By: Hillel Kuttler
A glorious, early-autumn afternoon blankets the new Hadera development of Nisanim, where several residents have yet to take down their Sukkot five days after the holiday’s conclusion. The huts’ part-temporary, part permanent nature is apt for their surroundings here, given that many two-family homes along Nisanim’s streets are in the early stages of construction.
This is where Ian and Denise Lubert decided less than two years ago to settle upon making aliyah from England. At 59 and 57, respectively, they are young retirees who had planned to move to Israel regardless of their four daughters already having made Aliyah. Two days hence, Ian will be returning to his native country, as he does four times a year for two to three weeks at a time, to tune pianos for his clients – a business he started nearly four decades ago. Denise’s mother, Sheila Lee, 81, made Aliyah shortly before the Luberts did and lives near them.
Also at the Luberts’ house this afternoon are Laurence Davis, 67, and his wife, Jacqueline Kumel, 71. Laurence considers himself “half-retired,” since he continues to manage commercial property he owns in Antwerp. Jacqueline worked as a computer programmer.
The families had not met before, but soon discovered an important common interest: finding a reliable, qualified contractor. Laurence and Jacqueline will be moving in March from their rental apartment to one they bought that’s under construction a few miles away in Hadera’s Ein Hayam neighborhood, along the Mediterranean coast.
As they settled in for homemade pastries, tea and coffee around the Luberts’ dining room table – the spot where Ian plans to put a grand piano – Sheila asked Jacqueline about her experiences in Ulpan. Sheila will soon begin studying at an Ulpan in Netanya that consists solely of retirees, with a convenient schedule to match.
LAURENCE DAVIS (native of London; made Aliyah from Antwerp, Belgium, in 2014): In the beginning, we settled in Kiryat Tivon, further north. When we were talking about purchasing a property, my wife decided that she wanted to live by the sea. What’s particularly attractive is that it’s such a tranquil area. It’s heaven. It has a beautiful beach. It’s a delightful place to live. It will be ideal. They’re building a promenade with shops, cafés and restaurants. I decided that I want to devote my later life to the art of coffee drinking.
JACQUELINE KUMEL (Laurence’s wife, native of Antwerp): There is a nature reserve there, where they’re not allowed to build. Our apartment will look over there.
LAURENCE: One thing we get pleasure from is nature walks.
DENISE LUBERT (London, 2016): Our initial choice was actually Modi’in. Then, the great housing crash hit the world, and London came to a standstill. We couldn’t sell our home. By the time the markets picked up again, Modi’in had become so expensive. Hadera will be Modi’in-on-the-Sea! Modi’in is between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on the train line; Hadera is between Haifa and Tel Aviv on the train line. It’s fantastic.
Ian has a very personal history with Hadera. My late father-in-law, Bernard, was an amazing gentleman who was the chief engineer for Marks & Spencer. He [helped to build] the four huge towers that are the Hadera power station. A few weeks before our Aliyah, we lost him. He was very Zionist and was here a lot.
IAN (Denise’s husband): The fact the power plant was here, we thought we’d check out the town.
DENISE: They are building here so phenomenally.
JACQUELINE: There’s a hi-tech center being built.
DENISE: I think that we got to Hadera at the right point in time, because everybody is saying that Hadera will be the place to be. For what this house cost, what would we get in Jerusalem? What would we get in Tel Aviv?
JACQUELINE: We didn’t want to be in a big town. We thought: This is halfway between [Tel Aviv and Haifa]. … Before coming here, I was teaching elderly people in Belgium to use a computer. They were so pleased about it. [In Israel,] I have some friends who might be interested.
IAN: Our neighbors – all Israelis – are fantastic. And we’ve got everything here: the Kenyon [mall]. We saw that Hadera was an up-and-coming area. We saw the potential here.
DENISE: There’s a lovely library, with books in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi and quite a lot in Hebrew – a lovely children’s library and a lovely adult library.
LAURENCE: When am I going to find time to read all these books?!
Caption: Immigrants and residents of Hadera (l-r): Sheila Lee, Denise Lubert, Laurence Davis, Ian Lubert and Jacqueline Davis.
Photo: Hillel Kuttler