Picture of the archaeological site, Deir Samaan, right outside Leshem [photo credit: sodqe muhammad].

Leshem is a religious community, about 25 km east of Tel Aviva and 40 km northwest of Jerusalem, in West Samaria. It was originally built to be an Alei Zahav neighborhood, although it is its own community. It is west of Alei Zahav and near the communities of Peduel, Bruchi and Beit Aryeh-Ofrarim, as well as next to the archeological site of Deir Samaan (pictured above). Leshem is governed by the Shomron Regional Council.

Originally, Leshem was started in 1999 when permits were given to people looking to establish the hills outside of Alei Zahav. It was called Adanim. However, during the second intifada (a wave of terrorist attacks in 2000) the community was left unfinished for a decade. It was used by the IDF for a training site during these years.

Almost a decade after the project was abandoned, Harey Zahav, one of the leading companies in the real estate market in Judea and Samaria, took over and started construction. Leshem was officially founded on August 15, 2013, after 70 homes were built over the course of three years. Leshem rapidly grew and a second and third complex were built, doubling the size of the town to accommodate an increased demand for housing.

The community of Leshem [photo credit: Harey Zahav

The name “Leshem” comes from one of the precious stones in the breastplate that the High Priest would wear in the days of the Temple. The Priestly Breastplate consisted of 12 precious gems that each represented one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The Leshem gemstone is believed to be either amber or jacinth and represents the tribe of Dan.

After being established, 130 families joined Leshem in the first five years. In 2017, the population increased to about 190 families, with approximately 900 residents in total. The families consist of religious Zionist families who are both Israeli and born abroad. Many Anglos from America, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa live in Leshem. There are also many immigrants from The Netherlands, Russia, Argentina, and France.

Leshem contains a mikvah (ritual bath), a playground and a youth group center. It also has various schools for younger children including kindergartens, preschools, nursery schools and an elementary school. Leshem is still growing and there are plans for building a commercial center to house a grocery store, a medical center and other important amenities to the community.