Kiryat Hayovel, which lies between Ramat Sharett and Kiryat Menahem and is on the way to Ein Kerem's Hadassah-University Hospital, is the only neighborhood that was exempted from building with Jerusalem stone. With little time or money, a proliferation of concrete buildings went up to accommodate the influx of new immigrants soon after the creation of the state. The neighborhood, which was constructed on the ruins of the Arab village of Beit Mazmil, began as a quarter of low-rise housing units (two floors, with four tiny apartments on each) spread over large plots of land. But with the immigration waves of the early 1950s, two additional housing solutions were implemented: the asbestos-insulated shacks and later on the long tenement buildings. The neighborhood's immigrant population lent it a character that differentiated it from other parts of the city. Over the years, young veteran couples moved in, giving the neighborhood a proletarian feel. They were joined in the Sixties by teachers and professors. The latter developed the more "bourgeois" part of the largely secular neighborhood, like the small villas on Rehov Borochov, Rehov Gordon and Rehov Anilevitch, and the "chic" villas along Rehov Shmaryahu Levin on the other side of Kiryat Hayovel. But recently, this once quiet quarter has been undergoing changes. The arrival of a large number of haredi families, for whom the neighborhood offers both more affordable housing and proximity to the relatively expensive religious areas of Har Nof and Bayit Vagan, has many of Kiryat Hayovel's veteran secular residents up in arms. Even as the influx has raised real estate prices in the area, locals fear the changes the haredim pose to the neighborhood's character. "Kiryat Hayovel was always and is still considered a middle-class neighborhood - not too poor, not too rich, and [mostly] secular, although there were always religious people living here," says Kobi Cohen, chairman of the neighborhood administration. The demographic shift began last year after a group of haredim tried to erect an eruv (symbolic religious enclosure) around the neighborhood without a permit. Shortly afterward, haredi rabbis gave the area their seal of approval and their adherents started moving in. According to Halacha, one may not carry objects on Shabbat in a public area. To circumvent this, in Israel a thread surrounds cities and towns to create a fence, which turns the area into a private space. The Chief Rabbinate is in charge of the eruvim, but haredim, who do not recognize the Chief Rabbinate's authority, add an eruv of their own, which they call eruv mehudar (ornate fence). To live in any neighborhood, haredi families need, besides the rabbis' permission, an eruv line of their own. "Some residents wish to fight back, others have already announced that if it becomes a real trend, they will pack up and move elsewhere, perhaps even leave the city," says Cohen. "But in my opinion, the best strategy would be not to make a fuss of it. "Let's not forget what happened in Ramot some 15 years ago," he continues. "It was the same kind of struggle but the fierce opposition of the secular residents wasn't successful - on the contrary." "[The trend] began a few years ago, but nobody remembers," says Yossi, a local real estate business owner. "There was a conflict surrounding the pool in the Taylor Center. We already had some haredim in the neighborhood then, and those who came from the nearby Bayit Vagan neighborhood requested separate hours for men and women. Despite the opposition here, they finally succeeded. "It was one episode then, but in fact, it's the same situation again," he continues, "with, in addition, the permission given last year by the rabbis to buy dwellings in Kiryat Hayovel, something that didn't exist then and has dramatically changed the situation here." "Secular people tend to think that we are like a herd of sheep that acts as one person," says Israel, a young, married yeshiva student and father of three. "True, we listen to our rabbis and heed their suggestions, but we are still capable of thinking for ourselves. "Take me, for example. My parents live in Bayit Vagan, while my wife's parents live in Har Nof. As a young family, we cannot afford to live in either neighborhood. But Kiryat Hayovel is located right in the middle of the two areas, and it offers low prices, walking distance from the synagogues, mikvaot, yeshivot and Talmud Torah [elementary school] of Bayit Vagan. That's all there is to it." Deputy mayor Uri Maklev (Degel Hatorah) adds: "I know that people imagine some elder haredi rabbis sitting in some secret place at night, deciding where they should next send the avrechim [married scholars] to add a new conquest, but seriously, that's not the way it works. It's simply a matter of supply and demand. Kiryat Hayovel is close [to religious neighborhoods] and relatively affordable - that's all." KIRYAT HAYOVEL residents' anxiety over the inflow of religious families was exacerbated with the illegal erection of the eruv. "This is not an issue of haredim who choose to live here or not," explains S., a member of the Kiryat Hayovel residents' action committee, which pressed for the dismantling of the unauthorized eruv. "It is a matter of law and how you react to the law. "My simple question is this: Is there one law for the secular, traditionalists and religious Zionists, and another one for haredim? I would like the mayor and his assistants to give me a clear answer to that question," she says. "Someone called me one day, about a year or so ago, and told me a strange story about three young haredim who drove through the neighborhood in a van, and put up columns and threaded a string through them," she recalls. "At first, people didn't really understand what it was about, they just felt anxious, and since their questions on the matter were never answered, they began to be afraid. "I found out they were erecting an eruv line without a permit - something nobody had asked for. They came of their own volition and they weren't even locals," S. continues. "I was furious and with the support of the neighborhood rabbi, Rabbi David Simhon, we managed to throw them out. "Later on we forced them to take the columns down and I thought the whole thing was behind us. But then I heard that some highly important haredi rabbis gave, for the first time, permission to their communities to buy houses in Kiryat Hayovel. "These people do not accept the rules of the Chief Rabbinate, which explains, among other things, their need for an eruv of their own," says S. "I asked Rabbi Simhon [about this] and he confirmed that the whole city of Jerusalem already had its own eruv, but [because] these were haredim, they needed extra lines. "I understood immediately we could be facing the start of troubles." "I have lived on Rehov Zangwill for more than 25 years," says Elizabeth, a mother of five and grandmother of two. "When we arrived here, we had only one haredi family in the 50-unit building. "After a while they moved out because the neighborhood didn't suit their lifestyle," she recalls. "I think it gives a real picture of the actual situation. And don't get me wrong: We are not against observant neighbors, it's just that we understand that in this case, it's different. "We have always had more or less observant neighbors here," she continues. "But lately I have realized how different things are becoming. [For example,] when I go out in the staircase to smoke a cigarette so that non-smokers in my family won't be harmed, I feel very embarrassed to one of my haredi neighbors there on Friday night. Or when I take my car on Shabbat morning to go and visit one of my sons serving in the army, I try to avoid the time they come out of the synagogue. "For the moment it's OK," she says, "but I cannot help thinking what will happen if one day - and it will surely come - [the haredim] will announce that they are the majority and it will be forbidden to smoke in the staircase on Shabbat or to use the car in my street. I think it is not unrealistic to foresee such things happening in the near future." "I consider myself a civilized person," adds S. "I will always take care not to offend anyone. If I have a religious neighbor, I will be careful not to hurt his feelings. But that's me, that's my choice. There's a big difference between free will and an eventual coercion. "It's one thing to decide to act freely one way, and it's a totally different thing to realize one morning that your children cannot come to visit you on Shabbat because the street will be closed to cars," she explains. "And I cannot avoid thinking what will happen to me if that day comes? Where shall I go? My husband and I have spent years building this house with our own hands. We do not have anywhere else to go. "Today we feel threatened, we feel that one day this might become a place where we no longer belong." TO THE question of why Kiryat Hayovel, there are a few answers. For one, haredi birthrates are constantly rising, with most families consisting of between eight and 10 children. "Mea She'arim, Geula and Shmuel Hanavi are already full," explains Yossi. "Ramot is expensive and so is Ramat Shlomo, and also they are too far from their families. You cannot walk on Shabbat from Ramat Shlomo to Bayit Vagan. And of course Har Nof is very expensive. So Kiryat Hayovel, which is close to both, is a very good alternative." Surprisingly, Simhon identifies more with the secular point of view. "I am a rabbi, but I am also an academic and a high-ranking officer in the army - and I am a very open and liberal person," he explains. "I see my position as rabbi as someone who must be in tune with all people, whether they are religious, observant or secular," he continues. "That is the way I understand my mission, and all my actions derive from this point of view: my educational work, my encounters with secular schools and students, even my charity activities are equally addressed to observant and secular inhabitants. "There is a special atmosphere in Kiryat Hayovel, which I felt from the very beginning of my time here, some 21 years ago. It is a privileged atmosphere which I wish with all my heart to preserve. People here have always lived in harmony - respecting each other, accepting each other, and this is not some hollow declaration," he says. "The problem is that this time we are facing people who think differently, whether out of sheer ignorance or for other reasons. They are trying to play according to different rules and this is something we will not allow here, no way," he continues. "I am dedicated to preserving the special respectful atmosphere here and I will not allow anyone to spoil it. I have in this endeavour, of course, the support of the neighborhood administration." Indeed, Simhon has been involved in the community's response, including the brief investigation carried out by Cohen regarding the new eruv. Simhon says that he also spoken with Maklev, and gained his support in closing - at least temporarily - an illegal kindergarten opened in one of the recently bought apartments, after neighbors complained. "I made it clear, and I think that Rabbi Maklev understood, that we would not allow anyone to ruin what we have here, which is something very special," says Simhon. "A religious Jew is able to observe mitzvot here in Kiryat Hayovel, but every religious resident knows that he also has to respect his neighbor. The religious respect the secular, the leftists respect the right wing and veterans respect new olim. These are the rules of Kiryat Hayovel. "People who want to come and live here are welcome - religious, Orthodox or secular - but they have to understand that and play by those rules. We are not interested in seeing ghettos rising among us," he explains. "On the contrary, I wish [the haredim] could learn from here how pleasant it is to live openly among your brethren, no matter what their customs are, instead of closing themselves inside ghettos." "I wish I could be more optimistic," adds S., "but facts on the ground are not encouraging. "A few months ago, I was invited to join the mayor's closest aide, Aharon Agassi, on a tour of the neighborhood. City council member Sa'ar Netanel joined us," says S. "[But] by then, [the haredim] had already taken down the columns and their thread. But what will happen if they come back? Who will deal with this? "Judging by the letter sent to me by Agassi, optimism is low. He wrote that with the approval of the residents' representative - that's me - if 50 people come and ask the municipality to put up an eruv mehudar, they will be granted the permit. How can I trust the municipality to represent my rights if what happened was in fact the exact opposite? "When asked by Mr. Agassi if I would accept the special new eruv if at least 50 people ask for it, my reply was, 'No, of course not,'" says S. "What I want to know is what the municipality is going to do to protect my rights in the face of these people who come to our neighborhood and start to create new facts on the ground, against our wishes," she continues. "To that, Agassi and the mayor had no reassuring answer to give me and my friends." "I understand the residents' anxiety," says Cohen. "But on the other hand, one cannot expect from the neighborhood administration to give different services to different people. I will not agree to these ideas not to give them the services they are, as equal citizens, entitled to. But I share their fears and concern. "For example, we have an auditorium for cultural events, which usually isn't open on Shabbat, and there were some suggestions we should open it on purpose, to make a point," he says. "I refused to do so, I don't like provocations. But on the other hand, I will not agree to any change in our activities to please haredi requests. "The question is what is the best attitude? Should we mount a real protest like the people of Ramot did years ago? According to the results there, this is not very promising. Some even say today, that had they been less militant they might have obtained better results. "I tend to agree with this idea. So my suggestion is to keep our eyes open, to stand up for our rights. But to launch a demonstration with a large publicity campaign? I don't think it is such a good idea," he says. "At worst, it will convince more residents to leave Kiryat Hayovel." "There is no such a thing as secular fighting," says Degel Hatorah city council member Shlomo Rosenstein. "You should bear in mind that there is no way to stop us, the haredim. We need dwellings, where should we go? "There are some haredim who choose to live in Modi'in Illit, Beitar Illit and Ashdod," he continues. "[But] they are mostly the Hassidim. They go where there is already a hassidic community established; they are not pioneers in the wilderness. "Most of the Lithuanian haredim prefer to stay in Jerusalem - and this is not a matter of permission from the rabbis," he explains. "The rabbis simply do not object to new locations, as long as they are sure that there is an infrastructure in place that fits the special needs of a haredi community, that's all. "But regarding the issue of the struggle of the secular against haredim coming into their neighborhoods, this is a lost battle," he says. "And you know why? Because the secular cannot agree upon a shared goal... It's not that there are no disagreements among haredim, of course there are, we also are human. But when there is a goal to achieve, we set aside our differences. "And yes, we will continue to expand into new neighborhoods in this city whenever we need to," Rosenstein continues. "Where else would we go? "I agree, we sometimes are not nice people and we request different things [than secular people]," he says. "If I were secular, I probably wouldn't want to stay in a neighborhood where haredim are moving in. "But we don't have any choice - we need to live somewhere," says Rosenstein. "Perhaps after Kiryat Hayovel becomes a haredi quarter, [the municipality] will understand that the only solution is to build more quarters for us, like Ramat Shlomo." On Rehov Stern, one of the poorest areas of Kiryat Hayovel and Jerusalem in general, the arrival of haredim has offered a welcome change. "Property prices have risen here and it's good for the veteran residents," concludes Yossi. "After the new olim from Russia spent a few years here and helped improve the area and rescue it from drugs addicts and the like, now haredim are coming and buying at good prices, and the veteran residents are moving to Modi'in or Beit Shemesh and are buying large apartments there - so it's not bad for all, after all."

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