Life in the Judean Hills

Buyers can get more bang for their buck in Tzur Hadassah, and still live near Jerusalem.

Tzur Hadassah is expected to have 20,000 residents by 2020. (photo credit: ANGLO-SAXON JERUSALEM)
Tzur Hadassah is expected to have 20,000 residents by 2020.
Jerusalem is the largest urban entity in the country.
It is also a very expensive city from a real estate perspective, which means that not all those who would like to live in Jerusalem can afford to do so.
Consequently, during the past two to three decades, many Jerusalemites have moved to satellite cities such as Beit Shemesh and Ma’aleh Adumim, exchanging one urban environment for another. Many of the residents in these towns work in Jerusalem but could not afford the capital’s real estate prices.
For those in Jerusalem who prefer a more rural style of living, there are a number of settlements and townships that offer residents country-style homes at prices that are affordable to the middle classes.
One of these is Tzur Hadassah. This rural community, named after Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, started life in 1960 as a commercial and service center for the moshavim in the area – Mevo Betar, Ness Harim, Mata and Bar Giora.
In the following years, and especially in the aftermath of the Six Day War, it continued to grow.
The community now has nearly 8,000 residents, is just within the Green Line and is a mere 20-minute drive from the center of Jerusalem. It is also a 15-minute drive from Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem, making it a favorite among the hospital staff.
Despite its size, Tzur Hadassah is not a separate urban entity; it falls within the jurisdiction of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council. Nonetheless, it has its own governing board, which its residents elect.
There are many advantages to living in Tzur Hadassah. Located in the Judean Hills, it offers an easy commute to Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and central Israel.
And at 750 meters above sea level, it enables residents to enjoy clean air, year-round moderate weather, and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Parks and nature reserves surround the community: To the north are Begin Park, Mount Giora and the Nahal Sorek reserve; to the west is the Mata Forest; and to the southwest is the Sansan nature reserve.
Tzur Hadassah has seen an impressive increase in community facilities in the last few years. There are four elementary schools: two state schools, a state religious school, and an alternative school. There is also a thriving high school. The community’s Scouts branch is one of the largest in the entire country, at last count numbering approximately 600 members.
There are also activities for youths and adults alike, and a swimming pool is under construction in the Tzur Hadassah cultural and sports center.
The community has attracted many middle-class Jerusalemites, in large part because of real estate prices.
In Jerusalem, a single-family home with a 500-squaremeter plot – considered a “large garden” in this country – would cost in the millions of dollars; in Tzur Hadassah, such a home runs in the millions of shekels.
Eitan Kal, Tzur Hadassah regional manager at the Anglo-Saxon offices in Jerusalem, tells In Jerusalem that “for real-estate purposes, the community is divided into three areas, namely Vatikim, Har Kitron and Emek. Vatikim, the old neighborhood, is one of singlefamily homes, which... are set on vast plots of up to 2,500 sq.m.”
According to Kal, in the early ’60s, a plot that size would have cost less than NIS 100,000 in today’s money.
“Such large plots of land are very rare and unusual in Israel; currently new developments of single-family homes or semidetached dwellings have plots of less than 350 sq.m,” he explains. “Consequently, when such large estates come onto the market, they are quickly snapped up for no less than NIS 3 million.
The buyers usually tear down the old house and build something new. These days, the most expensive real estate is in the part of the Vatikim neighborhood called ‘Shechunat Hamea.’” The Har Kitron neighborhood is an area of semidetached dwellings, with some of the older houses on plots of 500 sq.m., he says, while the Emek area consists of semi-detached dwellings and apartment buildings.
The apartment buildings, most of which were built in the ’60s, consist of relatively small two- and-three room apartments. These are much in demand among investors, who rent them out to students and staff at Hadassah.
Tzur Hadassah is expanding, and is expected to have up to 15,000 inhabitants by 2020. The Israel Lands Authority recently sold land for the explicit purpose of building 1,500 apartments in three-, four- and fivestory apartment blocks.
Today, an average single-family home costs NIS 2.85m., and an average semidetached home costs NIS 2.1m. A five-room garden apartment costs NIS 1.55m.
on average, while a three-room apartment costs NIS 1.1m. An average four-room apartment costs NIS 1.275m.