org/shima/
Shim'a Student Village Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shimaastudents/
 
Susya
 
 
Susya is located near the ancient Jewish village and synagogue in the archaeological site of Susya. In 2015 it had a population of 1,041. The nucleus of Susya was started in 1980 and permanent residency was established in 1983. In 1985, the Susya Tourism and Education Center was established which offers tours and activities in the nearby archaeological site. The center has a hostel and a pool. 
 
In 2008, the largest and most advanced goat pen and dairy was inaugurated at Susya with an investment of 3.5 million NIS. It provides a home for 1,500 goats and can milk 48 of them at a time. Businesses include a guest house, B & B, Judaica store, alternative medical center, the Omer Industrial Park and more. The community features schools for all ages, youth group chapters, library, supermarkets, sports center and swimming pool.
 
Regarding the ancient synagogue, the Israel Ministry of Tourism states, "At this ancient mountain village on the edge of the desert you’ll see remains of a Jewish community that flourished some 1,500 years ago. The centerpiece is the synagogue, with its intricately designed and colorful mosaic floors and Torah shrine. You’ll walk the paths between ancient walls to a dwelling, olive-oil press and water cisterns. In one ancient cave you’ll enjoy a fascinating audiovisual presentation that breathes life into the stones."
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/22/
 
Telem
 

The community of Telem was established in 1982 and by 2015 had a population of 336. It is the home of the Netivot Dror Yeshiva dedicated in memory of IDF Col. Dror Weinberg, was was killed in the Shabbat terrorist ambush in Hebron in 2002.
 
The community boasts much agriculture including grape vineyards and chicken coops. There is also a clinic, library, post office, schools and other public facilities.
 
The 4th century historian Eusebius of Caesarea described it as "a very big village of Jews."
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/29/
 
Teneh Omarim
 

Teneh Omarim, was established in 1983 and incorporated as a community the following year. Its name is a tribute to David Taneh, Israel's first Housing Minister and an early leader in Youth Aliyah which helped refugee children during the Holocaust. The community has a library, clinic, community center, petting zoo, greenhouses, and other local facilities
Teneh Omarim absorbed 13 families from the evacuated Gaza Strip settlements of Morag and Gush Katif.
 
Har Hevron profile: http://www.hrhevron.co.il/12/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/טנא-עומרים-489683274487547/