Daily Israel Report

Ofra: A Religious and Cultural Center

Ofra, the first Jewish community in Samaria, has many opportunities for employment, Jewish learning, and culture.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/22/2011, 7:54 AM

Ofra
Ofra
Flash 90

The community of Ofra in the Binyamin region is the first Jewish community established in Samaria (Shomron) after the 1967 Six Day War.

Ofra was founded as a workers camp for the founders of the military camp on Mount Baal-Hazor, the highest mountain in the Shomron. The workers on the mountain were Gush Emunim [the movement to settle Judea and Samaria] activists who were joined by members of Garin Shiloh, the nucleus group for the soon-to-be founded Shiloh community. Under orders of then-Defense Minister Shimon Peres, they were permitted to stay in the area.

As the first Jewish community in the Shomron after the Six Day War, Ofra was the place where the communal settlement model was designed. Ofra’s residents sought to settle the land of Israel while remaining highly involved in public issues and maintaining a strong Israeli experience. The community strives for economic independence and encourages development of employment opportunities and services within the community. Ofra is a large and well-developed community which is home to many fascinating and well known personalities, it has a warm community atmosphere and much local pride.

Ofra's educational institutions include seven kindergartens for its many young families, three elementary schools, a junior high school and an ulpana for girls.

For teens and young adult educational activities,  there is the Midreshet Shuva Seminary for Women, the Mishpetay Eretz Institute for the study of halakha pertaining to the Land of Israel, a field school and even a center for cave research.

The community has its own mikvah, library, post office, HMOs, supermarket, fruits and vegetables store, a branch of the National Insurance Institute, Yad Sarah for medical supplies, garage,  gas station,  fire station, three synagogues and  the “Lev Binyamin” non-profit organization. It boasts a commerical center as well as agricultural and industrial areas.

There are many leisure time choices, including an old age club, art gallery, sports hall, swimming pool, , and a natural amphitheater.

Ofra has a large array of extra-curricular educational, sport, art, nature and music programming for children and youth. These programs, besides a thriving Bnei Akiva branch,  encourage the formation of local soccer and chess teams. A Talmud Torah runs in the afternoons and attracts about 250 children. The community also has a well-maintained youth center.

Along with regular Torah classes for men, women and youth, the community invites Torah scholars from across Israel as scholars-in-residence and holds a monthly  regional Torah study seminar.

Also available in Ofra are cultural activities for children, adults and families which include theater and music performances, lectures and tours, fairs and workshops.

Some facts about Ofra:
Population: About 600 families, totaling about 3,000 residents.
Date established: 9th Iyyar 5735 (April 20 1975)
Distance from Jerusalem: 25 km (18.5 km from Hizma checkpoint)
Location: Route 60 (Ramallah bypass road)
Height: 850 m above sea level.
Employment opportunities: Many educational institutions and dozens of private businesses in agriculture, industry and trade, art and culture.