Efrat in the distance, taken from Neve Daniel. [Photo Credit: Neriya Rubin, Lev Haolam]

Efrat is located approximately thirty kilometers south of Jerusalem, in the area of Judea known as Gush Etzion (or Etzion Block in English). It is the largest community in Gush Etzion and- like all of the communities in the Etzion Block- Efrat is adjacent to a road called Derech Avot (Path of the Patriarchs). This road is actually ancient and got its name from the fact it was the road Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob traveled along while they resided in Israel during the biblical era. The city of Efrat is actually mentioned in the bible (Genesis 35:19). When the bible records the passing of our matriarch Rachel, the phrase used is “And Rachel passed, and she was buried on the way Efrata, which is Bethlehem.” Most commentators translate the word Efrata to mean toward Efrat. (The tomb of Rachel is located between Efrat and Jerusalem.)

The goal of modern founders of the city was the establishment of an open urban community between the farther sections of Gush Etzion and Jerusalem, to strengthen the connection and create a bridge. The driving force behind the actualization of Efrat was Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. In the late 1970s, he discussed establishing a community in Gush Etzion with former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In 1983, just after Efrat’s establishment, Riskin immigrated from the United States to Efrat with his family, where he became the founding Chief Rabbi, a position he still holds.

Efrat is made up of seven neighborhoods named for the Seven Species: Rimon (pomegranate), Te’ena (fig), Gefen (grapevine), Dekel (date palm), Zayit (olive), Tamar (date), and Dagan (grain – symbolizing both wheat and barley).

The city of Efrat lies to the east of Highway 60, a dangerous road that has been the flashpoint of numerous Arab attacks against Israelis, including an increasing amount of rock-throwing incidents that continue to cause damage to passing cars and their drivers alike. This past Friday morning, just outside the entrance to the community of Efrat (Judea), in the Gush Etzion region of Israel, a teenage Arab terrorist rammed his car into David Haramati, a 70 year-old man. Haramati, who was lightly injured told Walla News that he saw the Arab smile just before he was run over in the attack. After the attack outside of Efrat, the Arab teenager was not apprehended immediately and continued to the nearby Gush Etzion Intersection, where he ran his car into Even Ezra Holeherng, a 35 year-old Israeli man and resident of the Kiryat Arba community. The first victim was lightly injured, while the second victim is in critical condition. We wish a speedy recovery for both David Haramati and Even Ezra Holeherng.

Due to the large population of Efrat, the city has its own local council, which is responsible for maintaining municipal responsibilities. In 2016, it had a population of 8,658. Efrat is located in the portion of Israel that was designated for the tribe of Yehudah (Juda).