We are often asked why we bought a home in Israel? It’s quite simple: we wanted a “piece of the rock.” I am the third generation in my family that wanted a home in Israel, we were proud Zionists. I attended Zionist Day Schools and camps as did our kids. My best friends from grammar and middle school made aliyah (moved to Israel) as young adults. I admired them. What is the value of putting down roots in Israel and investing in your family’s soul? PRICELESS.
Our family members are Camp Ramah lifers. Ramah was created in part to enable American youth to have a taste of Israel. The staff and campers are a mix of Americans and Israelis. We refer to the Israelis as shlichim (like ambassadors). At Ramah we could live our Judaism/Zionism without having to take off our Jewish hat. We often felt it was important to “fit in”, many of us tried to not be “too Jewish” when not nestled in our schools and camps. One reason we all love Israel? We land at Ben Gurion Airport, and exhale. After 2,000 years of wandering the planet we have returned to the place we all call our home.
When we started looking to buy, the real estate agents assumed, all Americans want to live together in deluxe apartment complexes in the city center, and we would come twice a year for two weeks. US friends kept reminding us we could stay at the nicest hotel or rent an apartment, it would be “easier and less expensive”. There is something incredible about owning a home in Israel, being part of the fabric of life. Our goals was to become a “we”, not “us and them”.
We get asked why live in Jerusalem? It’s so religious? There are many types of people and neighborhoods in Jerusalem. We chose an area, near our friends, where we could walk to each others home on Shabbat, spread over three adjacent neighborhoods, Armon Hanatziv, Talpiot, and Arnona. Every three blocks the neighborhood changes. We are in Arnona. Our neighborhood is made up of Israelis, and Olim (people who made Aliyah), they are modern orthodox, conservative or non schul (synagogue) goers/JFK (Just for Kiddish) types.
Our friends are amongst the coolest people we know. They are bright, resouceful, proud, and brave. They built and defend our Israel, raised their kids then sent them though the army. Our friends are grateful we bought and moved near them, they say we inspire them. The truth is, they are our heroes. Living life in the trenches so we can hop on a plane when we want, knowing our Israel will still be there. When I tell them, they simply shrug their shoulders and laugh.
My dream of working in Israel is also quite simple. If I can help some Israeli’s design and build a well functioning and beautiful home, hire trades to build/supply goods for them, encourage Americans to buy in Israel, then I’ve helped in some small way. One of my friends calls it Zionism Through Design…When Israelis ask me why we care so much? I tell them there are millions of people just like us around the world working on behalf of Israel everyday, they are stunned. I feel like we are ambassadors…
The bonus of living in Arnona? We are down the block from the US Embassy. We walk out the front door, see the US flag waving in the wind, and are proud.