We are moving to Yad Binyamin.
We first heard about Yad Binyamin from some friends a few years ago. We had been talking about potential communities to live in, Yad Binyamin came up in conversation as one of the new “in”, up-and-coming communities in Israel that Americans (including young families) were beginning to flock to. As we were starting to think that our long-term future might not be in Kochav Yaakov, we made a mental note to go and check out Yad Binyamin some time. Over the next few weeks, coincidence had it that the community was recommended to us by a number of unrelated acquaintances, so sometime in July 2006 we went with a realtor to check it out.
Location: Along route 3 at the junctions of routes 3, 6 and 7. 30 minutes from Yerushalayim, 25-40 minutes from most of Tel Aviv, 20 minutes from Modi’in and Beit Shemesh, 15 minutes from Gedera, Rechovot and Ashdod. It is along the Beer Sheva-Tel Aviv train line which is allegedly in the process of being enlarged from one track to two tracks (which will enable fast passenger train service into Tel Aviv).
A brief history of the place (to the best of my knowledge – I am sure that I have a couple of details off): It was established in 1962 around the same time as a number of other religious moshavim in the area, and was intended primarily to provide services to the neighboring communities in the Nachal Soreq district. In time it grew to host the regional offices, a senior day-center, ganim, a Torani elementary school, a girls Ulpana high school, basketball and tennis courts, a swimming pool, a library, health clinic and some shopping (and a matza factory). Up until 3 years ago there were less than 50 families living there, almost all connected with the various schools. (Some pictures).
All of this changed with the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif. In the preceeding years, there had been some pressure to switch the direction of Yad Binyamin from an educational center to a regular living settlement. For undisclosed reasons (I have heard a few different theories why), a few hundred families from Gush Katif (from Ganei Tal and other settlements) along with all of Yeshivat Torat Chaim (the yeshiva from Nevei Dekalim, headed by Rav Shemuel Tal) were all transplanted into Yad Binyamin. The Yeshiva went into an unused gym, all of the refugees were housed in caravans (intended to be temporary), and money started pouring in from the government to improve the yishuv and make it more livable for its new residents. New ganim, streets, parks and facilities were built. And a large portion of the perimeter of the yishuv had its zoning changed from agricultural to residential.
In the past three years, about a dozen different housing projects have begun to take shape in this new residential area. Some of the land is set aside for local residents or refugees from Gaza, while other parts were opened up to bidding from different contractors (a contractor buys the rights to a specific zone, designs the houses to match the zoning requirements, and sells off the individual homes to buyers) and single plots were auctioned off to individual buyers (who would design their own house and build it with their own contractor). The first few projects were finished last Summer, 4-5 projects (each of which is equivalent to 1-2 blocks of houses) should be done in the next year, and another group of projects are in the early stages of building or are still being designed and planned out. Currently there are around 300-350 families living in Yad Binyamin (including Gush Katif refugees, some of whom will eventually be leaving, and some of whom will be given permanent housing). When all the dust settles in a few years, there will be around 700-800 families living there.
We chose to buy in Yad Binyamin for a number of reasons:
- A good number of English and Hebrew speaking young families
- Good location
- A religious community with a diverse population
- Nice educational options to choose from in the future
- A well-known yeshiva in the neighborhood
- A new community that we can contribute to with access the amenities of an older, more established community
- Nice houses to choose from
- (And if things don’t work out, a good investment – since we bought one year ago, prices have already gone up 20-30%).
We bought a house from Meshullami builders (the development is called Neve Binyamin – we got half of house 72). Over the past year, we have gotten a mortgage, signed a contract on the house, hired an architect to help us customize the layout and interiors, and have seen the house go from nothing to a finis hed structure (right now they are installing the air conditioning, finishing the floors and putting in windows). We will, God willing, be taking possession within two months, and will be moving in within three. We are very excited to be moving into our new home and community (and very excited for the building process to be over).
That is it for now. If I get around to it, I hope to post more on the different parts of the buying/building process that we have gone through.