Avraham Pollack, Immanuel
Ten years ago, when I was forty-five years old, we decided we're just going to jump in and make the move. For many years, we knew that we were headed to live in Eretz Yisroel, but for practical reasons it just hadn't happened. If we would have continued taking into consideration every one of the practicalities, we might have ended up staying in the US indefinitely. So, with just six thousand dollars in cash and without any work planned, we packed up our house and got ready to go. We received funding to transport a container of our goods and joined a Nefesh B'Nefesh charter flight.
I was already learning half-days with chavrusos, but in the small community of Charleston, South Carolina, which we lived in at the time, there was no kollel setup for those like me who would be interested in learning with a group. We looked into other communities that had such options, but we instead decided that if we were already going to move, what we really wanted was to be in Eretz Yisroel. My wife constantly said, “For two thousand years we have davened and cried for the ability to live in Eretz Yisroel, and now we can just get on a plane, and in a few hours’ time, we'll be there—and even the ticket is paid for….” Though our two older children were teenagers already, they had grown up with the idea that Eretz Yisroel is the place for us to be.
As part of our preparations, I did my research and found a kollel in Yerushalayim that would be suitable for me. For the first seven years in Eretz Yisroel, I was learning in kollel full-time. Half of the funds we needed for our eight-thousand-shekel monthly budget (to cover all expenses including rent for our family of five), came in the form of financial support from abroad. During this time, people were coming to me in order to help sort out their conflicts, which I would do on a volunteer basis. I had experience in the field, as I was doing negotiations for my business when we had lived in the US. My wife suggested I study to become certified and turn this hobby into a parnassah. I am now practicing as a certified mediator, mostly working in the evenings.
We first lived in Cheftsiba, a neighborhood of Modi'in Illit near Kiryat Sefer, for about nine years. Though my wife is an engineer by training, she hadn't worked in the field for many years. Originally from Switzerland but having lived in the US, she spoke both German and English. One day she saw an advertisement in one of the local bulletins looking for a German or English speaker for a kitchen-design company. She said, if they are looking for an English or German speaker, they really want a German speaker but will take someone who speaks English. That turned out to be the case. Now, for almost eight years B”H, my wife has been running a successful kitchen design business.
About two years ago we moved to the rapidly growing community of Immanuel. Today there are over a thousand families spanning all age groups, though most of the newcomers are young couples. They include Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Teimanim—both those who identify as mainstream Chareidi as well as some Charda"l. The Ashkenazim in Immanuel are predominantly Chassidish, but there is a small and growing Litvish kehilla as well. A sizable percentage of the residents are English speakers. There is an acceptance committee under the auspices of the community rabbonim to assure that newcomers are suitable for the community and that the community is fitting for them.
Residents place tremendous emphasis on educating their children, and there are a number of different schools. Lately, there has been talk about opening a Litvish yeshiva ketana (high school), which would take advantage of the quieter small-town setting more conducive to learning. People here are constantly working on enhancing their spiritual growth, and they value a pure and idealistic life. The community is known for its warmth, for excelling in chessed, and for emunah.
The city hall works together with rabbonim from all the kehillos. There are special activities and chugim for the benefit of the children and all residents, as well as a community library and swimming pool. There is a small shopping center and many small home-run businesses.
Housing is affordable with prices starting at about 600,000 shekels for a 2-bedroom apartment and there are many other options available including private villas. There is considerable construction underway.
A little more than an hour drive to Yerushalayim and under an hour from Bnei Brak, we have here in Immanuel a city full of fresh air and breathtaking views. There is also a walkway surrounding the entire city with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the neighboring communities nestled within them, the streams, waterfalls and the wildlife.
The future is here! Come join us!
Affordable Housing—with Yerushalayim Still Within Reach
There was no way you could have convinced me that we weren't going to live in Yerushalayim, but after we went every day for the first two weeks there to look for apartments within our budget, we realized that it would be just impossible for us.
We had heard from an acquaintance that their daughter was living in Modi'in Illit and paying only 1400 shekels a month for rent. (Now ten years later, as Modi'in Illit has developed to a full-fledged and bustling city, rent has gone up almost threefold!) We figured we could do the same, and with the money saved on rent, we could buy a car, which would get me to kollel in Yerushalayim, about a half-hour commute. Now, from Immanuel, it's just a bit over an hour drive (if I don't want to stay and learn in Immanuel).
p.s. More information about Immanuel is available on the website I have put together at http://emanuelcity.home.blog.