Communities in Israel
There’s no place like home! Home is where the heart is!
Your home is supposed to be a shelter from the storm of the everyday hustle and bustle. There is nothing like knowing that you can come home, close the door, kick off your shoes and feel comfortable in your surroundings.
That is why it is so important to have as much information as possible before making the decision of what location (Town,Yishuv, Moshav, Kibbutz), if possible be able to visit the place, and maybe even speak to some of the people there who may end up being your neighbour(s). That is why we are gathering the information here for you on this site. We are assembling in-depth information from as many communities possible throughout YESHA — where English speakers are living lives that are literally enviable.
Just remember when you choose which community to keep in mind, what are your expectations and needs that are important to your lifestyle you now know. You may not find one place that fits all of you needs, so the ability to be flexible, be patient and have the willingness to adapt will take you a long way. If language is an issue make sure there is someone that can guide you through things until you learn the language.
There are many communities available with diverse environments to choose from. We urge you to contact the individuals and visit them in their environments. Even if you decide not to live in one particular place… you will at least have made some new friends.
Please take a minute to read the brief explanation of the terms used on the community pages to describe the communities and facilities’ within them. Having as basic knowledge of these terms will help give you a better feeling for the true character of that community.
Choosing Your Community
Cities and Large Towns
Location is Everything
Cities and Large Towns back to top^
Israel B”H, is continuously growing and may it continue to grow. Yes, this means that many of the services we find convenient and often rely upon are also now available in many of the towns (Large & Small), Yishuvim, Moshavim and Kibutzim.
Today many of the advantages the major cities (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Be’er Sheva), such as public transportation, with convenient service to and from centers of employment; this can be a critical factor, especially for families who are not planning to buy cars immediately after making aliya. So does a lot of other places. Ex: Kiryat Arba !
Because of the great cultural diversity and continued growth of Yesha, it is able to offer a wide range of cultural, religious, educational institutions, like it’s big city neighbours. They also provide a wide range of social options – a concern of particular importance to singles. The availability of many of the Government and privately provided services, eliminate the need to frquently go into the main centers for everything.
Unlike in cities and large towns, the cost of living space is generally is much more affordable and transportation in some place may even be subsidized. The cost of rent and arnona are by far less then that which one may expect to pay in the large cities. There the rents are at a premium and you may expect to pay a sizable sum for a relatively small apartment.
Another important feature for me anyway, is the fact that unlike in the city you are not just a number or a thing that blends in with the woodwork never to be found again. Of course if that is your goal….
Small Towns back to top^
Want the big city conveniences with the quaintness of the small town atmosphere? Because of the close proximity to the city you can have the best of both worlds. Small towns tend to have a diverse population with several thousand residents, which provide a range a services for their residents. Some better known towns include Binyamina, Karnei Shomron and Kiryat Arba.
Like the larger local cities, many towns, yishuvim, moshavim…can provide the cultural diversity of big city life, with a hint of the intimacy of a yishuv. You may be pleasantly surprised to see that the educational options available for mainstream, religious and special needs meet if not surpass that offered in the big cities. With continued growth and development outside the major areas, there is a broader choice of living accommodations including: apartments, cottages and private homes.
Yishuvim back to top^
(Hebrew: ישוב) is a Hebrew word meaning “settlement.” This term (or the full term הישוב היהודי בארץ ישראל “Hayishuv Hayehudi b’Eretz Yisrael” which literally means “The settlement [of] the Jews in [the] land [of] Israel” and figuratively means the Jewish settlement in Palestine) was used in the Zionist movement, before the establishment of Israel, to refer to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine. The residents and new settlers were referred to collectively as “the Yishuv.” The term came into use in the 1880s, when there were about 25,000 Jews living in Palestine, and continued to be used until 1948, by which time there were about 700,000 Jews in Palestine.
There are many yishuvim located in the Judea and Samaria, YESHA. Yishuvim are scattered throughout Yehudah, Shomron, Yarden, Har Hevron and Gaza. Yishuvim are generally small close knot communities, with a relatively small number of families.
Yishuvim are generally small self-contained units with their own mini-markets, synagogues, educational institutions, and parks. Some yishuvim are located only a few minutes away from major cities, while others are highly isolated. People who are happy with yishuv life are usually those who are searching for a close-knit community, but one without the shared lifestyle found in kibbutzim, and to a lesser extent, in moshavim.
Many of the yishuvim require that you must first be approved by an acceptance committee (though this process is not usually as intimidating as it sounds). Feel free to be in contact with the names mentioned on each community page in order to find out more about the requirements of acceptance.
Kibbutzim back to top^
Hebrew: קיבוץ; plural: kibbutzim: קיבוצים, “gathering” or “together”) is an Israeli collective intentional community. Although other countries have had communal enterprises, in no other country have voluntary collective communities played as important a role as the kibbutzim in Israel. Their importance can be traced to the creation of the Israeli state, and continue to the present day.
Combining socialism and Zionism in a form of practical Labor Zionism, the kibbutzim are a unique Israeli experiment, and part of one of the largest communal movements in history. The kibbutzim were founded in a time when independent farming was not practical. Forced by necessity into communal life, and inspired by their own Jewish/socialist ideology, the kibbutz members developed a pure communal mode of living that attracted interest from the entire world. While the kibbutzim lasted for several generations as utopian communities, most of today’s kibbutzim are scarcely different from the capitalist enterprises and regular towns to which the kibbutzim were originally supposed to be alternatives.
The vast majority are now privatized, allow individual ownership of property, have children living at home, and derive most of their income from non-agricultural sources. A number have even converted a portion of their land into neighborhoods for people who would like to build homes and have a connection to the kibbutz, without being members.
Moshavim back to top^
(Hebrew: מושב Translit.: moshav Plural: moshavim Translated: settlement, village) is a type of cooperative agricultural community of individual farms pioneered by the Labour Zionists during the second aliyah (wave of Jewish immigration during the 19th Century).
The moshavim are similar to kibbutzim with an emphasis on community labour and were designed as part of the Zionist state-building program following the Yishhuv (“[Jewish] settlement”) in Palestine during the 19th Century, but contrary to the collective kibbutzim, farms in a moshav tended to be individually owned but of fixed and equal size. Workers produced crops and goods on their properties through individual and/or pooled labor and resources and used profit and foodstuffs to provide for themselves. Support of the commmunity was done through a special tax (Hebrew “mas vaad”). This tax was equal for all households of the community, thus creating a system where good farmers were better off than bad ones, unlike the communal kibbutzim where (at least theoretically) all members enjoyed the same standard of living standard. Moshavim are governed by an elected council (Hebrew “vaad”). Many moshavim still exist today.
There are several variants including the following:
Moshav ovdim, a workers cooperative settlement, and
Moshav shitufi, a collective smallholder’s settlement that combines the economic features of a kibbutz with the social features of a moshav. Farming is done collectively and profits are shared equally.
Religious Considerations back to top^
This is a very delicate, yet extremely important point one most consider when choosing a community. It is not as easy as choosing to be in an Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, mixed, or unaffiliated community. There are so very many variations among the groups, and so many subtleties in observance and lifestyle.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this page, meet and speak with your potential neighbors, ask residents pointed questions related to religious observance and lifestyle. Terms will be thrown around, like “Torani” and “Chardal.” It is important to ask people what they mean by those terms.
There are communities in Israel that cater exclusively to one group – e.g. Dati-Leumi (National-Religious – or Religious-Zionist) – and there are others that are mixed. Find out what will be expected of you and your family before you decide, then decide which community best suits your life style and beliefs.
The term “hiloni” – or “secular” means different things to different people. You shouldn’t be surprised if the woman who lives next door to you and identifies herself as “hiloni” goes to the mikva and keeps a kosher home. In recent years an additional term has come into use – “shomer masoret.” These individuals often keep rituals and are serious about their Jewish identity, but do not live their lives in the same manner as those who self-identify as Orthodox.
Location is Everything! back to top^
When deciding which location you will call home, there are many things will influence your choice: proximity to places of employment, friends, and relatives; accessibility via public transportation; climate; and safety and security.
Not everyone must live near one of Israel’s major cities. In fact one may prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Many of the professions that once required an individual to live in close proximity, or have access to a car, are now available in many other regions. There are hi-tech industrial parks that may provide outstanding employment opportunities for many located in the Galil and the Negev Desert, among other places. In addition, teachers, physicians, social workers, and trades-people have skills that are needed throughout the Country. However, some professions do have greater opportunities in specific regions. It is also nice if you do not have to spend many hours traveling to and from your place of employment.
Transportation back to top^
With fast paced growth of this great country, most of the communities are accessible via public transportation. For specific information regarding bus routes, you can check the Egged site at www.egged.co.il/Eng , the Dan Bus Lines site at http://www.dan.co.il/english/default.asp or Superbus Lines site at http://www.superbus.co.il. Like other decisions, whether or not to have a car is a personal one. In addition, if you are not planning on buying a car, make sure that the community that you choose has easy accessibility to centers of industry and commerce.
Housing back to top^
Each community page provides information on housing options and contacts to acquire further information. The types of living accommodations and how those accommodations are described in Israel differ considerably from what many are accustomed to in North America.
The description of homes in Israel – be it an apartment, cottage, or villa – are based on how many rooms and square meters it has. Places are listed as 3-room, 4-room, 5-room, etc. The rooms include a living/dining area and bedrooms. For example, a three-bedroom homes will be listed as a four room house. The number of bathrooms may be indicated separately and all homes are understood to have a kitchen. Other specific detailes may include whether a particular home has a mirpeset (porch/patio area).
Accessibility, via stairs or elevator may be a factor to also consider. Apartment buildings in Israel vary considerably in size and height. And it is important to remember that many apartment buildings, even those with more than five floors, often do not have an elevator.
Meduragim: Apartment buildings are built on a hill in such a way that they almost resemble a staircase. These can provide spacious apartments, with large patio areas for each unit.
Cottage or Cottajim: Refers, basically, to what we know as a town house. Cottajim are generally connected four or five in a row. Obviously, the corner units are generally the more desirable ones.
Many families in Israel live in “du-mishpachti” or two-family homes. These houses are usually connected on one side. Finally, in many communities it is possible to purchase a “villa” or private house. Despite the name, villas in Israel do not usually look like they belong in the Italian countryside – the name is misleading.
Education back to top^
Israeli schools may either be governmental (mamlachti), private, or semi-private. Mamlachti schools are regular mamlachti (government non-religious) or mamlachti-dati (government-religious). Some of the mamlachti-dati schools are further classified as torani, meaning that they have increased emphasis on Torah studies. Private schools may have religious or non-religious orientations. The hederim (heders) attended by children in Haredi communities are mostly private. Some schools are considered semi-private. This means that they receive some public funding and are subject to certain requirements of the Ministry of Education, but they also enjoy considerably more autonomy than traditional governmental schools.
Comparatively speaking schooling in Israel while it is not free, the costs do not come close to those absorbed by parents in North America, but there are fees to be considered. Just to provide a very rough idea, fees for a government elementary school may equal about $50 per month. Fees at a semi-private are likely to be higher, but they may also include other costs, for example, several afternoons a week of after school activities. Private school tuitions can vary considerably. Tuition for high school is considerably higher than for elementary school, and individual schools should be contacted directly for information.
Children in Israel generally begin attending gan (nursery school) at age two or three, gan hova (kindergarten) at age four or five, and elementary school at age five or six. Like elementary and high schools, ganim can be private or governmental. Some communities even have English-speaking ganim. Some also have ganim that offer early intervention services for children who have developmental disabilities or other special needs.
Where possible, information about programs for children with special needs has been included. Parents of such children should consider contacting schools directly to see what sort of services can be provided for their children.
More information about Israel’s educational systems can be obtained from the ministry of education’s site at:
Medical Services back to top^
Israel’s high standard of health services, top-quality medical technology and research, modern hospital facilities and an impressive ratio of physicians to population all contribute to the country’s high standard of health today.
The Ministry of Health is responsible for the development of health policy, operation of the nation’s public health services and management of the governmental health care budget. The government also owns and operates many of the nation’s larger hospitals. It licenses the medical and paramedical professions and initiates and oversees implementation of all health-related legislation passed by the Knesset. Medical services are provided through four health insurance companies, known as sick funds: Kupat Holim Clalit, Kupat Holim Maccabi, Kupat Holim Meuhedet and Kupat Holim Leumit. Kupat Holim Clalit (General Sick Fund), the largest organization and the first health insurance institution, was founded in 1911 by a small group of agricultural workers and taken over by the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor) in 1920.
Virtually all residents of Israel take care of their medical needs through one of the kupot holim – managed care programs. Perhaps the major difference between the kupot is in the different doctors that staff them. Each kupah has its advantages and disadvantages, and it is best to consult with residents in a particular community to find out which they prefer. All kupot offer an optional plan that costs between $12 and $28 per month and provides additional coverage. Additional information on the Israeli medical system can be found at http://www.health.gov.il/english/
Climate back to top^
A short drive taken 30 minutes in any direction can mean a vast change in hte chnage of climate. The mountainous regions with its chilly winters and hot, dry summers, are quite different from those in the valley regions of now snow in the winter and extremely humid summers. In deciding where to live, think about how important climate is to you (perhaps for health reasons or otherwise). It does not cost to ask questions !!!
Security back to top^
Safety and security are very subjective, and vary from place to place. We cannot say this enough times, that it is important to visit and feel out the place you may soon call home. Get to know the area, the roads and then decide.