This trip we are tourists, next trip we will Iyh be residents. On Friday we did all the touristy things. We got our felafel, went to the kotel and the shuk and of course had marzipan.But, when we went to the kotel we did it like Israelis. We didn't take a taxi or walk from a hotel like I have done in the past, we drove our rental car and parked in Mamila parking lot. We felt like residents.
We continued our research. We learned a little bit about phones. Phone service is pretty inexpensive in Israel, but you need to own a phone. Phones are cheaper in America, so we will probably buy phones before we move. We learned that gas has a national price and that for around 200 shekels we can fill up a small car.
We drove from Yerushalayim to Rechovot. We had time before shabbat to drive around the streets. I was pleasantly surprised to see orange trees and vegetation, but it still had many cramped roads and lots of old apartment buildings. We found some treasures like a store called Bagel Shmeigel. Definiteley a plus for Rechovot.
What is unique about Rechovot is that there are all sorts of Jews living there in unity. The anglo community has two main areas. The Berman shul is a dati leumi anglo shul of about 200 families. It has a welcoming committee. We did not visit the Berman shul. There is also the Chatam shul which is a more chariedi shul. An offshoot of the chatam shul is a small minyan (that is still working on its name). The small minyan is comprised of young anglo families looking for a kid friendly and leibedik minyan. That is where we davened on Friday night and shabbat. My husband tried the Chatam shul for shabbat mincha and maariv.
Shabbat in Rechovot was just as I had heard it would be. All the people were friendly and down to earth. When I asked people about why they moved to Rechovot, it was a unanimous answer that they were looking for a friendly, religious, out-of-town-feeling, cohesive community. Rechovot seems to fit the bill. People described the chevra there to be like family and I could really see that the women were all great friends.
The women of the shul gather in the park while the men davened on Friday night and Shabbat morning to socialize and let their kids play. Each week, there is small potluck kiddush after shul. Everyone is responsible to bring an item. Many women introduced themselves as soon as they saw a new face. They were very welcoming and informative. They told me about their jobs and the commute to Tel Aviv, which is only about 25 minutes on the train. I learned that most of them moved to Rechovot without cars since shopping and schools are very accessible.
We met with Rav Stein, who is the Rabbi of Chatam and very supportive of the small minyan. He described the school options to us and was very warm and personable. I could definitely see ourselves asking him questions and going to his lectures.
All in all Rechovot seems like a great option. We met many great people that we could see ourselves being friends with, we like the overall feeling of cohesiveness between the sects of Judaism, we appreciate having a great Rav to ask our questions, we think we would fit with the hashkafa of the community, and of course, the commute to Tel Aviv is great. My reserves are that there may not be enough English speakers and support for our kids in the schools. We are not sure if we will find a school that fits all of our requirements for hashkafa, academics, and olim-service options. Our kids seem to be on the older end of the small shul which we would daven in. And finally, Rechovot is not a pretty city and most of the housing is apartments.