My town of Eli has:
4,000 inhabitants, divided into approximately 850 families, of whom 15% are secular;
1,624 children from age 0 to 18;
12 pre-school (age 3-5) classes;
3 elementary schools with 700 children grades first through eighth (next year a fourth school is being started);
9 youth directors for religious, secular and newly-arrived youth;
2 youth groups for kids from third grade through high school;
2 afternoon programs for kids from families with socioeconomic challenges;
1 senior citizens club where every lecture is given in four languages simultaneously (French, Russian, English and Hebrew – all the pre-schools and schools teach in Hebrew).

What do people do?
2 mothers are career officers in the IDF;
150 people work at the local hi-tech company;
Hundreds of students studying in universities or in the local yeshiva (advanced academy of Higher Jewish Studies).
There are lawyers, doctors, dentists, engineers, people in hi-tech either in-town or out, people in education from teachers and rabbis to principals, social workers, people who work in government in various capacities, people who work in Israel Aircraft Industries and in the Israeli space program, artists, plumbers, electricians, builders, gardeners, people employed by the local town council and people who work in the shopping center. About 80 fathers and husbands are in the army.

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What do you need? An interest-free small loan? You can get it. A baby crib, pacifiers, or baby clothes? Tables and chairs for a dinner? Weed whacker? Garden tools? You can get all those and more for a minimal price to cover the upkeep of the respective lending societies.


What can you buy? There's a supermarket. Want pizza? A chicken steak? We have both – of course in two separate restaurants. Women's clothes? Handcrafted ceramics? Artistic jewelry? Hardware? How about a spice shop? Or an "all the little stuff" store? Someone to fix your computer? Teach you piano? Guitar? Judo? French? English? Get a hair cut? Beauty parlor? Get advice – rabbinic, financial, educational, before birth, after birth, marriage? We have all those, and more. We have physical therapists, social therapists, a chiropractor, a bookstore, tailors, paramedics, graphic artists, doulas, scribes, accountants, photographers etc. – you name it and we probably have it.

What we don't have? We don't have kids or adults that throw stones at Arabs, that hate our Arab neighbors or steal even a single olive from their trees, We abhor violence, seek to respect our Arab neighbors and their property. Our town is built on a rocky ridge, because it's built on state land, not private land, land that neither was cultivated nor is within a rooster's call from the last house of the nearest Arab village (that's a concept in Ottoman law). In other words – our village is built on state land; land that tends to be on the rocky hills.

There is a charity fund to help out those unfortunates who don't have work, can't work, for various reasons, or just can't make ends meet. Yes – there are Jews in Judea and Samaria who are poor, whereas most are middle class. This fund is totally run by people in the community and financed by the people of my town, with no outside help. It takes a village to take care of its people.

The biggest project that is totally entrusted to the youth – high-schoolers – is the annual camp for handicapped or disadvantaged kids. Our youth run an overnight camp in the town for eight to ten days, bringing in kids with different disabilities, sometimes autistic kids, sometimes mentally challenged, and sometimes kids with Down syndrome. The funding for this camp is raised by our kids alone, some 100,000 shekels that pays for all the expenses. Our kids themselves all work as volunteers. It is one of the great teaching experiences that our kids go through, teaching them organization, hard work, empathy for others and taking responsibility.

And now my town is getting ready for Passover, our national birthday, the day we celebrate being ourselves, being free. And on Passover eve we'll sit with the entire family and ask a lot of questions, the whole story of our history is a story of questions and answers. Not all questions have an answer – so we'll open our doors and open our hearts to Elijah the Prophet, who walked these hills, and by tradition – one day he will come and give us some answers,

Have a good and happy holiday!

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