Tzur Hadassah is one of Jerusalem’s suburbs and is undergoing a major expansion. Nestled in the Judean Hills within Israel’s “green line,” the community is just a short drive to Hadassah’s Ein Kerem medical center and eight miles from Jerusalem’s city limits. Interestingly, it is gaining the attention of many young Jerusalemites looking to raise their families in more pastoral settings.
Tzur Hadassah is 750 meters above sea level and is surrounded by half a dozen nature reserves, which helps the town maintain a decidedly rural feel. It also offers panoramic views and a relatively cool and crisp climate, similar to Jerusalem.
Established in 1960 and named in honor of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, the community has grown to 8,000 residents. Tzur Hadassah is currently comprised of three neighborhoods, and two new neighborhoods are in the midst of being built which will add 2,500 apartments and double the population.
Tzur Hadassah has historically been a secular community and is home to one of the largest reform temples in the country. Over the past decade, the town has become more heterogeneous, and today the Dati Leumi (national religious) community has grown to about 30% of the population.
The town is very child-centric, which manifests itself in a number of ways: There’s a wide spectrum of schools and youth movements plus there’s a relatively large variety of communal facilities for extracurricular activities. In addition, the community is always looking for creative ideas to foster a love of education, and the following illustration is a great example: each bus stop has shelves of books appropriate for children and teenagers. Surprisingly, after almost a year, the books haven’t been stolen or vandalized. What an inspired idea to literally bring the lending library to the community!
Many of the buyers of homes in the new neighborhoods under construction are families from Jerusalem. They are making the move for different reasons. Some families want to trade in their urban lifestyles for a rural setting that offers a serene atmosphere and a more intimate sense of neighborhood. Other expanding families would have preferred to upgrade and stay in Jerusalem but have been priced out of the market. Tzur Hadassah is within a half hour or so of central Jerusalem but the housing prices are half – and in many cases, a third – the price of Jerusalem real estate. For example, 75 sqm two-bedroom units start at under $300,000, 100 sqm three-bedroom apartments start at around $350,000, and 120 sqm 4-bedroom units start at $400,000. There are also a number of newly built 190 sqm semi-detached homes built on small lots for sale at around $500,000.
Tzur Hadassah is equidistant between Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem and has frequent buses running to both cities. However, the community lacks a strong public transportation system, and most commuters need cars to either drive to work or to public transportation. I expect that as the community expands, the public transportation options will increase accordingly.
Currently, less than 10% of Tzur Hadassah’s citizens are English speakers. Nevertheless, with the expected influx of Jerusalemites, I expect this number to increase significantly. I am keeping my eye on this community, as I believe it has potential to become a destination for a portion of my English-speaking clientele.