I am finally over my jet lag and have a chance to write about our last few days in Israel. The whole trip was a whirlwind and I feel like we have not even processed all that we experienced.
It was so nice to daven at the kotel on Friday morning. It was Rosh Chodesh Adar and there were so many people there. I realized that the next time I will be standing at the kotel, I will be with my children. I am so excited to bring them to the kotel and let them feel the kedusha. I am anticipating showing them how many people come to daven to Hashem in that holy place every day. I can picture our girls standing there with their siddurim and just taking in the amazing experience.
Being our last weekday in Israel, we had a lot of gifts to buy. We shopped for our hosts, parents and children. When our stroller was full to capacity, we stopped by my sister for an eruv shabbat visit and then we went to Ramot. I have to point out that it was only about a 15 minute drive from my sister's apartment to Ramot, and probably like a 25 minute drive from the kotel. Are we really considering living less than a half hour away from the holiest place on earth? It seems too good to be true.
Shabbat in Ramot did not disappoint. The people were so welcoming and we found a bunch of girls the same ages as ours. I could relate to the people we had meals with and could see our family fitting in with the community.
We enjoyed walking around the city and getting a tour of the different types of housing available. Apparently a unique feature of Ramot is that there are many different types of housing all within a small radius. There are villas, which are semi attached houses, cottages, which are attached on multiple sides, and apartments. There are even some stand alone houses. There are a few main roads that wind around and then small paths branching off to access more housing. It was beautiful and peaceful to walk through cobblestone paths to get to the park and from house to house. I can imagine it is nice to be able to allow children to walk places without the worry of cars. While walking to and form our meals, one thing became apparent. As opposed to Rechovot which was mostly flat, Ramot was full of hills and steps. It took some teamwork to get the stroller up and down all the steps, but we managed. I guess we would just get used to the steps, and figure out alternate routes for when we have a stroller with us.
My husband davened at three different shuls. From what I gather, the English speakers mostly go to a modern orthodox shul called Mitzpe Ramot. a breakaway minyan that is more yeshivish, and an renown karlebach minyan on Friday nights. Fortunately for us, there was a bar mitzvah kiddush at someone's house following davening and we were able to meet many people. What was really special about Ramot was that people from all shuls came to the kiddush. I saw people with all types of head coverings and modes of dress gathered for a simcha. Ramot seems to be a really diverse but cohesive community.
Ramot is a suburb of Yerushalayim. As part of a big city, the residents of Ramot have access to many schools, activities and amenities from the greater Yerushalayim city. They also have plenty of amazing features in Ramot itself. For example, the matnas (community center) has an indoor swimming pool, and there are apparently many chugim (extracurricular activities) and adult classes in or around Ramot. The library was closed when we visited, but I am told it has a large English section. There is also a new butcher and french patisserie, both of which received raving reviews. We sampled two nice parks for the kids to play.
By the end of shabbat we realized we have two really good options. Rechovot and Ramot are similar in many ways. They both tout themselves as being warm, welcoming, and diverse communities. They both have Noam schools. They both have the amenities of a big city and they both have a significant English speaking community. Since our trip, my husband and I have been trying to tease out the differences and decide which community will best fit our needs. It is encouraging to know we have two great options to choose from.