During the height of COVID-19, we received a stream of inquiries from people who were re-examining their lives and their relationship with Israel. Then came May 25, the day that George Floyd was tragically murdered, and everything changed. In the aftermath of that heartbreaking and horrific incident, our phones have been ringing off the hooks from Jews worldwide. Sadly, many people have recently witnessed the repulsive stench of anti-Semitism and are experiencing a growing sense of foreboding.
We have been approached by Jews across the globe and across the religious spectrum. From the 92-year-old grandmother buying a small apartment to serve as a family anchor in Israel, to the Lakewood family that wants to initially spend summers in the Holy Land before moving. From the Bergen County family that originally planned to emigrate in 2025 and have decided to move up their aliyah date, to the Silicon Valley senior executive looking to sell his Palo Alto house and buy a Tel Aviv apartment with a view of the Mediterranean. On a personal level, the past month has been incredibly enlightening: having met Satmar chasidim who love Jerusalem, self proclaimed secular Jews who are highly spiritual and numerous colorful and beautiful Jews who defy traditional categories, all of my long-held stereotypes have thankfully been smashed to smithereens.
Every person’s situation is different, but some themes tend to recur. For example, the following is a conversation that has unfolded in several variations over the past few weeks. The client explains that they have a $500,000 budget to buy a 3-bedroom apartment in Jerusalem, and prefer a new project under construction so that they can spread their payments over several years until they are ready to move to Israel. We then have the unpleasant task of educating them about the financial realities of the Jerusalem real estate market. You can imagine the Beechwood, Ohio family’s dismay when hearing that their lovely 4-bedroom split-level house with a huge garden and pool is worth less than a 2-bedroom apartment in a new project on the border of Baka and Arnona.
After recovering from sticker shock, the client usually inquires about less expensive options near Jerusalem and we proceed to discuss interesting new projects in Jerusalem’s bedroom communities. Situated 20 minutes away from central Jerusalem—and literally half the price of central Jerusalem housing—is a new project under construction in the beautiful Zayit section of Efrat. The complex offers valuable amenities, such as underground parking and a mall at its base. We then discuss a similarly-priced project in the latest Ramat Bet Shemesh community, a short walk from the successful new Mishkafayim neighborhood. The buildings offer breathtaking mountain views, plus easy access to the infrastructure and conveniences of a big city, such as shopping, educational and medical facilities and excellent public transportation. Invariably, the exciting new Eden Hills community near Bet Shemesh gets discussed, and the pros and cons of yishuv living get hashed out.
What will happen when the social activism slows down, and Jews begin to feel more comfortable in their homes and communities? Will the newfound Israel fervor be a mere blip on the radar, a passing fancy that captured people’s attention for a few weeks and then flitted out of their minds? Our expectation is that some people will hold onto these feelings, but most will understandably move on—at least until the next crisis possibly shakes them up. May we be privileged to reconnect with Israel on our own terms: “running to” the beauty and uniqueness of the Jewish homeland as opposed to “running from” a rising tide of global uncertainty and antisemitism.
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home ( www.myisraelhome.com ), a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at [email protected]