|Founded by||Jerusalem Brigade of Gdud HaAvoda|
Ramat Rachel (Hebrew: רָמַת רָחֵל, lit. Rachel's Heights) is a kibbutz located south of Jerusalem in Israel, as an enclave within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries. Overlooking Bethlehem and Rachel's Tomb (for which the kibbutz is named) and situated within the Green Line, it falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council. As of 2010, the kibbutz's population numbers approximately 400 members, children and residents. According to archaeologists, Ramat Rachel "replaced Jerusalem as the economic and political hub of the southern highlands" in ancient times.
The kibbutz was established in 1926 by members of the Gdud HaAvoda labor brigade. Their goal was to settle in Jerusalem and earn their livelihood from manual labor, working in such trades as stonecutting, housing construction and haulage. After living in a temporary camp in Jerusalem, a group of ten pioneers settled on a stony plot of land on an 803-metre high hill south of the city. The kibbutz was destroyed by the Arabs in the riots of 1929. Hundreds of Arabs attacked the training farm and burned it to the ground. The settlers returned to the site a year later. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War it was cut off from the city. In 1967 it was the target of intensive artillery shelling from Jordanian positions. As the borders of Jerusalem were expanded southward, the kibbutz was surrounded from all sides by the city's municipal borders. In 1990, the kibbutz had a population of 140 adults and 150 children.
The kibbutz economy is based on hi-tech, tourism and agriculture. Data Detection Technologies, established in 2002, provides advanced counting and packaging solutions for the seed, pharmaceutical and diamond industries based on electro-optic technologies. Data counters are uniquely appropriate for items that are sold by units and not by weight. In the seed industry, prior to the advent of data seed counters, packaging was accomplished by weight. With the advent of seed counters, items are packaged in units as they are sold.
Hotel Mitzpeh Rachel is the only kibbutz hotel in Jerusalem. The hotel, surrounded by gardens, has 108 rooms with a panoramic view of Bethlehem, the Judean Desert and Herodion. The hotel also operates a convention center, tennis courts and a large swimming pool.
The kibbutz grows cherries, oranges, nectarines, grapefruit, olives, persimmons, figs, pomelos and tangerines.
The first scientific exploration of the site, known in Arabic as Khirbet es-Sallah, was conducted by Benjamin Mazar and Moshe Stekelis in 1930-1931. In a series of digs in 1959-1962, Yohanan Aharoni tentatively identified it as the biblical Beit Hakerem (Jeremiah 6:1), one of the places from which flaming warning signals were sent to Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period. Yigael Yadin dated the palace excavated by Aharoni to the reign of Athaliah and identified it as the "House of Baal" recorded in 2 Kings 11:18.
One of many important artifacts discovered at Ramat Rachel are numerous stamp impressions. Among these are LMLK seal impressions found on broken jar handles. Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay, who excavated the site in 1984, says the ancient name of the site may have been MMST, one of four enigmatic words that appear on the handles. However, more handles with HBRN (Hebron) and ZYF (Ziph) inscriptions have been found at Ramat Rahel than MMST.
Excavations resumed in 2004 under the direction of Tel Aviv University archeologists Oded Lipschits and Manfred Oeming. According to Lipschits, the site was a palace or administrative center with a water works system "unparalleled in Eretz Israel." Lipschits says agricultural produce was collected there as a source of government tax revenue.
Sculptures and environmental art
In the hotel garden is a sculpture of the biblical matriarch Rachel, who personifies the nation. In the Book of Jeremiah, Rachel is depicted as a woman of large proportions, protecting two children and surveying the horizon as though waiting for others.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ramat Rachel.|
- Ramat Rachel Revisited: An Interview with Oded Lipschits Damqatum 1 (2006): 1-4.