You can visit Mea-Shearim and the nearby ultra-orthodox neighborhoods as a tourist, but you must follow certain basic rules; the most important, show respect for their beliefs and customs.
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Mea Shearim 100 Shearin Neighborhood Jerusalem. Take a walking tour through Jerusalem's Mea Shearim Quarter. Jerusalem's Mea Shearim quarter is home to ultra-Orthodox Jewish fundamentalists, some so radical they are known as ultra ultras. Meah Shearim, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in west Jerusalem, Israel, built by the original settlers of Yishuv haYashan and even today populated mainly by Haredi.
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"Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" (Jerusalem of Gold) by Naomi Shemer
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Mea Shearin - History
Here you can buy almost anything in the Judaica line - mezuzah cases, challah covers, tefillin, religious books, shofars, kosher food. A special market opens to sell the Four Species before the holiday of Sukkot, and during Chanukah, every window will be lit with oil lamps.
Dress modestly and men and women should not walk together.
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The name "Mea Shearim" is derived from a verse in the Bible - Genesis 26:12. Isaac sowed in that land, and in that year he reaped God had blessed him. The residents hoped that like Isaac, they, too would prosper and enjoy God's blessings. Some interpret the name literally, as "100 Gates."
The name Mea She'arim means "one hundred gates"
Meah Shearim was established in 1874 as the second settlement outside the walls of the Old City by a building society of 100 shareholders. Pooling their resources, the society members purchased a tract of land outside the Old City, which was severely overcrowded and plagued by poor sanitation, and built a new neighborhood with the goal of improving their standards of living. Very few dared to leave the protection of the walls in those days. The terrain was rocky and uncultivated, and Arab marauders roamed freely.
Conrad Schick, a German Christian architect and missionary, drew up a plan for Meah Shearim in 1846. Joseph Rivlin, one of the heads of the Jewish community in Jerusalem, and a Christian Arab from Bethlehem, were the contractors. The work was carried out by both Jewish and non-Jewish workers.
The quarter was surrounded by a wall, with gates that were locked every evening. By October 1880, 100 apartments were ready for occupancy and a lottery was held to assign them to families. By the turn of the century, there were 300 houses, a flour mill and a bakery. Conrad Schick planned for open green space in each courtyard, but cowsheds were built instead. Meah Shearim was the first quarter in Jerusalem to have street lights.
Meah Shearim Street
Meah Shearim Street
The neighborhood, quite fashionable and modern in the 1870s when it was established, is now the home of many ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects. Although it now has a rather shabby appearance, the neighborhood is really full of life, with many institutions for religious study, schools for the neighborhood children, and shops.