This past summer the city of Modi’in hosted a wide array of cultural events
(approximately 40) for our youth. The city is to be commended for the time and
effort spent ensuring that its kids and teens remained entertained throughout
the long, hot summer. Specific attention was given to the large teen population,
who had their own hang-out, dubbed The Village, which was located at the new
extreme park built primarily for teens. The park was also the site of the
extreme street fair which hosted breakdancing and skateboarding competitions and
Soon after the summer, I joined Mayor Haim Bibas on his bus
tour of Modi’in, which focused mainly on the amazing projects and plans for the
It was truly thrilling to traverse the city while the mayor
explained the details about additional amenities soon to be built. More parks,
sports complexes, shopping and even a boutique hotel. Modi’in just keeps getting
better. Yet, with all the planning for what should be built next, it’s what is
not in the plans which became most glaring. How could a city that is being built
with such foresight and fortitude, with such aspirations and excitement, leave
its own history behind in the dust as it forges ahead at record speed?
two-hour bus ride around the city of the Macabbees, there was not one mention of
them, nor a hint at the Hanukka story or any other historic connection between
ancient and modern Modi’in. Admittedly, the tour was not a historical one but
rather a chance for residents to get up close and personal with what’s in store
for the future, but shouldn’t memorializing our history be part of our future
Over the election period it became clear that I am not the only one jarred
by the city’s investment in our future while ignoring our past. Candidates and
residents expressed desire for a tangible connection to the place we live that
links residents to their shared history and to each other, something I believe
is as much, if not more, an investment in our future and more importantly, our
kids’ future as any skate park.
It’s astonishing how little our youth
actually know about Modi’in’s history.
By the time they graduate, the
city’s youth should be experts in ancient Modi’in. Yet, they learn almost
nothing in school and few, if any, of the school trips include a tour of the
local historic sites only blocks away.
In addition, Modi’in should be the
place where others come to connect to their roots by learning about the
monumental events that took place here.
After 17 years, Modi’in can
proudly boast thriving communities equipped with all the amenities of a modern
city, but where is the city’s soul? Modi’in’s central location has attracted
tens of thousands of people. But is that all this city is? A convenient midway
point between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv? Titura, the most well know historical site
in the city, continues to be threatened.
The ancient synagogue Um El
Umdan is being preserved in a joint effort by the city and the national
government but it is not set up to accommodate visitors. Most residents are
unaware of the other nearby sites (such as Givat Sher) and the many trails with
historical value. Certainly none of these draw outside visitors.
is most well-known historically as the site of the Hanukka story where the
Maccabees fought the Greeks. Every Hanukka, without fail, I receive calls from
family and friends from around the country asking what there is to see in
Modi’in to learn about Hanukka. Sadly, every year, I tell them there is nothing.
Yes, there is a parade and a contest and other annual events.
are scheduled, one-time productions that you must know about in advance and are
not necessarily intended to educate or connect the public to the land.
dream of a proper visitor’s center that would draw people from the around the
country and tourists from around the world, a place that promoted the heritage
of the actual land the modern city of Modi’in is built on. Such a center would
be the heart and soul of the city, a source of pride to the residents, and
especially our youth, sending the message that the land our homes and stores and
parks were built on have immeasurable value beyond their mere economic
Practically speaking, Modi’in’s proximity to the airport would
make it a natural first stop for tour groups. People would come in droves to
learn about Modi’in’s history, see the many artifacts that have been unearthed
during construction and be taken on guided tours of the ancient sites. Like in
many other visitors’ centers, there might be a movie which brings past events to
life allowing guests of all ages to get a real taste of ancient life in Modi’in
and how it served as a resting point on the way to Jerusalem.
center would no doubt be expensive to build (some estimates are as high as NIS
30 million) but it would also be a source of income for the city and boost the
city’s local economy. In addition to the entrance fee, local tour guides could
be available through the center to take visitors to other sites and trails in
and around Modi’in. Of course, once in Modi’in people would take advantage of
the vast shopping and eating opportunities. Modi’in would be listed as a tourist
attraction giving it valuable publicity. The visitor’s center would also provide
volunteer opportunities for residents.
Most importantly, though, a
visitor’s center would send a message to our youth that their connection to
their city goes deeper than a skateboarding park. The city expresses priorities
through spending and consciously, or subconsciously, the teens view what’s
really important through that prism. Movie theaters, bowling alleys and malls
all add to our quality of life but to give our lives meaning we, and our
children, need more.
The writer is a resident of Modi’in.
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