Tzur Hadassah update: Small town news.

On Shabbat, I met a couple that is considering moving to צור הדסה and found information about it right here. Not much out there about this yishuv, in English or Hebrew, so I’m happy to fill in when needed.

But I realize I haven’t updated properly in a while, and we have some ‘drama’ going on, as well as accomplishments/planned accomplishments brewing.

So here goes, a Tzur Hadassah update:

Secular high school

Ground broke this year on the building of a secular high school; up until now it’s been grades aleph through chet. From what I’ve heard, high school students have begun learning here in temporary situations while the building gets built, presumably over the course of this year.

Religious elementary school

Last year, a dati elementary school was started in the area. The school is not actually located in the yishuv, but in Bar Giyora nearby, where there was a vacancy. It services students from around the area, and is up to kita gimmel at this point (in its second year). From my understanding, it’s not just religious families who send their kids there, but also traditional and secular, who want a Jewish base to their kids’ educations.

Community center TBD

There have been talks and plans for the ground-breaking of a community center, which would include a pool. The location for the building has been chosen (towards the valley, inside the U of the yishuv) and ‘they say’ that will begin in the next couple years.

New construction controversy

Small town drama? Not really, if some governmentals, architects, planners, and realtors get their way. Then it’ll be much-bigger-town drama. And demographic-completely-altered town drama.

I don’t know the nitty-gritty details, so everything I tell is from what I’ve heard and seen in emails to me by the va’ad of Tzur Hadassah.

There are plans to expand the yishuv in ways that would totally alter its character. There are a lot of kablanim hungry to build here; desired location, lots of potential, etc. The local va’ad is trying to stop it, or at least halt it, which I heard they have succeeded in doing by appealing in court.

But I’m not sure the relationship of that information with the following, which seems a lot more imminent:

There are also plans to build a new section to Tzur Hadassah for 1400+ families, which would be located across the main road, next to Mavo Beitar (a quiet, small yishuv behind the Delek gas station). This community, apparently, would be bigger in land area than Jerusalem’s Gilo, filled with apartments, and would cater to – and be offered to – the well-off charedi public. In fact, according to what I read, the only public services offered in the building plans were four synagogues. No parks.

If this happened, there are a lot of downsides spelled out by the local admin here, including: limited to no public transportation (I presume that would change), clogging of the area’s main roads, and severe altering of the character of surrounding communities, which range from pretty much secular to moderately traditional, with a few dati leumis sprinkled about.

That last bit hits a sensitive nerve in Tzur Hadassah; it is joked that Beitar Illit, the ultra-Charedi yishuv next door, over the Green Line, is trying to turn Tzur Hadassah into ‘Giva’a Gimmel’ with all their expanding going on.

Many who hear I live in Tzur Hadassah comment on the same point: Don’t they hate religious people there? I don’t think it’s that they hate religious people necessarily;  I think they want to live free from the influences of that lifestyle, namely Charedi lifestyle, which will cramp their own. They don’t want the character they’ve built to change. They don’t want to be put in a position where they have to start sacrificing for something that doesn’t interest them.

Which I can understand, though I do believe it’s important to know your neighbors and promote tolerance, living among diversity, for the sake of balance and your children’s education.

Which is why I live here, by the way.

Lizrael Update: school keeps on truckin'.

I know it’s been a while since I properly updated with the whole fancy ‘lizrael update’ subject line. And this is likely to be quick, since it concerns school.

Some days I’m soclose to finishing my remaining projects (which these days numbers three) and some days I feel like I will never finish this thing. Fortunately, today was a soclose day. I’ll be done with one paper by the end of the week, starting a new one (ahem… two years over due one) after Shavuot and then I have my big fancy internship project to work on and then write up.

Of course, there is also the official ‘course gishur’ (mediation course) to take, which I still need to sort out dates and details for.

No more classes, no more books… but a lot between me and accomplishing the degree.

Live, from Tzur Hadassah.

The move went surprisingly well on Sunday. We’re here, unpacked and spoiled in this young building with its (existent) heating system and modern tiles. Katamo-who?

Alas, I am still exhausted from the last three days of little sleep, zero nutrition and inevitable fatigue, so I will post some gorgeous views from my kumah bet apartment and leave the textual updating for another time.

Tsur Hadassah
Tzur Hadassah
Zur Hadassah

Moving update.

We’ve been hitting snags in the moving process. Like the fact that we didn’t move last week so that we could be cozy in Tzur Hadassah for this snowstorm.

Our current landlords are giving us issues and because of the snow, the tenants at our future apartment are having issues getting their kablan to finish working before Sunday.

But, yes, Sunday is moving day, assuming the rest of the week falls into place.

A futuristic lizrael update.

Lots of people are talking about ringing in a new year – at work, in the news, on the party scene. I’m not much of a New Years gal, but it seems 2008 holds a bunch of new experiences for me, before it’s even begun.

The year starts for me with recognizing the fact that I’ve been here for three years now. I feel like three years is the second hump to cross (after one year). There’s something about three years… (maybe it’s because the Nefesh b’Nefesh financial assistance contract is completed?)

Along with acknowledging three years of aliyah experience, I get to take on some new ones with a set of wheels… Yes, in the newborn weeks of 2008, I will become the dreaded creature known as: Israeli driver.

Soon after, we’re set to hit the beginning of February, when we make our big move; I haven’t really made it clear yet, but here is the official announcement that we are leaving Jerusalem and moving to Tzur Hadassah, a cozy suburb about fifteen minutes away, tucked in green hills, next to Beitar.

Fast forward to the summer, when I plan to be finishing the requirements for my Conflict Management and Negotiation degree at Bar Ilan. Not sure what comes after that in terms of a mediation career, but I’ll be glad to know that I’ve completed my Masters.

After that, it’s all a blur: living in the Israeli suburbs, finished with graduate school. Maybe I’ll have a chance to fall in love with Israel all over again and see this place through the eyes of someone with their feet in the ground. Then again, maybe I’ll get antsy and wiggle through the days until I can’t take it anymore.

Whatever the year brings, I’m looking forward to the new experiences… Three years in, and I’m ready for the next phase. Is the next hump the ten-year? I won’t bite off more than I can chew, but I can say I’m ready to start the trek… Although for this phase, I’ll (finally) be trekking in a car.

Stay tuned…

An academic lizrael update.

*Yawn*. *Stretch*. It’s a sunny winter Sunday. Today is as good as any to update about the awful university situation in Israel right now.

Basically, I have no idea what is going to happen for the rest of the year because the department heads, university presidents, strikers and government don’t know. Somewhere in this giant, ridiculous, embarrassing strike the idea of education got forgotten.

We, the students, cannot plan our summers, even if some of us (me) have overdue degrees to complete, weddings to attend abroad, family to visit and life to go on.

They are talking about considering next semester (bet) as a semester aleph and the summer as a semester bet to complement it, since there are full-year classes that haven’t started yet (like mine). Then again, my department can’t plan the next steps – including courses and schedules for these semesters – because the professors on strike can’t talk about it or plan. So I can’t start finding a way to somehow finish up before the summer, using only next semester.

Well, there’s the state of academia in the State of Israel… for now.  Unfortunately, this battle isn’t over yet.