Our largest project to date, Khirbat Arza is a unique site that brings to life Jerusalem’s ancient heritage in a dynamic, 21st century neighborhood.
Launched in 2015 by members of the Beit Yisrael community, Khirbat Arza began as a severely unkempt area between the Gilo and Arab Sharafat neighborhoods. Volunteers from the kibbutz and local community transformed the space into a stunning, green public park and archaeological site which celebrates diversity and connects people of all backgrounds, faiths, families and ages from across Gilo and greater Jerusalem.
Working alongside local and municipal authorities, we rallied the neighborhood and set up reading corners, play spaces, a field kitchen and an outdoor classroom. Today, the site attracts hundreds of visitors, including Gilo locals and schools, families and tourists from across Jerusalem and beyond. Beit Yisrael holds monthly events and programming for hundreds of local families who gather in a joint celebration of nature, history and education.
The Khirbat Arza Outdoor Classroom is a key component of the project. Designed to encourage children to explore the area and nature, discover history and ask questions in an informal setting, the classroom has served more than 21 classes and over 450 children since its inception. Demand is increasing rapidly, and the project has gained the support of numerous municipal authorities, including the Ministry of Social Development, The Shachaf Foundation, the Jerusalem Director of Education, and the Jerusalem Municipality.
Moving forward, we plan to create a program for classes of ultra-orthodox backgrounds as well. Additional plans for this site include a new indoor artisan center to be run in partnership with tradesmen from the neighboring Arab village of Shuafat.