By Nachum Amsel
Twenty-five years ago, I moved to a neighborhood in Ramot Aleph called Neve Orot. My wife and I chose Ramot because my brother-in-law, Dr. Danny Weil, had recently moved to the community and we wanted the cousins to be able to play with each other. (To this day, the cousins remain very close.) Neve Orot is truly a kehillah. Similar to communities in the US where the shul is not simply a place to daven, our shul is the physical and spiritual center of the community. Most members of the kehillah attend the shul, which houses two kollels and offers ongoing cultural and social programs. We have a warm, friendly kehillah where communal issues are usually easily resolved. When the families in our building have to occasionally meet, for example, to decide on various building-related issues, none of the shouting and bickering usually associated with vaad bayit meetings occurs.
The best illustration of the achdut in our community took place some ten years ago during a huge snowstorm. One of the residents was set to marry off his daughter the night of the storm, but because travel was so difficult, getting to the hall a few miles away proved impossible. In a matter of hours, community members managed to decorate the synagogue hall, cook a huge wedding feast and pull together volunteer musicians. A magnificent wedding took place that night in the shul, with the entire community participating (even those not previously invited). It was an experience that no one who attended will ever forget.
Whenever discussions of moving to another neighborhood come up (Ramot has a lot of steps, which is difficult for older people), I always conclude that I cannot move. I cannot think of another place where I would rather spend the rest of my life than in Ramot, surrounded by the most wonderful friends and neighbors.
Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel is the director of education at the Destiny Foundation. He is a former teacher and school principal.