Hashmonaim from the north. In the background are the tall buildings of the city of Modiin. [Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Hashmonaim is a national religious community located in the western section of Samaria roughly equidistant from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The cornerstone ceremony for the community was held on Dec. 4, 1983, followed by the beginning of work on the infrastructure. The cornerstone ceremony for the first houses in the community was held on June 12, 1984, attended by then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir, Chief Sephardi Rabbi HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu, and many dignitaries, including Arab leaders from the area.

During August 1987, the first 10 families moved into the community. These first families lived under difficult conditions, without electricity, telephone service, or paved roads. Of particular note is the fact that the community was founded as a private enterprise, by advocates Shmuel Appel and David Zeira, and all of the infrastructure for the community was paid for by the local residents, without government support. And as it was then, the community continues to fund infrastructure projects for their community and do not rely on the government for money.

Hashmonaim also prides itself on the closeness of the community members, which take the form of volunteer assistance programs and lending programs funded by individual benefactors. Approximately half of the community’s residents are native English speakers. According to an article in Haaretz, many residents commute to jobs in the United States or work for American companies.

The name Hashmonaim is a reference to Hashmonay, the ancestor of Mattathias (Mattityahu), the Kohen (priest), who was the Father of the first of the royal Hasmonean kings. The royal Hasmonean dynasty came about as a result of a revolt led by Mattathias, the Kohen. One day, during the period of the second Holy Temple in Jerusalem, during the reign of the Hellenistic Green King Antiochus, the henchmen of Antiochus arrived in the village of Modiin (close to modern-day community of Hashmonaim) where Mattityahu, the elderly cohen (priest), lived. One Hellenistic officer built an altar in the marketplace of the village and demanded that Mattityahu offer sacrifices to the Greek gods. Mattityahu replied, “I, my sons and my brothers are determined to remain loyal to the covenant which our G‑d made with our ancestors!”

A revolt of the Jewish people ensued, and in the aftermath, the Jewish people restored what had been damaged in the Holy Temple and restored dignity to the Jewish people and its faith. As a result of the righteousness and courage with which the family of the Mattityahu presented themselves, the Jewish people united in crowing Simon Maccabeus, the son of Mattityahu as the new King of Judea. Simon was the first in a succession of kings from the Hasmonean dynasty.

The community of Hashmonaim falls under the jurisdiction of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council of Israel. In 2016 it had a population of 2,826. The community is located in the portion of Israel that was designated for the tribe of Ephraim.