Dr. Uri Schaeffer of the Culture and Sports Ministry held a Sports Conference for Regional Sports Directors in Beit El on Tuesday. The visit took place following Schaeffer's previous experience in Beit El, where he attended the annual Maccabee Torch Race this past Hanukkah, in which Beit El residents participated together with students of the Beit El pre-military academy and IDF soldiers. The Conference, he told participants, was taking place in Beit El because “I was greatly inspired by Beit El. It is important to me that you, too, see how special this place is."
The mayor of Beit El, Moshe Rosenbaum, toured Biblical sites with the group and gave an overview of the community, telling of its humble beginnings 35 years ago, when it contained just a few families living under very difficult conditions, until today, when the community numbers almost 7,000 residents, including 3,000 students enrolled in ten schools and 21 kindergartens.
Eli Katzav, the director of the Community Center, told of dozens of sports activities attended by hundreds of residents, and coordinated by the dedicated Chaya Lederberg, director of after-school activities. In addition, Tourism Coordinator Judy Simon led an exciting tour of "Jacob's Rock," believed to be the site of Biblical Jacob's famous dream.
Sports Director Yair Charlap presented to the group the myriad of sports activities offered, pointing out that in Beit El, the main goals of sports are in facilitating a healthy lifestyle, for the "joie de vivre," and in building social ties for both children and adults in the community.
In the course of the conference, the visitors were presented with important statistics from the IDF Spokesman: Beit El holds first place in all of Israel for combat recruitment, with 86% of the Beit El enlistees choosing to serve in combat units.
The regional directors were impressed by the innovative sports equipment, installed by the Beit El municipality through funding by the Culture and Sports Ministry and the Weiner Community Fund, and by the extensive variety of physical activities offered free of charge for children and adults by the sports department, including tournaments, leagues, hikes, and competitive races, in addition to the building of courts, sports fields and athletic equipment in public parks, and upgrading sports equipment. They were also impressed by the number of championships, including swimming, running, shot put and more.
The group ended the day with a visit to a new gallery and gift shop, where they purchased items made by local artists.