Karnei Shomron, the Only Place to Call Home
By Brigitte Goldberg
What is the best way to describe a place that is so close to one's heart? I could start with descriptions, figures, facts and all sorts of information that would bore almost anybody, but I wouldn't want you to stop reading before I conveyed my message to you. Instead, I will tell you about my experience and how I feel about Karnei Shomron. I made aliyah with Nefesh B' Nefesh in July of 2004. We chose Rehovot as our new home because it was a safe city to live in. Rehovot is a nice city, but not everybody should live in a city. We probably would have been still living in Rehovot if fate hadn't interceded.
In December of 2004, we were invited to spend a Shabbat in Karnei Shomron. The only thing I wanted to know about Karnei Shomron when my husband read the e-mail was where exactly is it situated? When I found out that it was located in the heart of what the free world calls a terror zone, I told my husband that there was no chance in the world. The week after the invitation, my husband decided to approach me in a different way. "Wouldn't it be nice not to cook for one Shabbat? Wouldn't it be great to take a vacation? How many opportunities will you get to rest for one whole Shabbat?" I couldn't help but agree, so I made him promise that this will only be a vacation and that he would never harass me about moving there.
We drove to Karnei Shomron, with no intention of ever moving there, at least not by me. My first drive in Israel into the 'terror zone' would never be forgotten. As we approached the Checkpoint, I felt myself going into a panic attack. What kind of place do these people live in? I thought it was the end of the world. A checkpoint prompted a feeling of terror inside of me, passing through a Palestinian village with Palestinians riding on donkeys, made me feel like I was taking part in the filming of 'Fiddler on the Roof'.
We settled down in the basement of our hostess's home and started to prepare ourselves for the Sabbath. I thought to myself the whole time, yeah it's a pretty place, but I would never live here. I was so poisoned by the world's conception of this part of Israel, I couldn't think any other way.
We went home after Shabbat, my husband never forgetting Karnei Shomron and always talking about it. I went home thinking that the people in Karnei Shomron are wonderful, but I wouldn't want to live there.
I guess things change in life and fate always has a hand in the deck. The issue of the disengagement was constantly on everybody's mind. I never before thought about their situation, and therefore never got involved. It was very easy to be that way; living in Rehovot, one can easily forget that you really live inside of Israel, you assimilate into society.
One day I woke up in the morning, after having a dream that I must visit Gush Katif. I hopped on the next bus with my whole family and went to visit the people of Gush Katif. I spent the day with the residents of Gush Katif, I listened to their stories, looked at the lives they led and immediately, Karnei Shomron popped into my head. I knew right then and there that Karnei Shomron was the place that my family needed to be in. We went home and that very evening I told my husband that we were moving to Karnei Shomron. My husband's jaw dropped and till this day, doesn't understand what prompted me to move. He may never understand why I chose to pick us up and suddenly move to Karnei Shomron after my first impression, but he is grateful.
The second that I posted my e-mail on their website, I received dozens of responses. One person wanted to help us find a place to live, another wanted to help with schooling, another invited us over, and it was endless. I knew right then and there that this was our home and that we wouldn't be able to live anywhere else in the world.
We have been living in Karnei Shomron for 4 months now. Our lives have changed, permanently. Now we have a huge family, whereas in Rehovot we only had each other. There isn't a moment in the day that someone doesn't call or drop by. I live in a place where I feel my children are safe at all times. They were never allowed out of the house after dark in Rehovot. My children are out of the house at all times, even my 4 year old, - and I never think twice about safety.
The schooling system in Karnei Shomron, is one of the best that I've ever seen. I have one son with ADHD who couldn't function in any of the other schools. Here in Karnei Shomron he is flourishing, the schools not only give individualized attention to each student but also help those in need. My other son suffers from Asbergers and was spiraling downwards in Rehovot. Lapidim here in Karnei Shomron has turned my son's life around. Not only does he have dozens of friends, but also they offer individualized therapy, suited for your specific child's needs.
It's not just about schooling though, it's also about living in place that you can call home. I have a view outside my backyard that I never tire of. When I drive through Karnei Shomron, I am constantly reminded where I really am. This is the real Israel, the Promised Land. On Shabbat, it feels like Shabbat. In Rehovot, it always felt like just a routine, I couldn't figure out why it didn't feel special. We were in Israel; Shabbat should feel more than a mere routine.
Here in Karnei Shomron, when Shabbat starts, if feels like Shabbat. Every week I spend here helps me to get closer to a feeling of contentment, as though I am part of the Torah and not just reading it. Life in Karnei Shomron revolves around what is important, family. Living here makes you realize that there is no need for stupidity, all the bad influence of the outside world stays outside.
Karnei Shomron teaches people how to appreciate their family and their friends. You learn how to be there for others and how to give of yourself. It's amazing how many people, who hear that I live here, either can't believe it or constantly ask me about my concerns regarding security. I laugh and ask them about their security concerns living in the city. I tell them that I would never let my children roam around inside the city. There are murderers, rapists and muggers in all the cities, but not here. The chance of an incident occurring is higher in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem then here in Karnei Shomron.
I feel safe living here in Karnei Shomron, as a matter of fact, every time I have to travel to the city I am so scared and can't wait to come home. Karnei Shomron is not a jungle located in the middle of a war zone. Karnei Shomron is a place that every family should consider living in. Not only does Karnei Shomron offer the same amenities as living in a city but also it offers so much more that cannot be had living inside a city.
If you want a life that is filled with meaning, a place that you will feel at home, someplace that you really feel safe, then you've found it. My family and I have found Karnei Shomron and we invite each and every one of you to find Karnei Shomron. Karnei Shomron is deep inside each and every person, all you have to do is look for it and come home.
from the January 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine