We could have bought an apartment anywhere in Israel. Literally. We are still living in America most of the year and wanted to buy a small apartment so we could establish our proverbial foothold in Israel, and, because we still earn our living in America, we were not tied to any location because of employment considerations.
We looked at about 20 different communities before we chose Ma’ale Adumim. We had a wish list for the apartment, of course, but we were also looking for three specific features in the community: we wanted to be near (but not in) Yerushalayim, we wanted to be among lots of English speakers and we wanted to share our community with people who were different than us.
Back in America, we narrowed our search down, synchronized our schedules and found that we unexpectedly had the same four days free. We booked tickets back to Israel and started looking at specific properties in three communities.
In one community, we looked at an apartment on a street that had the same Hebrew name as my father (A”H). I thought that might be a sign. But the climate was too hot and the neighbors, lovely though they were, were all 20 years too young. In another, we saw a nice-enough apartment, except for its view of three other apartment buildings.
The realtor must have been teasing us. She saved Ma’ale Adumim for last. A positive feeling about Ma’ale Adumim remained with me from our first visit. My first, strongest impression was that Ma’ale Adumim was clean and well-run. The rows of palm trees at the city entrance reminded me of the Miami Beach of my childhood. I loved the rhythm and rhyme of the entrance sign that said, Bruchim HaBaim l’Ma’ale Adumim (Welcome to Ma’ale Adumim; but it sounds so much better in Hebrew.)
The city has so many services we have come to appreciate. There’s a mall with a kosher food court, a large outdoor shopping plaza, a local cab company, excellent bus service to Yerushalayim, a makolet (local grocery) with lots of American products, a pizza shop that offers free delivery, a community center with indoor and outdoor pools and a library with excellent air conditioning and a collection of English books.
In four days, we had found a community, bought an apartment, hired a lawyer, organized a mortgage, opened a bank account and picked tile for the kitchen and bath. Just as Hashem shorted the road for Eliezer as he went searching for a wife for Yitzchak, this was our sign that Hashem had blessed our efforts to buy a home in Israel.
The apartment we bought was surprisingly affordable and had everything we wanted. And more. Opposite our front gate, where we go to take out our trash, is a view of Har Nevo where Moshe stood and looked out upon the Land he would never get to enter. And from our mirpeset (porch), we have an amazing view of Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and the rest of Yerushalayim. The first Friday night we spent in the apartment, I sat on the mirpeset, sang L’cha Dodi, watched Shabbat descend upon Yerushalayim and wept at my extraordinary good fortune. The mirpeset is still our favorite part of the apartment. It’s the place my husband and I sit, at the end of the day, and talk about what a miraculous piece of real estate G-d set aside for the Jewish people.
Even with all this, hands down, the most important part of Ma’ale Adumim is the people. Our first Shabbat in Ma’ale Adumim, my husband went to the Carlebach minyan and met an old school friend he had not seen in over 30 years. A new friend, who later became the woman we trust to look after our apartment in our absence, furnished our apartment so we would have beds to sleep on when we first arrived. We never lack for invitations for Shabbat meals nor for help negotiating whatever Israeli system we have to face.
The truest signs that Ma’ale Adumim is the right community for us are the magical reverberations that have occurred among our family and friends since we bought this apartment. Previously reluctant friends and family from America have come to visit Israel because we have a safe, comfortable home in a great community where they know they can stay. Friends who are considering aliyah are now looking seriously at Ma’ale Adumim. And my brother, who made aliyah a few months ago, loved the community so much, he rented an apartment down the street from us.
Because of Ma’ale Adumim, our family has begun to come home.