Sunday, May 16, 2010

Olim Speak Out on Life in Naharia

Thoughts on Aliyah to Naharia, and life in Israel. 
Naharia Article 1: By Mick J. (Go-Coast contributing author, and resident of Naharia)
My name is Mick; I made Aliyah in June and stayed at the Absorption Center in Karmiel for a month, and then moved to an apartment in Nahariya in July.  
I like Nahariya.  It has the Mediterranean, beaches, many cafes, a lovely mile+ promenade along the sea, a small movie theater, sports stadium, shopping center, enclosed mall, regional hospital, good rail and bus service. The population is diverse - Moslems, Christians, Druze and Jews. The major complaint that I have heard is about the humidity, although I have not experienced it. I get a good breeze and hardly used the a/c last summer. It is safe to be out at night. There are 2 health clubs; lots of people work out. 

The population of Nahariya consists of residents of all ages and affiliations. There are dozens of Orthodox Sefardi and Ashkenazi synagogues; and there is one Reform congregation. Nahariya has a strong retiree community. It offers a full range of services for the elderly including many nursing homes.
Nahariya's Western Galilee Hospital is the second largest hospital in northern Israel (after the Rambam Hospital in Haifa).  Having a regional hospital is important.  Most communities in the North, for all their various advantages, do not have this kind of medical facility.   It is a 627-bed facility. The emergency room receives about 400 people every day and the number of hospitalizations is about 60,000 a year. Approximately 300 physicians practice in this government owned hospital.

Monthly rents in Nahariya range from $400 to $800. Estimated monthly total cost of living (including rent but not automobile) is about $2000 +/-15%. You do not need a car; it is topographically flat. Cars in Israel are expensive to buy, operate and maintain. I guess $3000 a year with insurance.

Another very important feature about Nahariya is the railroad.  Traveling by rail in Israel is pleasant and inexpensive.  The commute to Tel Aviv or to the airport is an easy one.  If you live in other northern communities, your public transportation choices are much more limited.

I do most of my shopping in downtown Nahariya which is very convenient. There are many small shops, including a butcher, places to buy fresh fish, plus supermarkets and a department store. Local bus fare is about $1 each way. My primary care physician is located about 100 yards from my apartment building. There is a cultural center with a good library that has a decent English section. Nahariya has an English Speakers' Club (it may have a connection with the Reform synagogue) that hosts professional quality lecturers. Most recently, a professor from Haifa spoke on Islam.  For me, Nahariya is the place to be.

Being a new immigrant is not all beer and skittles.  However, often as not, without looking for them, pleasant experiences just come your way. Here are three of my recent experiences: 
* I was on a train from Modiin bound for Nahariya.  In the car there were 4 high school age, Yeshiva boys who were studying in Nahariya.   One of them, an English speaker who may have been an American, organized a minyan. Then in the space between two of the cars, a bunch of men davened Mariv.  That could never have happened on a New York City subway train, incredible. 
* In Tsfat I attended a Nefesh B’Nefesh presentation on banking.  A young American man, also a recent arrival to Israel, without me asking, offered me a ride back to Nahariya.  He was a musician living in Ga’aton, a small community just outside of Nahariya.  Ga’aton is home to a contemporary dance troupe of which the young man’s Dutch girlfriend is a member. The young man has his own band, which performs in Europe, the USA and in Israel.  We spoke of music, dance, beer and Brooklyn neighborhoods (where we both had lived).  It was a pleasant ride. 
* I was on a bus from Nahariya to Ma’alot and knew I had to get off at the city center, but I did not know exactly where that was.  I spoke to the bus driver in my limited Hebrew, and he seemed to understand me; however I was not one hundred percent certain.  A man from Los Angeles who lived in Ma’alot spoke up and said that he would let me know when we came to the city center which was also his stop.  We chatted about family, making Aliyah and living in the North.  He invited me to an Independence Day barbecue at his home.  It was just another ordianary new immigrant experience that was absolutely enjoyable.

Naharia Article 2:  By tmr - תמר (Go-Coast blog administrator, and resident of Naharia)
Think 'beach-town.'  Naharia is Israel's northern most coastal town.  It is a small town (between 45,000 and 60,000, depending whose stats you use) yet offers basically everything one needs.  If there is something you cannot find in Naharia, no problem - hop on the train, whereby you have access to most of the country.  If you don't like trains, catch the bus or the sherut.

Regarding transportation, as Mick mentioned, you do not have to have a car! In addition to the wonderful railroad and pleasant walkways, there are the bus, sherut (group taxi van), and taxi.  Both Egged and Nateev operate out of the Central Bus Station.  Nateev provides service intra-city, to surrounding villages, and to some towns farther away. Their rates are very reasonable and they are one of three bus-lines in Israel that allow use of a rechargeable discount card. Egged provides inter-city service.  Sheruts  provide service to Haifa and some of the other surrounding cities. The sheruts also offer a rechargeable discount card. Taxi rates for service within the city are uniform and very reasonable- currently at 13nis.

The healthcare situation is great.  Naharia offers both Clalit and Maccabi.  (The two smaller chupat cholim may also be in Naharia, but I am not sure.)  As Mick mentioned, the highly acclaimed Western Galilee Hospital is located in Naharia.  Many of the inland areas are not close to a hospital, so this is an important consideration.  (If healthcare is important to you, but you want a community that is even smaller and quieter than Naharia, there are some villages very close to Naharia - hence also close to the hospital - that will be profiled in future posts.)

If recreation and outdoor living are important to you, Naharia may be for you.  Beautiful beaches and a European sidewalk cafe atmosphere combine to give Naharia a unique charm that you won't be found anywhere else in the north. Because of the good weather, many events are held outdoors.  The beachside park is a popular venue for many of these outdoor events.  For those who prefer to be inside, there are also many ways to pass the time in Naharia.   However, if one just wants to get out of town for the day or an evening, again the choices are many.  Go to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv for the day, or make a quick trip to Haifa to see a play at the English Speakers' Theatre or view whatever art exhibits are currently at Castra Mall.

If you have questions or comments, please post a comment.  If I cannot answer the question, maybe another reader can.  I will try either answers your questions by adding a comment, or  will provide the answer in a future post.   Please dear reader, if you are able to add information about Nahariya, do so by posting a comment.  If you live on the north coast, please consider sharing information so we can let others know about this wonderful area.  

Reformi in Nahariya

    (Contributed by Sharon Mann): Kehillat Emet veShalom in Nahariya is one of the oldest Reform congregations in Israel. We serve a diverse mix of Jews from around the world, including North America, Europe, Russia, Argentina, and native Israelis.  At Emet veShalom we all join together in a vibrant community, sharing the best Israel has to offer. To read the entire article, go to worship page.  (Links to pages are located under the blog header box.)


This blog (dedicated to Naharia) is one of a group of blogs that provide information for potential olim, about some of the lesser known locations on Israel's northern coast.  Before deciding on Karmiel, Ma'Alot, Tzfat, or any of the other inland locations, consider going coastal