Matityahu, Mateh Binyamin
Matityahu (Hebrew: מַתִּתְיָהוּ) is a moshav and Israeli settlement in the West Bank, located approximately midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, near the settlement of Modi'in Illit and the city of Modi'in-Maccabim-Re'ut. Matityahu was initially founded in 1981 by a group of English-speaking immigrants from the United States and elsewhere, and it is now home to a community of observant Jewish families. Matityahu vineyards sell grapes to Israeli winemakers. The community also has agricultural fields operated by independent contractors and rental properties in its commercial park. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.1
Matityahu is located in the foothills of the Judean Mountains of central Israel, in the Matte Binyamin region. Matityahu is adjacent to the rapidly-expanding Haredi city of Modi'in Illit, and is across the highway from the community of Hashmonaim. Other towns in the immediate vicinity include Lapid, Kfar HaOranim, Kfar Ruth, and Shilat. Situated 286 metres (938 ft) above sea level, Matityahu's climate is temperate. Summer temperatures range between 28 and 35 °C (82 and 95 °F) during the day, with approximately 65% humidity during the hottest summer days. Winters are mostly mild, with frequent rain and almost never any snow.
As of 2012, Matityahu consists of about 90 families and is expanding with the construction of dozens of new single-family homes. Of the current resident families, more than half speak English at home (the others are primarily Hebrew-speaking). There is a wide range of ages – from families with parents in their twenties to great-grandparents. A number of households consist of parents who themselves grew up in Matityahu.
A centrally important aspect of Matityahu is that it is a Litvish community with one rabbi and one synagogue. It is required that every family accepts Rabbi Zev Leff's (the community rabbi) da'at torah and halakhic rulings for all matters that may impact on others and respect the "united community" aspect of life in the community. Therefore, all residents are expected to be religiously observant and strict religious standards are demanded including a ban on television and videos. All homes are required to follow the kashrut standards set by Rabbi Leff and women must dress with complete adherence to the specific tzniut standards. A significant number of men study Torah full-time in a kollel. The general philosophy of Matityahu differs from that of mainstream Israeli Haredi communities in a few key ways. Examples of these differences include readily accepting men who work in full-time jobs, allowing those who wish to acknowledge Yom Ha'atzmaut to do so, and not demanding that men dress only in white shirts, jackets, and hats (although many do).
Rabbi Leff has been the single religious leader of the community for more than 30 years. He also serves as the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Gedolah Matisyahu and as spiritual advisor of the elementary school in nearby Chashmonaim. As in European Jewish communities in the past, the rabbi sets the spiritual tone of the community, provides leadership in halakhic and communal areas, and delivers lectures to moshav members and others seven days a week. Rabbi Leff is one of Israel's active English-speaking Torah educators and often travels to speak at schools, yeshivas, seminaries, community centers, and events throughout the country and overseas. Rabbi Leff is particularly well known for his Tisha B'Av Kinnot shiur, which attracts hundreds of English-speaking visitors to Matityahu each year.
Rav Leff received his semicha (rabbinical ordination) from the Telshe yeshiva in Cleveland, Ohio, where he studied under Rabbi Mordechai Gifter. From 1974 to 1983, Rav Leff served as rabbi of Young Israel of North Miami Beach, where he built a successful Torah-oriented community. In August 1983, Rav Leff assumed the position of the Matityahu's rabbi.
- "The Geneva Convention". BBC News. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2010.