Tzur Hadassah update: Small town news.

On Shabbat, I met a couple that is considering moving to צור הדסה and found information about it right here. Not much out there about this yishuv, in English or Hebrew, so I’m happy to fill in when needed.

But I realize I haven’t updated properly in a while, and we have some ‘drama’ going on, as well as accomplishments/planned accomplishments brewing.

So here goes, a Tzur Hadassah update:

Secular high school

Ground broke this year on the building of a secular high school; up until now it’s been grades aleph through chet. From what I’ve heard, high school students have begun learning here in temporary situations while the building gets built, presumably over the course of this year.

Religious elementary school

Last year, a dati elementary school was started in the area. The school is not actually located in the yishuv, but in Bar Giyora nearby, where there was a vacancy. It services students from around the area, and is up to kita gimmel at this point (in its second year). From my understanding, it’s not just religious families who send their kids there, but also traditional and secular, who want a Jewish base to their kids’ educations.

Community center TBD

There have been talks and plans for the ground-breaking of a community center, which would include a pool. The location for the building has been chosen (towards the valley, inside the U of the yishuv) and ‘they say’ that will begin in the next couple years.

New construction controversy

Small town drama? Not really, if some governmentals, architects, planners, and realtors get their way. Then it’ll be much-bigger-town drama. And demographic-completely-altered town drama.

I don’t know the nitty-gritty details, so everything I tell is from what I’ve heard and seen in emails to me by the va’ad of Tzur Hadassah.

There are plans to expand the yishuv in ways that would totally alter its character. There are a lot of kablanim hungry to build here; desired location, lots of potential, etc. The local va’ad is trying to stop it, or at least halt it, which I heard they have succeeded in doing by appealing in court.

But I’m not sure the relationship of that information with the following, which seems a lot more imminent:

There are also plans to build a new section to Tzur Hadassah for 1400+ families, which would be located across the main road, next to Mavo Beitar (a quiet, small yishuv behind the Delek gas station). This community, apparently, would be bigger in land area than Jerusalem’s Gilo, filled with apartments, and would cater to – and be offered to – the well-off charedi public. In fact, according to what I read, the only public services offered in the building plans were four synagogues. No parks.

If this happened, there are a lot of downsides spelled out by the local admin here, including: limited to no public transportation (I presume that would change), clogging of the area’s main roads, and severe altering of the character of surrounding communities, which range from pretty much secular to moderately traditional, with a few dati leumis sprinkled about.

That last bit hits a sensitive nerve in Tzur Hadassah; it is joked that Beitar Illit, the ultra-Charedi yishuv next door, over the Green Line, is trying to turn Tzur Hadassah into ‘Giva’a Gimmel’ with all their expanding going on.

Many who hear I live in Tzur Hadassah comment on the same point: Don’t they hate religious people there? I don’t think it’s that they hate religious people necessarily;  I think they want to live free from the influences of that lifestyle, namely Charedi lifestyle, which will cramp their own. They don’t want the character they’ve built to change. They don’t want to be put in a position where they have to start sacrificing for something that doesn’t interest them.

Which I can understand, though I do believe it’s important to know your neighbors and promote tolerance, living among diversity, for the sake of balance and your children’s education.

Which is why I live here, by the way.

Koala update: Eighteen months.

“The fundamental job of a toddler is to rule the universe.” (Lawrence Kutner)

I think something clicked when I left town for a workweek and Koala realized I didn’t 110% revolve around his teeny-tiny universe. Well, aside from the fact that a year-and-a-half is a fine age to turn up the heat on acting out… But the hitting seems to have started while I was away (see more below).

“It helps if the hitter thinks you’re a little crazy.” (Nolan Ryan)

The hitting. It’s a bit unpredictable. I’m not too sure Koala is thinking this one through – why hit the hand that feeds you? (Then again, why bite the boob that feeds you?)

Also, it’s dredging up memories (and defense mechanisms) from growing up with brothers. But I’m not taking it personally. Or at least, trying not to.

“Jealousy is nothing more than a fear of abandonment.” (Unknown)

Ok, let’s go with that way to describe it. Koala has whined or flat-out bawled in the past when either of us picks up another baby, but lately it is definitely heightened. Perhaps he senses something?

Even months ago he got upset when I picked up a crying baby at his original daycare. With all the other kids and babies toddling around our lives lately, it’s definitely time to work on it.

“Pawwidge.” (Koala)

One helluva word for a beginner, no?

Gay Jews, straight Jews, mitzva-observing Jews.

This is already a week old, but I really wanted to share it again here: Shmuley Boteach’s take on homosexuality in Judaism. Whether you’re a fan or a foe, I think it’s a well-thought out and ballsy read. Give it a try:

No Holds Barred: The Jewish view of homosexuality

A few of my favorite parts:

  • There are 613 commandments in the Torah. One is to refrain from gay sex. Another is for men and women to marry and have children. So when Jewish gay couples come to me for counselling and tell me they have never been attracted to the opposite sex in their entire lives and are desperately alone, I tell them, “You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy…
  • The mistake of so many well-meaning people of faith is to believe that homosexuality is a moral rather than a religious sin. A moral sin involves injury to an innocent party. But who is being harmed when two, unattached, consenting adults are in a relationship? Rather, homosexuality is akin to the prohibition of lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread during Passover. There is nothing immoral about it, but it violates the divine will.
  • The American religious and electoral obsession with all-gay-marriage-all- the-time has led to a values-vacuum where it is near impossible to discuss real solutions to the erosion of family life. For instance, making marital counselling tax deductible would do infinitely more to bolster the crumbling institution of marriage than any opposition to gay relationships.
  • And all I’m asking from my religious brethren is this: Even as you oppose gay relationships because of your beliefs, please be tortured by your opposition. Understand that when our most deeply held beliefs conflict with our basic humanity, we should feel the tragedy of the conflict, rather than simply find convenient scapegoats upon whom to blame all of America’s ills.
  • I have observant friends who keep mitzvot way better than I do; who are kinder people than I am; who are believing, practicing Jews to the core. They happen to be gay.

    I’m married to a man, we have a child, but I can promise you my Judaism is a sad case of laziness.

    I wonder who truly ends up with the better karma at the end?

    Guess he drinks more at gan.

    My baby woke up last night in pain from teething. We gave him his motzetz, his blankie, Acamol, but what he finally ended up calling out for, through his sad, sad baby tears, was…

    “!מים! מים”

    Huz and I looked at each other as he mouthed to me in surprise, ‘mayim?!’

    It’s not Koala’s first Hebrew word, or his second or third. But it was just so… natural.

    I have a bilingual baby.

    You can’t stay mad at me…

    There are a gajillion reasons why kids are fascinating. Here’s one:

    I spent last week on a business trip to New York City. It was my seventh time traveling since getting pregnant with Koala. It was my fifth time traveling since he was born.

    It was my first time in seven trips traveling without him.

    The morning after I left, I’m told he searched the second floor of our apartment as his father tried to explain to him that mama is not around right now. He went from my side of the bed, to the bathroom, to the stairs, calling, ‘MA!’

    After that, he seemed well-adjusted. At his gan, the teachers told my husband, you’d never know anything was different – he was so well-behaved!

    I did ok, too. There were harder times – like when I waited for my flight out at the airport the night I left. I started to wonder if I was ridiculous for doing this. How could I leave my baby like that? For work?

    But the week was mostly ok. I was anxious by the end to get home; especially with the chance my flight would be delayed and I’d have to stay the weekend. But it turned out fine, and I walked out of the arrivals hall to Koala, half asleep, looking up at me, smiling.


    Today, I went into the gan to pick him up. He ran straight for me, excited to see me there again as normal. It was obvious and incredibly cute. I chatted with the ganenet a little while; she told me how well-behaved he was while I was gone. How well he eats. Oh, but one thing…

    He’s been hitting other kids. Funny, it just started last week. Has he done that at home?

    Why, it just so happens he recently started – this weekend, actually. Hitting me, in fact. With a little evil monkey face.

    So, Koala was mad. Or resentful. And he’s showing me that.

    Actually, that makes me feel a lot better.