And then came COVID-19. For many of us, the lockdown last Passover was an even more powerful catalyst for introspection than the High Holidays, leading many to consider some serious questions about their life and their future.
Yael Katsman, the director of communications at Nefesh B’Nefesh, says that since COVID struck they’ve seen a massive 240% spike in people expressing interest in Aliyah. "It's been across the board — singles, young families, older families, and seniors; professionals, students and retirees," she said.
Katsman clarifies that she doesn’t advise anyone regarding where to set down roots, but rather, provides the information to enable potential olim to make the best, most educated decision. Clearly, one of the factors impacting an oleh’s decision where to purchase housing is economic, but there will always be those for whom location takes precedence, even if that means settling for a smaller dwelling. “For me and my family, aliyah didn’t just mean Israel, it meant Yerushalayim,” says Parisian born Yoel. “Yerushalayim is the heart of the country and it is in my heart.”
(photo credit: PR)Jerusalem today is a huge, cosmopolitan city, sprawled over a huge area and boasting dozens of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character. For Yoel the first priority was finding an apartment that “captures as much of Yerushalayim as possible.” He found what he was looking for in the upscale Jerusalem Spirit project in the very center of the city.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity, a luxury residence within walking distance of all the charm, spirituality, and material benefits that Jerusalem has to offer: the Old City, hundreds of shuls, plenty of stores and eateries, and, surprisingly, even spacious parks,”says Hillel Zuravin, CEO of Hadas Capital, the project’s developer.
Construction is already underway, with foundations and lower levels completed. Occupancy is less than three years away. The location has the singular advantage of being right in the center of things, off of King George and Hillel Streets, but nestled in a quiet, out-of-the-way corner, right across from Independence Park, giving it a suburban feel.
Lionel, a lawyer from South Africa, purchased a unit in the project as an investment, which he hopes one day to enjoy. “Here in South Africa, the Jews are not moving away in massive numbers, but we are becoming increasingly concerned by issues of personal security and the government corruption. So, yes, there is definitely of talk of emigration,” he said. Lionel made his decision during the corona lockdown, and promptly closed the deal over the phone in the ensuing months. “I didn’t need to see it to know that I was getting the best value for my money. The location is unsurpassed, and then there are the facilities — the gym with Jacuzzi, the mikvehs, function hall and more.”
(photo credit: PR)Real estate attorney Yitzchak Steinberg agrees that when it comes to investment, a home in the city is the way to go. “Societal trends, globally as well as in Israel, indicate a shift to the city center, even if that means downsizing and moving the family into an apartment as opposed to a house. He adds, “That applies to any city, all the more so to the eternal city of Yerushalayim.”
(photo credit: PR)For Michaela Servi, moving to the Jerusalem Spirit community is about coming full circle. A native of Rome Italy, Michaeli came to Israel for the first time with her Bnei Akiva group when she was 17. "I remember sitting on the grass in Independence Park in Jerusalem, looking up at the gorgeous night sky. I saw a shooting star and made a wish: I want to build my life here, with a husband and children. Six years later, Michaela made Aliyah with her husband, Fabrizio, and their infant daughter. Both students of the Technion, they settled in Haifa. Today, proud parents and grandparents, and soon-to-be great-grandparents, Michaela and Fabrizio have decided to leave the home that they built on Mount Carmel and move to the Jerusalem Spirit complex. “It’s the ultimate in all that we want at this point in our lives: within walking distance of everything we love in the city that we adore, but with its own shul, spa and amenities so that in bad weather you don’t have to go out. This gated community has all the advantages of assisted living without the negative connotation,” she shares. “And the fact that Independence Park is on my doorstep is a constant reminder to me that all my dreams were fulfilled, down to the letter!”