Secularists bemoan the “chareidization” of Yerushalayim and accuse the observant of “pushing them out of their neighborhoods” and “changing the character of the city,” but it turns out that many more chareidim move out of Yerushalayim than any other group. Yerushalayim Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin told the Knesset Wednesday that “the statistics on this are astounding.”
The reason, of course, is the high cost of housing. Chareidi families who have long lived in the city and whose children marry and seek to buy a home are forced to move to outlying communities – some close by, like Ramat Beit Shemesh, and some farther, like Ashdod, or even further south, where many chareidi communities are thriving.
It’s a problem that affects everyone, said Elkin. “Once upon a time there were many theories about how secular residents were fleeing because of the religious, or because there are not enough jobs in Yerushalayim .” Whatever contribution those issues make to forced emigration, they pale compared to the numbers priced out of the Yerushalayim housing market.
The preferred solution for these people is to move to a suburb of Jerusalem, where the prices are a bit cheaper. Forty percent of those leaving the city opt for this solution.
Among secular “refugees,” many move to Modi’in, Elkin said.
“Most of those who end up leaving are chareidim,” the minister added. “Today, all the groups are leaving, but chareidim more than others, and for 80 percent of them it is because of the high price of housing.”