Throwing Darts at a Map

2:17 PM 0 Comments

So there we are several months ago. Rachel and I made the decision to go to Israel, but where should we go? What community would suit us? To answer this, we relied heavily on the Nefesh B'Nefesh community database that seems to be updated fairly regularly. Perhaps we did not really use it to decide where to go, but more where not to go. Jerusalem? Too expensive. Tel Aviv? Yup, still too expensive. Modiin? RBS? Nope. Nope. Hmm ... where?

If anyone out there reading this has gone through the process before, they can probably similarly attest to the fact that NBN's staff is great at playing community-matchmaker. They learn about you and try suggesting places you may like to visit on a pilot trip. And we got lots of great suggestions from them, and from people we know. Almost too many. I even made a Google Map showing potential landing spots with color-coded icons and links. Quite frankly we were overwhelmed by the prospect of having to find a hometown.

The problem was that we knew that life in Israel will be different. And for that reason we were just as willing to go to an urban environment as a small town. Flexibility and adaptability are the name of the game. We could not narrow the list down. We only had a few criteria that we would not budge on: (1) education/environment for the kids, (2) religious community, and (3) affordability. Of course we had other criteria as well, but MANY places in Israel seemed to fit the bill. Queue the anxiety.

We then spoke with people from the Go South program and spent some time learning more about communities in the Negev. We started exploring the First Home in the Homeland program through the Jewish Agency, and were introduced by at least two people to the concept of moving to a Yishuv (ie. a small town) about 20 miles south of the major southern city of Beer Sheva.

That Yishuv is Kfar Retamim.

Here it is on a map:


That is where we are going to make our new home ... at least for the foreseeable future. As a part of the First Home in the Homeland program, we will have a "soft" landing for he first 6 months, with an option to stay for one year. We will have a partially furnished apartment, schools for the kids in walking distance, and a community of young families all with the ideals of building a stronger Israel. This will afford us an opportunity to spend a maximum amount of time focusing on the children and on our integration.

Since Rachel and I are--at least in part--embarking on this journey to find a community of like-minded people to live among, we had been (and still are) worried about finding the right people to help us. I feel like a kid on the night before the first day of high school. What if no one likes us? What if our kids do not make friends? What if I forget to take my retainer out? (Oops, I didn't mean that last one) What if, what if, what if?

I am happy to say that so far, the people in Retamim have been extraordinarily helpful and supportive of us. I suppose time will tell. But, for right now, I could not be happier that we chose Retamim, and that Retamim chose to have us. I look forward to making the most of this opportunity.

Once we land, I cannot wait to report back to you about our journey.

Thoughtfully written by:

Adam Hopkins

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