One of my favorite places in all of Samaria is in the hills of Itamar, located on the southeastern ridge of the Biblical city Shechem. (Modern-day Nablus) With mountains 800+ meters above sea level it provides an awesome view of the land of Israel from the Dead Sea all the way up to the Galilee, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan valley.
Itamar was originally founded as Tel Chaim (Mound of Life), named after Chaim Landau, an Israeli independence fighter and parliament member in the early stages of Israel’s statehood.
Later it was called Itamar, in remembrance of Aaron the Priest’s youngest son. Traditionally, Eleazar and Itamar are buried in the “Hill of Phinehas” as found in Joshua 24:33. Today, this place is associated with the modern Arab village of Awarta, which lies very near the settlement of Itamar. It is thought that Phineas, Abishua, the 70 elders and Ezra the scribe are also buried in close proximity as well.
I think maybe that's why I’m drawn to this city. Whenever I’m there I feel as if I’m walking among modern day Itamars, Phinehases and Ezras. It’s like stepping into the Wild West of the Bible, where shepherds replace cowboys, donkeys replace horses, and mobile homes replace cabins. The people of Itamar are rooted to the very ground of Israel, who firmly believe in the verse from the Prophet Amos, ‘...no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the Lord…’ They are there no matter the cost, because God has called them home!
Itamar is one of the largest communities in Judea and Samaria, by area, stretching out over several hills. It is also home to several of the families we work with. Shimon Barda and his wife Sarah, who make the wonderful cosmetics we offer, were the sixth family to move into Itamar. They came to Itamar more than thirty years ago with their six children and have been a vital part of helping the community flourish.
Batya, who makes our ceramics, and her husband Baruch, moved to Itamar around 7 years ago and immediately began investing all their energy into restoring the Land. Batya set up her ceramics studio, "Mud on the Mountain" and Baruch began planting trees—now he's planted hundreds of trees on the hills surrounding their home.
When you buy their products, you are standing with people of courage in the heartland of Israel, who have continually put their faith in God's word ahead of their own comfort or safety. Because of their sacrifices, Judea and Samaria is once again becoming a beautiful, fruitful land!