For the last year, people have been asking me why I still live all the way out there in Pisgat Ze'ev. I've got a battery of answers for each of them
Q: Why do I put up with the Politburo Commissar landlady?
A: I have never met a landlord who was an all-around nice guy or decent human being. It's just not in the job description. Sure, I could leave here, but anywhere else I go will have other problems.
Q: Why do you live all the way out there, away from the action?
A: The rent is so much cheaper.
Q: What made you move to a neighborhood with no singles?
A: I have family out there.
Each of these answers gets a nod of understanding, but there's still a lingering doubt.
So I started the search today. On the web searches I've been making, only about one or two suitable apartments pop up every day. Today I checked out a place in Baka that was something of a dungeon, but very spacious and almost affordable. The way the market is here, if you see something you like, you have to grab it immediately. If you don' then don't even bother calling the landlord back, because someone came thirty seconds after you and took it.
Moshe and I moved on to a place in Katamon. I called at 4 PM, and the landlord told me to be at the place at 6:30. I met Moshe when I was in Baka and we went to the Shtieblach in Katamon, across the street from where the place I wanted was.
The word shtieblach, an old yiddish expression for Hassidic synagogues, has a slightly different meaning in modern Hebrew. The Shtieblach are four rooms in a building with rotating minyanim (prayer quorums), what they call a "minyan factory" in English. Mincha (afternoon prayers) begins every five minutes or so in one of the rooms. Since Mincha takes less than twenty minutes, there are different minyanim in each room beginning or ending Mincha at any given time. A digitized schedule, displayed on an LCD-monitor, announces minyanim.
I would love to live next to the shtieblach. The last Maariv (evening prayer) minyan in Pisgat Ze'ev is at 9:45 PM, and I finish work at 10 PM, so I usually have to pray on my own. If I were to live across the street, I could just stroll out whenever I was finished and catch Maariv at my leisure. I could also wake up and just go to minyan at any time.
I started getting excited about the idea. At 6:30 sharp, as we agreed, I called the landlord of the nearby apartment to ask him what number he's in.
"Someone else rented it already."
Ugh. And that's the REAL reason I haven't moved downtown. The problem isn't the rent, or the landlord, or any of the other excuses I've been giving. Apartment hunting is simply exhausting, infuriating, and so often fruitless.