We thought long and hard, and spoke with a lot of people, while deciding where to live.
Lots of people mentioned Har Nof, which is highly Anglo, has good school options, and has really good learning opportunities for Debbie. We also already have friends living there.
Another popular suggestion was Ramat Eshkol/Maalot Dafna. Many of our friends here went to Ohr Somayach in the neighborhood, and so can tell us a lot about it. Again, there’s a heavy Anglo presence, and plentiful apartments as young families are frequently moving in and out.
Some people even suggested living in Ramat Bet Shemesh, and commuting to Jerusalem, because of the extremely high concentration of Americans there and good school options. We also have friends there (hi, Gerald & Rachel!).
To make our decision, we had to focus on our priorities for this trip. We’re not planning it as a precursor to aliya (moving permanently to Israel), nor are we focused on trying to experience “Israel qua Israel.” Our goal is growth as a family. We want to grow in Torah and in our spiritual foundations, and we want to grow as a family. Living a distance from where I’ll be learning would mean that I would see less of the family and, just as importantly, they would see less of me doing what I’m taking the time to do.
With all of this in mind, we’ve decided that we want to try to live in the Rova (the Jewish Quarter, in the Old City). I can be home for meals, and the boys will see me often in the yeshiva, and even learn with me there on Shabbos. There are plenty of Anglos in the Rova as well, particularly the Bircas HaTorah community itself, and we already have friends who live there. The inevitable struggles the boys will have at first in school will, we hope, be mitigated by the fact that both Debbie and I will be close by. Not to mention that we’ll be living in the spiritual center of the world. Also, when else will we have the chance to live in the Old City?
On the downside, it isn’t easy getting in & out of the Rova; shopping there can be a bit limited; it is something of a “bubble,” disconnected from the “typical” Israel experience; we’ll have to navigate the hordes of tourists; and we’re probably looking at an even smaller place to live.
But, on balance, we feel that the positives far outweigh the negatives, and we’re really excited about the choice. Now we just have to find an apartment! We have a broker looking, but if you know of anything…