Melisa Carr-Ashkenazi
I'm Not Saying Nothing, I'm Just Saying....

House Hunting: Can I BBQ on Shabbat?

Currently, we are living in an apartment, which is no big deal since it is all I have ever known coming from New York City. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a house with a yard and so too our family shall have a house with a yard someday, a very different experience from my own childhood, yet most fulfilling for me to give them something more than I had. We all want more for our kids, more opportunities, more experiences in the world, more, just more than we had, right?

At first, we looked on Yad2 and Madlan, drooled over some houses, while daydreaming about this place and that place. Then we realized what we wanted was more than we could afford where we live and in order to get our dream home, that forever home, we were going to have to live further away from the center.

It’s now time to really find that house and the area that will best suit our needs. Our oldest is going to Kita Aleph next year and this is the time to make that big change if we’re going for it. Certainly not an easy task for anyone.

So many factors to consider when thinking of moving, for instance, schools if you have small children like us, a big house, a small house, close to family or a long drive away. When considering moving to a new place you really need to ask yourself what kind of person you are or what kind of family are you. The family that has every weekend planned for some kind of outing or activity with relatives or friends, or if you’re the stay at home family that likes to have company over and entertain. Seriously thinking about what your lifestyle is and what your family habits are will help make the decision easier.

Myself, having never lived in a house before, I really want a big yard, correction, a HUGE YARD is what I want. I dream of gardening and having a mud garden for my boys, a trampoline and a pool, a place to build things from DIY projects, with enough room to race back and forth for some distance without being on top of our neighbors.  Ideally, I would love to have a dunam or two… Realistically, more like 500 – 800 square metes would be all we really need. It seems like a lot of property and many people have asked us why we need so much, because, that’s why.

I don’t want a house for the sake of saying we own a house, if that were the case we would stay where we are and buy a nice little house on a 250 m² plot. Houses as such are perfect for anyone who doesn’t need a lot or want to care for so much property. There are many beautiful and lovely houses we have looked at like this, just not enough for our needs.

So where does one find a property like this? I have yet to find our dream place but we are still looking. Which brings me to the most important question I ask every time we look at a house.

Can I BBQ on Shabbat? 

Really this matters to us as we are not religious and I’m a bacon egg and cheese sandwich person. At the heart of the matter is that while I want to be able to enjoy my barbeque on a Saturday I also want to be respectful of our neighbors and I don’t want to live someplace that the neighbors are glaring at me for the choices I make.

There was a house for sale next door to the rabbi of a Temple, now that is something we didn’t even look at, what’s the point. I could be like “yeah it’s not my problem the Rabbi is next door” with the smell of pork ribs smoking from my barbeque wafting into his yard and house… Not exactly the sight I want to imagine when thinking of being respectful of those who live around me.

When I lived in New York being respectful of my neighbors ran more along the lines of not blasting music on school nights till 4 in the morning. The issue of being respectful of one’s neighbors never meant not cooking something for the sake of offending someone.

When I first moved here some seven years ago, I had such a hard time understanding the neighborly respect of “Shnatz” time from 2pm till 4pm on a Saturday.  “Why can’t I vacuum now?” I would ask my other half on a Saturday in the afternoon, and his classic response was that it’s not respectful or appropriate during these hours.  Wow, just wow, like a foreign concept to me that within the walls of my apartment I needed to be conscious of the noise, NOT at night, but instead during the day.

It took some time to understand the culture and customs of Israel as an immigrant from the very pluralistic society of New York City.  I know how to tolerate diversity and I never want to impose my beliefs on others because I believe in “live and let live”, but unfortunately not everyone feels the same way and because of this my first question when looking at a house is… ” Can I barbeque on Shabbat?”   If the answer is no, then it’s a no for me too on buying that house.

About the Author
Melisa, is from New York City, lives in Israel with her husband and two boys. Sometimes a full-time homemaker and sometimes a full-time career woman, Melisa's passion and curiosity lead her on many paths in life. She holds an A.A.S. in Criminal Justice, a B.A in American Studies and an M.A. in Education all from the S.U.N.Y. Currently, it’s her passion for writing.