Is There Anti-Haredi Discrimination in Elad?

Elad building lobby sign advising haredim not to move in I spotted this sign in the lobby of an apartment building in the religious city of Elad, on Highway 444 between Rosh Haayin and Shoham. About 15 years ago, when the town was first founded, the government allocated building projects for two sectors: Haredim and national religious, also known as religious Zionist.

This sign, posted in the lobby reads: Esteemed Buyer/Renter! This project is national religious and intended for this population only!

Elad is not a popular destination. It has a reputation for poor apartment construction and sub-standard infrastructure. A large part of the haredi population there are hozrim beteshuvah, or religious returnees, who as a group tend to have more social problems. So apartment prices in Elad remain relatively low, compared to neighboring towns.

When the topic came up over Passover, one of my guests said that people who don’t want to live in a haredi neighborhood should move to a more expensive one. The fact is that when prices go down, haredim move in. Haredim also prefer a homogeneous neighborhood so homes near an existing haredi enclave, such as already exists in Elad, are attractive.

There have been incidents in different parts of the country where non-haredim were made to feel unwelcome because of the way they dressed or because their television could be seen in the window. But many real estate choices boil down to economics. National religious couples don’t want to live in a haredi neighborhood not only because of integration issues but because buildings in haredi areas may not be kept up so well and their value decreases over time. A national religious couple is likely to be more educated with more earning power, so their income is likely to increase over time. A haredi couple is more likely to go into debt to marry off their children.

But not all working couples can afford an apartment in a desirable area. The problem of housing for national religious families is often discussed in the press. I imagine this neighborhood in Elad is one of the few reasonably priced projects in the center of the country.

While I understand the sentiment, signs like this are ineffective and unpleasant. If I were looking for an apartment, the sign would not make me want to buy.

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Comments

  1. We have the same issue in Bet Shemesh / Ramat Bet Shemesh… the Haredi population is growing rapidly. Huge apt. building complexes go up quickly and while I’m sure people are worried about property prices the more pressing concern is bringing down the level of the quality of life in the city. Look at places like Modiin that have grown and bloomed: clean streets, booming businesses and attractions… sadly the growing Haredi population brings little to the table financially – they often don’t pay taxes… there’s a huge drain on Welfare… to sum it up it’s not exactly profitable for the city’s future…. Why are people so anti and discriminatory??? Here, in BS/RBS the issue is a social one. I personally am happy to live side-by-side with all kinds of neighbors, religious, non-religious… just be a GOOD neighbor, Very sadly, there is a fanatic stream of the Haredi population that makes life miserable for anyone who isn’t Haredi.

  2. This sign made me lough 🙂 because the Religious Zionist is a vary population with no predefined standarts. The only way to define them is “Not Haredi and Not Secular”.
    So actually this sign says: No Haredim Nor Secular allowed.

    I also preffer to live next to a mixed society of Haredim and Zionist Religious, I just don’t know if such exists…

    BTW – I don’t rememmber hearing anything about the Religious Zionist housing problem…

    • 1. Why is it undefined? No more so than haredi. It refers to people who are Sabbath observant, etc. and educate their kids to serve in the army, usually in religious zionist institutions. You can’t fit everyone in Israel in a box, but there is a large number of people who do fit that description.
      2. It exists but not without tension.
      3. You mean I haven’t written about it, or you’re not sure it exists? I’m not sure it does either, but some people believe it does.

      • Because there are people in this so-called “sector” who try to live their life around Torah-Learning, Haredim-Leumim (some of them, BTW, wont send their kids to the army if they think he would help Israel more by studying Torah, although they are pro-army, just not the way it is today…)
        and others are berely “Shomer Shabbos” (“Masorti”) or not doing any daily Torah learning at all…

        3. I mean I havn’t seen the media deal with that (well, actually, I try to avoid the media as much as I can so I am not the right one to measure.)
        2. Good to know – thats a good start… Lets hope it’ll become more natural over time.

        • When new olim came to visit us about 17 years ago, they said they were glad to see that mixed neighborhoods still exist. It’s increasingly rarer, though, except in the downtown of large cities.and a few other places.
          Your comment about the mesoratiim seems a bit unfair.So there are people in between secular and national religious. From a religious point of view that could be seen as positive or negative, I guess.

          • The neighborhood we live in is almost the perfect example of a “mixed neighborhood”. We have religious of all kinds… including masorti, dati leumi, chardal, chiloni. Most of the masorti population in my neighborhood are sefardi while most of the religious are Anglo immigrants so that’s where the “almost” comes into it…? Maybe Anglos are just used to getting along with all types of people because we come from the US, Britain, Canada etc where we learned to keep our heads low and not make too much of a fuss? Even my anti-religious chiloni neighbors claim they love living amongst Anglos even though we’re dati and even “chardal” we work and contribute to the economy etc. so they “don’t mind” having us around… hmmm.

          • Well of course its positive (Mesoratim), Am-Israel is doing Tshuva, thats greate.
            But that also makes that sign a bit unapplicable.
            How could anybody draw the line to accept people to that neighborhood?
            Not Haredim, and not Secular…

  3. All of the speculated motivations make sense in a certain context. So does complaining about your neighbor’s television, I suppose. But we have to think big picture–are actions like this bringing our people closer to redemption?

  4. That sign, which I find hugely offensive and I hope is illegal, is in my opinion symptomatic of the whole voluntary ghettoization of religious zionist Jews in Israel. In America, where I lived until recently, Modern Orthodox Jews would never dream of seeking out a town or neighborhood composed entirely of people just like them; the only people who do that are the most extreme sects of Haredim (eg kiryas yoel). But in Israel it’s perfectly acceptable for a group of dati leumi people to set up a yishuv kehilati that is only for people who observe Shabbat just like they do, cover their hair just like they do, etc etc. Then we all act shocked when relgious zionist people act openly discriminatory towards others!!
    These people in Elad who don’t want to be overrun by charedim should just move to ANY major city in Israel (except maybe Jerusalem, where the non-Charedi sections are rather expensive), where people of all different backgrounds live together just fine.

    • Channa, housing discrimination does not seem to be much of a concern here. I doubt it is illegal. I don’t know that I feel as strongly about you as segregation, but we do live in a mixed neighborhood. Still, even here there is relatively little interaction between the different sectors.

      • Yeah, I don’t think interaction between sectors is absolutely necessary. We are friendly with a few chiloni neighbors here in Modiin but our real friends are all people like us. But there is something about refusing to even live near anyone different from you that really rubs me the wrong way. (I’m so curious where you live, Hannah; is that not info you put publicly on the blog, or did I just miss it?)

        • Petach Tikva, as close as you get to a microcosm of Israeli society (although perhaps a touch more religious).

        • I believe the problem is the opposite
          More apartments were set aside for national religious (remember this also includes possiblity of appropriate schools and kindergarten and youth groups), and the haredim brought them out… (e.g. my brother lived in RBS, and moved somewhere else, an example of changing conditions when hareidim came in, was that their daughter’s ballet chug was closed down!)

          It seems as if the people here just want to carry on living where they are and not get brought out. – if their gan and schools get closed down, they will have to move elsewhere

          Here is Israel young couples often want to live near their parents.

          The price difference is just significant enough for them to want to stay in elad and not move to a different town.

  5. My experience in the real estate market is quite different. Generally speaking, it seems that as soon as a neighborhood starts to get a haredi community, prices go through the roof. This is certainly the case of the “mitchared” phenomenon in Jerusalem, in neighborhoods like Ramat Eshkol, Ma’alot Dafna, Neve Yaakov, etc.
    Since haredim like to live among like-minded people and there is such a crazy housing shortage, they will pay top dollar just to live in a place where they will have haredi neighbors. In my neighborhood, one side of the street might 25% more expensive than the other side, just because more haredim live there.
    Apart from this, I agree with most of you wrote. Sad but true… Jews are complex people and our society is infinitely complex.

  6. I’m wondering why the sign was thought necessary at all, from the point of view of those who posted it.
    Aren’t there more effective mechanisms for excluding a particular population segment from a residential project? There certainly is a phenomenon whereby projects are planned in advance for specific sectors; those who buy apartments in them are expected to meet the criteria.
    If this particular Elad project is legally open to all, then the nasty sign might deter the “unwanted” element temporarily, but not permanently.
    Perhaps the sign is intended not so much for prospective renters/buyers, but for those already living in the project — to scare THEM off selling/renting to the “unwanted.”

    I would second commenter Naomi above regarding the tendency for real estate values to rise (in Jerusalem, anyway) as areas “go haredi.”

  7. rickismom says:

    I can only say that ALL sectors of Israel have to work on achdus. Sad to say, but wars are the only things that give us any unity….

  8. About the housing crisis. It exists! We are a young dati couple trying to buy a apt, anything normal is between 900,000 to 1,200,000 for a 3 bedroom. Yo u need to have 30-40% down. That is minimally 270,000 to 360,000 sheckels for a down payment. My husband and I both work, me one full time job and him one full time and one part time. There is no way we can afford that. Our parents are not in a position to buy us an apartment. Prices are crazy.

    • Y b, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Fisher has announced that they are upping the minimum down payment to apply for a mortgage to 50%.The upside to that might be that prices may go down. I wish you the best and hope that things work out soon, like they often do.

  9. Regular Anonymous says:

    Y b, not to minimize your housing difficulties, but buying an apartment here has always been a financial challenge. Back in the 70’s and 80’s you had to have 80% down payment, so that has improved.

    Peoples standards have also gone up. Young couples used to make do with 2 bedroom 70 meter apartments with one toilet. Now, nobody wants to live like that.

    Re chiloni/dati leumi/charedi neighborhoods, these issues have also been going on for many years. I lived in Sandhedria Murchevet when it was starting to mitchared and by the time I left it was not pleasant to be dati leumi there.

    It seems to me that people want to minimize any contact with those who are not exactly like them. I find it sad that we Jews can’t concentrate on what we have in common, rather than what divides us.

    • SOME young couples are still willing to live like that! We have 3 kids and live in a less-than 50 sq meter 2 BR apartment. It’s cheap and right in the center of Jerusalem. Sure, more space would be nice, but we’re doing OK.

  10. When I was in seminary, I overheard a conversation between two adults, one a new oleh, where the other was urging her not to live in a certain section of a neighborhood because it was “so charedi.” It was my first exposure to that kind of attitude. I didn’t understand it at the time (I was, after all, attending a charedi-esque seminary), but now I wonder if the tendency to separate ourselves into homogenous enclaves isn’t just increasing infighting. It’s much easier to dislike “charedim” (or any other subgroup) than to dislike “Sarah.” I think greater interaction could potentially increase understanding between the different factions. What can I say, I’m still an idealist sometimes. Discrimination, huge down payments and housing difficulties notwithstanding, I’d still rather be living in Israel than being stuck in the Chutz.

    • Rivki, I think that there is more tolerance in areas that are mixed. But it is a bit of a vicious cycle and kids are being taught to live in homogeneous areas.

  11. Avraham Saltoun says:

    this problem is becoming more and more aggravating on the Israeli society which is already clearly divided, I I know a couple that decided to rent in Beitar, and for that they had to undergo two commissions to be accepted. A year later they had to move again inside the same town and again they had to undergo the commissions again. The story goes on and on, and looks to me it’s not going to change.

  12. If anyone is sufficiently interested in the topic of segregated housing to attend an academic conference on it, Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Law is holding one on May 26, from 4-7 pm. The conference is entitled: ועדות קבלה לישובים קהילתיים : הביטים ציבוריים, קניינים, חוזיים ומוסריים — Community Settlement Admission Committees: Public, Possessory, Contractual and Moral Issues. Details available in the “luach eru’im” section of the BIU website. Attendance is free but one must pre-register. (My apologies if this information has already been tweeted or otherwise passed on.)
    ,

  13. Resident of Elad says:

    As a resident of Elad, I wish to set the record straight. Mother in Israel’s post contains many overgeneralizations and incorrect assumptions. I am not at all surprised that Mother in Israel is unfamiliar with Elad. In general, anglos tend to know very little about Elad, because Elad has very few anglos and no organized anglo community (there is one daf yomi shiur in English, however). Therefore, this post will be somewhat lengthy and detailed.

    Elad was founded in 1998; today, it has a population of 37,000. Unlike Betar and Modiin Illit, Elad is a mixed city (thanks to Shas, which took over the Elad project from Degel Hatorah in 1992, when Rabin formed his coalition with Shas as the only religious party). Every group is represented, from the modern end of DL to chasidim (unlike parts of Ramat Bet Shemesh, there are no groups of violent extremists here). The Sephardim are dominant; there are also Lithuanians (from hard-core Kollel types to modern working families) and many chasidic groups (Vishnitz is the largest). People get along very nicely; as in every place, there are tensions in city politics but they are not reflected in the lives of regular people.

    The DL community here is part of the fabric of this town; nobody has ever made me feel unwelcome. Let’s talk Torah, education and politics. We have a chief DL rabbi and several rabbis of shuls, many shiurei torah, nine shuls (at least four have real buildings), three elementary schools (Mamlachto Dati + Mamlachti Dati Torani + a Chardal school), an Ulpana and Yeshiva Tichonit, and Ezra and Ariel youth movements. The city has always been led by a Shas mayor. We have two representatives on the city council; last election, one of our city council members ran for mayor against the unified charedi candidate and got 17% of the vote. True, we have to struggle for certain things in the political arena (the prime example is facilities for shuls and schools). But the community is developing nicely. Every year, the city sponsors Yom Hashoa, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Haatzmaut events (for the recent Yom Haatzmaut event, see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVynq9AI-eo). The Mayor and Deputy Mayors (from Degel and Aguda) not only attend these events, they also speak.

    About the housing issue: Although Elad is a mixed city, there are blocs of one or more apartment buildings that are segregated by group (e.g. DL, Sephardic, Lithuanian, Chasidic). There are also some buildings that are mixed. I live in a complex of three buildings that are designated as DL (in practice, there are many modern charedi families). Across the street there are some mixed buildings and some Vishnitz-only buildings. I also know a DL educator who lives in what is officially a Lithuanian bloc; apparently, the Vaadat Kabala there found him to be acceptable.

    Regarding the sign in the photo: Just as there are DL-only aprtment blocs, there are apartment blocs that are designated for chasidim only, or for other specific groups (for example, a bloc that has a sign “Kiryat Noam Elimelech”, with a chasidic rabbi as the official “neighborhood” rav). It is obvious that non-chasidim are not welcome to move in there. But everyone davens in the Chasidic shtiebels, and the chasidim are perfectly friendly and normal at shul, in the shopping centers or when I give someone a “tremp” in my car. To sum up, people are happy to live in a mixed city as long as their building/bloc is segregated. That is the compromise between integration and segregation that prevails in Elad. As far as I know, this system is unique to Elad. One cannot generalize from Beit Shemesh or Sanhedria to Elad.

    About real estate prices, a nice 4 room apt. costs over NIS 1 million. Elad is in a good location: it is close to army bases and Road 6. It is 15 minutes to Bnei Brak and Bar Ilan U., thanks to Road 471 (Kvish Maccabit). Like anywhere else, if you buy from a reputable kablan, you will usually get a perfectly fine apartment.

    Do we have youth at risk and baalei teshuva with problems? Of course. Our town does have its weaknesses, and it is certainly not wealthy like Givat Shmuel or Raanana, but it is very far from the unattractive place decribed by Mother in Israel.

    • Resident: Thank you for your personal perspective. Are there new projects going up in Elad? For whom are they intended? I know more than a dozen people from Elad, and have been there a number of times so I am not completely unfamiliar.

      • Resident of Elad says:

        There are maybe one or two new projects. none of which are intended for DL.
        We have run out of land. There is a deal with the Government to expand the boundaries of Elad but the Greens are opposed, so if we expand at all it will take years.

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