Ma'alot-Tarshiha (Hebrew: מַעֲלוֹת-תַּרְשִׁיחָא) is a city in the North District in Israel, 12 miles east of Nahariya, about 600 meters (1,969 feet) above sea level. The city was established in 1963 through a municipal merger of the Arab town of Tarshiha and the Jewish town of Ma'alot. In 2019, the city has a population of 21,836.
Tarshiha is an ancient Christian Arab town that incorporated with Ma'alot, a development town, many years ago.
The original immigrants to Ma'alot were Romanian; few remain here. The next group, which still provides the largest number of residents, is Moroccan. There was a very large Russian influx later still. This included less educated, less sophisticated immigrants from the former USSR, along with their non-Jewish relatives. There is a growing community of Breslaver Hasidim, mostly ba'alei teshuva. There are a few small Chabad shuls. We have a growing number of Bnei Menashe, from northeastern India who have a tradition of being remnants of the tribe of Menashe, "lost" following Nebuchadnetzar's diaspora. They are given an intense course in Judaism on their aliyah and become true gerim. A number of the Bnei Menashe speak English fluently because it was used in India.
While in general the Arabs and Jews live in different neighborhoods, people work and shop together, and many of the doctors at the various health plans and the regional hospital are Arab. As can be expected there are Arab hotheads, just as there are some Russian hotheads, among the young men, but any issues are not obvious to residents. In general though, people live side by side with people from other religious groups – including atheist Russians with Jewish DNA and Russian Christians with no Jewish DNA – and people are mostly cordial with each other.
The Chareidim that live in the area are spread out. They include about 80 avreichim, and many additional solidly-frum families. Most Chareidim in the city are Sephardic.
There are Charedi elementary schools, as well as other religious schools which draw some Charedi children. The Breslavers also have a boys' elementary school.
There is a yeshiva high school for the boys and a religious girls' school. Some kids go out of town for their high school years.
There is also a new post-high school Chareidi yeshiva gedolah and connected kollel.
Groups & Programs
There is a Hesder Yeshiva, which offers classes in Russian as well as Hebrew, where rabbis from across the religious spectrum teach, and people who identify with different strands of Yiddishkeit often learn from rabbis of different strands. There is also a Sephardic Chareidi kollel.
Geography & Climate
Ma'alot is surrounded by moshavim and kibbuzim, as well as Druze, Christian and Muslim Arab villages.
The major population centers nearby are Nahariya and the Krayot, about 20-35 minutes away. Karmiel is also of similar distance.
Presently several large apartment complexes are being built, much more upscale than the original housing which was built quickly, many years ago, to house immigrants. One of these new neighborhoods is already partly complete, and some of the units have been bought by investors as rental units. Housing will probably not be a problem for any new olim, whether or not they have money to buy an apartment. Few private, stand-alone homes are available.
As a result of new housing construction projects, there are many older and more-affordable houses / apartments on the market, with a lot of availability for buying or rent.
Having an auto is a big expense, but most people have one; having two is rare. Some people manage without a car; as taking the occasional taxi within the city is much less expensive than the expense of running an auto.
The train from Nahariya, about 20 minutes away, connects to many other parts of the country.
Health professionals, once they get licensed here, find work quickly. Many others work over the Internet for American companies, some even in the same position they had prior to aliyah. There is a big need for English teachers and at least prior to Corona a government-funded retraining program for teachers. Some people take the blue-collar jobs available in the nearby Tefen Industrial Park, and some make the long commute to Haifa or the longer one to Tel Aviv. The train from Nahariyah, less than a half-hour away by car, goes frequently to both Haifa and Tel Aviv, and many employers pick up or at least subsidize travel expenses.
There are several kollelim.
There is a bit of shopping in the area, but major shopping centers can be found within about a half-hour drive, in the Krayot, Nahariya, etc.
There are also major supermarkets with online ordering that deliver to the area.
The major medical center in the area is the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, about 20 minutes away.
Community Codes and Standards
The Anglo community is small but supportive. Most of the Anglos attend, or attended before Corona, the same shul which is largely, but not completely, Dati-Leumi. A lot of us Anglos belong to a WhatsApp group where we answer questions for each other, ask for and receive other kinds of help, and in general keep in touch. We are, obviously, all olim, some longer than others, but we all know what it is to relocate to a place where we do not communicate well with the (intrusive) government offices or our neighbors, so we do our best to ease the transition and to provide those familial ties that most of us do not have here.
There is one sort of American who does not adapt well to Ma'alot-Tarshiha, and that is the upwardly mobile person who thrives on competition on both the material and the educational/career playing fields. Ma'alot's community norms take away these pillars that some Americans need to prop themselves up, and after complaining for a year or five, these folks move away to a place with more people like themselves. But for ba'alei teshuva from small American communities who have never felt comfortable in Borough Park or Flatbush, or for anyone looking for a simple, quiet life, Ma'alot-Tarshiha might be a perfect fit.
Rabbi Tzvi Vilensky - 054-438-5025