Efrat has long been a popular destination for English-speaking Olim. The community offers excellent schools, a close proximity to Jerusalem, a supportive community and a wide range of services. Although located in Gush Etzion (the Etzion bloc), Efrat is a separate municipality, with its own local government, Chief Rabbi (HaRav Shlomo Riskin) and municipal services for its residents. Efrat combines the services available in a city with the intimacy of a small community. It is divided into seven neighborhoods, each named for one of the seven species indigenous to the Land of Israel: Gefen, Te’ena, Rimon, Dekel, Dagan, Tamar and Zayit. Two of these neighborhoods (Dagan and Tamar) are still in the preliminary stages of permanent housing (208 units marketed on Dagan and 322 marketed on Tamar, and 200 more units planned on each) while the other five are already thriving neighborhoods. According to the housing units marketed and currently being built, there is an expected growth spurt of 60% of the population in the next 5 years.
There is little local employment within Efrat and the greater Gush Etzion area. Most residents work in the greater Jerusalem area or have home-based businesses.
Education / Youth
Efrat has much to offer in the way of formal educational programs. There are 22 Ganim, including five that are designed for children with special needs. The two elementary schools located in Efrat are Aseh Chayil and Orot Etzion. There is no secular education option for children in the community. There are several options for high schools both in Efrat and Gush Etzion; please see the Nefesh B’Nefesh school database for a listing. A small number of high school students choose to learn in Jerusalem and an even smaller percent are in the Beit Shemesh area.
One of Efrat’s unique institutions is its Women’s Beit Midrash, which is operated in conjunction with the women of Gush Etzion. The Women’s Beit Midrash offers a wide array of classes at various levels, taught by some of the most respected Torah teachers in the area. There is a Hesder Yeshiva in Efrat as well as the English speaking Yeshivat Hamivtar.
Efrat is accessible via public and private transportation. Thanks to a highway linking Jerusalem with Efrat and Gush Etzion, Efrat is a 30 minute drive from the center of Jerusalem, and 20 minutes from the industrial/commercial district of Talpiot. By car, it takes about 30 minutes to travel to Beit Shemesh, and 1.5 hours to Tel Aviv. From Jerusalem’s central bus station and other locations in the city, it is possible to take the 161, 164, 165, 167 or 169 buses. Most of these buses wind their way through Efrat and drop passengers off within a few blocks of their homes. It is possible to live in Efrat without a car, although it does make life a bit more challenging, as it may be difficult to get to anywhere else in Gush Etzion.
There is no bus service to Tel Aviv, although there are car pools, and some residents drive to the train station in Beit Shemesh and take a 35 minute train ride to Tel Aviv.
Efrat is a hospitable location for new Olim. The Moetza (municipality) employs a liaison to work with English-speaking Olim. Residents of the community, many of them Olim themselves, take good care of newcomers. After arriving, the new family is likely to have Shabbat invitations for several months.
Efrat does not have its own Ulpan, but sends residents to the regional Ulpan in Alon Shvut.
Children have a 2 week ulpan day camp in August.
Amenities / Services
Efrat has one of the most active Matnasim (community centers) in the country. Each year, it offers dozens of classes for children and adults in sports, swimming, sculpture, dance, computers, martial arts and various other activities. The fee for most of these classes is reasonable, and over half of the town’s residents participate in at least one activity. The main Matnas is located in the Gefen neighborhood, while an active branch is maintained in Zayit.
There is a senior citizens club that meets in the community center. Plans are underway to build a full senior adult center that will service the entire senior population of the city. In addition, some senior residents of Efrat often travel to nearby Alon shvut to participate in the activities offered by their senior adult center. Transportation is provided.
In addition, Efrat has a beautiful library with books in a variety of languages that mirror the diversity of the community. The library also has weekly reading and storytelling groups for children in Hebrew and English.
Aside from several grocery stores, houseware & clothing stores, and eateries, Efrat has a Curves branch and a money changer.
Community and Religious Life
Efrat is a community around which families can truly build their lives. Residents are actively involved in the community, participating in numerous Chesed activities, attending over 200 religious and cultural classes, patronizing local businesses, and praying at the synagogues. During the week, Efrat is alive with activity and on Shabbat, the community atmosphere is pervasive. Residents are primarily Nationalist-Religious, with very small numbers of Chardal and non-observant members. There are 22 Orthodox (Ashkenazi and Sephardi) synagogues, Yeshivot, and kollelim.
Social life in Efrat very much revolves around the synagogues; families that live in different neighborhoods are often drawn together through their connection to one of Efrat’s shuls. Unlike a Yishuv, Efrat is an open community that does not require prospective residents to pass through an interview and acceptance process. Walking around on Shabbat, one is likely to see mostly crocheted kippot, a couple of black hats and streimels, mostly crocheted kippot, a few bare heads, and sometimes one or two cars.
3 Bedroom Apt: 4,000 NIS
4 Bedroom Apt: 5,000 NIS
Semi Detached Home (250m): 11,000 NIS
3 Bedroom Apt: 1,300,000 NIS
4 Bedroom Apt: 1,600,000 NIS
Semi Detached Home (340m): 2,600,000 NIS