Top Sexy Settlers of 2017

“Settler,” you say? As if it’s a bad thing.

Hardly. It’s sexy to be a settler.

The settlers of the land of Israel redefine sexy to a whole new level. Living amid the raw beauty in the hills of Judea and Samaria, caring for, nurturing and safeguarding our ancestral homeland, one can’t help but be on the cutting-edge of sexy. It’s about standing up for what is ours, looking the world squarely in the eye and not yielding. It’s about declaring unabashedly that we are here in our God-given land.

Being sexy is about knowing who you are and where you belong and being damn proud of it. It’s about honoring your past, celebrating the present and laboring towards the future with clarity of vision and principled conviction. It’s about an unapologetic love for one’s land.

Settlers are to be celebrated, not denigrated. And celebrate we will. This coming June, 2017, Israel will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of its heartland, Judea and Samaria, from foreign occupation.

And in this spirit, I give you 2017’s top sexy settlers plus one surprise participant.

(H/T to Orit Arfa, my co-conspirator on the previous Sexy Settler post, but is now on a writing assignment in Europe)

Micha Katz, Quiet, Strong and Undeterred

Hailing from Woodmere, New York, Micha made aliyah with his family in 1991 at the age of 11 to Gush Etzion. Micha’s background is quite colorful. But don’t let his brawny physique fool you; this guy is all heart.

He served as a combat soldier in the Duchifat Reconnaissance Unit and in 2000 he was wounded in a fiery battle with terrorists near Ramallah. After his army service he served in an anti-terror unit of the Ministry of Defense for a year and a half.

Taking a short break from fighting the bad guys, Micha decided to pursue his passion in the culinary arts and studied at the Kosher Culinary Academy in Jerusalem before landing a position as chef in the luxurious kitchens of the King David Hotel and the renowned 1868 restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem. Still, Micha wasn’t finished with chasing adventurous pursuits, because in 2005 he started Israel Challenge, an adventure sports travel company, which brought tourists to off-beaten paths of our awesome country.

But in 2010, Micha suffered further injury to his old army wounds which led to two knee surgeries, three slipped disks and multiple joint damage. Several months in a wheel chair, followed by a year with crutches and 5 years with a cane, didn’t stop him from learning a new profession in dog grooming which was followed by dog training and master trainer school, then on to study the arts of tracking, search and rescue, and working with attack and defense dogs.

Since his injury theoretically ended his combat career, when asked to step down from army service, Micha responded that he was the only person that would decide when to stop serving his country and subsequently volunteered as a Major in charge of logistics for a battalion of 650 soldiers for the IDF reserves.

But it doesn’t stop there. Micha later volunteered as a dog trainer and volunteer rescuer with his own dog, “Sneakers” in the Yakal -The I.D.U – Israel Dog Unit – the leading civilian organization in Israel for life-saving work with canines, both in the area of security, as well as in the area of search and rescue. He also picked up a new way to contribute to the combat world by working as a volunteer with defense and attack dogs to protect Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria from infiltration and attacks.

Micha’s huge heart and love of canines led him to establish The Holy Land Poodles Grooming salon, Achuzat Haklavim Pet Stores in Efrat and Kfar Etzion, and the Efrat and Gush Etzion Kennel Club with its dog club training and sports facilities.  He is also the head of the grooming department in My Dog College at the Veterinary Hospital Wing of the Hebrew University in Beit Dagan.

Micha lives in Efrat with his beautiful wife, Nava and their 3 daughters, Shir 13, Arielle 9, Galya 4 . And as you may have guessed, with his dogs, Sparky (Dutch shepherd), Sneakers (Belgian shepherd), Jasmine and Elsa (mother & daughter poodles) Lacey (Pomeranian) and of course a cat, Yorgan (Siamese) too.

Naama Harow, Feeling Blessed

Naama works in the art of pastry cuisine, but it’s more than just pastry that makes this woman irresistible.

Born in the beautiful city of Jerusalem and raised in the magical Judean hills, Naama feels truly blessed for growing up in Efrat. She feels it is a place where one is among family.

After high school, Naama started national service working with children with autism. As rewarding as that was, the army was calling to her. “Growing up in the communities of Judea and Samaria, you are much closer to soldiers and there is a keen appreciation for them,” she notes, recalling how during the intifada when she drove with her mother out of Efrat, her mom would never fail to bring homemade cookies for the soldiers in the area. For Naama it was clear that her next step would include army service. “Giving two years of my life to this incredible country is the least I could do.”

Naama joined the army in October, 2010, went through basic training in a base down south and after three months was placed on the Gaza border as a Tatzpitanit (scouter) in the balloon unit. At her base, it wasn’t unusual to experience enemy rockets, but at one point, she tells how one rocket fell just meters away from her room. It hit home more than ever, how critical her job in the balloon unit was in order to protect Israel’s civilians from the horrible trauma of enemy rockets.

After the Gaza war in 2014, known as “Protective Edge,” Naama went back to the army for 4 months as a reserve soldier to help build a new balloon team. Upon finishing her service, Naama travelled extensively throughout India. Three separate times, in fact.

But there’s no place like home, and in addition to her love for travel, Naama enjoys baking and has turned her passion for it into an art form. She received certification having studied International Pastry at the Estella School in Tel Aviv and at present, one can find this gorgeous (Pssst guys, she’s single) and smart 25-year-old working in her chosen field in Jerusalem.

“One day I will return to the Judean hills,” she insists, “there’s no place like it.”

Ariel Drellich, The Shy and Modest Type

Ariel was born and raised in Cedarhurst, New York and made Aliya with his family at the age of 11 to Hashmonaim. Located off route 443 near Modiin, the name is derived from its location in a region where the Hasmoneans lived in antiquity.

Despite his adorable boyish looks, Ariel has a very mature and serious side to him and strives to be at his best. Ariel graduated high school from YTA in Jerusalem, and then did a year of learning in the mechina, Chemdat Yehuda, an educational program that prepares high school graduates for serving in the Israeli Army.

He joined the army in November, 2015, to Netzach Yehuda, a combat unit in Kfir for religious soldiers. Straight after finishing training, Ariel took an officers training course and is presently a commander in the battalion. He is currently stationed in Samaria in the Shilo region and can’t help but feel the rich history of his people that surrounds him. 

How cool is it to serve in a place in our ancient homeland where at one time it was where the Mishkan, or Tabernacle containing the Ark of the Covenant stood for 369 years, from the time of the Book of Joshua until King David established Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the nation. One can hardly escape the magnitude.

Although Netzach Yehuda only requires boys to do two years of combat, Ariel signed on an extra 8 months, in order to do a full service.

Perhaps a tad shy and too modest to provide too many details of his service and bask in the full limelight, Ariel is proud to speak of his girlfriend who served on the border of Gaza providing humanitarian aid, winning the presidential award of outstanding excellence  this past year. And when asked about his future plans, he was a bit vague…something with electronics, whether it’s engineering, robotics or programming, but the one thing he’s sure of is making his girlfriend his wife.

We get that, Ariel, and without wanting to embarrass you, we salute your dedication to our land.

While Ariel is clearly spoken for, he has an older sister that isn’t…yet…and she easily joins the ranks of sexy settlers.

Introducing Elisheva Drellich…

Elisheva Drellich, Smart, Proud and Dedicated

She was 15 when her family made aliyah to Hashmonaim and at 18 there was no question that this green-eyed, blonde haired beauty would join the army.

Elisheva began her service November, 2011 where she served two years in the Israeli Air Force. She started off at the Techni, an air force base in Haifa, and did her basic training and completed a course in aviational wiring. She then moved to a secret military base where her job was classified.

At present, Elisheva is 23 (guys, did I mention she’s single?), and is in her second year of school at Bar Ilan University.

Elisheva is studying Behavioral sciences, which consists of Sociology, Psychology, and Criminology. In her free time, she plays for the Woman’s American Football in Israel league. (WAFI).

With a palpable love of her country, Elisheva is proud of her family’s dedication to Israel and speaks enthusiastically of her older brother who served as a Paratrooper and of her sweet, shy younger brother, Ariel, whom you just met, and is serving in Kfir as well as her younger sister who just joined Caracal, a coed combat unit.

Major Avi Kapon (Res), Brawn at its Best

Clearly, Avi is one man you want on your side.

This modern-day hero is originally from Tel Aviv, but now makes his home in the community of Efrat, nestled in the hills of Gush Etzion.

Avi is one of Israel’s leading counter-terror experts with years of experience as Chief Combat Instructor for the IDF Counter-Terror Academy, Airports Authority, Ministry of Defense-Border Crossing Authority & Israeli Prime Minister’s Jerusalem Security. “Wow” just doesn’t cut it.

He currently serves in the IDF reserves both as a commander and as an instructor for Special Forces units, in addition to being the only private contractor training units at Israel’s brand new police academy, Policity, in Beit Shemesh.

As if he doesn’t have enough on his plate, Avi is also the head of Kapon Defense, one of Israel’s top counter-terror and security companies dedicated to training both civilians and professionals in self-defense under any and all conditions.

With this kind of guy around, you don’t need a night-light. But sorry ladies, he’s taken. When Avi isn’t fighting the bad guys, he’s busy being a family man. Avi is happily married to Adena Mark Kapon and is a proud father of two daughters.

Svietka Rivilis, Bold and Charmingly Bodacious

Svietka’s verve and vitality reminds me of the unsinkable Molly Brown. Originally from Russia, she moved as a young child with her mom to the U.S. When she made aliyah, she came here on her own although past the age of conscription. But, as anyone who knows her can guess, that was not going to stop her, and, she of course joined the IDF anyway. Then she was told she can’t be an officer because she didn’t want to leave her unit when they offered the course, hence missing the deadline. But that too was not going to stop her. Three months before what was supposed to be the end of her service, she went on to the officer course. Svietka stayed in the army for close to seven years, becoming a captain and the first female Russian speaking new immigrant officer.

Svietka lived for a while in Kiryat Arba in the Hevron hills, and later bought a house in Eli, located in the Binyamin region of Israel.  She strongly believes that just by living in Judea and Samaria you are already contributing much to the growth of this country, even if you don’t do anything else. “Establishing life in the heartland of Israel makes a huge positive difference for Israeli society.” 

After her time in the army, Svietka worked as a settlement counselor for the community of Eli. She promoted Eli to prospective new residents, helping them find housing. She attended real estate fairs and sold Eli 24/7. She loved her work so much that she literally sold herself out of the job. Basically, she sold all the houses that were there to sell at that time. 60 to be precise. Today, she happily notes, Eli has a whole lot more houses.

“Life is so good in this country,” she says with enthusiasm. Actually, Svietka does everything with enthusiasm. At present, Svietka works in beautifying people’s homes as an interior designer. And I must say here, that I am her number one fan. She’s not only a true genius with what she does, she is a blast to work with. She does it all with boundless creativity, and she does it with gusto. “I get to play with live size doll houses all day…I wake up and run to work.”

With her quick wit and vibrant blue eyes, Svietka is a people magnate who radiates positive energy to everyone around her and easily dazzles her way into your heart. When she’s not on the go or on the search for fabulous finds at flea markets or at her favorite shooting range haunts, she treasures the simple things in life and loves hanging out with friends on her air-suspended porch overlooking ancient Shiloh.

The sunshine of her life is her baby girl, and as a single mom, who says forthright that she would be happy to have a good man come into their lives, one can honestly say he won’t be bored.

Rebecca Sigala, Sweetly Daring

Having grown up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a secular background but rooted with a love of Israel, Rebecca came to Israel directly after high school for the first time and completely fell in love with the country. “My heart felt full as I traveled through the gorgeous land, and there was something incredibly touching about being in the Jewish homeland that I had dreamed about most of my life.”

When she decided to spend the year in Israel, she didn’t know that she would also fall in love with a young man who is now her husband. They met while learning in Tzfat and got married the next year when she was 19 and he was 20 years old. With their backpacks and a few pieces of luggage, they made aliyah shortly after their wedding in 2009.

From Tzfat, they moved to Jerusalem, opened up a wedding and portrait photography business, Sigala Photography, and after their first daughter, Ziva, was born, they decided to move again, opting for the warm community of Efrat in the Judean hills. 

After her second child, Yonatan, was born, Rebecca opened another separate business, quite unique for a resident of the Judean hills. Rebecca Sigala Boudoir Photography, specializes in intimate portraiture for women. Since Boudoir is of an intimate nature, the sessions include various and tasteful states of undress and posing in lingerie. Rebecca, in a sense, offers a different kind of therapy. “I’ve found that when we ‘strip down’ physically, we are also able to reach a more vulnerable place within, where we can allow ourselves to feel connected, sexy, beautiful and free.”

The boudoir photography that Rebecca does has become a true passion of hers as she sees how much empowerment and healing her clients have gained from the experiences. Rebecca works with women of all ages and backgrounds, secular and religious as well, and while living in the Judean hills she has captured the essence of many sexy settlers.

Rebecca professes “Although I didn’t move to Efrat for political reasons, I do have a sense of pride that we live in the Gush…This area will always hold such a special meaning to me and my family.”

Rebecca stresses how important it is that we continually come together as Israelis to find our shared values and commonalities, as well as approach each other with compassion and understanding.

Who can argue with that?

She goes on to say, “…Even though there are really hard, scary times, we generally live in peace with our neighbors. I feel that I have gained a lot of knowledge and perspective by our choice to live in Efrat, as well as having given our children a beautiful place to grow up in.”

Ari Fuld, Driven and Devoted to the Core

Ari made aliyah in 1991 and in the next year he joined the IDF as a lone soldier. He married the love of his life in ’95 and they live in Efrat with their 4 children; Tamar (20), Naomi (19), Yakir (16) and Natan (10).

A distinctly striking and towering figure, Ari laughs off the compliments and sees his life as one with a clear sense of purpose – defending his land and his people. When it comes to Israel’s security, Ari’s a no-nonsense guy to say the least. And if you’re curious how this family man remains so fit, Ari has been teaching Tora Dojo Karate for 20+ years.

Like many combat soldiers, Ari has at least one story that he carries around with him and conceivably drives him in his path to attain what is best for Israel. In ’93, his second gunner, Yehoshua Friedberg, was kidnapped and murdered by Islamic terrorists. “We caught the terrorists,” he tells me, “but they were released with the Shalit deal…Many of us in the unit reacted by signing letters stating that if any of us was God forbid kidnapped in the future, no deal! Either get us out with an operation or figure something else out, but no releasing terrorists.”

After a very close-call in the Lebanon War in ’06 where he was hit by shrapnel while not wearing a bullet proof vest and miraculously was not wounded, he decided to focus on protecting Israel online as much as he is doing offline. At present, Ari is a reserve soldier in an elite unit of the Paratroopers as well as serving on the First Response Anti-Terror team in Efrat, and when not in uniform he runs Standing Together.

Standing Together is a non-profit organization that supports and supplies IDF soldiers with whatever they need in order to lift their morale and let them know there are people from all over the world who love and support them.

Several years ago, Ari began to build an online pro-Israel persona offering vital information for those who are interested in fighting against anti-Israel propaganda that is running rampant online, in the press, on university campuses and in different communities around the world. Working with university students who successfully exposed anti-Israel professors and activists on several campuses and traveling overseas on speaking tours in order to arm pro-Israel groups with the information they need to fight anti-Israel propaganda, he is quickly becoming known as “the man who never sleeps.” But it’s all about the truth for Ari and he’ll stop at nothing until people stop accepting the false narrative that the Arabs are using to justify their continuous murder of the Jewish people.

More recently, Ari has been involved in several events in the Knesset as well as holding public debates against left-wing personalities who do not favorably view Jews settling the Land of Israel. He wants his fellow Jews to stand up for their historical, national and religious rights to the Land of Israel and to impede any negativity with regard to settling in our homeland.

“I will fight for the Jewish right to Israel and will not back down from the truth…When lies are being spoken about my people and my land, silence is not an option. If we are silent, how can we expect anything from the world?”

With Ari on our side, you know things will be set right. But Ari, try to work in a nap somewhere.

Amalia Goldberg, Adventurous and Adorable

Originally from New York, Amalia moved with her family to Gush Etzion in 2005 when she was 8.  After high school she attended Mechinat Amichai, a coed pre-army program designed for both the secular and religious. She describes it as an incredible experience and a huge factor in her decision to serve as a combat soldier.

Amalia felt she wanted to do something different and interesting that she would be proud of in the future. She wanted to challenge herself mentally and physically and ended up doing just that by joining the IDF’s branch of Pikud HaOref, search and rescue. And who wouldn’t want to be saved by this charming young woman?

Amalia is six months into her service and about a month ago she also started a combat medics course in order to be a medic in her unit. Totally dedicated to what she is doing for her country she says, “What I’m doing is difficult, exhausting and mentally draining but you understand why you are here.”

In her spare time, Amalia loves hiking with friends, baking, reading and traveling. Her post army service plans include travel followed by nursing school and then hopes to continue on to become a midwife.

Nili Englard, No Mountain is Too High

Originally from Teaneck, New Jersey, Nili made aliyah with her family in 2006, heading straight to the Judean hills shortly before her 10th birthday. Her girlish, innocent look belies her sagacity beyond her years; when faced with some personal challenges, Nili traversed adversities and with her incredible smile and brains to boot she navigated through high school with impressive grades while at the same time delving into her love of music.

She plays guitar, keyboard and the drums, all self-taught, and utilized her musical talents in her national service while working with the elderly. Nili’s strong connection with the seniors in her loving care did not end with the culmination of her national service and she remains in touch and visits with them every chance she gets.

But that’s not all. Her attentiveness to the elderly converges with her keenness for entertaining youth. Nili just happens to be a master storyteller as well as a creative writer, and a children’s book is in the works.

Growing up in the hills of Judea, Nili is a natural outdoorsy girl. She loves hiking, biking and rollerblading as well as skiing and snowboarding, the latter of which she does at Mount Hermon in the north of Israel, as well as in Utah, Vermont and Denver in the States plus a stint in the Swiss Alps. Don’t let her sweet looks fool you; when on the slopes, she’s an absolute daredevil.

Did I mention she loves to travel? Next stop, skiing in eastern Europe.

But despite her love of zipping through snow filled mountains, Nili is deeply rooted in Israel’s heartland and feels the most true to herself in the Judean hills. With this in her heart, she hopes to study towards a degree in architecture and be intimately involved in building up our land.

Nepotism aside, from yours truly – the author of this article – Nili joins the ranks of the sexy settlers all on her own credit.

King David, Warrior and Poet

From the tribe of Judah, David was raised by his family in Efrat, in an area widely known today as Bet-Lechem, or Bethlehem. Although a shepherd by trade, he courageously confronted Goliath, the giant Philistine enemy of Israel, and killed him. It was no surprise when shortly afterwards David became commander of King Saul’s troops and was successful in battle against the Philistines. He later succeeded King Saul in 1010 BCE, becoming the second king of Israel.

The ruddy, handsome leader with exquisite eyes was quite popular back in high school and word spread how he was also a wiz with the harp, writing cool lyrics too.

His popularity grew still more when he became king and even succeeded in uniting the people of Israel. No small feat, mind you. King David was renowned for uniting men from all walks of life into a unified fighting force and his military capability enabled him to expand his kingdom from Egypt to Iraq.

King David made his home in Hevron for 7 years before moving his headquarters as well as the Holy Ark of the Covenant to a part of  Jerusalem commonly known as the Old City.

A warrior, skilled musician and a writer of psalms, King David built Jerusalem and ruled it for 40 years, until approximately 970 BCE. And as great leaders so often do, King David looked to the future. He bought a threshing floor for 30 pieces of silver that is presently known as the Temple Mount, or Har HaBayit. This site is where his son, King Solomon, built the First Temple. Though David admitted that he would have liked to build the Temple himself, he accepted God’s command that his son would see to it. God, however, promised David that the connection between God and his descendants would be forever, “and thy house and thy Kingdom shall be made sure forever before thee, thy throne shall be established forever”, (Samuel II, 7,16).

Though difficult to find much down time, King David enjoyed music, singing, dancing and liked to blend his talents into his prayer ritual. His favorite pet, the spider, natch.

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Zahava Englard Shapiro

Originally from New York, Zahava was lost in New Jersey for several years until found over a decade ago roaming the hills of Judea in Gush Etzion. An author of two books, “The Gilboa Iris” published by Gefen and “Settling for More: From Jersey to Judea” published by Devora. Her favorite quote is: “If it’s not controversial, why bother?” (Yes, the quote is her own.) She is a mother of four, with two sons having proudly served in IDF combat. Zahava is presently residing in Jerusalem, continues to publish articles for various online publications and is currently working on "the great Israeli novel."