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Thursday, January 16, 2014

36 Years of Renewed Jewish Life in Ancient Shiloh

In the heart of the winter, in the beginning of the Jewish Month of Shevat thirty-six years ago seven young families and a handful of yeshiva students came to the site of the Biblical Shiloh to renew Jewish Life in one of the most important Biblical sites.

They, with the help of Gush Emunim and the more veteran Ofra residents, cleared a spot near some old roofless buildings, just south of Tel Shiloh and brought in caravans/mobile homes/trailers and a few tents. Infants, diapers and all, they were in the guise of archaeologists on a mission. The official mission was to dig up the past, but the true mission was to renew Jewish Life in the First Capital of the Biblical Jewish Nation, Shiloh.

There wasn't a proper road, no electricity, piped water, public transportation, telephones etc.  And you must remember that in 1978 not only weren't there cellphones or internet, many Israelis in the major cities still had to wait years for a phone line.  In nearby Tourmus Aiya, in the Valley of Shiloh, they still had the old operator system for phoning.  When Jordan illegally occupied the area from 1948 until 1967, they didn't modernize anything at all.  The State of Israel began modernization after the 1967 Six Days War building better and safer roads, bringing in electricity to replace the generators, water lines to replace local wells and a modern telephone system. But this all took time and money, and they hadn't yet gotten to the area of Shiloh.

Three and a half years later, when we moved to Shiloh, electricity was from a generator, water was trucked in daily and a few of proper modern phone numbers/lines had been assigned to the community that numbered over sixty families.



Today well over three hundred families of all ages and backgrounds live in Shiloh.  When the yishuv was smaller, we had a few years with a communal Seder TU b'Shvat, but nowadays people get together on their own.  Last night we were invited to neighbors to celebrate TU b'Shevat.  It was a nice mix of people from the most veteran to newer neighbors from all the neighborhoods.



And our local school which opened its doors, in a different location on the yishuv, for the first time on September 1, 1981 with only eighteen students in three classes is now a large regional school with hundreds of students in grades 1-8.


Actually it's now two different independently administrated schools, one for boys and one for girls. The students come from all over the area, not only from the Shiloh bloc of communities in the Mateh Binyamin Council.  There are students from the Shomron (Samaria) and the Bikaah (Jordan Valley.)  In addition there are stores and an industrial zone.  One of the big local businesses is the well-known Meshek Achiya Olive Oil, founded by the late Yossi Shuker, Z"L.

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