Our Sister City
Kiryat Shemonah - Hampstead's twin town since September 1978
Kiryat Shemonah has a relatively short history. It grew out of a sizeable Maabara, from the Hebrew "Avor", transit. Biblically, Maabara meant a place where one could cross a river, either by foot or on makeshift bridges. Modern Israel added to the word a new meaning. Jewish immigrants, who flocked soon after independence to their new found land, leaving all their earthly belongings in their old countries, Europe, Yemen, North Africa, were located in transit camps. These were named Maabarot.
The tents soon gave way to permanent housing projects. The Maabara became a town, at the tip of the Galilee finger. Its inhabitants had, throughout the years of its existence, to cope with integration into the economy of the area, generated, in the main, by the surrounding kibbutzim, integration into the Israeli school system, adaptation to the social structure of the state, and to its values, and also to the realities imposed by the proximity to the Lebanese border. Kiryat Shemonah was the target of terrorist attacks and shelling. It became a symbol of the attachment of the new immigrants to their town, of their courage and their tenacity.
Location: Northern Hula Valley, just west of the Golan Heights. 208 km / 130 miles from Jerusalem; 188 km / 117 miles from Tel Aviv. (Google Maps)
Interesting fact: Built on the site of the abandoned Arab village of Helsa, Kiryat Shemonah was originally called Kiryat Yosef but changed to Kiryat Shemona in memory of Joseph Trumpeldor and his seven comrades who fell defending nearby Tel Hai in 1920 (shemonah means "eight" in Hebrew).