The park in the center of the קַרְנֵי שׁוֹמְרוֹן (Karnei Shomron) neighborhood is huge. As I walk out of Friday night services, I see the many children of the ישוב (settlement) climbing on the playground and I hear them laugh as they head home for their Shabbat dinners. A sign on the Jungle Gym says in Hebrew that the area is accessible for wheelchairs. The park is constructed to accommodate a weekly visit of disabled children, one of the many programs that קַרְנֵי שׁוֹמְרוֹן hosts to help those with special needs.
David, my host for the weekend, shows me around the neighborhood. A community center for the arts and a separate community center for sports have both been built close to the entrance. A Yeshiva close to David’s synagogue provides the opportunity for men to learn and join the army at the same time. Families walk around the neighborhood. We stop to visit David’s sister. Her children, now married, have all come to the settlement for Shabbat. She welcomes me with open arms and offers me food, we say Shabbat Shalom, and then David and I continue our walk around the neighborhood. What once was a small collection of 35 caravans in Samaria is now a large community with hundreds of families, several synagogues, and a proven contribution to Israel and to the area at large.
A am shown רָמַת גִּלְעָד (Ramat Gilad), an outpost of Karnei Shomron where Caravans have been set up in hopes that one day in their place will be houses and paved roads. Karnei Shomron was once like Ramat Gilad, a small community of caravans filled with a small community of dreamers and idealists. Today, their dreams have been fulfilled and they use this privilege to bring good into the world. Covering only 2% of the West Bank, the contributions of the settlements are unimaginably large. Like the Jewish people, who comprise less than 1% of the world, they make their presence known through good work and a desire to make the world a better place. As I finish my tour around Karnei Shomron, I realize how necessary this place really is and how dire the need in the world is for more dreamers, idealists, and yes, more settlements.