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Same Place, Different Pace

Riki Goldstein

When they moved in, it was shtreimlach and golden beketshes; now knitted kippahs rule. Where Dati-leumi teens strolled to Bnei Akiva groups, American kollel wives chase toddlers. Welcome to a changed neighborhood. For those who stay put as their environs shift, life can get interesting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sanhedria Murchevet. A jewel in the crown of chareidi Jerusalem. Graced by both famous and hidden talmidei chachamim, bustling shuls, and a host of stellar educational institutions, the streets of this neighborhood off Rechov Shmuel Hanavi are paved with black hats. But when the neighborhood was founded just 40 years ago, it was home to a hodgepodge of chareidi, secular, and dati-leumi Jews, and the streets were open to traffic on Shabbos. Resident Mr. Yaakov Mutner, a retired IDF officer, and chairman of the Jerusalem branch of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers (AWIS) remembers Sanhedria Murchevet’s early years. “It was a real mixture — Zionists, knitted kippahs, a variety of Sephardic Jews, Russians, some chareidim. The neighborhood was built to house secularly educated people, but because apartments were small, affluent residents moved to areas where larger homes were available. Meanwhile, chareidim, content with smaller, cheaper apartments, moved in. One drew another, and within 20 years, the neighborhood changed its character completely, till very few of us Mizrachis remain. Now, with the housing shortage driving prices sky-high, young Israeli chareidim cannot afford to live here, so American yeshivah families are attracted.”

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