Givat Shmuel is a city located in Israel’s “Mercaz”—or central district—and is the largest and fastest-growing community of English-speaking students, young professionals, and newly married olim. By studying its history, location, and dynamics, we can understand how Givat Shmuel has become a hub for this important demographic.
Founded in 1944, Givat Shmuel was named after Samuel Pineles, a Romanian Zionist leader who was influential in helping Romanian Jews emigrate and settle in Israel. The city is well-located, less than 20 kilometers from Tel Aviv, and is bordered by Bnai Brak and Ramat Gan to the west, Kiryat Ono to the south, and Petach Tikvah to the east and north. It is flanked on all sides by highways that offer its residents excellent access to all regions in the country via public and private transportation. In addition, Givat Shmuel is only a 15-minute car ride to Ben Gurion Airport.
Givat Shmuel is in expansion mode: it has a population of 24,000 and is expected to increase to 40,000 people within the next few years. Its residents live primarily in the following four neighborhoods: Ramat Ilan borders Bar Ilan University (which is officially part of Ramat Gan) and Kiryat Ono, and a vast majority of its population are Bar Ilan students. Schunat HaVatika is the city’s original neighborhood, and houses all the municipal buildings. HaChadasha surrounds the mall, and is a relatively short walk to Bar Ilan. The newest neighborhood is Ramat Hedekalim, which is located on the north side of the city.
In addition to being relatively close to Tel Aviv, where most of its residents work, and in close proximity to Bar Ilan University and a number of medical centers, Givat Shmuel is planning to construct several significant commerce parks, including an enormous hi-tech and bio-tech center in Ramat Hadekalim.
Givat Shmuel has an excellent socioeconomic demography, due to its large percentage of high school and university graduates. The city has the second highest rate nationwide of matriculated high school graduates. Reflecting this focus on education, the dropout rate in the city’s high schools over the past few years has been zero. In addition, the lower schools, over half of which are religious, are also highly acclaimed for their high standards and achievements.
Givat Shmuel’s population comprises secular and religious—primarily Dati Leumi (national religious) and Chardal (acronym for Charedi leumi, or Charedi national)—residents. The city boasts over 30 synagogues, which cater to the religious and social needs and customs of the various ethnic communities. The town takes great pride in its tolerant environment and serves as a model of integration between the religious and secular residents who live side by side with mutual respect.
Givat Shmuel provides its residents with many cultural, sports, and entertainment opportunities. Its community centers run a rich schedule of enrichment and learning activities, and host youth movements such as Bnei Akiva. In addition, the new cultural center houses a theater, community center, library, dance center, and conservatory. Also, a new sports complex has been created on 32 dunams (about 140 acres); it has tennis courts, swimming pools, exercise rooms, and a rollerblading rink.
Thanks to its proximity to universities and employment hubs, coupled with its emphasis on education, strong sense of community, and religious tolerance, we can well understand why Givat Shmuel has endeared itself to many young English-speaking families.
by Gedalia Borvick