Bet Shemesh, Israel - Dec. 8 - Twenty English-speaking families in Israel have signed on to join a new community in a prime suburban setting inside the popular town of Ramat Bet Shemesh.

Ganei HaEla will be led by Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb, a dynamic and well respected rabbi who previously served Baltimore's Congregation Shomrei Emunah before moving to Israel with his family in 2010. 

"We will fill a compelling need for a cohesive community where families who share the values of commitment to Torah, the Jewish people, and the Land of Israel can come together to support each other in a warm and friendly environment," said Rabbi Gottlieb. “We are also excited to be a part of – to benefit from and contribute to – the full range of educational, communal, and recreational services located in the area.”

The first families are largely professionals, including doctors, accountants, educators, financial analysts and others ranging in age from the late 20's-40. Fifty families should join the group in the next few months as development and construction work begin.

"Greater Bet Shemesh is already Israel's number one community for young American and Anglo families," said Shelly Levine whose Tivuch Shelly, Ltd. has been a long-term marketer of the area, "I am certain that Ganei HaEla will take Bet Shemesh to the next level of most desired neighborhoods in Israel."

Levine added that a variety of spacious top standard housing options are being offered, from apartments to single-family houses, all within a meticulously cultivated gated community. "Needless to say, the prices will never be lower than they are today to acquire a home in Ganei HaEla."

Ganei Ha’Ela will be built around a beautiful synagogue and bet midrash, with nearby schools, religious institutions, and medical and commercial centers all servicing the community.

BJL Exclusive Interview with Rabbi Gottlieb:

Q. You are best known in Baltimore from your time as rabbi of Shomrei Emunah - what have you been doing since you made aliyah?

A. We were blessed with 6 wonderful years living in Baltimore and serving at Shomrei Emunah and we still miss the shul and our many special friends. Since moving to Israel I have divided my time between teaching at a number of the post-high school yeshivas and seminaries, working on a book for the OU Press about the halachos of Yom Tov, and working on this very exciting project to build a new community.

Q. Many Baltimore residents are familiar with Ramat Bet Shemesh from friends or relatives who already live there - in what way is this new community different from the existing communities in the area?

A. There are many wonderful communities throughout greater Beit Shemesh and we look forward to joining them and helping this area become even more attractive for people to move to. One important distinction, however, is that our community will be built around the shul and with the belief that having a vibrant kehilla and a rabbi you can relate to is the best way to raise your family. I was always struck by the central role that the various shuls –including but not limited to Shomrei Emunah – played in the lives of many families throughout the Baltimore community. We believe that this communal structure is important, especially for olim who are familiar with this focus and who will face common challenges in a new country and culture.

Q. What was the process for getting this project off the ground?

A. Typically, a location is targeted, housing is built, the project is marketed, and lastly, people buy homes and move in. Ganei Ha'Ela was engineered in the opposite direction. We began with a clear vision of a values-focused and idealistic community. We then identified a core group of wonderful families who matched our vision. And finally, we settled on a location and teamed up with a well-known builder who will help us turn our dream into a reality.

Q. What is the glue that will hold your residents together?

A. Commitment to our shared values and dedication to each other. Ganei Ha’Ela will be a cohesive community where families who share a commitment to Torah, the Jewish people, and Eretz Yisrael can come together in a warm and friendly environment to support each other.

Q. How do you account for your initial success?

A. Baruch Hashem in a very short time the first families have come forward to sign contracts and register for the project. Good news spreads fast and the momentum created from our core group has attracted other like-minded families. I truly believe that people are looking to become part of something bigger than themselves and that’s what we hope Ganei Ha’Elah will be.

Q. Who is your typical new family?

A. There are a variety of families – but so far most of the families range in age from mid to late 20s to early 40s, typically with 2-5 children. Generally they are professionals, such as doctors, accountants, educators, financial analysts and more. They are all idealistic, caring, and friendly, and they will make great neighbors! I should add that have already signed up one “Bubby and Zaydi” couple in their early 60s and we anticipate a number of other couples in that age range as well.

Q. Any final thoughts?

A. Baltimore is a wonderful community with many extraordinary shuls but there truly is nothing like the zechus of living in Eretz Yisroel at this remarkable moment in Jewish history. If aliyah is a dream of yours then I invite you to join me in Ganei Ha’Ela as we build something special.