The city of Beitar Illit is the first city founded by the State designated for the Ultra-Orthodox population (in contrast, for example, to the city of Bnei Brak which was not originally intended for a specific population).
It is located south of Jerusalem, in the Judean Hills, in the Gush Etzion area.
The city was established in the late ’80s, but of course, Beitar has much deeper roots. Beitar Illit is a wonderful symbol of the Jewish revival in Eretz Israel. During the days of the Second Temple Beitar was especially important. It is mentioned many times in the Talmud, almost every time in connection with the Bar Kochva uprising. It was a primary stronghold for the fighters. The city was well protected, both by strong fortifications and Divine defense thanks to Rabbi Elazar Ha’Modai. who fasted during the period of the siege.
The city’s end was terribly tragic – being completely destroyed on Tisha B’Av with a huge amount of casualties. The city’s destruction meant the end of the uprising and the end of Jewish independence in Israel until the establishment of the State of Israel.
This is also why Zeev Jabotinsky called his youth movement Beitar, named both after the ancient fortress city which symbolized Jewish heroism and after Joseph Trumpeldor.
Today almost 50,000 residents live in Beitar Illit.
The city’s population has many unique features: it is the youngest city in Israel (64% of residents are under 18), but it is also the city with the lowest percentage of youngsters who finish school with matriculation (Bagrut) – a little over 6%. On the other hand, the city is full of yeshivot and synagogues, sporting no less than 122 in total.