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5 interesting facts about Mea Shearim

07-06-2016 | rafi
5 interesting facts about Mea Shearim

“Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in the same year reaped a hundredfold and the Lord blessed him”
(Genesis 26, 12). The hundredfold, in Hebrew, gave the name to neighborhood of Mea Shearim.
It was built in 1874 and after a couple of years, when Rabbi Diskeen moved to the quarter,
the people of the neighborhood became more and more orthodox.
The area of Mea Shearim attracts many curious tourists who like to take a peek
in the everyday life of this special community.
Who lives till today in some kind of a Shtetel (eastern Jewish village).
Soo except respecting their dressing and behavior code take a look
at these interesting facts before walking in to the area:

1. The Protestant architect who built for the orthodox Jews.

Konrad Schik, who was responsible for the design of some churches,
Christian schools and hospitals, was asked to make a different project and build a closed neighborhood.
The Jews had a very specific idea in mind.  All of the houses faced in to an open court yard.
The houses were attached and they created, from the outside,
the sensation of an area surrounded by a wall with only two entrances.
In the middle of the yard the common well was at the serves of everyone.
Below it, today out of use, there was the cistern that accumulated rain water.
It sounds a little bit like the Middle Ages Jewish Ghetto but it was built in a way that protects the community.
Mea Shearim was built northern to the walls of the old city and it took a while before
it was surrounded by other buildings.

 

2. Haredi, Hassidic or Mitnagdim?

mea shearim2Haredi is a Modern Hebrew adjective derived from the Biblical verb Hared and is
translated as “(one who) trembles” at the word of God.
Haredi Judaism emerged in response to the sweeping changes brought upon the Jews in the modern era:
emancipation, Enlightenment and the Haskalah movement derived from it.
The Hassidic Jews are a small group within the Haredi community.
The terms hasid and hasidut, meaning “pietist” and “piety”, have a long history in Judaism.
It is a Jewish religious sect. It arose as a spiritual revival movement in contemporary
Western Ukraine during the 18th Century, and spread rapidly through Eastern Europe.
Israel Ben Eliezer, the “Baal Shem Tov”, is regarded as its founding father,
and his disciples developed and disseminated it.
Contemporary Hasidism is a sub-group within Ultra-Orthodox (“Haredi”) Judaism,
and is noted for its religious conservatism and social seclusion.
The term “Mitnagdim” commonly refers to opponents of Hasidism sect.
Their approach to Judaism was marked by a concentration on highly intellectual
Talmud study and not an immediate spiritual experience like the Hassidim.

3. Black & White – Dressing code.

haredi The standard mode of dress for males of most of the Haredi Jews is a black suit and a white shirt.
Headgear includes black Fedora or Homburg hats, with black skull caps or a Kippah under their hats.
Most of the man dressed with a short jacket belong to the Mitnagdim community.
The Hassidic Jews wear the same colors but the length of the jacket is different.
The long coat is called bekish in Yeddish or quftan in Turkish.
The furry hat is called Shtrimel and it uses only for Shabbat and Holidays.
On an everyday the man use a black hat.
The shape and tone of color indicate their affiliation to a certain community within the Hassidic sect.
Woman dressing code is a little bit less restricted but they still adhere to the laws of modest dress.
They wear long skirts and sleeves, high necklines and, if married, some form of hair covering.
Some cover their head with a scarf or a hat, other wear a wig.
Even here the head covering indicates to which group they belong and sometimes their position with in the community.

4. Pashkvil – The street newspaper.

pashkvilCNN, BBC, Israeli TV or newspaper don’t exist in the Haredi society.
Information is controlled by the chief rabbis of the different communities.
The important information passes to the public, after being filtered, and hang as Pashkvil – street poster.
There are a couple of newspapers in the Haredi world, though not everybody purchase them.
If someone needs the recruitment of the community for an immediate event or a demonstration,
the Pashkvils are hanged along the streets with the relevant information.

 

 

 

 

5. Charity boxes – Tzedakah.

charity boxThe concept of charity and tzedakah is a little bit different.
Tzedakah is an obligation mentioned in the bible.
The Christian charity is typically understood as a spontaneous act of goodwill and a marker of generosity.
Tzedakah is based on the Hebrew word Tzedek that means righteousness,
fairness or justice, and it is related to the Hebrew word Tzadik meaning righteous.
In all of the Haredi neighborhood the tzedakah boxes are spread along the main streets and close to the synagogues.
The shapes, sizes and colors varieties and even the purpose.
Some of the money goes to privet necessity and some of it goes to serve the needs of the entire community.
Usually the purpose is written on the box.
The more colorful and attractive the box is the more money it will raise.

 

Before entering Mea Sheraim, respect the orthodox Jews way of life.
Ladies wear long skirts and cover your elbows and cleavage.
Gentleman wear long pants and cover your shoulders.
Use as less as possible your smartphone and try to be discreet when taking photos.
Enjoy this unique experience.

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