Binyamin Klempner, Teveria Illit, Teveria
I love nature and I'm also attracted to ruchniyus. It was only natural that I made Eretz Yisroel my home, being the place where ruchniyus is natural and where nature is ruchniyus.
From the Teveria apartment building I live in, there are views of the beautiful Kinneret and its green surroundings. I enjoy looking at the scenery and connecting to the kedusha. It's not just a big and beautiful lake—all other lakes in the world get their chiyus from HaShem "personally" keeping His "eyes" on this one. This is true as well for all the other elements that make up nature—the mountains, valleys, plains, skies, oceans, and everything else you can think of. The kedusha root of all of it is in Eretz Yisroel.
One thing I love about Eretz Yisroel is that I can find a place where I can be a frum Yid and also ride a horse. (Maybe not really in the city, but not too far out.) I need access to nature, and here I have all of that as a frum Yid who is part of a normal kehillah.
Within the small area of Eretz Yisroel, there are plains, deserts, an alpine mountain (the Hermon), forests, a coastal region, and more. I try to go around as much as I can, exploring both my immediate surroundings and the wider area.
It used to be that we had to be in golus to collect the nitzotzos of kedusha from all around, but now many are making their way straight to us in Eretz Yisroel. Those coffee beans from Costa Rica don't need us to be anywhere outside of Eretz Yisroel for us to make a brachah on them and thus be metaken them. We can find them in the coffee corner in our local shtiebel, and that's just one small example.
I originally came to Eretz Yisroel from the U.S. on a tour, but while on the bus from the airport I was already sure this was the place I wanted to call home. My wife had been here for seminary, so she also knew what Eretz Yisroel was like. We lived in Milwaukee for the first two years of our marriage, which is I think a great community to be part of if you must live in chutz la'Aretz. We then had the zechus of pursuing opportunities in ruchniyus here in Eretz Yisroel, eventually ending up in Teveria.
We came about two years ago to join a small kehillah in Teveria Illit. We were previously living in Ramat Beit Shemesh, but the rising prices forced us out. The warm family-oriented feel of the small kehillah and the slower pace of life here in Teveria was a welcomed change from the larger communities we had lived in before. My wife and children quickly made many friends, as might be expected in a new community.
We are now part of the unbroken chain of frum Yidden who have had a long and ancient presence here in Teveria, sanctifying this place with their Torah and mitzvos. Though there recently has been a renaissance of Chareidi life here, their presence has always existed. Since the days of Rav Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, talmid of the Mezritcher Maggid, who lived here in Teveria about 250 years ago, many chassidim have called this place home, infusing the city with a spirit of Torah and avodas HaShem.
More recently, there has been a steady growth in the frum community here, which includes many different sects of Chareidim. I sighted a busload of Toldos Aharon chassidim returning from Rosh HaShana in Yerushalayim. Karlin has an impressive representation and so does Sanz. The Litvish also have recently started a community here, and Sephardi bnei-Torah have always been around. There are some Slonimers and Lelovers as well.
Every week, more people arrive here in Teveria. New schools open and new batei midrash are built. One of the kehillos had built a new and beautiful beis medrash which was filled beyond capacity just two weeks after its inauguration, as they had not anticipated such quick growth.
The communities are primarily Israeli; though, there are a few English-speakers spread around, and even an English-speaking Rebbe (Lizhensk). I would be happy if other English speakers would join me in my community to take advantage of the opportunities Teveria affords.
Just a short few years ago, when I would have occasion to visit Ramat Beit Shemesh and people would hear that I live in Teveria, they would react incredulously, as if I was living on the moon. Now, people are asking me about what's happening here, as it's becoming a more mainstream option for many.
The heimish infrastructure is well-developed and getting better all the time. There is also the wonderful pleasant feeling of the city—warm and inviting, quiet and relaxed. Cars stop for pedestrians with a smile.
Respect for the Land
Several years ago, we were operating a small vegetable farm in Yish'i, a small moshav near Beit Shemesh. After moving to Teveria, we restarted as a compost manufacturer.
Eretz Yisroel has a relatively dense population and there are not enough places to handle the waste produced. By turning food waste into compost, we are not only making a parnassah, we are also minimizing the amount of garbage piling up on the Land. If this is an important thing to do anywhere we live, it is all the more so in Eretz HaKodesh.