Batya and Baruch and their six children moved to the hilltop community of Itamar, Samaria around seven years ago. They came with a vision to fulfill the biblical prophecies of restoration and find a deeper connection to their homeland.
Their journey together began some 25 years ago in Jerusalem where they met not long after making Aliyah—Baruch from Michigan, and Batya from Southern California. For much of their married life they lived in the city of Tsfat, in the Galilee region.
Tsfat is a very mystical, musical and artistic city where Baruch and Batya thrived in their respective trades. Baruch worked as a tour guide and musician and Batya made beautiful ceramics and taught art. Yet they have both always felt a longing for a deeper connection to the Land of Israel, something that wasn’t easy to find in bustling Tsfat.
Batya and one of her sons in the studio
And so in 2014 they and their six children moved to the community of Itamar, in Samaria. Itamar is an incredibly beautiful place in the Land of Israel. It’s one of the biggest communities in Samaria by area, spreading out across several hills. Sadly, it has also been the site of tragic terrorist attacks, most notably the 2011 massacre of the Vogel Family, murdered in their sleep.
Yet the people of Itamar are courageous and resilient, and Batya and Baruch are no exception. They moved to a lone hill on the outside the main development, where they built a ceramics studio for Batya to continue her work. Baruch could no longer continue guiding tours since not many groups—at least at the time—cared to visit Judea and Samaria. Instead he began planting fruit trees, and today they cover the hillside, numbering more than 200.
It’s no small feat to plant trees in Samaria, as we found out one day when we joined Baruch! After clearing a spot of briars and boulders the strenuous work of digging begins. We often hit solid rock soon after beginning to dig, which caused us to try again in a different place until we could make a hole deep enough for a tree.
Planting trees with Baruch
One benefit of the trees, in addition to the fruit, have been the songbirds that came soon after the trees were planted. Baruch and Batya also plant gardens and wildflowers, creating a little oasis.
Batya takes inspiration for her ceramics from the beauty of nature that surrounds her. In every cup, bowl and plate, you can see some aspect of the restoration and beauty of Israel represented. Everyone who buys her work gets a chance to hold and enjoy a piece of the restoration of Israel! Batya carefully forms each piece of art, and then handpaints them—her favorite part of the process.
We have been so inspired by Baruch and Batya! It took an incredible leap of faith for them to move to Itamar, and the challenges of living in rural Samaria continue. But they are filled with joy and passion to see the Land of Israel come to life, and under their care it is flourishing!
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. - Isaiah 64:8