Jan 11, 2010

Jerusalem park makes people nervous

A new park is being designed for the area in the vicinity of Ramat Eshkol in Jerusalem. The park will have lots of open areas, but overall will be designed according to a Jewish theme, with shrubs and plants being planted with the goal of educating people about different methods of agriculture in different times of Judaism, with shmitta issues also dealt with for educational purposes. Plants and trees will be chosen based on being found in the Torah and Talmud.

According to the news, some of the Ramat Eshkol old-timers are concerned. Ramat Eshkol has gone through a major change in recent years. What was once a largely secular, Modern Orthodox and Dati Leumi neighborhood has in recent years become increasingly Haredi as many young couples from the various yeshivas have taken up residence there. So the old-timers are concerned that having this park near the neighborhood will seal the neighborhood's fate, chasing away the remaining non-haredim and make it haredi, as more will be attracted to the area because of the park.

I say stop kvetching. Judaism is for everybody. There is nothing wrong with one of Jerusalem's parks having somewhat of a Jewish theme. You can enjoy the park too, and just because a plant was chosen because of its being mentioned in the Torah, and just because if you want you can learn how shmitta issues are resolved, doesn't mean you have to become haredi or even religious. You don't even have to go to that park or to those sections of the park. The park is going to be spread out over 5 dunam, and you should have no problem finding a nice spot to relax, read a book and play frisbee or whatever.

Not everything needs to be a religious fight. Jerusalem needs more parks and you should be thanking the city for this.


  1. Rafi,

    While I agree with you in principle I also "feel" for the old timers. When a neighborhood becomes charedi it's not just more young families with children.

    It's peshkevilim, notices, more garbage and often protest about the dress, music and activities of the neighbors.

    Why is it that many people in RBSA have to suffer with our poor excuse for a Merkaz Mischari and lack of activities because a segement of the population doesn't want it?

    Perhaps the people of Ramat Eshkol aren't looking for a religious fight..just to maintain the status quo.

    History (including our own here in bet Shemesh) is on their side of being concerned for the change in the neighborhood.

  2. Neighborhoods don't change in a vacuum. Obviously the people in Ramat Eshkol are selling to Charedim, and their kids (i.e. the next generation) isn't choosing to live there in large enough numbers. And eventually, a neighborhood will reflect what the people that live there want.

    That said, if the chilonim feel so threatened about the park, all they have to do is to ensure that there are regular sports/etc played at the park by scantily clad chilonim :-)


  3. I understand they are concerned, but it is not a nearby park that is going to make the neighborhood more or less haredi. If they were putting up a new set of buildings to sell only to haredim, I could understand their concern... but this is a park.

    Mark - that is always a good idea..:-)


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