Watch: Jewish embodiment and redemption in Bat Ayin

Fascinating series explores the Jews of Bat Ayin, a Judean hills community in Gush Etzion nestled between Jerusalem and Hevron.

Ari Soffer, | updated: 13:26

Bat Ayin (file)
Bat Ayin (file)
Kobi Gideon/Flash90

While the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria are widely maligned by much of the international media, some communities in particular are often singled out.

Among them is Bat Ayin, a village of some 200 families nestled in the ancient hills of Judea, between two of the Jewish people's holiest and most historically important cities, Jerusalem and Hevron.

Often cast as a hotbed of extremism - particularly since the uncovering of a Jewish underground cell there who planned revenge attacks against Arabs during the Second Intifada - the community's human side, like that of the "settlers" in general, are rarely portrayed.

That's something which Elad Nehorai - better known as founder of the Pop Chassid blog - set out to change, with a remarkable series opening a window into the lives of several families in this unique community.

As those familiar with the wider Gush Etzion area will know, Bat Ayin is a particularly unique place, offering a unique fusion of powerful Jewish identity on the one hand, and a deep - borderline "hippyish" - sense of spirituality and connection with nature.

It's a character which comes out particularly strongly in the first episode of "Bat Ayin," released earlier this month, which features Shlomo and Rina Shoshana Vile - two olim from Chicago who sold everything and left for Israel after becoming enchanted with their current hometown.

In a statement posted along with the video, the directors what motivated them to launch the crowd-funded project:

"Our goal with this film series is to show a community of Jews that doesn't get a lot of exposure beyond the political.

"The residents of Bat Ayin challenge many assumptions - about what it means to be Jewish, to settle in Israel, and to inhabit, physically and spiritually, the tension between worlds.

"In a discussion that is often divisive, we want to show you a human, living, breathing side of this one-of-a-kind place."


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