I t’s a dream we all have — our own daled amos in Eretz Yisrael. But whether the dream is to purchase land to build a family home or buy land as an investment, the dream can turn into a nightmare without proper planning and guidance.

“A person can earn lots of money investing in real estate,” says Meir Shterenberg, project director of JOIN Israel’s Pitronot Advocacy program, which helps Israelis who have fallen into financial and legal quagmires. “But the risks are great as well. Even under normal circumstances, there are often complications and delays that no one can predict.”

While we can’t predict the future, is there any way to invest wisely, while avoiding the dangers that destroyed the dreams of one avreich and his family?


The Players

NAME Nosson and Sarah Katz

AGE Late 40s


RESIDENCE Yerushalayim

The Lure

“Forty Percent Early Bird Discount!

Residential Units in the Center of the Country.

Call for Appointment”

The Background

Even a decade ago, apartments in Jerusalem were hard to find and many were priced out of the range of the average Israeli. Meanwhile, "Kiryat Davidka,"(name has been changed), was an up-and-coming yishuv.

So when an ad appeared for a new residential building project about ten years ago in the center of town — and the offer came with an attractive discount for “early bird” buyers — it caught the eye of several avreichim hoping to find an investment that would supplement their kollel income.

Real estate is generally considered to be a wise investment, so what could possible go wrong? The Katz family shares the crash course they received in Real Estate 101.

Nosson’s Naiveté

Ten years ago, I was an avreich studying in a dayanus program. I had a goal, a future I could look forward to with enthusiasm. Today, my life is focused on trying to crawl out of a $100,000 black hole. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My wife and I were a typical kollel couple, and we wanted to stay that way. But with a growing family — we had five kids back then and hoped for more — we couldn’t ignore the fact that the bills had outpaced my kollel income.

Sarah opened a small business she could run out of our home, which helped some. We also hoped that after I completed the dayanus program I’d be earning more. At the same time, we kept our eyes and ears open for other sources of income.

One evening I was on the bus, coming home from kollel. Sitting next to me was a guy who was reading one of the chareidi newspapers. I happened to notice an ad. A real estate developer was looking for people to invest in a new residential project in Kiryat Davidka. What caught my eye was the headline: 40 percent discount.

I asked the guy if I could borrow the newspaper for a minute while I jotted down the phone number. We started talking. He was also looking for a way to make some extra money. But he said he was nervous about investing in real estate. It had taken his building ten years to get permission to build succah balconies. How long would it take to build a whole apartment? One hundred?

We laughed. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 660)