Build it, and they will come. In our case, many already did, but I’m sure that attracting more is part of the plan.
Walking through the yishuv this week I noticed the sign declaring what we all thought were just rumors and faraway promises: a major community center in the middle of Tzur Hadassah, servicing the ‘יישובי המזלג’ or the five towns that comprise the Matte Yehuda ‘fork’. That includes Tzur, Matta, Nes Harim, Bar Giyora and Mavo Beitar.
So… let’s break it down. What started being built in February 2011, and has no declared end date yet, are the following…
- בית ספר הדסים / Hadassim elementary school: Ok, this one already exists (and got a whole refurbished play area outside it last year) but it’s around this building that the rest will be done. From what I understand, they are also adding middle school to this (I believe it only goes up to sixth grade).
- בית ספר ממלכתי דתי / Religious public school: This school year a religious public school was started; it began with kita aleph and bet (first and second grade) and both religious and secular families from the surrounding yishuvim sent their kids. It’s been housed in an unused building in Bar Giyora, but it seems that its permanent residence will in fact be in this new complex. I heard that the original plan was to have a mixed TALI-type school, but because the administration and parental interest of this one has created such an open, mixed atmosphere, they decided it was unnecessary and instead, this ‘dati’ school would serve the purpose. This is the first new building being built in the complex, which is meant to be completed by this coming school year, and you can see in the photo that it’s made significant progress since February:
The amazing thing about it is that for next year, apparently kita aleph has over 30 kids registered. It will also go up to gimmel (grade 3), of course.
- מרכז חוגים / Activity center: What I’m hoping is that kids can go straight from school to next door where they can partake in the expensive chugim (extracurriculars, after-school activities) that we will pay for. As a working mom who isn’t a teacher or part time, I worry a lot about what the bleep my kids will do all afternoon after school lets out.
- בית ספר תיכון / High school: This will be a secular high school for local kids to continue after the elementary/middle school. Currently they shlep on buses to Jerusalem or Beit Shemesh.
- בריכת שחייה / Swimming pool: This has (literally) been the talk of the town for years. There are a few public pools in the area yishuvim, stretching from five to fifteen minutes away. Some are actually focused on serving Beitar Illit’s charedi population, with separate swimming. Others are fine, but the rates of membership are probably not as good as they could be if we had our own local pool to join. And what better way to build a strong sense of local community than a swimming pool? Not to mention giving kids what to do in the long, school-free summer.
- אולם ספורט / Sports center: Goes along with after-school activities, school teams, and hell, who knows? – maybe a gym for the adults.
- אולם רב תכליתי / Community center (multi purpose): I assume this is where our tekesim will take place… Community meetings, cultural events, shows, etc.
- ספריה ומרכז מוסיקה / Library and music center: This could actually be really great. I hope they do it right. The lack of libraries in Israel makes me terribly sad. I would love to take my kids to a local library every week, just like my mom did with us in New York City.
With everything going on in this area, things are really going to change. It’s going to be a huge win for creating more of a sense of community here, though there’s always a risk to demographics with attempting to attract more people. The pace is good, and these are things most people want anyway. But change is still change.
As they, סכנה! כאן בונים (danger, here they are building).