Small town feeding a small army, or: calling all Israeli mothers of Tzur Hadassah

Welcome to some good ole fashion small town love.

Tzur Hadassah’s natural surroundings are a bit of a training ground for Tzahal ground troops. Every so often we’ll spot them midnight marching down our dead end street through the nature preserve, on their way to spend the night doing – whatever it is; the end of my block is as far as I see.

After this past weekend, we residents got a cry for help in the form of ‘Jewish mothers, our beit ha’am is housing 80+ hungry and tired soldiers from the Rimon Givati brigade for two nights, please do your thing!’

And so far it seems we have.

Yesterday, the kids drew pics after gan, and I made a pasta with homemade sauce.

After 9pm, when they started rolling in, I brought it over. I knocked on the door, behind which a group of exhausted 18-20 year olds were looking up at me. I saw the word ‘food’ (…or ‘confort’ …or ‘townie’) register on their faces.

“Thank you! Wow! Thank you so much!” They were so happy… I remembered hearing from my brother how little things like homemade food or someone sharing something with you can just make your whole army day.

It can also make a small town feel really good. This was a win/win.

A few things amazed me:

  1. How young they are.
  2. How old I am.
  3. How grateful they were!
  4. OMG am I like a ma’am now?!
  5. How much of a freakin country hick I am.

Since it all went down really late, I brought the kids over today, day 2, to see some evidence. Unfortunately, and expectedly, no soldiers were around. 

It’s wonderful to make a difference in someone’s daily life once in a while. It’s even lovelier to do it on a whole town-level.

On a random day.

During peacetime.

Tu B’Shvat in Tzur Hadassah: Pave a parking lot, put up paradise.

Yesterday, in the morning, walking through Tzur Hadassah, I noticed this:

And was all, WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Why you gotta touch my beloved valley? Why do we have to dig up the pretty parts of Tzur Hadassah we clearly don’t need for more housing or community centers? Why can’t we haz a little nature left over?

Why a week before Tu B’shvat?!

Yesterday, in the afternoon, I got this email from the Va’ad Tarbut of Tzur Hadassah:

ט”ו בשבט בצור הדסה – יום שישי , 25/1/2013

השנה יתקיים לראשונה בצור הדסה אירוע ט”ו בשבט בו יקחו חלק כל בתי הספר בישוב.

האירוע הוא לכבוד חנוכת “הפארק הנעלם” בו ינטעו מאות עצים ושיחים מקומיים אשר יצרו חורש טבעי מרהיב.

10:00 חנוכת “הפארק הנעלם” צור הדסה – תלמידי והורי בתי הספר בישוב נוטעים בוואדי

And was all, oooooooooh.

Bottom line: They cleared the area because the students of all Tzur Hadassah schools will come together on Friday to plant new trees in what will be called ‘HaPark HaNe’elam’ or Hidden Park. The trees and shrubs to be used are local varieties. After the damage we’ve done so far to the view, in building the new school/community area, it’s nice to see some natural payback. Reason #95245 to like Tzur Hadassah: community appreciation for nature and values-building for our students.

To be continued…

Tzur Hadassah update: The border town gets border police

Hello and welcome to our border town. It looks like we’re finally getting border security treatment.

Back in the summer I noticed these posters go up at either entrance to Tzur Hadassah, and during the Gaza operation, we were emailed by the va’ad about some new details.

When it comes to Tzur Hadassah and security, it’s a touchy subject. For as long as w’eve been here, and before, car thefts have been fairly common during appropriate seasons, and we’ve heard of more than one house robbery during high periods (including our neighbors).

It’s a bit of a contradiction here; it feels so safe being out in the hills, but on the other hand, the seclusion can be a little intimidating at times.

Anyway… the משמר הגבול presence has definitely been upped.

Not so fast: Tzur Hadassah mikvah update

About a month ago, we took a walk to where the currently-malfunctioning mikvah stands in Tzur Hadassah. Apparently, ‘they’ have found donors/money to get it functional, (I understand the malfunction is a plumbing issue) and it seems the rest of the area is getting prepped as well. The road leading to it from next to the supermarket has been flattened, so it’s easier to access. A sidewalk was added along the way towards the building.

That’s all I really know. But here’s what it looks like:

The road soon to be taken?

Front view (the building, don’t be gross)
Back view

The cost of having kids in Israel.

We ‘have’ kids. Sounds so passive, doesn’t it?

Isn’t it more like, we find someone to have kids with, settle in with them, work at it for a few months to a few years, attempt to save money to cushion the initial shock, bring forth a baby into the world with extreme amounts of energy, and work every single second of our lives thereafter to ensure their health and safekeeping?

Costly KidsHere’s an infographic courtesy of Early Childhood Education. It’s absolutely addressing data based in the United States. Which blows my mind, just to see the college figures.

Israel runs a totally different show; not to say raising kids here isn’t costly, it’s just costly in different ways. Our salaries are lower, our cost of living is higher (our standard of living is high). Import tax makes goods more expensive than they’d be elsewhere. Small population, less choice/less supply/higher prices. I’m no economist, and I can’t really, ahem, afford to wax philosophic about it all.

But I feel like shedding a little light.

There’s a good breakdown of costs for a family of four in the context of what to expect when you make aliyah. Note: I take no responsibility for how off this is in Tel Aviv. That’s your fault for living there ;)

But these are relevant to where I live, Tzur Hadassah, a 1500-family yishuv 20 minutes outside Jerusalem.

Numbers in Israeli shekels:

  • Housing (rent or mortgage): 4000-5000
  • Arnona (annual property tax): 300-500 (roughly 5,000 a year – very dependent on where you live)
  • Water: 120-250
  • Electricity: 250-500

…and so on (cell phone, gas, car, petrol, TV, va’ad bayit). But I digress. Children-related expenses, on a monthly basis, look a little like this – for my community, anyway:

  • Daycare for babies until 3: 1500-2500 (lower number reflects range in Beitar Illit, an option)
  • Gan 3+: Free as of 2012/2013, but parents provide ‘aruchat eser’
  • Tzaharon (after 2:30pm): 800+
  • School fees: up to 1050 a year
  • Tin of formula: 50+
  • Acamol/Nurofen: +/- 30-40

Clothes are expensive unless you shop at deep discount stores like Bazaar Strauss and whatnot. Toys are ridiculously expensive – look at for what a deal is here, and then consider the everyday price. I paid for a toy at Shilav with gift certificates equaling 350nis that costs about $36 in the States.

Books are actually decent; I find book stores here hold sales like 3 for 100nis quite often.

Then there’s the issue of weekend activities… A movie ticket is about 35nis. A museum entrance for a kid can be 25nis and up. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo costs 38nis for a kid above the age of 3. A fast food kids’ meal runs between 25-40nis.

Considering chugim, like swimming lessons or music class? That can start at 40nis a lesson.

Know Hebrew and want to get a sense of food prices? Check out Shufersal’s online storefront. Prices here can be on the higher side, but it’s pretty much reality if you live in a city or popular area (non-charedi).

Keep in mind the average salary in Israel is around 9,000nis (as of March 2012).

I’m not painting a complete picture here, but I figured I’d give a start to the way of thinking when it comes to children expenses here. But it doesn’t stop us from having them: in 2010, 28% of Israel’s population was aged between 0-14. The average size of the Israeli family is 3.7 persons… which I actually find hard to believe while looking around here.

I haven’t included a lot. Add whatever comes to mind in the comments.



The Tzur Hadassah contrast.

I live in a beautiful nature park-slash-construction zone.

Pretty sure that at any given time in the last year there are around a dozen construction sites within our town. The flagship of Tzur Hadassah construction would be the megatron community center/school district being built in the center, towards the valley. Har Kitron is good for a housing project or six. Shchunat HaMe’ah just finished a big sidewalk fix and has a couple other things that have been going on. The new park on the main road. The area just before the west gate. Behind the supermarket. And so on…

My only hope is that the areas meant to be preserved as nature zones truly remain that way.

Tzur Hadassah: under construction, naturally.

I live here.

Loving the weather. On my walk today, I literally went off the beaten track and decided to do what I’ve been wanting to do for months. I turned into the valley here in Tzur Hadassah and walked through our local nature zone.
The grass is *spectacular* because of all the rain we’ve been getting. Lush, green, looks even… edible.
So dorky me is walking through the grassy mud, goofy and taking it all in, the sun in my face, the grass under my feet, loving it like a puppy…
…and then…
I hiked down the steep security road…
grazing in the grass
like magic.
Just needed a leprechaun and the Last Unicorn. Fantasy complete.