Sde Boaz: History
On Rosh Chodesh [the first day of the Hebrew month of] Tammuz, 5762, Sde Boaz was established. The establishment, according to the Western calendar, took place on June 11th, 2002 – exactly 35 years after Israel celebrated "the Seventh Day" following the 1967 Six Day War
Nestled in the heights of the Gush Etzion region, Sde Boaz overlooks Jerusalem to its north, the Mountains of Moab in Jordan on its east, the Ashkelon skyline and the glint of the Mediterranean at sunset to its west, along with the entire Gush Etzion and Beit Shemesh area.
The area connects the Gush Etzion bloc to Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh and was deemed a strategic point of state-owned lands by the Gush Etzion municipality, encouraged by the words of Ariel Sharon when he was Foreign Minister. "Run, grab more hills, expand the territory," Sharon said. Unfortunately, the second part of Sharon's declaration was not heard clearly. "Everything that's grabbed will be in our hands," he said. "Everything we don't grab will be in their hands."
The founder of Sde Boaz, Hananel Shear-Yashuv, lived in a shipping container, while friends would take turns guarding the newly established community.
There was no official core-group for Sde Boaz – friends from high school and the army all lent a hand in order to populate the place, which attracted them because of the nature and the view. The twin ideas of settling the land of Israel through preserving the ecological harmony of the place and creating a new kind of community that brought Jews of different theological perspectives and levels of observance together as an ideal also brought people to seek out Sde Boaz via word of mouth.
The community soon grew and all ten caravans (trailer-homes essentially) were filled, with couples, as well as a handful of single men and women. Permanent additions were built onto the caravans and permanent structures built onto shipping containers to accommodate more residents and cater to the arrival of four children in Sde Boaz.
A small studio-sized home was constructed during the summer in response to the destruction of flowering communities in Gaza and northern Samaria, without a request for authorization from the Israeli government. The building was built on land that was worked for many years by Jews, which no local Arabs claim any connection to and which would be considered state lands if not for recent disruption of the survey work being done in the region due to political considerations and U.S. pressure.
Sde Boaz is built along the traditional Derech HaAvot V'HaImahot, the Way of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, which our ancestors traveled between Jerusalem and Hevron. It was here that Abraham and Isaac passed through on their journey from Hevron to Mt. Moriah, the Temple Mount. At Sde Boaz, literally the "Fields of Boaz," King David's grandmother Ruth gathered sheaves of wheat from the fields of Bethlehem. A young King David shepherded his father's sheep where we now live, and down in the valley, deep caves used by the Maccabees and the Jewish fighters of Bar Kochba sought shelter.
Residents see themselves as a bridge between the many worlds that have come together in the Land of Israel: A bridge between olim (Jewish immigrants) and Sabras (native-born Israeli Jews), between religious and secular, between city-folk and country-folk and between the old and the new. Not long ago, residents discovered the top step of a Mikva (ritual bath) near the community. Archeologists were brought in a determined the Mikva was from the Second Temple period, used by local Jews and pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. Together with local youths, the Mikva was uncovered and has once again filled with natural rain water over the winter.
Gush Etzion, the Etzion Bloc, as a region, shares a similar story of return to Jewish roots. The region was populated by Jews up the 1948 War of Independence, when half of them were murdered by Arab armies and the other half captured by Jordanian soldiers. The region's Jews were expelled from their communities for a total of 19 years, until the return of the Jewish people to Judea and Samaria in 1967, after which the children of those killed repopulated the communities their parents died defending.
Most of the residents of Sde Boaz are students and professionals – dentist, teachers, medical student, PhD in Physics, veterinarian, journalists, high-tech professionals and Jewish communal workers. Although most commute to work, everybody takes part in communal agriculture projects and many engage in private organic farming as well, including raising chickpeas, cauliflower, tomatoes, watermelons, lettuce, vineyards, mulberries, olives and fruit trees, as well as several experimental crops such as tomatillos, North American pumpkins and sweet peas.
Fields of wheat have become a trademark of Sde Boaz, as resident gather each year prior to the Festival of Shavuot to harvest the wheat, threshing it by hand and producing Hebrew bread for the holiday on which the story of Ruth and Boaz is read aloud.