With its robust skyline of skyscrapers set against the Mediterranean, fashionable Tel Aviv is a 21st century city, and Israel’s business capital.A short distance south from the city center are the Shapira neighborhood and Kiryat Shalom, a hidden corner of Tel Aviv that has been called a “village” by some of its residents.Here the pace of life slows down. The skyscrapers give way to two- and three-story apartment buildings. Instead of honking traffic, the roads are quiet. This may be the only place in Tel Aviv where parking is both free and freely available. And here, in this pocket south of the Hagana Train Station, one finds a group of religious pioneers.South Tel Aviv has a bad reputation. Tens of thousands of migrant workers from Asia and Africa have congregated in the Naveh Sha’anan neighborhood beside the Central Bus Station. The streets are rife with drugs and crime. Politicians like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have promised dramatic changes to improve life here. But Naveh Sha’anan’s bad reputation doesn’t include nearby Shapira and Kiryat Shalom.Both neighborhoods are home to long-established communities of North African origins, and a secular population of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Small Sephardi and hassidic synagogues dot the streets, testimony to the religious character of the neighborhood. Parks and elementary schools show that the area is home to many young families. The rapidly gentrifying neighborhood is in flux as artists and students move in, attracted by the low real estate prices and unique character. In Shapira, a four-bedroom apartment can sell for NIS 2,000,000, a fraction of the cost of a similar apartment in swank central Tel AvivFor the last decade, the Tel Aviv Municipality has offered tax breaks to developers to encourage revitalization in south Tel Aviv. Among those recently attracted to Shapira are the religious pioneers of the Orot Shaul Yeshiva led by Rabbi Yuval Cherlow and Rabbi Tamir Granot, who in 2019 opened their seminary on Yisrael Salanter Street.Cherlow is one of the founders of Tzohar, an organization of 800 rabbis who seek to bridge the divisions between religious and secular Israelis. Cherlow teaches that the Torah should be a synthesis of learning and social action.Granot likewise states, “We believe that the yeshiva in the midst of this neighborhood should serve as an example of the love for the people of Israel with a connection to all of Israel, and to all of Tel Aviv.”Other religious and government organizations are working alongside the yeshiva to strengthen the neighborhood. The Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avoda organization, for example, recently began a Tama 38 project to retrofit and earthquake-proof several small, old buildings and add several floors to the existing structures.According to Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avoda director Shmuel Shattah, the goal is not to push current residents out but to strengthen existing community structures, especially the area’s public religious schools. Shapira’s Dizengoff Elementary School recently received the national prize in education from the Education Ministry, he notes. The school has small class sizes, and if more families with young children settled in the area, it would help keep the neighborhood school going strong.Another organization investing is the Jewish Federation of New York, which has given grant money through its COLab, which is intended to strengthen connections between the religious and secular populations in Tel Aviv. Another local school, Meshutaf Tel Aviv, adjacent to Kiryat Shalom, is the first pluralistic school in Tel Aviv, and similarly wishes to bring together children of diverse Jewish identities. The Dror Israel Movement has opened a secular yeshiva nearby as well.South Tel Aviv offers a model of religious and secular populations living in harmony. For the artists, religious pioneers and professionals who have moved to Shapira and Kiryat Shalom, the neighborhood is truly the quarter of peace.The writer works on English language projects for Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avoda.