A neighborhood intended for both secular and religious residents will be built in northern Israel, between religious Kibbutz Shluchot and secular Kibbutz Reshafim in the Emek Hama'ayanot region near Beit Shean.
"In recent years we've encountered dozens of mixed families in which one of the spouses is secular and the other is religious," said Yoram Krin, head of the Emek Hama'ayanot Regional Council. "These families were looking for a solution in the form of a mixed community, but such communities are not easily found in Israel," he added.
The initiative for the new neighborhood came from S', a 37-year-old father of five who has been serving in the Sayeret Matkal elite army unit in the last 18 years.
S' was born in the religious Kibbutz Tirat Zvi, but became secular as an adult. His wife, originally from religious Moshav Mehola still maintains a religious lifestyle.
"This neighborhood is important for me on the personal level. There are hundreds of mixed families who could find a suitable framework in this neighborhood," he explained.
Swimming pool or synagogue on Shabbat
"We managed to have this neighborhood built between these two kibbutzim. On Shabbat the members could go to the swimming pool or ride their bicycles in the secular kibbutz, or alternately go to the synagogue in the religious kibbutz.
"The children could easily be sent to either a secular or a religious school. The two education systems would be open to every family," he added.
The neighborhood itself would pose no restrictions on the residents on weekends and holidays.
Building permits have already been granted for the neighborhood, and construction is scheduled to begin soon. Fifty families have signed up for the new community so far, and local officials believe dozens more will follow in the coming years.