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The Ultimate Grandpa in the Heart of Israel

by Maj. A.Y. Katsof
November 17, 2019

In biblical times, Psagot was famous for its production of olives and wine.  Some speculate that Psagot olive oil was utilized in the Second Temple.  Ancient olive presses from the Second Temple period have been uncovered in Psagot near a mikvah bath, indicating that the olive oil was utilized for religious purposes.  Similarly, archeologists have uncovered ancient Second Temple period wine presses in Psagot. Today, Psagot is known for its world-class wine, even though some members of the community have other aspirations for their town.

A mere 20 minutes north of Jerusalem in the Binyamin region, 300 proud Zionists are living in a growing community of Jews who have chosen to make their home in Psagot in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria.  Located in what some say used to be the Canaanite city of Ai, these Jews have chosen to reclaim their land, just as their ancestor Joshua did before them.  However, in order to reclaim the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, jobs must be created for the local Jewish community. This is critical in order to maintain these communities.  In this spirit, Aryeh Peles, one of the founding members of the Psagot community and the father of nine children, established Psagot Playgrounds, a company that produces amazing playground equipment, outdoor furniture and amusement parks.

Aryeh Peles with his wife, children and grandchildren, all in the heart of Israel.

It seems very fitting that Peles, who is a devoted father and grandfather, would establish his own company in order to build playground equipment.  He started out his career bringing supplies to various areas in Judea and Samaria for he knew that not many people would deliver there. However, in the end, he determined that it was better to establish his own company, so that he could have local Jews produce the playground supplies themselves.  Thus, he is a self-made man in every sense of the word.

In an exclusive interview, Peles emphasized that just as Jews in the past established olive and wine presses in the Psagot community, today he has established an industrial zone in order to build playgrounds.  This industrial zone represents his vision for modern-day Psagot:

“Our designs end up all over Israel from Eilat, Haifa and Tel Aviv to Judea and Samaria. It gives pride to the community. We can go on a tour in the Golan Heights and see our product.  We can go to Tel Aviv and we can see our design. Thus, in the past, we had a zone for producing olives and wine but now we have a zone for this. We have a modern-day industry for playgrounds, furniture and amusement parks.”

Designing the incredible playground equipment in their warehouse in Psagot.

Building vineyards and growing olives in Judea and Samaria is part of the Jewish tradition.  It is a sign that prophecy is being fulfilled.  As Amos 9:14-15 proclaims, “I will return the captivity of my people Israel and they will rebuild desolate cities and settle them.  They will plant vineyards and drink their wine. They will cultivate gardens and eat their fruits. I will plant them upon their land and they will never again be uprooted.”     

Nevertheless, Peles believes that it is possible to modernize this biblical vision for our future as a nation and to also establish factories producing modern-day products in Judea and Samaria.  After all, establishing beautiful playgrounds are important for children all across the State of Israel: “Our designs are all over the country. Our designs help children who are disabled. We are inclusive, so that disabled children and regular children can play together.  For example, we opened a special playground, the only one in Israel, where disabled children can play in an open area.”

Aryeh Peles with his children, some of who work with him in Psagot.

Many Jewish families that live in Psagot rely upon Peles in order to earn a living.  As Peles noted, “We have 120 workers, who are all residents of Judea and Samaria. We give financing to a lot of people, who live in Judea and Samaria.  Outside of this, we do everything in order to hire women including mothers. We do a lot in order to help women return to work after delivering a baby. We offer conditions that make it easier for working mothers to work.  After all, we are a family business. Six family members work here. This establishes loyalty. Everyone works together. We need to be sensitive and to have patience.”

Today, his son Elyassaf Peles is the CEO.  His daughter Tzippi Bitan is the marketing manager. Peles also noted that all of his workers are devout Zionists: “It is our dream to rebuild the Temple.”

Although the Third Temple has not been built yet, Peles has still successfully managed to put Psagot in the spotlight after his company won the Red Dot Award, which Walla News claims is like the Oscar Awards yet for designers.  This is considered to be quite an honor given that over 4,200 designs from 48 countries across the globe submitted designs to be considered for the Red Dot Award and Psagot Playgrounds was the winner this year with its design for a Bubble Amusement Park that is scheduled to be built in Kfar Yona.

Aryeh is proud to be the first ones to install their high quality playground equipment in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Yaniv Zeigler, the chief designer for Psagot Playgrounds, told Walla News the following about his winning design: “When I design a facility. I try to see it from the perspective of all of the children in order to create an equal experience for everyone.  In this case, after playing with soap bubbles with my children, I imagined what it would be like to have a huge bubble in the air and that’s how I designed the structure.”

After they received the award, Psagot Playgrounds announced: “We were thrilled to receive so much amazing feedback for this design.  Psagot Playgrounds manufactures the product itself and allows its designers to dream far, to strive high and to accomplish its mission.  The winning design is being prepared for installation in an innovative urban park in Kfar Yona in the coming months.”

As Psalms 126 proclaims, “When the Lord returns the returnees to Zion, we shall be like dreamers.  Then our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongues with songs of praise…He will come back with song, carrying his sheaves.”  

Following the destruction of the Second Temple and the expulsion of the Jewish people from our ancestral homeland by the Romans, we descended into the Diaspora.  We cried over our fate. But today, we are back in our homeland and we have a bright future ahead of us. Today in Psagot, the prophecy regarding the biblical sheaves accompanying our return has been transformed into a factory for beautiful playgrounds, which designed a gigantic nine meter high steel Bubble.  As Psagot Playground receives international recognition for their work, we are returning to the Holy Land filled with laughter and accompanied by songs of praise.

(Rachel Avraham participated in writing this article.)