Some of you may have noticed that we’re back from Israel, just in time for Purim and Naomi Rivka’s birthday… and a whole bunch of snow that I was really, REALLY hoping would be finished by now.
And the question hanging in the air everywhere we go is – “nu???” (at least, that was the implication from about a dozen people at kiddush yesterday)
The goal of our pilot trip was to whittle down a long list of prospective home towns into at least a somewhat shorter list.
What we learned on this trip:
- Despite the title of this post, there ARE no losers.
- Everywhere is amazing.
- There are no bad cities, only choices that would be harder or easier for us, given our own limitations.
- Every city we visited had some huge advantages and some huge downsides.
- Just about everybody we met loved the city where they lived and couldn’t imagine living elsewhere.
- Just about everybody we met was amazing and giving and open and welcoming. We expected this, to some extent, but still – it blew me away.
- But, therefore… it came to feel (for me, at least) a bit personal. Like if we choose City B, then we are going to offend Shmuli from City A and Rivka from City C… and so on.
- But we cannot please Shmuli and Rivka, nor should we really try…
But we also learned that we cannot live everywhere, let alone on the fence. We need to start making actual plans, so instead of coming home with a short list, we jumped ahead and picked our landing spot: Karmiel.
Here’s a virtual tour of Karmiel that is actually pretty cool!
You can also read the Nefesh b’Nefesh page about it. They always start on a high note. Then, there’s the wikipedia page, which usually includes the more controversial details sometimes left out of the NbN pages. Or there’s the English version of the “official” Karmiel website, on which you can read a quote from the mayor, who says, “The age of on-line information invites the surfers to expected and unexpected” – the rest of the quote, scintillating though it may be, has been lost, perhaps in translation.
Here are some of the criteria that make me hopeful that Karmiel will work for us – keeping in mind that this is a VERY complicated equation:
- Merkaz klitah for a short stay on arrival
- Ulpan in town, along with other government offices
- Good buses in town and to other cities – it’s possible, though difficult, to go carless
- Urban feel with many walkable areas
- The city feels clean and green – clean is probably year-round, though green, we understand, will probably fade with the heat.
- The climate is cooler and drier than many other areas
- More diverse, religiously, than some other areas – I’m aware that this could be (or become) a minus, but at least, coming from chutz la’aretz it will feel familiar.
- Cost of renting is lower than in the central parts of Israel
- Direct buses from Jerusalem – with train service planned within the next ___ (however-many) years
- A “Young Israel” type shul that is mainly Anglo and at least claims to serve a diverse crowd
- And finally… the annual Nefesh b’Nefesh Go North picnic is held right in Karmiel! So no matter how clueless and lost we are by the time it rolls around, we ought to have no problem getting there. :-)
That’s long enough for now. I thought about putting together a list of why we’d rejected the many other possibilities, but decided that wouldn’t be fair. Ultimately, we liked everywhere we saw, for different reasons. I tried hard to keep an open mind and visualize myself living in each and every place we visited, and they were all a good fit in one way or another, so the choice was ultimately kind of painful.
Also, if I’m listing reasons for “rejection,” I could honestly write you a list of minuses of Karmiel as long as my arm, or longer… and yet that seems to be where we’re going. Go figure.
When we left for Israel, I kept saying, “I’ll know it when I see it.” I kind of thought that was a figure of speech – but in the end, that’s pretty much what it’s come down to. We saw it, we knew, and I think we’re both pretty pleased with the decision.
Now, if we thought choosing a hometown was hard… the next step is – gulp – actually getting there.