Bnei Brak

Bnei Brak

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Bnei Brak ( , ) is a city located on Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's central Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 coastal plain
Israeli Coastal Plain
The Israeli coastal plain is the narrow coastal plain along Israel's Mediterranean Sea coast which houses 70% of the country's population. The plain extends north to south and is divided into a number of areas; the Plain of Zebulun , Hof HaCarmel , the Sharon plain , and the Plain of Judea The...

, just east of Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

, in the Dan metropolitan region
Gush Dan
The Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area , or Gush Dan , is a metropolitan area including areas from both the Tel Aviv and the Central Districts of Israel. The area is closely linked to the city of Tel Aviv through social, economic, and cultural ties. It is located along the Israeli Mediterranean coastline...

 and Tel Aviv District
Tel Aviv District
The Tel Aviv District is the smallest and most densely populated of six administrative districts of Israel with a population of 1.2 million residents...

. Bnei Brak is a center of Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

.

Bnei Brak covers an area of 709 hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

s. According to figures of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics
The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , abbreviated CBS, is an Israeli government office established in 1949 to carry out research and publish statistical data on all aspects of Israeli life, including population, society, economy, industry, education and physical infrastructure.It is headed by a...

, at the end of 2009, the population was 154,400, with an annual growth rate of 1.7%. Bnei Brak is one of the poorest and most densely populated cities in Israel.

History



Bnei Brak takes its name from the ancient Biblical city of Beneberak
Beneberak
Benebarak was a biblical city mentioned in the Book of Joshua. According to the biblical account it was allocated to the Tribe of Dan....

, which was located 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to the south of where Bnei Barak was founded in 1924.

Bnei Brak was founded as an agricultural village by Yitzchok Gerstenkorn and a group of Polish chasidim
Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

. Due to a lack of land many of the founders turned to other occupations and the village began to develop an urban character. Arye Mordechai Rabinowicz, formerly rabbi of Kurów
Kurów
Kurów is a village in south-eastern Poland, located between Puławy and Lublin, on the Kurówka River. It is capital of a separate gmina called Gmina Kurów, within Lublin Voivodeship...

 in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, was the first rabbi. He was succeeded by Rabbi Yosef Kalisz, a scion of the Vurker dynasty. The town was set up as a religious settlement from the outset, as is evident from this description of the pioneers: "Their souls were revived by the fact that they merited what their predecessors had not. What particularly revived their weary souls in the mornings and toward evening, when they would gather in the beis medrash situated in a special shack which was built immediately upon the arrival of the very first settlers, for tefilla betzibbur (communal prayer) three times a day, for the Daf Yomi
Daf Yomi
Daf Yomi "page [of the] day" or "daily folio") is a daily regimen undertaken to study the Babylonian Talmud one folio each day...

 shiur, and a Gemara
Gemara
The Gemara is the component of the Talmud comprising rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah. After the Mishnah was published by Rabbi Judah the Prince The Gemara (also transliterated Gemora or, less commonly, Gemorra; from Aramaic גמרא gamar; literally, "[to] study" or "learning by...

 shiur and an additional one in Mishnayos and the Shulchan Oruch."

Bnei Brak achieved city status in 1950.

Rabbinic presence


Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (the Chazon Ish) settled in Bnei Brak in its early days, attracting a large following. Leading rabbis who have lived in Bnei Brak include Rabbi Yaakov Landau, Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler
Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler
Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler was an Orthodox rabbi, Talmudic scholar, and Jewish philosopher of the 20th century. He is known as mashgiach ruchani of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Israel and through collections of his writings published posthumously by his pupils.-Lithuania:Eliyahu Dessler Eliyahu Eliezer...

, Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky
Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky
Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, known as The Steipler or The Steipler Gaon , was a rabbi, Talmudic scholar, and posek .-Biography:...

 ("the Steipler"), Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman
Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman
Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman , יוסף שלמה כהנמן, was an Orthodox rabbi and rosh yeshiva of the Ponevezh yeshiva. He was a renowned Torah and Talmudic scholar.- Biography :...

 (Ponevezh
Ponevezh yeshiva
Ponevezh Yeshiva, often pronounced Ponevitch Yeshiva, is a world renowned yeshiva located in Bnei Brak, Israel. Donated by Henry Krausher, it was originally established in the town of Panevėžys, Lithuania...

er Rov), Rabbi Elazar Menachem Mann Shach
Elazar Shach
Elazar Menachem Man Shach also spelt Eliezer Schach, was a leading Lithuanian-born and educated Haredi rabbi in Bnei Brak, Israel. He also served as one of three co-deans of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Bnei Brak along with Rabbis Shmuel Rozovsky and Dovid Povarsky...

 and Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz
Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz
Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz was a respected Haredi Lithuanian Torah leader and rosh yeshiva in Bnei Brak, Israel, for over 70 years. He was a maggid shiur at Yeshivas Tiferes Tzion from 1940 to 2011 and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ponovezh L’Tzeirim from 1954 to 2009, raising thousands of students...

. Notable rabbis who reside in Bnei Brak today are Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz
Nissim Karelitz
Rabbi Nissim Karelitz is the chairman of the beis din tzedek of Bnei Brak.He is one of the most highly respected Orthodox rabbis in the world and one of the most important leaders of the Lithuanian Haredi world, together with Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv and Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner.His beis din ...

, Rabbi Shmuel Wosner
Shmuel Wosner
Rabbi Shmuel Wosner is a Haredi rabbi and posek living in Bnei Brak, Israel....

 and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky
Chaim Kanievsky
Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Kanievsky, , is an Israeli rabbi and posek. Kanievsky is considered a leading authority in Haredi Jewish society.-Biography:...

. In the early 1950s, the Vizhnitzer
Vizhnitz (Hasidic dynasty)
Vizhnitz is the name of a Hasidic dynasty founded by Rebbe Menachem Mendel Hager. Vizhnitz is the Yiddish name of Vyzhnytsia, a village in present-day Ukraine.Followers of the rebbes of Vizhnitz are called Vizhnitzer chasidim....

 Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager, founded a large neighborhood in Bnei Brak which continues to serve as a dynastic center under his son, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager.

Beginning in the 1960s, the rebbes of the Ruzhin dynasty (Sadigura
Sadigura (Hasidic dynasty)
Sadigura is a Hasidic dynasty, one of the branches of the Ruzhiner dynasty.The dynasty began with Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Friedman of Sadigura now located in Ukraine, who was a son of Rabbi Israel Friedman of Ruzhin, the founder of the Ruzhiner dynasty....

, Husiatyn
Husiatyn (Hasidic dynasty)
Husiatyn is the name of a Hasidic dynasty, whose founder was a scion of the Ruzhiner dynasty. Husiatyn is located in present-day Ukraine.It started with the Rebbe Rabbi Mordechai Shraga Feivish Friedman, the youngest son of Rabbi Israel Friedmann of Rizhin...

, Bohush), who had formerly lived in Tel Aviv, moved to Bnei Brak. In the 1990s they were followed by the rebbe of Modzhitz
Modzitz (Hasidic dynasty)
Modzitz or Modzhitz is the name of a Hasidic group within Orthodox Judaism that derives its name from Modrzyce, one of the boroughs of the town of Dęblin, Poland, located on the Vistula River...

. Unlike the former four Gerrer
Ger (Hasidic dynasty)
Ger, or Gur is a Hasidic dynasty originating from Ger, the Yiddish name of Góra Kalwaria, a small town in Poland....

 rebbes, who lived in Jerusalem, the current rebbe (since 1996) is a Bnei Brak resident. The rebbes of Alexander
Aleksander (Hasidic dynasty)
The Aleksander chasidic movement flourished in Poland from 1880 until it was largely destroyed by Nazi Germany during World War II.Now nearly extinct, the Aleksander Hasidim were the second largest Hasidic group in pre-Holocaust Poland.Between the world wars, Hasidic Jews from all over flocked to...

, Biala-Bnei-Brak
Biala (Hasidic dynasty)
The Biala Hasidic dynasty originated from Poland. The Rebbes of Biala are descended from Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Rabinowicz, known as the Yid Hakodosh .-Lineage:...

, Koydanov, Machnovke, Nadvorne
Nadvorna (Hasidic dynasty)
Nadvorna is a Hasidic rabbinical dynasty within Orthodox Judaism. The dynasty derives its name from the town of Nadvorna, known in Ukrainian as Nadvirna...

, Premishlan, Radzin, Shomer Emunim
Shomer Emunim (Hasidic dynasty)
Shomer Emunim is a devout, insular Hasidic group based in Bnei Brak. It was founded in the 20th century by Rabbi Arele Roth....

. Slonim-Schwarze
Slonim (Hasidic dynasty)
Slonim is a Hasidic dynasty originating in the town of Slonim, which is now in Belarus.Today, there are two Slonimer Rebbes, both in Israel: one resides in Jerusalem and the other in Bnei Brak...

, Strykov, Tchernobil, Trisk-Bnei-Brak and Zutshke reside in Bnei Brak. Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Landau is a respected authority on Jewish law
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 and kashrut supervision. The "Rav Landau" hechsher
Hechsher
A hechsher is the special certification marking found on the packages of products that have been certified as kosher . In Halakha , the dietary laws of kashrut specify food items that may be eaten and others that are prohibited as set out in the commandments of the Torah...

 (kosher supervision) is widely accepted. Rabbi Nissim Karelitz
Nissim Karelitz
Rabbi Nissim Karelitz is the chairman of the beis din tzedek of Bnei Brak.He is one of the most highly respected Orthodox rabbis in the world and one of the most important leaders of the Lithuanian Haredi world, together with Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv and Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner.His beis din ...

, chief Rabbi (av beis din) of the Lithuanian Haredi community, heads a beth din
Beth din
A beth din, bet din, beit din or beis din is a rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel...

 of Lithuanian and Hasidic dayan
Beth din
A beth din, bet din, beit din or beis din is a rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel...

im, called She'aris Yisroel.

Demographics



According to figures by the municipality of Bnei Brak, the city has a population of over 165,000 residents, the majority of whom are Haredi
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

 Jews. It also has the largest population density of any city in Israel, with 23375 /km2. In the 2006 Israeli legislative elections, 89% of the voters chose Haredi parties, and another 7% voted for other religious parties.

Mayors



  • Yitzchok Gerstenkorn
  • Moshe Begno
  • Reuven Aharonovich
  • Shimon Soroka
  • Yitzchok Meir
  • Shmuel Weinberg
  • Moshe Irenstein
  • Yerachmiel Boyer
  • Mordechai Karelitz
  • Yissochor Frankenthal
  • Ya'akov Asher
    Ya'akov Asher
    Ya'akov Asher is an Israeli rabbi and politician. He currently serves as the thirteenth mayor of Bnei Brak, having taken office in 2008.A member of Degel HaTorah, by 2008 he had already been involved with the city council for nineteen years...



Economy



One of the landmarks of Bnei Brak is the Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants, and vending machines in more than 200 countries. It is produced by The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia, and is often referred to simply as Coke...

 bottling plant
Bottling company
A bottling company is a commercial enterprise whose output is the bottling of beverages for distribution.Many bottling companies are franchisees of corporations such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo who distribute the beverage in a specific geographic region...

 in Kahaneman St. It is owned by the Central Bottling Company (CBC), which has held the Israeli franchise for Coca-Cola products since 1968. It is among Coca-Cola's ten largest single-plant bottling facilities worldwide. According to Dun's 100, "CBC's dedication to excellence and innovative technologies in all areas of its operations has won it prizes from the US-based Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company is an American multinational beverage corporation and manufacturer, retailer and marketer of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups. The company is best known for its flagship product Coca-Cola, invented in 1886 by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton in Columbus, Georgia...

, as well as recognition and accolades from various public institutions for its environmental-friendly operation and ongoing community service".

Two major factories which dominated the centre of Bnei Brak for many years were the Dubek
Dubek
Dubek Ltd. is Israel's leading and longest-established cigarette manufacturer.The company produces, markets and distributes cigarettes, cigars, lighters and smoking accessories...

 cigarette factory and the Osem
Osem (company)
Osem Investments Ltd. is one of the largest food manufacturers and distributors in Israel.The group is majority owned by Nestlé S.A...

 food factory. As the town grew they found themselves in the middle of a residential area
Residential area
A residential area is a land use in which housing predominates, as opposed to industrial and commercial areas.Housing may vary significantly between, and through, residential areas. These include single family housing, multi-family residential, or mobile homes. Zoning for residential use may permit...

; both left the area. Osem's main factory is now located on Jabotinsky road in Petah Tikva
Petah Tikva
Petah Tikva known as Em HaMoshavot , is a city in the Center District of Israel, east of Tel Aviv.According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2009, the city's population stood at 209,600. The population density is approximately...

, just next to Bnei Brak.

A business district is being built in Bnei Brak as of 2011, which will include 15 office towers.

Culture and lifestyle



Until the 1970s, the Bnei Brak municipality was headed by Religious Zionist mayors. After Mayor Gottlieb of the National Religious Party
National Religious Party
The National Religious Party ) was a political party in Israel representing the religious Zionist movement. Formed in 1956, at the time of its dissolution in 2008, it was the second oldest surviving party in the country after Agudat Yisrael, and was part of every government coalition until 1992...

 was defeated, Haredi parties grew in status and influence; since then they have governed the city. As the Haredi population grew, the demand for public religious observance increased and more residents requested the closure of their neighbourhoods to vehicular traffic on Shabbat. In a short period of time most of Bnei Brak's secular and Religious Zionist residents migrated elsewhere, and the city has become almost homogeneously Haredi. The city has one secular neighbourhood, Pardes Katz. Names of streets with a Zionist connotation were renamed for prominent Haredi figures, for example, Herzl
Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl , born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl was an Ashkenazi Jew Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.-Early life:...

 St. was changed to HaRav Shach
Elazar Shach
Elazar Menachem Man Shach also spelt Eliezer Schach, was a leading Lithuanian-born and educated Haredi rabbi in Bnei Brak, Israel. He also served as one of three co-deans of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Bnei Brak along with Rabbis Shmuel Rozovsky and Dovid Povarsky...

 St. Bnei Brak is one of the two poorest cities in Israel.

Bnei Brak is home to Israel's first women-only department store
Department store
A department store is a retail establishment which satisfies a wide range of the consumer's personal and residential durable goods product needs; and at the same time offering the consumer a choice of multiple merchandise lines, at variable price points, in all product categories...

.

Bnei Brak is noted for its abundance of self-help
Self-help
Self-help, or self-improvement, is a self-guided improvement—economically, intellectually, or emotionally—often with a substantial psychological basis. There are many different self-help movements and each has its own focus, techniques, associated beliefs, proponents and in some cases, leaders...

 and volunteer organizations. Several organizations help the ill, special needs population, and the poor. There are also available abudant articles to be borrowed free of charge, from extra baby beds, electric drills, paint rollers, to bridal dresses.

The Bnei Brak municipality set up an alternative water supply
Water supply
Water supply is the provision of water by public utilities, commercial organisations, community endeavours or by individuals, usually via a system of pumps and pipes...

, for use on Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

 and Jewish holiday
Jewish holiday
Jewish holidays are days observed by Jews as holy or secular commemorations of important events in Jewish history. In Hebrew, Jewish holidays and festivals, depending on their nature, may be called yom tov or chag or ta'anit...

s. This supply, which does not require intervention by Jews on days of rest, avoids the problems associated with Jews working on the day of rest at the national water company
Water industry
The water industry provides drinking water and wastewater services to residential, commercial, and industrial sectors of the economy. The water industry includes manufacturers and suppliers of bottled water...

 Mekorot
Mekorot
Mekorot is the national water company of Israel and the country's top agency for water management.Mekorot was founded in 1937. It supplies 90% of Israel's drinking water and 80% of its water supplies. The company runs 3,000 installations throughout the country for water supply, water quality,...

.