Zionism For The Jet-Set
Twenty five years ago, Rabbi Marc Schneier and his family spent 6 wonderful weeks vacationing in Israel’s affluent Herzliya Pituach neighborhood. That summer proved to be a transformative experience as the cosmopolitan city offered a fascinating dichotomy. The city boasted beautiful beaches and resorts and had a distinctive international flair, and yet the community was close-knit, warm and welcoming. The synagogue that Rabbi Schneier attended reflected this interesting synergy of sophistication and hospitality. The shul’s population represented a diverse mix of congregants from all walks of life, and it was not strange to see a teacher, a local restaurateur, a corporate CEO and a member of Knesset sitting side by side in one row. This experience was the inspiration for Rabbi Schneier to establish The Hampton Synagogue.
The Hampton Synagogue has in fact followed the Herzliya Pituach blueprint and is a unique, diverse, open and accepting community. Rabbi Schneier quoted to me the musings of a guest who wittily explained the synagogue’s distinctive nature: “You are the rabbi of an orthodox synagogue with a conservative congregation and a reform membership." In addition, the synagogue’s educational programming brings in top talent, and its roster of guest speakers reflects a veritable “who’s who” of top Jewish leaders and teachers from throughout the world.
The synagogue also takes great pride in its leading philanthropic role, primarily to the State of Israel. This past summer, during Operation Protective Edge, The Hamptons Synagogue raised over $12.7 million for various causes to help the war effort.
Having brought Herzliya Pituach to the Hamptons a quarter of a century ago, Rabbi Schneier is excited to come full circle and bring the Hamptons to Herzliya Pituach - but in a very different role. One 34-unit building in a larger project situated in a premier marina location has been set aside as The Hamptons in Herzliya Pituach, replete with The Hampton Synagogue Prayer and Community House.
Rabbi Schneier explained that, “our grandparents planted trees in Israel, our parents bought Israel Bonds, and it is the obligation of our generation to raise the level of connectivity among Jews,” by owning a home in Israel, generating a relationship that transcends the less personal connection that is created by merely donating funds to Israeli institutions.
The well-to-do have historically owned multiple homes, and vacation homes are often located in beautiful locales such as Palm Beach. Rabbi Schneier’s vision is for this population to connect with Israel on a very intimate level, by the act of spending time in one’s own home in our homeland.
In addition, Rabbi Schneier is hopeful that the buyers in this project will exhibit the values of acceptance and generosity for which The Hampton Synagogue is renowned. He believes that the synagogue’s open and accepting nature would be a welcome addition to Israeli society. To emphasize this point, Rabbi Schneier shared with me a conversation with the wife of then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who confided in him that if there was a synagogue in Israel similar to The Hampton Synagogue, she would attend every Shabbat.
To be sure, this project is not about aliyah. Rather, it’s about creating an upscale destination to attract the well-heeled members of society who have the financial wherewithal to vacation in the top resorts across the world. The Hamptons in Herzliya Pituach represents what Rabbi Schneier considers to be a natural progression of his original vision for The Hampton Synagogue: to create a luxurious neighborhood that appeals to the affluent, Hamptons-style Jewish population and helps engender a visceral attachment with Israel.
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home (www.myisraelhome.com), a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.