City Type: Major City
Affordability: 600,000 - 1 million NIS
Demographic Characteristics: Families, Retirees, Singles, Young Couples & Families
Affiliation: Chabad, Chardal, Conservative, Dati Leumi, Haredi, Secular
The ancient Biblical city of Ashkelon is today a beautiful community of 110,000 residents, nestled on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Ashkelon is 48 km South of Tel Aviv, approximately 50 minutes by train, 40 minutes by car. Providing a high standard of living at low cost, Ashkelon is an excellent community in which to start a new life in Israel.
In the early 1950′s, a large number of South African Jews immigrated to Ashkelon, followed by successive waves of Olim from the UK – definitely bringing a touch of their culture to this beachside city.
Hubs of employment are very accessible to residents of Ashkelon. The city is centrally located, with frequent buses and trains that travel all over the country. Keep in mind that, like most places in Israel, the local employment options will require some knowledge of Hebrew.
Education / Youth
Ashkelon offers religious and secular schools at every level. The students in the city have benefited from some forward-looking programs. For example, in order to familiarize students with the computer sciences, computer systems were installed in schools from the elementary level upwards, as well as in some nursery schools. The computers were purchased as part of a community computerization program, which is a joint venture of Ben-Gurion University, the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the Ashkelon Municipality. Schools such as Omanuyot (1-12, Secular) and Madaaim (1-7, Religious/Science) have won several awards.
All first-grade students in the city study music, and fourth-graders enjoy tennis and swimming lessons as part of their regular school curriculum. Due to its location on the Mediterranean, pupils also receive sailing lessons.
Ashkelon also offers opportunities for higher education, as it is home to the ever- expanding Ashkelon Academic College.
Tel Aviv is accessible by frequent buses, trains, and Sherut (shuttle)services. Buses take around 50 minutes of travel time, and trains take around 40 minutes. There is also a bus line to Jerusalem, with buses leaving every hour; the trip takes approximately 1 1/4 hours. Within Ashkelon itself, it takes around 5 minutes to travel from any part of the city to the city center, and a car is not necessary for inner-city travel. There are plenty of cab companies and an extensive inner-city bus line.
Ashkelon has offices of Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of the Interior) and Misrad Haklita (Ministry of Absorption) located in the center of town. There are Ulpan options available for new immigrants. In addition, local English speakers started their own private Ulpan course. Several English speakers work in the municipality and help interface with municipal offices. There is an active English speaking organization, community library and book clubs, Chesed (charity) organizations, as well as Shiurim (Torah study groups) and craft groups.
They have a volunteer committee that answers all inquiries from Anglos about Ashkelon. They have also put together a comprehensive 18 page Aliyah and Klitah guide to Ashkelon.
ESOA (English-Speakers of Ashkelon) – Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/115063918524166/
Amenities / Services
Municipal buildings are located in the city center, which also has three malls and a center for the performing arts. Every neighborhood has its own Matnas (community center), with dedicated activities for residents of all ages. Shopping centers are conveniently located throughout the city and twice a week there is a large open air market.
Ashkelon has a major hospital, Barzilai, which is the only large hospital in the region.
Community and Religious Life
Ashkelon’s communities are as diverse as Israel itself, with families from all over the Diaspora and large numbers from Ethiopia, Russia and Morocco. There is an active Conservative synagogue hosting a number of English speaking families, numerous Orthodox synagogues comprised of English speaking members as well as religious classes offered to men and women in English. The English-speaking community is comprised of both retirees who wanted a higher standard of living at a lower cost, and young families who wanted to start off in a more Israeli community.
The city is growing rapidly, with new apartment buildings and villas going up all the time.
Average prices for purchasing an apartment:
2 bedroom apartments: 500,000 NIS
3 bedroom apartments: 620,000 NIS
4 bedroom apartments: 800,000 NIS
5 bedroom apartments: 1,000,000 NIS
Average prices for renting an apartment:
2 bedroom apartments: 2,000 NIS
3 bedroom apartments: 2,500 NIS
Due to location; apartments close to the Marina/beach can be pricier.
Updated: May, 2013
English Speakers of Ashkelon
Doris Seaberg and Orli Avior (chairwomen)
Rona Roth (head of ESOA hospitality) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bernie & Dikla Malaky
Ashkelon by the Sea – https://www.facebook.com/ashkelononthesea
E.S.O.A. – https://www.facebook.com/groups/115063918524166/
“The Ultimate Guide to Ashkelon”: http://www.nbn.org.il/gosouth/the-ultimate-guide-to-ashkelon/