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.