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.