Mitzpeh Yericho is located in the Judean desert, 20 km east of Jerusalem, on the highway leading down to the Dead Sea. It is about a 20 minute drive to the outskirts of Jerusalem, and 15 minutes to Maaleh Adumim , the nearest city. The yishuv boasts breathtaking vistas of the desert, and overlooks the town of Jericho and the Dead Sea (both about 10 minutes away). For photos of this breathtaking area, click here. For satellite photos of Mitzpe Yericho, click here.
Nearby nature reserves include:
- Wadi Kelt, including the St. George Monastery, established in 1,600 years ago on a cliff inside the wadi (5 minute drive);
- the springs of Ein Fawwar (5 min.);
- the pools of Ein Fashcha off the Dead Sea(20 min.);
- the Qumran Caves, home of the famous Dead Sea scrolls (15 min.);
- Ein Gedi (40 min.).
View Larger Map
The climate in Mitzpeh Yericho is dry, with temperatures a few degrees warmer than Jerusalem all year round. This means pleasant, moderate winters, and hot summers.
When the Israelites were encamped in the plains of Moab, next to the Jordan River across from Jericho (during the last months of Moses' life), their first view of the Land of Israel was of the Judean Hills of Mitzpeh Yericho.
As Joshua prepared for the conquer of Jericho, the area served as a temporary refuge for his spies; they fled up the hills to the west of Jericho after spying out the city - perhaps the hill upon which Mitzpeh Yericho is situated today!
Centuries later, in the time of the Hasmonean dynasty, the moderate winter climate attracted the kings to build their winter palaces near Jericho, at the entrance to Wadi Kelt. King Herod built his own winter palace over the Hasmonean palaces - after drowning the last of the Hasmoneans in a nearby pool. (See also an article from Hebrew University on the oldest known synagogue in Israel, discovered by Prof. Netzer in 1998 in the Hasmonean winter palace.)
The modern yishuv was established in 5738 (1977). The original "Gar'in Yericho" was supposed to settle on government lands adjacent to Jericho. The members began setting up camp during Sukkot, 5738, but due to the objection of the Defense Minister, they were moved to Mishor Adumim. During the intermediate days of the holiday, Ariel Sharon (then Minister of Agriculture) arrived and suggested settling the barren hill "Tibek Riash". Within days the settlers established the community on that hill, living in rented mobile homes and tents. Electricity was supplied by a generator - sporadically. In 1981, the building of permanent homes began.
The original group of young people who came to establish the yishuv was mixed, including both religious and non-religious members. Due to friction between the two groups, the community split. The religious residents remained in Mitzpeh Yericho, on the hill overlooking Jericho; while the non-religious established a new yishuv - Vered Yericho below, much closer to the town of Jericho.
While part of the Benjamin Area municipality, the yishuv is run by an elected board of nine members, and several volunteer sub-committees for education, absorption, religious affairs, etc.
There are currently around 450 families living in Mitzpeh Yericho. Most live in regular houses, while the rest live in temporary housing (mobile homes and "eshkubiot"). All families are expected to follow a religious lifestyle. One of the conditions for acceptance to the Yishuv is for women to cover their hair.
The residents are engaged in a wide range of occupations: doctors and kollel students, programmers and teachers, businessmen and social workers. About 10% of the population are English speakers.
On the yishuv there are day-care centers, pre-K and kindergarten programs. For small children until grade 2, there is also an Activity Center run in the afternoons.
The yishuv has a religious elementary school for grades 1 to 6. All classes are separate for boys and girls. The school moved into its new building in 2004. There are English classes for native English speaking students, organized by veteran English teacher Gaila Morrison (see Amutat A.H.A.V.A. for details). For students in grades 1-4, there exists a Moadanit, which provides various educational programming after school hours. And for students from third grade up, there are activities organized by the Ezra youth movement.
Most junior high and high school students travel to Maaleh Adumim (15 min.) or Jerusalem. Some boys study in Netivot Yosef, Rav Sabato's yeshiva high school and post high school, located in Mitzpeh Yericho itself.
The Benjamin Area JCC (Matnas) provides many afternoon and evening clubs, such as ballet, judo, drums, etc. There are also privately run clubs (chugim) and lessons for arts & crafts, musical instruments, sewing, etc. Rabbi Bargil runs a very successful afternoon Talmud Torah for 200 children, grades 1 to 6, with classes in Torah, Mishna, Gemara, and Halacha.
About 20% of the residents are employed locally on the yishuv: in the local school, the Netivot Yosef yeshiva, the Nof Hayarden hall, and in the small industrial park adjacent to the yishuv, where there is an electronics factory, a desert-cooler factory, and the "Young Scientist" company which manufactures and markets educational kits around the world.
There are also two local tourist endeavors, one with bike-trips and the other with jeep tours. The elegant Nof HaYarden restaurant/hall boasts a spectacular view of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. There is also a studio featuring the works of local stain-glass artisans.
Some residents work in the Mishor Adumim industrial park (10 minutes away) and in Maaleh Adumim. The majority are employed in Jerusalem.
The central synagogue is located in the heart of the yishuv, and is blessed with several minyanim each day. The Sephardic congregation just moved into their new, beautiful synagogue. The Yemenites also have their own synagogue. On Shabbat and Yom Tov, several additional minyanim function, including a shtieble, and a Carlebach "happy minyan". See more on the yishuv synagogues here.
Torah studies: The Sephardic minyan organizes a "Friday Kollel" for all residents. The chief rabbi of Mitzpeh Yericho, Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer, gives Torah classes each evening in the central synagogue.
The yishuv boasts two mikvehs - one for women, and one for men.
To help with simchas and difficult times, there is a very active Chesed committee. There is a Gemach which lends out chairs, tables, plates and cutlery. There is also a Gemach for baby accessories, and a third Gemach for clothing and Purim costumes.
There is a local grocery and a small store nearby. The local library rotates books with the Benjamin area libraries, and has a small English children's section.
The Yishuv has clinics the Klalit and Me'uchedet health providers. Members of the Maccabi health provider use the Maccabi clinic in Maaleh Adumim. In addition, several doctors, dentists, and nurses live locally. The yishuv has its own ambulance. The nearest hospital, Hadassah Medical Center (Mt. Scopus), is 15-20 minutes away.
The yishuv has regular bus service through Egged.
The municipal plan for Mitzpeh Yericho calls for 1,200 housing units. There are also plans set for a community swimming pool.
Rachel Felhiemer 052-720-3080
Yeshaya Danny Moskowitz 058-646-1321