Touring Ariel

Ariel is an amazing success story. It is a story of struggle against all odds, of immigrant absorption, international outreach, and dynamic growth. As you travel through Ariel, it is difficult to believe the city’s skyline began with two tents dropped by helicopter onto a barren, soilless hill.

Ariel Industrial Park: Coexistence and Prosperity. At the western end of the city stands Ariel’s main industrial park, facing the region’s largest industrial area. Combined, they make up the second largest industrial site in Israel, providing jobs for Jewish people and more than 8,000 Arab families.

Ariel University. What began in two small trailers as the College of Judea and Samaria in 1982 is now Ariel University, Israel’s largest public college. It represents the full spectrum of Israeli society: Arabs and Jews, secular and observant. In 1994, it began granting academic degrees, and in 2012 it received full research-university status, making it Israel’s eighth research university and the first such institution to open in Israel in 40 years. With more than 15,000 students enrolled for the coming academic year, Ariel University spreads over two campuses and is particularly renowned in science and engineering.

Eshel Hashomron: A Great Place to Stay. As you enter Ariel, you immediately notice a lovely 98-room hotel, Eshel Hashomron. Shomron is Hebrew for Samaria. Only a handful of Israeli cities can boast facilities of this kind. As the only resort hotel in Judea and Samaria, Eshel Hashomron hosts countless tourists en route to exciting biblical sites.

Raising a Generation for Tomorrow. As you drive toward the main residential areas, a big white tent will catch your eye. It is part of the Ariel National Center for Leadership Development. Spread over several acres of forest, it is home to exciting extreme-challenge equipment that is part of an extensive program developed by the JH Ranch in northern California to instill biblical and family values and leadership qualities in young people. The center is not only available to Israeli youth, but also to youth groups and young adults from around the world by contacting Friends of Ariel.

Antenna Hill. On a hilltop above the leadership development center is the antenna that gave Antenna Hill its name and the pillbox that signifies the presence of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). For many years, there were no soldiers here. However, during the Arab aggressions in 2000, terrorists used the hill to fire into Ariel. So the outpost was set up to protect and defend the perimeters of Ariel and other Jewish communities in the area, as well as to patrol the roads. Today a small IDF presence remains on Antenna Hill.

Sheltered Workshop. Ariel absorbed thousands of new residents during the massive influx of Russian immigrants that began in 1989. Many were virtually unemployable due to developmental issues that had never been treated in Russia. It was  for them the sheltered workshop was opened—providing jobs, a social framework, a small salary, and a reason to get up every morning.

Ariel Holocaust and Heroism Memorial Museum. Holocaust survivors Irena and Yaakov (Kuba) Wodislavsky moved to Ariel with a sense of mission: to buy a home and convert it into a Holocaust memorial and museum so the voices of the Jewish people who perished in World War II would forever be heard.

Prior to his passing in 2013, Kuba eloquently explained their goal:

My wife and I are aware of the responsibilities of our work. With every day that passes there will be fewer people who personally witnessed what happened [in the Holocaust]. We will never forget the memories, the faces of the people who called to those who would survive to avenge their…deaths. We know that, as survivors, we forever bear witness to what was done to our people. We realize that we were left alive in order to tell what happened.

With the help of Ariel and friends worldwide, Irena continues to preserve and enhance the couple’s life’s work. The Memorial House includes a sculpture gallery featuring emotive bronze sculptures by Shmuel Vilenberg, a survivor of Treblinka, that depict his travails, memories, and nightmares in the death camp; a photo gallery with rare photographs that chronicle the Holocaust; a personal belongings gallery that includes rare items, such as a prisoner’s jacket from Auschwitz; and a letters and postcards gallery featuring a rare and unique collection of more than 350 postcards and letters Jewish people mailed from the work camps and ghettos.

Ariel Regional Center for Performing Arts. The longtime dream to build a performing arts center in Ariel became urgent in 2000, when Arab violence on the roads throughout Samaria meant risking your life to attend a cultural performance elsewhere. Today the state-of-the-art Ariel Regional Center for Performing Arts provides convenient access to the best in Israeli theater, music, dance, and fine arts for the residents of Ariel and surrounding communities. It connects to the municipal community center and library, creating a true hub of culture and community activity.

Our Children, Our Future. Ariel is home to many pre-schools, four elementary schools, two junior high schools, and a high school. Ariel’s Department of Education has crafted a comprehensive educational strategy involving tracks from kindergarten through higher education, thereby developing specialized fields of study and giving students and families the opportunity to choose their study settings and curricula to maximize each student’s potential and individual talents. This strategy involves not only academic learning but also teaches morals and values and the importance of protecting human dignity.

Ariel Sports and Recreation Complex. Because the outbreak of Arab violence in September 2000 made traveling dangerous, residents felt isolated from other cities in Israel and all they had to offer. So a plan for the Ariel Sports and Recreation Complex began to take shape. With the help of generous friends around the world, the beautiful Ariel Sports and Recreation Complex opened in 2008. Facilities include tennis courts, an aquatic center, a full-service fitness center, and a wide range of activities for all ages. The center serves as a social hub for its 5,000 members, residents, and students.

Healthcare for All. Ariel is the regional hub for 20,000 local residents, 15,000 university students, and tens of thousands more living in neighboring communities. Yet the nearest hospital is 30 minutes away. So plans are afoot to build a medical center on the Ariel University campus to serve everyone in the area, Jewish and Muslim. The university currently provides clinical services. The medical center will house facilities for emergency medicine, dentistry, communication disorders and speech therapy, physical therapy and rehabilitation, occupational therapy, and psychological counseling. It will be part of the Health and Medical Sciences triplex that will also include a pre-med pavilion (future medical school) and health sciences pavilion.

And all of this began with two tents dropped from helicopters onto a barren, rocky hilltop less than 40 years ago.

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