Maale Amos was founded in the early 1980s and was originally settled by a group of Aish HaTorah kollel students, with many changes in demographic until it eventually evolved into a Hareidi community under the leadership of its American-born Mara D’Asra, Rav Ze’ev Wolf Charlop, Shlita.
The view from Maale Amos includes Herodian, and the Dead Sea and Jordanian mountains to the east.
Maale Amos’s population engages in diverse occupations. A significant number of the men learn in Kollel either locally or in Jerusalem. Some residents work locally, either in Yishuv-related occupations (child care, teachers, gardener/handyman, office manager/secretary, security, etc.) or in telecommuting positions based at home. Other residents work in the Gush Etzion area or in Jerusalem.
Residents of Maale Amos work in the following occupations: real estate, medical secretaries, education and special education, child care, graphic arts, translation, security, electrician, Egged bus driver, accounting, nursing, contractor, produce sales and delivery, doula and childbirth instructor, pizza shop in Efrat, architect, personal trainer, painter, tefillin batim, interior decorator, senior citizen caretakers, bookkeeping, sofrim, and many more. The Yishuv’s industrial area currently houses a contractor, welding shop and storage facIllity.
Education / Youth
Maale Amos’s educational facilities include separate pre-schools for boys and girls; a Bais Yaakov for grades 1-8; and a Talmud Torah for grades 1-6, under the Chinuch Atzmai system. The schools are located in modern buildings and feature small classes – about ¼ to ⅓ the amount of students per class, compared to many Jerusalem Hareidi classrooms. Students come to Maale Amos’s schools from other area Yishuvim as well, including Metzad, Bat Ayin and Beitar Illit.
High-school age girls and older boys travel to Jerusalem on free bus transportation provided by the Gush Etzion Regional Council; some others attend schools in Beitar Illit. Students who require special education outside the Yishuv receive free door-to-door van service.
The community-operated day care center which cared for babies and children ages 3 months to 3 years is closing down due to lack of financial stability. However, it is expected that several residents will open private child care services, either in their homes or in the former community day care center facility.
Egged provides several buses each day to and from Jerusalem– 1 in the morning; 2 in the afternoon; and 3 in the evening/night. Sometimes people can travel on the student buses as well, depending on space availability. About 60% of the families have cars, and people also hitch-hike with local residents. Traveling to Jerusalem by car takes about 25-60 minutes, depending on the specific destination, time of day, and traffic.
The Yishuv does not have the facIllities to provide official Israeli government services to new Olim, such as Ulpan for adults and school-age students, tutoring in the schools, etc. For this and other reasons, moving directly to the Yishuv from another country would not be an easy transition, unless your Hebrew is already excellent; you do not have school age children; you are already Israel-style Hareidi and are aware of all the obvious and subtle practices and hashkafa; and you can handle the totally different lifestyle, such as no neighborhood stores.
On a personal and Yishuv level, however, we go all-out to make new residents feel at home and acclimate bureaucratically, logistically and socially. Many of our residents were once-upon-a-time new Olim who are happy to share their experience regarding where to obtain food, clothing, appliances, services, etc. If we can’t answer your question, then most likely we can point you into the right direction.
Amenities / Services
We are 12 minutes from Efrat, which features grocery stores and an excellent basic and urgent care medical center staffed by English-speaking personnel. More medical specialists and diagnostic tests are available in Beitar Illit and Jerusalem. Gush Etzion’s central shopping area, a 15-minute drive, features many types of stores, including a Rami Levi supermarket. However, most residents do their major grocery shopping in Beitar Illit (25 minutes away) or Jerusalem, where they can more readily obtain produce and meat with the best Hareidi hechsherim. A Kupat Holim Leumit clinic on the Yishuv currently offers once-a-week bloodwork and a twice-a-week family doctor.
Community and Religious Life
Men, women, and children are able to grow spiritually through a variety of formal and informal Torah learning. A kollel operates on the Yishuv, and several shiurim for men are offered in Hebrew and English. Women’s shiurim are offered in Hebrew and English; and pairs or small groups of women also learn together informally. Avos U’Banim also takes place, either on Shabbos afternoon or Motzai Shabbos, depending on the time of year.
Every month there is an organized women’s Rosh Chodesh Party which features any of the following: a speaker, performance (musical or drama); crafts activity, game, refeshments or meal, etc.
Chugim are available for children, teens and women, including crafts-type, musical, carpentry, cooking, story-related, exercise, etc. activities. There is also a Yeshiva Bein Hazmanim for teenage boys during their vacation time; as well as separate summer camp programs for younger boys and girls.
There are separate women’s, men’s and keilim mikvaos.
One large Shul serves the needs of all the Sephardi and Ashkenazi members. (This may change once large groups of new residents move in.)
Nearly every home on the Yishuv is currently occupied. However, a new imminent project undertaken by Ariel Yezamot is slated to build 4-unit-buildings – with first floor 4-room apartments; and 2nd-floor 3-bedroom apartments plus a porch; with the option to add 2 more rooms on the first floor. The second floor apartments could convert the porch space to an extra bedroom; or add more rooms when the ground floor apartments below are expanded.
Several families who are currently renting homes are in the process of building individual homes.
Due to the current expansion, it is impossible to predict what the “going rate” of rentals will be when they become available when current renters move to their new homes; or what will be the going rate of sales prices on these homes if they are put up for sale.
It should be noted that there is a Klita process to be allowed to move into the Yishuv. The Klita process, until now, consisted of filling out a form, coming for a weekday visit/ tour/pre-screening meeting (husband and wife) and then coming with the family for a Shabbos, with a meeting with the Va’ad Kabbala and the Mara D’Asra and notification of acceptance (or not) within one month. Families who then move in are required to rent for one year before purchasing a home, to make sure that the Yishuv-family match is right for both sides.
Families who buy homes via Ariel will undergo a somewhat abridged screening process, since it is impossible to execute such an involved Klita process on a large scale; while those who wish to rent first (when there are available homes) may undergo the original Klita process.
The original homes in Maale Amos were caravans. As different phases of construction were completed, people moved into regular homes. The first phase of homes were Astrom villas made of stone, featuring various numbers of bedrooms, with space to convert the space under the roof to a second floor. The second phase consisted of Randor 1-story wooden homes (covered in stucco). These homes were originally 2 semi-detached 3-room homes, although most buyers bought the double home, broke down the wall and created various layouts. The third phase consisted of e models of prefab homes, including semi-detached homes.
Current residents are building homes on empty lots within the current neighborhoods, or on the bottom of the Yishuv. The Ariel project will begin near the top of the Yishuv, in an area formerly occupied by caravans, and expand as more people buy homes.