The Eshchar community was established in July 1986 by a nucleus of families originating from English speaking countries, in particular the United States. Developed in the Galilee, just south of Karmiel, Eshchar is a mixed community of religious, non – religious and traditional Jews from all backgrounds committed to mutual respect, pluralism, and openness, and prides itself on its heterogeneous identity including immigrants, Israelis, Ashkenazim, Sephardim, young and old. Living in an atmosphere of understanding, the community numbers over 200 families (approx: 800 residents), the vast majority being native-born Israelis, and about 12-15% immigrants. We have an interest in increasing the percentage of immigrants and continue in pro-active immigrant absorption especially in conjunction with Nefesh B'Nefesh.
LOCATION AND DAILY LIFE
Eshchar is situated in the central Galilee, an eight minute drive from the Misgav Regional Council service center, fifteen minutes from Karmiel (50,000 residents), half an hour from the Haifa Bay area and 45 minutes from Haifa itself. Occupations of Eshchar residents vary - from artists, educators and designers, to engineers, architects. lawyers and the wide range of self employed working from home or from offices nearby. Most people work in the immediate surrounding region. Everyday life is managed by the five member Eshchar local council which is elected for a two year term. General assembly meetings are held several times a year allowing for participation by all members in determining the future of the community. In addition to the council there are voluntary committees handling education (daycare and kindergarten), absorption, youth, sports, security, construction, soldiers, environment, religion and culture.
PROJECTS AND CHALLENGES
Eshchar residents believe the ideological message of heterogeneous community living is essential for the future success of the State of Israel and the Jewish community worldwide. Our community is growing and as we grow our potential to present a model pluralistic community increases, as do our needs. In addition to building our new neighbourhoods, many homes have rental units that also increase the demand on our public infrastructure including our nurseries and kindergartens. Over 30 new families arrived just this past summer and we are expected to grow by approximately 125 additional families by the summer of 2021. Public infrastructure projects are critical to sustain and anchor the community for generations to come. These include a new town centre including a leisure time community facility for social activities, day centre for the elderly, a synagogue, an amphitheater, administrative and postal services, botanic garden and living memorial to our fallen soldiers. Alongside the new town centre is planned a business cluster for our local entrepreneurs with state of the art spaces for small businesses, commercial services, a restaurant, cafe, local grocery store, collaborative workspace, artisan workshops, a pub and much more. A youth centre, sports complex and additional nurseries and kindergartens round-out the near-term essential needs of our community.