Dr. Tzvi Wilbur is currently an East Coast pediatrician. When his observant parents started discussing their plans for retirement he thought they were perfectly simple; they wanted to retire in Israel. The problem was that few retirement communities have ever been built. The opportunities for frum couples, with $300,000 or so to spend on a retirement home, have been non-existent. Wilbur went to work and started talks with the mayor of Tiberias as well as politicians, the housing authorities and even Nefesh b’Nefesh.
After three years of effort, he secured the backing of the Municipality of Tiberias for a piece of land, on the northern part of the west shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Kinneret is the perfect backdrop for a new development that is now underway, serving the frum Anglo retirement community. Named with the Hebrew form of Tiberias, the community is called the Tiveria Orthodox Retirement Community Project.
With a perfect climate, Tiberias is not even 2 hours from Jerusalem and offers healthy living with excellent community hospitals. Yet the program is focusing on something unique as well; Tiberias is a town with a frum community that enjoy daily study programs with many choices of learning. This new community will be able to enjoy a vibrant study schedule. In addition to the local community, the Retirement Community will offer its own Torah study programs that will enable the residents to grow in Torah knowledge and appreciation. There will be daily minyanim and an eclectic choice of classes for the frum retirees to enjoy. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s son, Rabbi Avraham Auerbach, is the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Tiveria and he is a strong supporter of the project as well.
The goal is to have 2,000 affordable homes but the first phase requires just 40 apartments which will be pre-sold. The residences are on average 1,000 square feet and purchasers will be able to chose a smaller apartment if they wish. Standard size will include two bedrooms and two bathrooms but an additional study or office and an additional bedroom are possible. The community will also include a swimming pool and gym while the location is close to the ancient synagogues and cemetery of Tiberias where spiritual pilgrimages are enjoyed. Additionally, the homes will have panoramic views of the Kinneret, the Golan Heights and Mount Arbel; this is arguably one of the most attractive views you will find anywhere in the world.
The land is named Mul Arbel due to its close proximity to Mount Arbel. Mount Arbel was an important strategic location during the Hasmonean Period. During this period Nittai HaArbeli lived there. Opponents of the Roman rule in 38 BCE hid in caves of Mount Arbel during the campaign of conquest of Herod in the Galil. Biblical personalities buried on this mountain include Sheish the son of Adam, Reuven, Shimon and Levi the sons of Jacob our Forefather, Dinah the daughter of Jacob and Rabbi Zeirah. Biblical Jethro, known as Islamic prophet Shuaib, is believed to be buried in a religious shrine near Kfar Zeitim adjacent to Mount Arbel. The Druze have held religious festivals there for centuries, every April.
Given that Tiberias survives on its tourist industry, there is heavy development of hotels along the main roads into the city. The economy of Tiberias is weak, however, and a large percentage of the 45,000 residents have to travel elsewhere for work. In fact, this is what triggered the development of Wilbur’s retirement community as the new residents will create much-needed job opportunities. The Jewish agency is promising advertising funds for the new Tiveria Orthodox Retirement Community and the Israeli Government is investing in the infrastructure of the location. Meanwhile, Wilbur is working with banks in Tiberias to see if mortgages can be made available for less than the 40% down-payment that is common in Israel.
Given the initial positive response to the Tiveria Orthodox Retirement Community, Wilbur anticipates that the subsequent phases will include homes for younger families with children. The developers are pleased to adapt the program per the needs and requests of the new residents. Israeli retirement could now become a realistic option for American retirees.
For more information about this project visit the website: http://tiveriaorc.wix.com/tiveriaorc. Facebook Page: Tiveria Orthodox Retirement Community. Dr. Tzvi Wilbur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 917-636-9433.