Parent and children learning event

6 08 2012

When the Hochhausers moved to Ariel from Beit Shemesh a few years ago, Elie took it upon himself to organize Shabbat afternoon learning for parents and kids. (הורים וילדים). After learning is completed Elie asks the kids questions from the parsha and gives out treats and tickets. Every couple of months Elie organizes a Friday morning event; there is some learning, snacks, an activity and the kids can “cash in” their tickets for prizes.

This past Friday was one of those days. We went to a Ma’ayan (little pool) near Har Bracha. There were over 40 people, a mix of Anglos and Israeli’s who participated. The morning started off with a short play, yours truly managed to stumble through my one line, some singing and then it was off to the pool.

The kids waiting for the play

The Play

Once the kids, and some parents, were through splashing and playing in the water, it was time for snacks and prizes.

One of the things that we really liked when checking out Ariel is that it was, and still is, a growing city. There is still a lot of room for new projects and ideas. All it takes is someone

to come and take the initiative to get something started, whether it’s Shabbat afternoon learning or a women’s basketball game. It’s easy to make an impact and help the community grow.

Kol Hakavod to Elie for organizing the learning every Shabbat, may we continue to have more and more people every Shabbat

Ariel Learning

Standing by the pool

Baseball in Ariel?

24 07 2012

Before we made Aliyah, we would take the kids to Tiger baseball games. My oldest, who was 4 when we moved, really enjoyed going to the ballpark and was able to sit through an entire game. Fast forward about 4 years, and he is still really into baseball. Every morning he asks me who won the Tigers game. He is always asking me to either play catch with him, or pitch to him. And now that the kids are on summer vacation, when the Tigers play a day game, I’ll let them stay up and watch a few innings.

I kind of feel bad for him, because other than me, at least in Ariel, he has no other real outlet for his love of baseball. He has cousins from Modiin who are also really into baseball, and play Israeli Little League. His oldest cousin is currently playing in a tournament in the States with the National Israeli Youth Team.

I’ve recently started thinking about what options we have in Ariel. One option is to take him to Karnei Shomron, it’s a yishuv about 20 minutes from Ariel – that has a little league. There are a few downsides to that plan:

  1. That would be his only Chug (after school event), and it wouldn’t be with his local friends,
  2. Shlepping back and forth to Karnei Shomron would probably be a pain for my wifeJ

I was discussing this with a friend of mine here, and he suggested that I start a local Chug, It wouldn’t be a Little League more of a “learn how to play baseball”. There are several issues with this option:

  1. I don’t know how to teach baseball
  2. I don’t have gloves, bats and balls.
  3. There isn’t a good flat area that we can play on.

So that is the (lack of) Ariel Baseball situation I’m curious to see how this all plays out over the next year or two. Ideally more American kids (and their families) they don’t even have to be American, just an interest in baseball, will move into Ariel and we can get a team started here, and join the Israeli Little League circuit.

Do you need a car to live in Ariel?

12 07 2012

This question is asked by just about everyone who comes to check out Ariel. I can remember asking it when we were in Ariel on our pilot trip. We were told by Avi Z.(name not changed to protect his innocence), who was the Ariel Aliyah Coordinator at the time, that we do not need a car to live in Ariel (He still stands by it). So the short answer is no, you don’t need a car. There are a lot of people, both olim and Israeli’s, who have been in Ariel for several years and manage just fine without a car.

There are buses and Haso’ot (transportation vans) that run through the city every 15 minutes and continue on to Rosh Ha’ayin, Petach Tikva, and Tel Aviv. There are also buses that go to Jerusalem, so one can rely on public transportation. Lots of people also “tremp” or hitchhike both to Jerusalem and to the Petach Tikvah/Tel Aviv area.

In my humble opinion there are more factors that go into it than that. I think it really depends on the person and their background. I came from Detroit; I had a car since I was 18 years old and never had to use public transportation. The idea of waiting around for the bus was so foreign to me, that when I got here I preferred walking than waiting for the bus. So for someone from New York, who is used to taking buses and subway and a variety of public transportation, it might be an easier adjustment than for someone from the Midwest who is used to driving everywhere. Also it depends on the number of kids you have, bringing one kid on the bus is easy, but taking 3 or 4 young ones can be tough.

Before we bought a car, we would rent one during vacations and holidays. That was convenient for those times that we wanted the freedom to drive around to visit family and friends and participate in the activities going on all around the country In the long run it was cheaper than owning a car at the time, but it could also be a hassle to deal with picking up and returning the car.

I think what finally gave us the push to buy a car was one evening the wife and I went to a movie in Petach Tikva. After the movie, it was getting late and our babysitter had to get home. We waited by the bus stop for about 45 minutes but what felt like hours, knowing that we really needed to get back. Another 45 minutes on the bus and we were home. I remember thinking myself that this is crazy, we live 20-25 minutes from the mall, there is no reason it should take us an hour and half to get home.

As I think of my friends and people I know in Ariel, there are a good percentage of them that don’t have a car, so one definitely doesn’t NEED a car. It comes down to personal preference and financial flexibility.

Of course, there are always exceptions, what if you have a job in a location that isn’t easily accessible by public transportation or you have family/friends that you plan on visiting often who aren’t easily accessible, or a doctor’s appointment that is out of the way. When that is the case then wherever you live you’d probably need a car, and not specific to Ariel.

Fun on a Friday Morning – Ariel Leadership Development Park

2 07 2012
The group is ready to take on The Odyssey

We were ready to take on The Odyssey

This past Friday a group of guys from Ariel celebrated the last day our kids are in school and Gan by going to the Ariel Leadership Development Park (פארק אתגרים) for a guys day out.

The Odyssey - Ariel Leadership Park

The Odyssey

The Park is designed for groups, usually work groups or families, to learn to work together, rely on each other and basically to bond as a group. It looks like a jungle gym for adults.

There are many different structures and things to do at the LDP, our group braved The Odyssey, I’m guessing it’s around 50 feet off the ground, there are two levels – the upper level, and then the really high level. We were divided into 2 groups of six. The group I was in went up to the really high level.

The Rope Ladder, going up the The Odyssey

It begins

Our journey started on a simple rope ladder; once we reached the top of the Odyssey we had our “Lobster Claws,” or safety belts, strapped to cables above our heads.  Our guide, Shlomo, explained the rules to us. We had to get to next platform, which was 20 feet or so in front of us, walking on a cable wire. There were 3 lanes which we could walk on, and three rows of cables above us, each row having 2 people connected it by their safety belt. In front of us were 7 wooden beams hanging from a cable, our entire team had to grab a hold of the beam before we could move on.  There was nothing to hold onto for balance, except our friends, and the wooden beams (once we reached them). There was nothing

Taking the fiorst step, The odyssey, Ariel

Nothing was more terrifying than that first step onto the ropes

more terrifying than taking that first step off the nice solid platform, onto the wobbly cable wire, with no safety net underneath. We discussed our plan of action, figured out how we would maneuver, remember, since we were attached to different rows of cables, it’s not like we could just go from cable to cable, every step had to be coordinated with the other guys.

After we managed to get to the other side Shlomo presented us with out next challenge, once again we had to cross another 20-30 feet of cable wire, this time we were set up so that there were 3 people on each side, and 2 ropes coming down from the cable, through a pulley. Each side had to hold onto a piece of the rope, manage to get across. The trick here was there were several knots in the ropes, Shlomo said that if one of the knots touches the base of the pulley he’d knock everybody down, so we had to manage how hard we pulled on the ropes, and keep a level balance.  The closer we got to the end, the farther apart our two sides got, and we had to adjust our walking strategy on the fly. Again, we survived and passed the course with flying colors.

Step 1 Grab the beams - The odyssey

The first two guys reach the wooden beams

The third section was a little easier, all 6 of us sat on a bench and had to pull the bench, buy grabbing ropes and get to the other side. At first it was a breeze, but towards the end, the bench got stuck, and we had to readjust our weight, I was elected to stand up, move to the back of the bench and crouch down over the rope while pulling it, as if I was water skiing. I did as I was told, the bench flew forward and I fell backwards. It was not a comfortable fall, but boy was I glad that the harness held!

A view from the top of The Odyysey

A peek at what the other group was doing

The fourth and final level on The Odyssey was to again cross about 10-30 feet, but this time we had to stand on a platform maybe 1 square foot.

All set to go on the Odyssey

You see those little squares way up in the sky, we had to balance 6 people on each square

To be clear, I mean that all 6 of us had to stand on this wobbly little platform without falling. Once everyone got on the platform, we had to, one at a time, get to the next platform, and maneuver around so everyone can get on. Again, the closer we got to the end, the more wobbly the platforms became. Twice, most of the group fell while we were trying to move around on the platform so the next guy could get on. The rule was you couldn’t walk on the cables like in previous challenges; you had to basically stretch your leg as far as possible and with the help of the other guys, get onto the platform.

Getting off The Odyysey required a zip line

Taking a zip-line off The Odyssey

When we were done with that, we got to go down with a zip line which was cool.

The last activity we did was the swing. Here we got strapped to a harness again, and the other guys pulled a rope, which raised the swinger in the air. When the swinger was as high as he wanted, he yelled stop, the rope team stopped pulling and the swinger let go off a rope he was holding that kept

Swinging at Ariel Leadership Park


him up, and basically sent him into a free fall and he started swinging around. It was very cool.



To look at the full photo album click here

Here are some video we were able to take

Here is a video of Yitzie getting off the Odyssey on the Omega

Here is Shauli going up (and down) on the swing.

Babies Babies Everywhere

27 06 2012

It’s baby season in Ariel!

Akiva Shimson and Nava

Akiva Shimson and Nava have their first play date

The Ariel Anglos community would like to wish a big Mazal Tov to Tamar and Adi Nakar on the birth of their daughter Nava, and to Ariella and Yisrael Tsirlin on the birth of their son Akiva Shimshon. The two babies were born within a day and half of each other. They even shared a Doula Ariel’s own Natalie Zacks was there to help both mothers (and fathers) out. Baruch Hashem everyone is healthy and doing well. The 2 babies even got together for their first play date.

Ariel Anglo babies meeting

Akiva Shimshon (left) and Nava Nakar (right) meet for the first time

May we share in many more Simchas together

New Housing Projects in Ariel

24 06 2012

There are several new building projects going up throughout Ariel. Here is some information and links to the relevant websites,I don’t have any more information than what is listed on the sites, but if I hear of anything I’ll be sure to post it.

The websites are in Hebrew, I’m not sure if there is an English section, if you need help translating or understanding some of the specifics you can contact Reuven Franks and he’ll be happy to help, or you can contact the builders directly and see if they have an English speaker.

1) Giva’at Ha’university- cottages 5,6,7 rooms, starting at 1,390,000 shekel, near university

2) Mafteach Ha’ir – has a building project with 3,4,5 room apts starting at around 900,000 shekel across from mega in rova bet, and cottages 6 rooms next to Netzarim, also one last cottage near religious buildings for appx 1,600,000 or less, last one left, ready to move in.

3) Dirah Yerukah – from the picture in the ad it looks like an apt building, not 100% sure of the location but I think this is in rova bet near the religious buildings.

Pizza Extra now in Ariel

19 06 2012

Pizza Extra, Ariel

Last week a new pizza shop, Pizza Extra (פיצה אקסתרא), opened in Ariel near the Bank Otzar Hachayal. While the store owner, Adi Nakar,  is Israeli (he grew up in Ariel) he’s married to an American, Tamar Nakar, and lived in LA for nearly 8 years, so we can claim him as one our own 🙂

For the Grand Opening, Pizza Extra was selling slices for 1 shekel. The great news is that not only does the pizza taste great, but after the grand opening sale ended, Pizza Extra still costs less than the other Pizza Shops in town.

We wish Adi and Tamar much success with their store.

Eating PIzza in Ariel

Tamar and Sarah eating Abba’s first pizza

Meet Some Anglos of Ariel

12 06 2012

David Kilimnick, from the Off the Wall Comedy Empire in Jerusalem came out to Ariel one night and had us all rolling. After the show, a few of our Anglo families introduced themselves and told us where they came from and how they came to Ariel

The Zacks’ make Aliyah

12 06 2012

Watch as the Zacks’ make aliyah to Ariel, this video starts with their pilot trip, and follows them through several milestones: Landing in Israel, meeting the Mayor of Ariel – Mr Ron Nachman, their first local elections,, and the birth of their daughter. It’s a nice story of a successful Aliyah

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