Following unsuccessful attempts to sell the Shachar
neighborhood in Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimmel (Ramat Hanevi'im)
to the secular sector, Housing and Construction Minister
Binyamin Ben Eliezer decided last week to allocate the
entire neighborhood exclusively to the chareidi population.
This decision follows the marked success of the chareidi
sector in the Housing Ministry's first public sale of areas
for individual construction. The area will include thousands
of apartments to be built according to the bnei
beitcho (build your own home) method. It was reported
that approximately seventy percent of the contestants in the
first tender were chareidim.
More than one hundred chareidi families participated in the
tender, which was for 103 units in a huge new area that will
eventually contain 35,000 dwelling units. The chareidi
contractors note that now is a crucial time to set the tone
of the entire neighborhood. They said that this complex
offers the best terms the chareidi sector has ever known,
and that there is no reason why chareidim should be barred
from it. They added that the area is very close to the
chareidi neighborhoods in Ramat Hanechalim and Ramat
A few days ago, all of those who won in the tender attended
a meeting with top ranking Housing Ministry officials as
well as those responsible for the tenders, which took place
on Ministry premises. Upon discovering that the majority of
the participants were chareidi, the personnel of the Housing
Ministry who participated in the meeting were startled. Out
of 80 winners, only twenty are either secular or national
religious; in other words, 70% were chareidim.
Earlier the Housing Ministry had boasted that only 16
chareidim submitted winning bids. "The attempt by chareidim
to control the Ramat Beit Shemesh Shachar neighborhood which
the Housing Ministry has slated for the secular and national-
religious sector has failed. Out of 80 winners in the
auction for plots of land on which houses will be built
according to the Bnei Beitcha method, the chareidim received
only 16," the Housing Ministry spokesman said in an
announcement. However this determination was based only on
circumstantial evidence and reality has proven how
unreliable it was.
Rabbi Wislowski, one of the main activists in building Beit
Shemesh, added that the Housing Ministry has spent nearly
one million shekels on promoting that auction for only 103
apartments. "The Housing Ministry holds auctions every day,
but we have never before heard nor seen so extensive a
promotion campaign. It is clear that the purpose of the
campaign was to stop the chareidim."
The surprising results led Minster Ben Eliezer to designate
the neighborhood exclusively for the chareidi sector. He
based his decision on the fact that the secular sector isn't
interested in investing in an apartment in an area which
might later prove to be chareidi (or as in this case, has
already proven to be chareidi).
The Housing Ministry continued to insist that the Shachar
neighborhood will be exclusively secular, and that communal
structures in the neighborhood would be built according to
the needs of a secular neighborhood.
But last week, as Yated Ne'eman reported a number of
weeks ago, it became absolutely clear that 70% of the
winners are indeed chareidi, a factor that led Minster Ben
Eliezer to decide to market the entire neighborhood
exclusively for the chareidi sector.
Rabbi Moshe Wislowski, chairman of the Nachlas Shlomo NPO
who is to be credited with the participation of scores of
chareidi families in the tender, told Yated Ne'eman
that he hopes that the Housing Ministry will see that the
chareidim indeed need projects of this sort. "The chareidi
sector wants to live in the country's center, in a quiet
place. They also want their parents to have peace of mind,"
Much of this new area will be built according to the
Ministry of Housing's program "Bnei Beitcha" which allows
participants to build their home according to their own
wishes and means. No big projects using this approach have
ever been designated for the chareidi community.
Rabbi Wislowski said, "This proves one thing: The chareidi
sector is indeed interested in the Bnei Beitcha type of
housing, and the Housing Ministry has never made such
projects available to them. Now they promise that they will
conduct more auctions. Already, quite a few chareidim from
abroad promised me that if there are Bnei Beitcha plans in
Beit Shemesh, they will make aliya. We are referring
to wealthy families, and their interest in such projects is
a result of the small investment in advertising in the
English Yated Ne'eman."