I asked the person doing the interview how long it would take and he assured me that we’d be finished withing 10 – 20 minutes. It took an hour instead. He didn’t count on how interesting we’d be.
I expected the interview to be pretty straightforward and I also expected we might run into a little bit of stickiness regarding homeschooling. I was right about the homeschooling being a concern but I anticipated that it would be more easily overcome than it was. They said they had a past negative experience with a homeschooled family who later enrolled their children in the local school and their academic level was low, which caused the school to be upset with the acceptance committee.
Though I addressed what I perceived to be the underlying concerns – that we were going to stay to ourselves rather than be part of the community, that our kids were unsupervised and not getting any education, that we would put our kids in school and they wouldn’t be on a suitable level, that we wouldn’t put our kids in school….one member was still was very uncomfortable with it and told us outright that it’s hard for him to get past this. (We all appreciated that he was forthright and direct.)
Ds15 was home for Shabbos and like all the kids, has been wondering what this place we’re planning to move to is like. I suggested that instead of going directly back to school on Sunday morning, he take a detour and join us, then continue to school from there. I told him he could walk around and check out the area while we were having our interview but they invited him to join us, saying that they like when older children are present since it’s important for teens to be happy with the decision to move.
This turned out to be a good thing. It also was good when dd17 (who also wanted to see the area) got there when our meeting was supposed to be over but instead arrived about forty minutes into the meeting, when we were in the middle of discussing how uncomfortable they were with the idea of homeschooling. They were able to ask both of the kids if they were homeschooled and be reassured that they’re doing well in a traditional academic school framework after having been homeschooled many years.
He then asked us if we vaccinate our kids, prefacing by telling us that this wasn’t really an acceptable question so I understood it wasn’t typical for the interview. I was a bit taken aback to be asked about vaccination at a meeting like this; I expected more about our professional backgrounds or past community involvement!
They told us they’ll let us know about the results of the meeting within a week. My kids asked if we would stay in Karmiel if we weren’t accepted and I told them I didn’t think it was likely they would reject us over homeschooling, but if they did we’d have to start searching for somewhere else. There’s no question we have to be close to Jerusalem at this point in our lives. The committee representative called us at 4:30 that afternoon to let us know we’d been accepted; we appreciated that they didn’t keep us hanging!
After our interview we looked at several houses. Our preference has been to find a rental home and then later determine if we’d like to purchase a home in this area. However, there are very few homes big enough for our family that become available to rent so we decided to be more flexible and look at homes for sale. Whether we rent or buy it was helpful to get a sense of what the houses are like since they all have similar layouts.
I asked dd17 and ds15 for their feedback about being there. This is a small community of 600 families and it will hopefully be warm and friendly and is overall a pretty place, but the kids both said Karmiel is much nicer. Obviously a beautiful city in the most beautiful part of the country is going to be nicer than most other places, but our priority isn’t about the aesthetics. They thought everyone we met was very warm and friendly as did dh and I. It was a tiring day and what will give everyone some sense of focus and clarity is when we find a home – it’s hard to be enthusiastic when we have no idea when we’ll move. As I keep telling them – and myself – we have to be open to what God wants of us and it will happen when the time is right!