It looks like we may have found our own little teeny, weeny piece of the holy land, up north in Kiryat Shmuel, a wee suburb of Haifa.
We have signed the lease, I’m mailing the cheques today and then… it’s a done deal (I won’t rest easy until we receive a copy back with the landlord’s signature, but I sense that there isn’t a lot of competition for the apartment. Kiryat Shmuel isn’t Toronto.)
This is just about the world's smallest apartment, way smaller than anywhere I’ve ever lived since having children. Two bedrooms (which is called a “3-room” apartment here), a living/dining area, and a teeny tiny kitchen (more suitable for a bachelor than a family of four). Teeny sunroom for hanging laundry (no room for a dryer, but for most of the year, laundry dries within hours of hanging it up).
There’s one teeny tiny bathroom, but it has a tub, which is rare and nice, although my ulpan teacher warned me that even if you HAVE a tub, you won’t be able to afford to fill it regularly. It’s a second-floor (which means third) walkup in an older building.
Honestly, it’s hard to be excited, but I am anyway, a little bit.
There is really almost nothing good about the apartment except the location is fantastic and it’s cheap.
Kiryat Shmuel is an all-religious suburb of Haifa, about half an hour away from the heart of the city via Metronit (“rapid-transit system” aka a long bendy bus). We know several English-speaking families there. I was tempted to write “already” but honestly, I think we’ve met them all by now.
I am excited about the neighbourhood partly because “all-religious” in Haifa means something very, very different from “all-religious” in a place like Yerushalayim. Here, it means a spectrum more than a particular outfit or way of pulling up your stockings. It means people who either keep Shabbos or are traditional enough to not mind living in a place where the streets are closed on Shabbos for other reasons.
It means there are a range of people in any given shul, from chareidim in black outfits (okay, not many of these) to regular datiyim in nice Shabbat clothes, to a guy in a T-shirt covered in tattoos who happens to have yahrzeit so he slipped on a kippah and here he is with his daughter in a tank top.
I like it. When we were first coming to the merkaz klitah, I emailed one of the KShmu’ers for information about the neighbourhood, and the thing he said that struck me is, “our kids play with their kids.” Everybody’s kids play together.
I like that.
So I’m excited… a little.