Tzur Hadassah: The Q&A breakdown (part 2)

Continuing from the last post, here is an email I wrote after a couple weeks of living here. It’s kind of funny how much more I know now… Which makes me wonder if I had thought I did enough research before moving here… But then again, we moved here on pure recommendation from friends. Here you go:

So, we just moved here 2.5 weeks ago… We knew a few couples before we moved, and have met people at the Ashkenaz shul the last two shabbats… It’s a very small start up shul (we like it like that) but the people are friendly and very enthusiastic to have new members. Know that the community at large is actually secular middle class. There is a community of traditional/observant Mizrachis, too, with Sephardi shuls.

Property is still fairly cheap for a suburban yishuv outside of Jerusalem… But it is getting hotter by the year it seems.

There are two gans and a school for up till high schoolers, I think. Lots of small parks sprinkled around. There is a small horse farm including zoo-type atmosphere with different animals, nice for a Shabbat walk. It’s a gorgeous area. There are national parks and trails all around this general area. It’s very very peaceful and quiet, and I’ve seen older kids playing ball outside my building (without many cars passing to disturb them).

Most people here seem to be married with young kids… Our neighbors are nice. Most people here are Hebrew speakers.

There is talk of bringing a supermarket here, in another year. For now there is a large makolet. People pretty much work in Bet Shemesh or Jerusalem and shop there for most things. There is also Beitar 5 minutes away.

Apparently a mikva is built, but there was a problem in the last stages of building and the rabbi is working it out.

There are buses to Jerusalem, but they are sparse… It seems everyone has a car.

There is also a great medical center (this is what people have told me, I haven’t needed to go yet) that takes all kupot and they do blood tests and more, which is handy to have in your neighborhood.

Sephardi synanogues of Katamonim.

Something I’m going to miss about my little Jerusalem hometown of Katamonim are the amazing Sephardi beitay knesset that pepper the streets:

Sephardi synagogue

Most of the residents in this neighborhood are some strain of Mizrachi, mainly Kurdish, Bucharian, Moroccan or Yemenite. The synagogues carpeted and fluorescently lit, reflect that.

I feel 100% comfortable attending services at Beit Aharon, one of the ‘shuls’ up the block. We go occasionally, and the usual suspects recognize my husband (after all, he kind of stands out) and no one asks me any questions, even if I am usually the only woman upstairs. I also love knowing that when women do come, the priority is to be present and pray as opposed to look a certain way (namely, I can wear my loose pants!).

In addition, the service is just plain fun – but not in a ‘happy-clappy’ way which is more of a turn off to me than otherwise. The chazzan is always the same old man who actually sounds like he is conversing with God when he prays. The whole room is involved in one conversation, together. See the way the seats and tables are facing? This is a congregation. It’s also the way beitay knesset were historically arranged in the good ole days, before exile.

In Tsur Hadassah, I’m looking forward to my prayers being spoken from inside a small, rickety trailer, which is how I grew up praying. Back to basics. But the couple years I had the chance to pray in a place as grand as my Kurdish synagogue will always be appreciated.