Beit Shemesh Biblical History
Beit Shemesh is rooted in Tanach, and is first mentioned in the Book of Joshua (15) as a city in the territory of the tribe of Judah on the border between their territory and that of the tribe of Dan. Later in Joshua 21 Beit Shemesh is mentioned as having been set aside as a Levite city. We are close to the Elah valley where David slew Goliath. Here, one can imagine the battle scene as described in Samuel 1, ch.17, with Saul and the men of Israel massing on one side of the valley, the Philistines stationed on the opposite hillside, with the ravine between them. Beit Shemesh is mentioned in the book of Samuel I as being the first city encountered by the ark of the covenant on its way back from Philistia after having been captured by the Philistines in battle.
Modern Beit Shemesh, Ramat Beit Shemesh Demographics and Recent History
Beit Shemesh and the newer section called Ramat Beit Shemesh (or Beit Shemesh heights), is both an old and a new city rolled into one enormously eclectic mélange of, dati Leumi (modern Orthodox), Anglo Chareidi, Israeli Charedi and secular with a current population of about 110,000, a 40% increase over the past 15 years. Beit Shemesh is about 35 km (23 miles) southwest of Jerusalem and about 45 km southeast of Tel Aviv. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Israel: The city of Beit Shemesh is expected to double in size over the next three years to over 200,000!
When the city was built in the 1950s, it was initially settled by new immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Romania, Bulgaria, Morocco and Iraqi Kurdistan. In the 1990s, the city saw a large influx of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and English-speaking countries, turning it into a major center for Anglo immigrants. Beit Shemesh’s major Anglo growth began in the 1990’s in communities such as Sheinfeld, Nofei Aviv, Migdal Hamayaim and Nofei Hashemesh.
The building of Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph (Beit Shemesh Heights) began in the mid to late 1990s, doubling the size of the city of Beit Shemesh. The Ramah, as it is fondly called, is located on a hill overlooking the “old town.” It has a diverse, largely Orthodox population with a large percentage of English speakers including Dati Leumi (modern Orthodox), Haredi and Hassidic, Ashkanazim and Sephardim. In 2007, construction of Ramat Shilo began, considered a subdistrict of Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph. Since then, Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph has experienced rapid growth and development, including recent new construction on the lower slopes of the hill, called Mishkafaim and M3. The population of Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph today is over 8,000 and growing. Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph is a welcoming community for Jews from across the Orthodox spectrum.
Why Beit Shemesh?
There are few places in the world more suited to raising a Jewish family in a loving, caring community with top resources and a great standard of living. Beit Shemesh is one of the few locations in Israel offering residents the option of working in both greater Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Commuting time to either ranges from 35 mins- 1 hour, depending on time of day, destination in the city and traffic. Surrounded by beautiful hills, plains, hiking trails, rivers, archaeology and biblical/ historical sites, Beit Shemesh is a 35 minutes’ drive to Ben Gurion airport; an under 30 minutes’ drive to Modi’in and Gush Etzion/ Efrat. Beaches in the Rishon L’Tzion/ Ashkelon region and many other places on the coast are just 35 minutes away. We are a 25 minutes’ drive to Hadassah Hospital (Ein Karem), 30 minutes to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center and a 45 minute drive to Be’er Sheva and on to the Negev.