Zvi Volk

Moving On/On Moving

The first thing people comment on about our house is the number of steps to our front door (26). But once they get to the top of the stairs, they are instantly drawn to our view.

In front of the house we have a very spacious 18 m² sukka porch with a lovely view of all the greenery in the neighborhood. But it’s the other balcony (same size) that really impresses them.

From the living room there is an unobstructed view of the greater Jerusalem panorama – from Mevasseret through the entrance to town all the way to Mt. Scopus. It is this view that real estate agents told us to stress. “Bring them back to the living room while you’re talking so that they can remember the view.”

We did that, but unfortunately, or perhaps ironically, it was cloudy, raining or dark when most people came to see our house. The couple who bought it came the first time at night and immediately came back during the day. It was foggy. They came back several more times. And in a few weeks this will be their new home.

יהי שלום בהילך, שלוה בארמונותיך     “May there be peace within your ramparts, prosperity in your palaces.”

Ours is not the largest house on the block. But for the last 35 years it has been our palace (ארמון).

So why are we moving?

When my mother was in her 90s, she and I had a discussion about “moving on.”

‘When it comes time to move, don’t wait. You can move pretty easily when you’re in your early 70s,’ she said. ‘By 75 you can still move but your kids will have to play a major role. By 80 not only is it physically difficult, but you’ll have trouble making new friends. Who has the energy for new people when they’re 85,’ she said. ‘I don’t get to see the friends I already have.’

We’re both 72 this year. We’re moving in a few weeks and my mother is breathing a sigh of relief that we paid attention.

There’s at least one other factor: Our grandson. He was a long time in coming but worth the wait. His sweetness is changing our life – and our location. Our daughter summed it up succinctly: “We figure you’ll help us out for the next 10 years and then we’ll help you out.

In case it isn’t obvious, I am third generation American. There was no guilt driving this decision. There was pragmatism.

Of course we’ll miss our friends and neighbors. We’ve lived together for more than 35 years. Our kids grew up together. We were mostly in our early 30s back then. Today we’re mostly in our 70s.

The fact is this is where WE really grew up.

We all had at least one more child born once we were living here. Today the gan our children went to has a plethora of “Menachem Mendels.” And that’s ok. Chabadnikim are also entitled to go to gan. That’s an indication of who’s moving into the neighborhood.

In the last year or so, about 15-20 new young families have moved into our end of the street. Ok, so they’re mostly English speakers and mostly “frum.” But that’s not the complete demographic profile. They all have strong professional and religious backgrounds. Many of them have been in Israel for a number of years (usually less than 10). And they work. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, real estate developers. The kind of people I’m happy to call neighbors.

And by the way, they aren’t only from New York. They also come from Detroit, Los Angeles, London, Manchester, and Melbourne. And now there will also be a family from St. Petersburg (Russia).

Not surprisingly, they are building a community. Just like we did.

People ask if it’s difficult to move after so many years. I think back to my mother’s advice, and tell them, ‘Of course it’s difficult. But it will be more difficult in another two or three years.

We don’t need a Japanese guru to explain about decluttering. We’re too busy getting rid of the “stuff” we’ve accumulated over the last 35 years. Of course we’re downsizing. In our new home we’ll have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and we’ll be a 10 minute walk from our grandson. His parents won’t have to spend the night. But hopefully he will before too long.

One of my earliest friends here told me a few weeks ago that when I told her our daughter was pregnant, she told her husband that we’d be moving about five minutes after he/she was born. “I was wrong,” she admitted. “It took you six minutes.” We will have completed the move before his 1st birthday.

What was the point of waiting? If we’re doing this, we’re doing this. Pragmatism not guilt.

So we’ll exchange our Jerusalem panorama for a view of a lovely municipal park in the center of the country. It’s on a side street so eventually we’ll be able to watch our grandson from our balcony. Because we’re moving to the center of town we’ll have a healthy choice of synagogues.

Hopefully we’ll make new friends before it’s too difficult. But most important we’ll have a ringside seat to our grandson growing up.

And all being well, my dream will come true: One day before too long I’ll have his little hand in my hand when I pick him up from gan. And when he looks up and smiles at me I’ll know for sure we made the right move.

About the Author
A retired writer and editor in Jerusalem since the mid-1970s.
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