[Photo Credit: Menachem Brody]
Itamar is located in the Samarian mountains, five kilometers southeast of Shechem (Nablus) and the tomb of Joseph. The city is named after Itamar, the son of Israel’s first holy priest, Aaron. Itamar was is buried in Awarta – a village adjacent to the community. The community was started in 1984 by a small group of several families from Jerusalem who came out of the zionist Machon Meir Yeshiva (advanced seminary for Torah study). They had planned to set up a sister community for Kochav HaShachar (Kochav Hashachar B), when their spiritual leader, Rabbi Hanan Porat, met with the group and suggested that they create the community in the area immediately adjacent to Shechem, called “Tel Aroma,” an ancient fortress apparently dating back to the Hasmoneans. They created the community and called it “Tel Chaim” (Tel Hayim). It was named after Haim Landau, the former Minister of Transportation who was one of the commanders in Israel’s first army, and after a nearby archaeological site referred to as “Tel Chiyah” (Tel Hiyaah). To this day, the communities commitment to Torah Judaism and its values remain strong and as such, the community is made up primarily of Orthodox Jews.
There are several religious educational institutions in the community including a Yeshivah High School, Itamar Yeshiva (for post high school students); Nachshon honey, which is designed for boys and is based on the Hassidic Bratslav method of education; Beit Sarah, a Hasidic girls school; and Beer Miriam, an elementary school for girls. The religious youth movement Bnei Akiva also operates in the community.
There are several businesses in the community, most of which are agricultural. Some of the professions of members of the community include: growing organic crops, raising sheep and goats, producing cheese and olive oil. According to local residents, 80% of Israel’s domestically sold organic eggs are produced at Itamar’s chicken farm.
In addition to the above professionals, there is a lovely woman named Batya Erdstein who lives with her husband and six children in the community. Batya has produced some of the fine ceramic products that have been sent in Lev Haolam’s Surprise Monthly Packages. (Click here to read more about Batya and watch the video below for great excerpts from our interview with her.)
Itamar is located within the jurisdiction of the Shomron Regional Council. In 2016 it had a population of 1,151. The city is located in the portion of Israel that was designated for the tribe of Menashe (Manasseh), son of Joseph .