The Binyamin region north of Jerusalem is a breathtaking place, containing beautiful mountains and valleys, with an abundance of streams, springs, and pools. It is also an area of great biblical importance, where the story of great figures in Jewish history unfolded – including Deborah, Hannah (the mother of Samuel), Samuel, Elisha, and Jeremiah, all of whom left their mark on the land and the landscape.
The Binyamin Regional Council is home to a diverse population. Between its mountains and valleys are ancient archaeological sites, nature reserves, beautiful streams, deserts, and breathtaking views. It’s a region with endless stories to tell, and its diverse, multi-cultured, and friendly residents are happy to welcome visitors from all around the world, to share in the history of this enchanting area.
Elected in 2018, Israel Ganz calls himself the governor (or head) of the Binyamin Regional Council, with over 80,000 residents living in 45 communities. The Binyamin Region, strategically situated on Jerusalem’s northern belt, includes a number of local municipalities as well, bringing the total population to 250,000 Israeli residents, all of whom are dependent on the infrastructure and security apparatus of the Binyamin Regional Council.
How has Israel Ganz helped the Israeli residents of the Binyamin region?
Since 2013, when he was appointed deputy mayor of Binyamin, Ganz has focused on improving Binyamin’s physical development, with proficiency in the management of an annual budget exceeding $100-million.
Ganz has taken upon himself multiple initiatives on many fronts to ensure that Binyamin remains a thriving community, and that tourism and interest in this significant region continue to grow, together with investment. This includes funds of over $8 million (he says an additional $8 million is needed) for the construction of a new state-of-the-art medical center. Finally, and most importantly, Ganz wants the region to remain a safe place as the nation of Israel battles terror on a daily basis.
I met Ganz a few months ago in New York City, where he told me about the new initiative that he was working on. Ganz said he was touring cities on the East Coast of the United States to seek donors for the 7,000-square-meter Binyamin Medical Center that is currently being built.
During his trip, he met with elected officials on Capitol Hill to update them on issues related to the communities of Judea and Samaria. During our conversation, Ganz conveyed to me how the Binyamin Medical Center will quickly change the lives of both Jews and non-Jews who reside in the northern suburbs of Jerusalem, an area that he governs, and is a project developed through a partnership between the Binyamin Regional Council and One Israel Fund.
In the past, those who resided in Judea and Samaria have had to travel over unsafe roads to get to hospitals throughout Israel in major city centers. This facility, while making the lives of so many in that area easier, will also take the stress off other hospitals, specifically in Jerusalem. No matter what the emergency or ailment may be (a terror attack, car accident, a heart attack), they will have access to top medical care in minutes instead of over an hour.
Moreover, the facility will be a great asset economically to the area, not only providing jobs to health professionals but also creating those essential jobs needed to help a medical facility run at an optimum level, such as office staff, orderlies, and custodial staff.
It will also have a profound benefit to many other businesses in and around the medical center. In addition to traditional services for fields such as cardiology, orthopedics, urology, and women’s health, the facility will offer allied health services such as rehabilitation and occupational therapy, ophthalmology, audiology, and podiatry. There will be a pharmacy on the premises, as well as emergency services and internal medicine. This past June, One Israel Fund honored Ganz and the Binyamin Region with a prize at a conference in New York.
On June 20, after four Israelis were murdered and four others wounded in a terror attack at a hummus restaurant near Eli in Binyamin, Ganz immediately visited the site of the attack in solidarity with the community, accompanied by Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan.
As Binyamin expands and more residents move to the area, Ganz (along with his team that includes Binyamin Council Director of International Relations Eliana Passentin) is promoting tourism to the area for people of all faiths across the globe. Part of this initiative includes the Binyamin Land of Prophets and Springs regional tour packages.
The day trips include visits to award-winning wineries, extreme adventure opportunities, and meetings with artists and artisans, residents and farmers. The history of the land comes alive through hearing the ancient stories of the prophets and seeing the freshwater springs for yourself. Ganz invites us all to visit Binyamin! ■
The writer received his undergraduate degree in business (cum laude) from Yeshiva University and his MBA with double distinction from Long Island University. He is a financial adviser who resides in New York City, and is involved in Israel-based and Jewish advocacy organizations