In the Footsteps of the Maccabees

In 2003, my wife, daughter and I spent the summer in Israel. We had already made aliyah, but had temporarily moved back to the US. On a whim, we checked out an open house in Modi’in, and by the end of the summer we had signed a contract to buy a home under construction that would be completed in 2006.

We were attracted to Modi’in by many of the same features that attracted others, and a few things that were specific to us. Since we did not know where we would work upon our return to Israel, Modi’in’s central location kept more options open (as it turns out, I work from home and my wife works in Beit Shemesh). We felt that we were getting our money’s worth (I doubt we could afford Modi’in today). In the worst-case scenario, we figured we could sell our home and buy somewhere else. We also sought a city with a mixed population. Although Modi’in has a great deal of homogeneity—its population consists largely of college-educated, upwardly-mobile double-income families—it is religiously diverse, and as educators we wanted to live somewhere where we felt we could make a difference.

As immigrants, we knew it would be important to have a supportive community that would serve as a “merkaz klitah” (absorption center) and a landsmannschaft where we could retain some familiar aspects of the “old country” while adapting to life in the new one. At the same time, it was important to us that our children become fully integrated into Israeli society and do not grow up in an “Anglo bubble” where their entire social sphere is Anglo-Israeli. In Modi’in, we found an excellent balance, and our four kids are thriving in its schools.

Two very personal elements really confirmed our choice. From our home, we have an astounding view of the Ayalon Valley. It is a wonderful privilege to be able to drink in that view constantly. And just a short walk from our home is Umm al-Umdan, the ruin of a Second Temple-era Jewish village (possibly the original Modi’in, but probably not) where a synagogue—one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in the world—was discovered and is presently undergoing preservation.

It is a real privilege to be part of something so new and yet so ancient.

Rabbi Elli Fischer is a writer and translator living in Modi’in.

This article was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of Jewish Action.
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