Hashmonaim, located on the outskirts of Modiin, is a popular community for English-speaking olim (immigrants). Its appeal emanates from the town’s warm, close-knit, “small town” environment and its excellent central location.
Also known as Ramat Modiin, Hashmonaim was established as a “yishuv”—or settlement—in 1984 and its first families moved into their homes in 1987. Today, the community has grown to a population of over 3,000 people.
Over 50 percent of Hashmonaim’s residents are olim, most of whom having immigrated over the past 15 years, and a majority of these families are professionals, ranging from doctors and lawyers to high-tech and business people. As this is a commuter population, the residents appreciate Hashmonaim’s central location, situated equidistant between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and a short drive from Ben Gurion Airport.
Abutting Hashmonaim is a neighborhood called Ganei Modiin. Anglos initially gravitated toward Hashmonaim, while Ganei Modiin’s population has traditionally been more eclectic, including Jews of Ashkenaz, Sefard, and Yeminite descent. Interestingly, there is a growing trend of Anglos buying homes in Ganei Modiin, as it is in short walking distance to Hashmonaim’s shuls, yet real estate prices are significantly lower.
Hashmonaim is a religious community, comprising primarily dati leumi (national religious) and also some chardal (charedi leumi) families. Accordingly, the roads are closed on Shabbat to cars (with the exception of ambulances and security vehicles). The yishuv has 10 synagogues, offering a variety of daily and weekly Torah classes in both Hebrew and English. Hashmonaim’s Anglo sub-population in some ways mirrors Jewish communities in the US, in that it is a shul-centric community, whereby the synagogue is not merely a venue for prayer and Torah study, but also serves as a focal point for social and chesed activities.
Hashmonaim is known for its strong sense of community and a feeling of family, particularly amongst the new olim. The yishuv has a couple of major email groups and, reflecting the strong communal bonds, even a whatsapp group for empty nesters to plan Shabbat meals together when their children are away. When interviewing people for this article, I was impressed that many people focused on the feeling of being enveloped in friendship and warmth, and being supported during joyous times as well as in challenging times.
Many young couples have moved in to Hashmonaim, including numerous second-generation residents. Interestingly, many of these couples are “home grown” as there are over 70 couples in which both the husband and wife grew up in Hashmonaim.
Reflecting the community’s Anglo sensibilities, Hashmonaim has a baseball field, and its younger residents participate in baseball leagues. The yishuv also has several basketball courts, a soccer field, a new running track, and numerous parks. In addition, construction of a brand new indoor sports complex will begin shortly.
Hashmonaim has a makolet (grocery store), a bakery, a take-out food store, and a pizza shop. Due to its central location, many residents do their large shopping—and can enjoy many entertainment activities—within a few minutes of home in nearby Modiin and Shilat.
By Gedaliah Borvick