Set your aspirations high…

…and your expectations low.

Spotted in Tzur Hadassah: an effort to be funny and effective! Stickers adorning the public garbage cans, with the following message:

אם כל אחד לא ילכלך, יהיה פה נקי כמו בשוויץ

If everyone wouldn’t make a mess, it could be clean here like in Switzerland.

Nice touch, Va’ad Tzur Hadassah! Seriously. Now, can you also put stickers that read:

When you throw out your trash and don’t close the bin, or throw out your trash next to the bin, or behind the bin, or outside the covered bin room, cats and dogs come and tear it apart, leaving dirty diapers, food scraps, and plastic dishware all over the sidewalk. We’ll never look like Switzerland now!

And what about stickers on dog owners’ doors saying:

If you didn’t let your dogs run loose, scare the $&#@ out of my kid, and shit on the ground where we walk around, this place could be orderly like… anywhere else!

Ok, I’m not really bitter. The dog situation is old and cliche in Tzur Hadassah. But, like any small town with a budget and elected officials, there are lots of ‘small’ issues, that until someone gets hurt, are being ignored. The gaps, hills, and shifts in the sidewalk brick that my kid trips in (ok, I also trip in them!). The playgrounds that need the rusty stray nails sticking up removed. The hole in the ground I saw across from building #30 on Rechasim street, just a foot or two from the sidewalk:

Maybe it’s because I’ve been outside more lately. Maybe because I have a kid that actually walks and plays outside now. Maybe because I’m now committed to Tzur Hadassah, I’m noticing lots of things I’d want to report to the local Va’ad. Shame the obvious email link on the official website is broken. No worries, the tiny יצור קשר link at the bottom works.

Tzur Hadassah update: It’s not *all* Pleasantville.

I get a lot of email from people looking to move to Tzur Hadassah, our 1,000 family size yishuv in the Jerusalem hills. I tend to paint a rosy picture here, and get more honest in the emails, but I think I’m going to be honest here and allow myself to complain a little bit.

You know, in case you were interested.

Here are the complaints that I would say are fairly universal among most Tzur Hadassah residents, with the exception of a few here or there (depending on whether you are actually characterized by being the source of a complaint).

  • Questionable security
    When we moved here in February 2008, there was a spate of car thefts going on. Car thefts here are relatively common in the winter months, and it’s not shocking why. We’re technically a ‘border town,’ being that the ‘Green Line’ is across the street from the end of the yishuv. The fence that is supposedly the edge of the town is quite literally a backyard fence. Parts of it used to be electric, but that is no help in the fact that there are at any time several holes at different points.

    A couple weeks ago, not one but two families I know were robbed in their homes – within 24 hours of each other. That was news to me – cars are one thing, but break-ins are another.So, all that said, what is security like here? When we moved here, it was a professional and a volunteer from the yishuv every night. And by volunteer, I mean husbands and sons from the yishuv doing a shift every three months or else paying a ridiculous fee. Until recently, it was one or two ‘professional’ guys on shift without guns; while we all paid a ridiculous fee. Now, we all pay a ridiculous fee and it’s a couple of guys with guns and a boom gate. So… most of us are not very happy with the security situation.

  • Poor public transportation
    This is probably the most common turn-off for people who consider moving here. We have access to three Superbus/Egged lines outlined here.

    All together, there are about five trips outside the yishuv and five incoming every week day. It’s not enough for most people who commute and there’s no convenient way to get to the train in Beit Shemesh – unless you tremp. In fact, tremping is pretty common. So is having cars; actually, owning a car is pretty much mandatory.

  • Careless pet owners
    This is probably the most common ‘small’ problem for people who already live here. I don’t know what percentage of the population actually owns dogs, but whatever it is, too-large a percentage let their big dogs run loose in the streets all day. So there is dog shit everywhere for all seasons, as well as lazy dogs sitting in the middle of roads so you have to drive around them or stop to avoid hitting them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and wish I had the space to own one, but I don’t. So I don’t. Owning a dog while living in an apartment is unrealistic and irresponsible if you’re going to choose a big lab, husky or shepherd and let it run outside all day. It’s not safe for drivers, it can be terrifying for kids, and it’s just a poop hazard for pedestrians.

  • Religious people
    There are definitely exaggerations about the secular-religious divide here. I’ve written about it before. For all the rumors, the fact is traditional, open-minded ‘religious’ people have no problem really. And there are plenty of Sephardi-traditional-Shabbat observing types as well as Reform/Progressive types.

    The issue is with the fear of Charedi families moving in, with Beitar Illit across the hill and expanding constantly. There are actually a few families here for some reason (one of them being the token Chabad family). I’m highly skeptical, but then again, who knows.

  • Rising prices
    What can you do, it’s a popular place and the prices across the center of Israel have gone up tremendously in the last few years. Our apartment, which we currently rent, has gone up in value over 400,000 shekel since we moved here.

    In Tzur Hadassah, the prices have gone up about 17% a year. So it’s not really the affordable non-Jerusalem option it once was – especially because you need a car (see bullet #2).

  • Traffic hazards
    Ok, truth is, I haven’t heard many people discuss this one, but it’s growing. Nearly six months ago, we got a  small shopping center including supermarket on the second largest thoroughfare road which until then had been completely residential (aside from the small medical clinic inside a house). To drive down that way now is to weave through a narrow busy street with two constantly-full parking lots leading into it. Drivers not watching, kids crossing the road to get to the candy store, and soon it will be worse with a planned coffee shop.

    Another issue is driving in the old yishuv, where roads are actually narrow, barely two-way, and for some reason, prone to speeding drivers in nice cars. Most of the nurseries and gans are located there, so driving through around 8 am and 4 pm is a ball.

So that’s my rundown of complaints for Tzur Hadassah. The pros outweight the cons, whןch is why we’re pretty much settled here for now. But if you were wondering… there you have it.

Tzur Hadassah transportation.

I was asked about transportation to and from Tzur Hadassah. Thought I’d share the options – though they are not as many as would be helpful:

Bet Shemesh: Superbus 182.

Jerusalem: Superbus 184 and Egged 180.

Beitar: Illit buses; there are multiple lines that go to Jerusalem, Bet Shemesh and Bnei Brak frequently.

Tremping: People do tremp (hitchhike) from the front gates. I’ve also seen (and picked up) people hitchhiking from the trempiada at Gilo junction.