By Anessa V. Cohen

The yomim tovim, as we all know, started earlier than usual this year–literally right after Labor Day. While all the school moms were home this year getting dizzy with carpooling kids to school a week before chag because there was no bus service, I got on a plane and hopped over to Israel to breathe in the wonderful yom tov atmosphere that can only be experienced here.

This year, my Rosh Hashanah was spent in Modiin with my daughter Simmy, who moved here a year ago. Modiin is a very new and fast-growing city in Israel, located midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Its weather, although dry, is hot hot hot, with only a short reprieve, so this is something its residents must get used to. As usual, when I am in Israel, I like to see what the real-estate situation is wherever I go, and being in Modiin with a daughter selling real estate here gave me even better access to get to know the marketplace here.

Modiin consists of a mainly young population–the average age here is 35. Its population leans towards professional, educated Israelis, a variety of Anglos, and then immigrants from Argentina and France–to name but a few. Housing is on the luxury side of what we are used to seeing in Israel without custom-building it, although by American standards rooms tend to be on the smaller side.

Apartments lean to the large side by Israeli standards, but there are also many beautiful one-family homes to be had, with backyards loaded with beautiful flowers, lawns, and fruit trees as well as other foliage. Summers here tend to stretch out for seven to nine months of the year, so barbecuing and entertaining outside are very popular.

Although Modiin real estate tended to be economical when the city was first being built, the city has become very popular and in high demand because of its central location to the rest of the country as well as its many activities centered around families. There are several health clubs that have fabulous accommodations for everyone–including indoor and outdoor swimming pools, classes, and activities for both adults and children and spa services to suit every pocketbook. So many have now come to shop for housing here that the prices for apartments and houses have skyrocketed and seem to show no sign of abating.

Back to Rosh Hashanah here! I found it interesting that the different shuls that have opened here are very varied, from the Orthodox shuls we are mostly used to–both Sephardic and Ashkenazic–to the slightly different we are not used to. I went to a shul on the first day of yom tov and got there toward the end of leining. I figured we would probably go directly to Mussaf, since the smaller shuls here tend not to have a rabbi speak on Rosh Hashanah. Lo and behold, the joke was on me. The shul finished the leining, and then everyone put their stuff on their chairs, got up, and went outside to the back outside terrace of the shul, where they took a half-hour water break! I could not believe my eyes looking out at them from the inside. They had set up loads of water bottles and cups for people to drink and they all stood outside drinking and talking like they took a Kiddush break. This was definitely a new one for me.

I had been invited to see another shul that had opened in Modiin, but I felt it was a little too different for me, and passed on the invitation. This shul was an equal-opportunity shul. They had a mechitzah through the entire shul, including the bimah. It seems that this way they were able to have their members of both genders lein, daven, or speak from their respective sides of the bimah. I have not actually had the guts to ask whose idea this was to create a shul with this unusual mechitzah setup, but I did find it interesting that when I asked some very frum people living in Modiin how they felt about this shul, the only answer that I got was a shrug of the shoulders and a smile!

Tomorrow I am off to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur and wish everyone an easy fast. Since this will be published the week of Sukkot, I will also wish everyone a chag sameach! v

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to


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