I haven’t even moved there yet, but I feel like I’m already getting cheerleader-syndrome for Tzur Hadassah. Looks like the Jerusalem Post is either reading my stuff or recognizes the quickly-growing settlement:
On Location: Between chalets and minarets
The feature article starts off like this: “Nestled somewhere between the hills of Switzerland and the mosques of Baghdad is Tzur Hadassah.” I love that description and it’s completely true.
There’s a detailed description of the history of this section of Jerusalem hills and its humble beginnings:
“[Moshe] Tubol… came by boat from his hometown of Oujda, Morocco, to Haifa in 1956…
At the time, the authorities were looking to build some new communities in the area. Tubol latched on and helped lay the foundations for Bar Giora, Mata and Tzur Hadassah…. Tzur Hadassah was intended as a service center for the area, and thus the local school was transferred there from Ness Harim. And Tubol went with it.
At the beginning, he lived in Tzur Hadassah with two other families. But one left rather quickly, and the other followed not too long after. There was no electricity and the water was intermittent. There was no road – just a path. There were no phones to communicate with the outside world, and a school bus just made it to the entrance of the settlement to drop off and pick up the pupils…
But in 1967, says Tubol, things got better. The settlement was no longer on the Jordanian border, so people were less afraid to come. Tzur Hadassah was hooked up to the neighboring settlements’ generators, and phone lines were installed…”
After 1980, there were 40 families and Tzur Hadassah was growing. Today the place is home to 1,000 families.
The main drawback to Tzur Hadassah – which the article mentions – is the lack of activities for kids and community centers. For now, it also lacks a mikvah (the demographic is mostly secular). But these are all projects that the community leaders are working on and apparently the government is fine with encouraging the town’s growth.
The variety of people – from Sephardi to Ashkenaz, Israeli-born to immigrant and religious to secular – is a major point made by Rabbi Levi Cooper, resident rabbi, who was interviewed for the feature.
Because Tzur Hadassah essentially borders the Green Line, security is something on the minds of the residents, but it is dealt with as best as possible. Each resident is charged with shmira duty – either they take the all-night responsibilities once in a while, or they pay a sum towards the community. Either way, every resident is made conscious of the need to stick together as a community in this respect.
The conclusion of the article pretty much sums up the way any small settlement has become a recognized city in Israel:
“And thus, life in Tzur Hadassah has evolved from a sparsely populated little border settlement into an in-demand community for middle-class professionals looking for a green nook near the center of the world.”
And we’ll be joining it the first week of February.