The latest on ‘that mikvah in Tzur Hadassah.’

Jewish democracies – they sure are tough. Good thing there’s only one.

If this is true, this is incredible. Reporting by Haaretz:

Towns ask for public institutions, wind up with brand-new mikvehs

When it comes to religious institutions, the Housing Ministry website explicitly states that budgeting for construction is provided by the Religious Services Ministry.

There is another problem with the ministry’s policy under Housing Minister (and Shas MK ) Ariel Atias: its budget for building public institutions has all but disappeared, shrinking from nearly NIS 204 million in 2002 to NIS 17 million in 2010. In other words, it can hardly build anything at all, so must adhere to the strictest priorities.

And now directing the light towards our locale for a moment – Tzur Hadassah gets a mention: “Another NIS 3 million was allocated for the construction of yet another mikveh – and a road leading to the ritual bath – in Tzur Hadassah, which is near Jerusalem.”

For years I’ve been hearing conflicting reports about how Tzur Hadassah got the money to build its unfinished and poorly constructed and nonoperational mikvah. I’ve never understood who was behind it or why it was that big a deal if indeed the money came from the Religious Authority, and not the Housing one. I do fully recognize that it’s totally not a priority of many, if not most, Tzur Hadassians.

I wish we had numbers on how many in the area are in favor of it.

As stated: “Not all the local authority chiefs were thrilled at the Housing Ministry’s largesse, mainly on the grounds that they would prefer to get money for other things.”

More background:

In May 2011, members of the Mateh Yehuda regional council convened and, among other things, discussed the Housing Ministry budget allocated to building a mikveh. Their mood was not good.

“Nothing like this has ever happened to me before,” said council head Moshe Dadon during the debate. “I received two confirmations by fax from the Housing Ministry, to build a mikveh in Tzur Hadassah, without anybody asking for it.”

The chairman of the Tzur Hadassah council, Zion Gabay – also there for the discussion – professed himself not only astonished but infuriated at the turn of events.

“They’ve already invested NIS 2 million [in the mikveh and road to it],” he said. “I don’t understand the Housing Ministry’s priorities. Our town has a shortage of public infrastructure and is sorely lacking in institutions such as culture and sports centers; centers for music, seniors and afternoon activities for children; or a building for teenage girls in trouble. The State of Israel can’t find the resources to build these. I am bemused and ashamed that the Housing Ministry has found the money for a mikveh and can’t find the money for public institutions that would serve all our residents.”

There is clearly an agenda, as the Shas MK who runs the Housing Ministry right now has this going for him:

The inauguration ceremony of another mikveh built with Housing Ministry assistance, in Neveh Afek, near Rosh Ha’ayin, was attended by Housing Minister Atias himself. In his speech, he stressed that aid had been granted because this was the first mikveh to be built in a neighborhood already 20 years old. Mayor Moshe Sinai thanked Atias for the assistance, but stressed that the neighborhood was missing other public institutions, including day care facilities.

This is just corruption, sorry. While I would benefit from it personally, it’s not the right way to do this, if this is truly Tzur Hadassah’s case.

And, perhaps related to supposed plans for the new development across the road?


Nothing like Chabad gan to start the year off righteous.

Like anything religious ever at all, the Chabad gan in Tzur Hadassah comes with its share of politics. Residents are wary over a charedi takeover. Some of the dati-leumi are at odds with the representatives.

But me? I just love their gan. They run a tinokiya (baby daycare), peuton (toddler daycare) and gan chova (kindergarten). The two younger groups are together in the same building this year (a residential house in the new yishuv), and the latter has a facility in the old yishuv.

The ganenets are great, and the truth is, I’m a pretty laid-back parent. So we all mesh together very nicely, and agree where it counts for the most part.

The thing that really gets me spreading the word, though, is the extra mile they go. And, sure, they have Chabad cash to back them up (which probably helps keep the tuition low). But whatever. It’s the extra effort and finishing touches…

I mean, printed magnets with our kid’s angelic smiling face on them? Honey jar with a little apple glued to the top… And I’ll never turn down a shana tova chocolate bar.

Here’s to a sweet, healthy year, bound with security on all sides and, with whatever’s left, as much comfort as affordable.

Tzur Hadassah update: It’s getting crowded in here, yo.

Boom, trach. The housing politics are exploding in Tzur Hadassah and its surroundings.

To sum up, there’s been a long-time-coming plan to build 1,500 apartment units in dense buildings 7-9 floors each, located on a plot of land considered part of Mavo Beitar, right across from Tzur Hadassah. Doing this would do three negative things, claims the Va’ad:

  1. Creates more traffic than the area can handle, in the directions of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.
  2. Kills the pluralistic look and feel of the area with the type of population it will attract.
  3. Will make Tzur Hadassah a more dense and populated area, changing its nature.

What’s right or wrong? The times, they are a-changin’ for sure. And with the housing crisis and protests going on across the country, I’m not sure the Va’ad will be able to prevent this decision  any longer (apparently it’s a plan 15 years in the making). 

Here’s the letter from the Va’ad:

נלחמים על הבית –רגע האמת הגיע

תושבים יקרים,

לאחר ניצחון בבית המשפט בסיבוב הקודם מגיעה תוכנית מקבת מבוא ביתר לדיון מחודש בועדה המחוזית לתכנון ובניה.

לפי התוכנית מתוכננת בניה של כ-1,500 יחידות דיור, במגדלים צפופים בעלי 7-9 קומות, דירות קטנות, עם מרפסות סוכה ומיעוט מבני ציבור.

התוכנית ממוקמת מצפון לכביש 375 בין הכניסה המזרחית לצור הדסה וצומת צור הדסה, בשטחים של המושב מבוא ביתר. בעתיד שכונת המקבת תהווה חלק אינטגרלי של צור הדסה ותשפיעה ישירות על הישוב.
התוכנית מקודמת מזה 15 שנה עי מנהל מקרקעי ישראלומדינת ישראל. מאבק של תושבי צור הדסה במשך כל השנים הצליח עד כה למנוע את יציאת הפרויקט לדרך.

הסכנות בפרויקט:

1. מערך התחבורה מצור הדסה לירושלים ולבית שמש יקרוס בגלל עומס תחבורה אדיר על הכבישים הקיימים היום. דוח תחבורה מיוחד שהוזמן עי ועדצור הדסה לקראת הדיון בועדה המחוזית קובע שכבר היום נפח התנועה בכבישים אילו נמצא בגבול היכולת האפשרית. הגדלת נפח התנועה יסכן בטיחותית את הנוסעים , יגרום לפקקים ויאריך את זמן ההגעה מצור הדסה ליעדים השונים.

2. אופי הבניה הופך את הפרויקט לאטקרקטיבי לעמותות המייצגות אוכלוסיות השונות לאופי הפלורליסטי של צור הדסה.

3. הבניה המאסיבית תפגע באופי הכפרי והקהילתי של צור הדסה והישוב יהפוך לשכונה עירונית צפופה.

אנו קוראים לכם, תושבי צור הדסה להגיע בהמוניכם לדיון ולהביע את מחאתכם מהתוכנית המטורפת .

 הנסיון מוכיח שנוכחות תושבים משפיעה באופן משמעותי על ההצבעה של חברי הועדה המחוזית.

הדיון המכריע יתקיים ביום שלישי הקרוב, 02.08.2011, בשעה 14:30 ברחשלומציון המלכה 1, ירושלים, מעל המשרד לחידוש דרכונים של משרד הפנים.

ועד צור הדסה


Family outing, Memorial Day, contributing, Israel.

Proud that we managed to dress, pack up, and transport the kids to the Yom HaZicaron tekes in Tzur Hadassah tonight. And that my two-year-old stayed silent and un-startled throughout the siren. And that we managed to stay for the first 15 minutes.

Watching all those kids socialize up until they suddenly stopped for the siren… made me realize the enormity of what I’m contributing here. And what here is contributing to me.

It scares the shit out of me. But there’s no where else to be.

Note for next year: Teach my son that after the siren is over, it’s not a cause for shouting “Yay! Yay!”


Pizza has come to Tzur Hadassah.

As I recently reported, Tzur Hadassah now has the one business that could ruin my entire post-pregnancy weight-loss scheme: a pizza shop. It’s called טומטו Pie (02-6503355) and it’s nestled in the row of shops on Rechasim street.

And today, I tried it. Doesn’t it look good?

I was excited by the look of it, but I have to be honest. It’s ok. I’m going to give these guys a few weeks to tweak their recipes; in all fairness, it’s just a week or two old and they’re having a slow start with ingredient availability it seems.

Here are the specs:

  • Really, really thin crust. I actually like that kind of thing (crispy!), but not everyone does.
  • The cheese is fine. It’s ‘100% mozzarella amiti!’ which does the job. And they’re not stingy.
  • Something – the tomato sauce or the cheese – is too salty. That’s my biggest issue with it. If they fix that, I can maybe let myself get fat over this.

So, on the whole, the pizza is ok. It’s here, it’s available, it’s going to entertain a lot of kids after school (and a lot of kids’ birthday parties) and that is, after all, what this little town needs.

Tzur Hadassah residents – don’t go eating too much of it, however. My next scoop: supposedly we’re getting that community swimming pool sooner than I assumed…

Do Israeli kids ever learn the fire safety lesson?

The answer, sadly, is no.

There is an unhealthy Israeli-Jewish obsession with fire in the springtime. It starts today – with Biyur Chametz, the burning of chametz, which is done on erev Pessach. Soon will be Yom Haatzmaut – the national barbecue bonanza, and after that, Lag B’omer, which pretty much celebrates bonfires the way it’s done here.

Coming from a country with real fires that kill real people – and being married to an Australian – I can’t express fully how angering it is to see the carelessness with which Israelis treat the issue. Houses may be built of stone here, but the beautiful trees and plants we sing about and name our children for are not fire-proof.

For instance – when my husband went out today to burn our chametz (tiny morsels wrapped in newspaper, in an open space), he spotted a father and son duo who, along with their bread, chucked in the plastic bag they brought it in. The father went so far as to turn to my husband and offer a sound piece of advice: “Hey, why don’t you just throw your plastic bag in there?”

A few minutes later, after he regaled us with that tale, we looked out the window and saw a fire in the forest across the street from us in Tzur Hadassah. Soon after the smoke was spotted coming up from the trees, four kids between the ages of 10 and 12 ran down the hill from the forest, with shit-scared looks on their faces. After calling the firefighters, my huz yelled out to them – “Did you start that? What were you doing up there? Learn from this!”

They ran away, of course. I’m kicking myself I didn’t take a photo of them because I swear  I would have have printed it out and hung signs around the neighborhood calling out for their parents, teachers and friends to be responsible and discipline them properly. I don’t give a shit how old they were. The younger they are, the worse it is. They need to be taught, because clearly someone didn’t pick up that responsibility early on. In the States, we learned about fire safety since we could comprehend English.

The firefighters and police came in a timely fashion, which was a pleasant surprise. But it was too late; descriptions of the kids given to them could describe any of the punk kids running around Tzur Hadassah.

I just hope some spark of personal responsibility or shame made those kids spill to their parents, and that their parents are not the types to coddle them into feeling better because they’re ‘just kids.’

It’s a horrible shame and an embarrassment to me that personal responsibility tends to be lacking around me here in Israel.


Finally, what Tzur Hadassah truly needs…

Some said the supermarket would be their financial downfall. Others said the candy shop would be their caloric downfall.

Well, my downfall is coming and it’s a mix of both.

I mean, what suburban, family, bedroom community would not have a pizza shop?

UPDATE: It’s open (post-Pesach)! Haven’t tried it yet. But if you want to, the number is 02-6503355. Free delivery, but perhaps that’s relative.