By Hillel Kuttler
It’s a Wednesday night, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and several North Americans have gathered in a duplex apartment in a modern building in Kiryat Shmuel, a neighborhood dominated by older structures.
One of the participants, Peri Swirsky, has just given birth and is eager to get out of the house. She transfers 12-day-old daughter Yehudit from the carseat of her minivan, snaps her into the stroller, and off they go to meet for the latest roundtable discussion for the Go North initiative of Nefesh B’Nefesh. At the meeting, Yehudit declines several opportunities to speak, offering what’s clearly a “no comment” before shutting her eyes.
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Ayelet Hashachar Penrod (native of Dallas, immigrated to Israel in 2015): I like the idea that Akko is a quick train ride away, and they just opened up the line to Beit Shean, so it is opening up new opportunities. We have friends in Katzrin [in the Golan Heights], and it’s our Pesach destination. We really enjoy that area. It’s got a lot of great hiking.
Peri Swirsky (Montreal, 2013): The pleasure is living in this suburb, in this quiet, little nook on the cusp of a large city.
Ayelet Hashachar: I worked up on the mountain, and my commute by public transportation was 45–55 minutes. We like going to the [Haifa] museums, including the Clandestine Immigration Museum.
Peri: The museums here are pretty reasonably priced. We’ve gone to the Naval Museum and the Kiryat Motzkin zoo.
Randi Lubin (Queens, N.Y., 2004): There’s the Madatech [the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space]. It’s a hands-on science museum. We have family and tourists who come to visit, and it’s definitely on the list.
Ayelet Hashachar: There’s a sprinkler park in Kiryat Bialik. We don’t have a car, and I love the accessibility where we are. You have easy access to big shopping areas on the train. And IKEA, and the IKEA mall, is a 20-minute bus ride. It is really fun because it has kosher dining and lots of things to distract the whole family, like an indoor train for kids. The Nesher park in Haifa has hanging bridges to walk across.
Randi: We’re a 15-minute walk to the beach. It’s clean. It has dog walks.
Peri: In Haifa and Kiryat Motzkin, there are movies, theater, opera, ballet, bowling. In the summer, there was music and dancing on the beach.
Ayelet Hashachar: Oh – and the Klezmer Festival is another “to-do.” Our family enjoys going to Tzfat [the festival’s site] a lot.
Robert Lubin (Randi’s husband): One of the nicest things about the neighborhood is that whatever you want to do, in different directions, exists. It’s all reachable: something for the children; something for the adults. Kiryat Shmuel has a community on this side of town and on the other side of town. They have comedians and lecture series for adults, and theater and musical productions for children. There’s also the Haifa English Theater.
Randi: We had a Sukkah Hop in this neighborhood. All it takes is one person to say we should do this. Thank God, there are a lot of families and a lot of kids.
Robert: The north needs to be populated by entrepreneurial Americans who are able to help develop [this] part of the country. We moved here from Beit Shemesh five years ago, and there were 10 [English-speaking] families in this neighborhood. Now, we’re over 40.
Peri: For a small Anglo community, it’s really active, which is nice. If somebody in the community needs something – if there’s a problem, a crisis, a simcha – we’re there for each other. It’s one of the things I really love about this community.
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Ayelet Hashachar Penrod (left) and Randi and Robert Lubin said they enjoy the North’s offerings near their Kiryat Shmuel homes.
(Photo credit: Hillel Kuttler)