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A Stroll through the Hasidic Neighborhood in Jerusalem

A Stroll through the Hasidic Neighborhood in Jerusalem

DESTINATIONS, ISRAEL, MIDDLE EAST

On our first day that we arrived in Jerusalem we checked into the American Colony Hotel and decided to check out the streets of Jerusalem staying close to the hotel. We walked a few blocks and found ourselves deep in a huge Hasidic Jewish neighborhood called Mea Shearim.  It was fascinating and a little scary.

It’s here where you will see the 18th century dress code that was custom in Eastern Europe but which still remains to this day. You will see the bearded men, dressed in their black coats and hats, standing on the street doing nothing much except chatting to each other (the majority do not work, instead days are spent in prayer reading the Torah). Women with their smart wigs, headscarves and conservative dark leggings with skirts and dresses, typically pushing strollers with many children and doing their daily shopping.  Children no older than five years old are holding babies in their arms like dolls.  Everywhere we looked we saw kids in the balconies staring down into the street, or swinging in their improvised swings on their balconies.

 

 

mea-shearim neighborhood jerusalem, photo credit  (Flickr Erik Stewart)
Mea Shearim neighborhood Jerusalem, photo credit (Flickr Erik Stewart)
Hasidic Jew, Israel
Hasidic Jew, Israel
Mea Shearim neighborhood, Jerusalem
Mea Shearim neighborhood, Jerusalem
Children playing in Mea Shearim neighborhood,  Jerusalem
Children playing in Mea Shearim neighborhood, Jerusalem

 

Have you ever felt like all eyes were upon you?  Well, I certainly did that day.  Everyone had to stop and look at the only blonde wearing jeans walking the streets of this neighborhood.  Then, I saw this  sign: the “do not pass through our neighborhood wearing immodest clothes” sign!

 

Signs in the Hasidic Jewish neighborhood  Mea Shearim, Jerusalem
Signs in the Hasidic Jewish neighborhood Mea Shearim, Jerusalem

 

The reality is they don’t really want you hanging around and signs in the neighborhood dictate to not come here in big groups, as well as outlining how you should dress and behave in a conservative manner. Our Israeli and Palestinian guides from National Geographic Expediitions, and Medji Tours were surprised when we told them where we ended up. Although, I was stared at an awful lot, we decided to leave despite how intrigued we were by our surroundings.

 

Mea Shearim neighborhood,  Jerusalem
Mea Shearim neighborhood, Jerusalem

 

The neighborhood was huge and mysterious with thousands of people dressed if they were in mid 1800’s Poland.  Most households do not have television.  Newspapers are glued to the sides of buildings which I found interesting. I think most of us are pretty much fascinated about this closed and almost unknown ultra-religious culture.

Next time you decide to take a stroll through the Hasidic neighborhood in Jerusalem, make sure you are dressed very decently (for example – women ought to be cover almost from head to toe – no t-shirts, shoulder or hand showing at all).  The men do not talk to local women.  The women do not talk to local men.  Couples do not hold hands, hugs or embrace in public.

I had to hide my camera most of the time, because they don’t like their pictures taken, the locals take offence from it.

It was one of many odd adventures we had in Israel such as:   Behind the Wailing Wall

 

 

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder and Senior Editor of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

10 Comments

  1. Selma
    December 5, 2014 at 8:13 pm
    Reply

    All in Caps with that notice – they definitely don’t fool around with their beliefs!

    • Carmen
      December 7, 2014 at 1:51 am

      Hi Selma,

      Nope, they mean business. I understand they have strong believes and what to keep to themselves. When I saw the sign that was warning to leave fast.

  2. Shaun
    December 5, 2014 at 8:22 pm
    Reply

    Love the full on outfits! Great photos!

    Shaun
    http://www.thislifeintrips.com

    • Carmen
      December 7, 2014 at 1:53 am

      Hi Shaun,

      Thanks! My husband wanted me to go buy a long skirt, dark leggings, and cover my head so we could go back into the neighborhood. I told him once was enough for me.

  3. Erin | No Ordinary Nomad
    December 5, 2014 at 9:30 pm
    Reply

    Great pics! It’s so interesting to see a different part of society that so often lives hidden away from the rest of the world.

    • Carmen
      December 7, 2014 at 1:57 am

      Hi Erin,

      Walking around the neighborhood was an eye opening experience for us. I felt really bad for the kids who are brought up this way.

  4. Katie @WorldWideVegetarian.com
    December 6, 2014 at 1:22 am
    Reply

    This is a very interesting side to Jerusalem that I haven’t seen before. How fascinating it must have been to see how these people live their daily lives, since in many ways their lives seem completely different than ours. Thanks for sharing your tips on visiting as well, I will keep those in mind when I finally make it over to this part of the world. I look forward to seeing photos from the rest of your trip as well!
    Katie

    • Carmen
      December 7, 2014 at 2:11 am

      Hi Katie,

      If you go during the Shabbat (from sunset Friday until it is completely dark on Saturday night), visitors need to refrain from smoking, photography, driving or use of mobile phones while going through the neighborhood. In fact, a large majority of Jerusalem is closed during that time.

  5. Lauren
    December 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm
    Reply

    So interesting. I didn’t realize that people dressed so traditionally, so I would have just been walking around in my jeans, too. I definitely would have felt out of place! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Carmen
      December 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      Hi Lauren,

      I felt out of place walking around, even though I was covered up. It was cold outside and I was wearing a jacket.

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