Below ground level in Bnei Brak, a densely packed ultra-orthodox Jewish city in the center of Israel, 23-year-old Eliyahu lives in a converted parking garage with his wife and daughter. Their two-room apartment has no sunshine or cell-phone service, and rent is not cheap at 3,200 shekels ($ 945) a month. But there is no thinking of moving Eliyahu.
“My work is here, my wife’s work is here, friends are here, family is here,” said the event planner, who asked that her last name be withheld. “I still haven’t explored the idea of living elsewhere.”
With an average of seven children per woman, ultra-orthodox Jews are Israel’s fastest-growing demographic, and the tight quarters and proximity in which they live have made them the nation’s largest coronovirus victims. In Bunny Brak and Jerusalem, like In New York, the lack of strict Some conservative Jews – whose lives revolve around family, community ceremonies and religious services – have given them a tough competition.
The epidemic has exposed the community’s long-standing housing crisis, marked by rising prices and limited supplies. Although many ultra-Orthodox Jews, centered at the center of the country, are reluctant to move, the virus crisis could spark a population shift that has the potential to remake Israel’s periphery.
“There can be such an impact,” said Etan Regev, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, adding that the lockdown may prompt some people to move forward. “It is very difficult for such large families to remain locked up in such small houses.”
Although only 12% of the population of Israel, Hardim is referred to in Hebrew as ultra-Orthodox, Early October accounted for 40% of all new Kovid-19 cases. The two Haradi centers in Jerusalem and Beni Brak have the highest number of cases of any city in Israel, and at least twice the secular Tel Aviv metropolis.
“The crowd puts them at great risk,” said Hagai Levine, a professor at the Hebrew University and president of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians. “It is not only inside the house, it is also in the building and the neighborhood. It is very crowded, so you are bound to be exposed to others. ”
This community is centered at the center of Israel, as it has rabbinic institutions and cultural life. Real estate is expensive there, and the poverty of ultra-Orthodox Jews complicates their search for better housing. Half the community’s men are not in the workforce, spending their days studying religious texts, while women work in less lucrative fields such as education.
The periphery’s poor transportation and job prospects and its distance from the larger community make Orthodox Jews reluctant to move. Still, the virus is making things difficult.
“It is almost impossible for so many people to be together and control the situation,” said Nechemia Steinberger, a senior director at the nonprofit Chemach Foundation.
If and when parts of the community move, how can this migration have significant implications for Israel. Regev estimates that Ultra-Orthodox will purchase 200,000 apartments over the next 20 years. If there is a shopping for Hardim in most existing cities with secular majorities instead of new ones, this could increase social tensions, he said.
The political hegemony of ultra-conservative parties has given them significant government ministries like housing along with their population. Relations are strained with some secular Israelis who control Haradi over issues such as marriage or public transport.
Hardim has been buying property in the perimeter over the past few decades, which is double that. There are investments made by many young couples, who want to own a house, but cannot afford a price center. However, as their families grow, a larger migration may go on.
“I have been saying for 30 years that we need to go to the periphery. Why? Because, God Bless, our community is growing, ”said Moshe Lebovitz, the founding mayor of an ultra-orthodox West Bank settlement called Beater Ellit. “From the standpoint of building general institutions, from the point of view of health, it is now impossible to build at the center.”
New cities are built specifically for the community or are in the planning stages. To the south, Lebovitz is a consultant for a city called Kasif, which says the final plan is in stages and could begin construction within about a year.
At least one and two Haradi cities are needed in the next 10 to 20 years, “said Yitzhak Pindros, an MP for the ultra-conservative United Torah Judaism Party.” It’s something that can change dramatically in Israel . ”