Connecticut on the Outskirts of Jerusalem

Beit Shemesh is a city divided, with ultra-Orthodox, religious Zionist and secular Jews fighting for dominance. The English language may be the only element that helps bridge the gaps.

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Our first surprise came within a few minutes of arriving in Beit Shemesh. We could not find a single place to sit at any of the cafes in a commercial strip located in one of the city's new neighborhoods — not...