Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem, Has Sure Changed

We lived in Bayit Vegan, and even owned an apartment there, before moving to Shiloh. When we bought our apartment in early 1971, Bayit Vegan was a stronghold of Mizrachi, Mafdal, National Religious Party neighborhood. Rabbi Min-Hahar was the official Chief Rabbi of the neighborhood. There was a large mamlachti dati, state religious elementary school, Neve Etzion, Most of the men wore crocheted kippot and the women some sort of scarf or hat. Admittedly there was a sizable Chareidi population, too, and they had their educational institutions. There were also quite a few non-religious residents, mostly on Rechov Uziel and the beginning of Rechov Bayit Vegan. Our building was mixed. There were a few non-religious among the twenty apartments.

By the time we moved to Shiloh in 1981, things were changing, and it was pretty clear that the chareidim would be the majority. Many of the dati le'umi, national religious, like ourselves moved to yishuvim in Judea and Samaria and even Gush Katif, like Rachel and Moshe Saperstein.

I hadn't taken a walk around Bayit Vegan for a very long time, decades. I've only been on Rechov Uziel to visit a friend in the Shalom Hotel. Actually, that was my destination last Wednesday. But since there no longer is an easy to take #21 bus from downtown Jerusalem to the hotel, I took the train to Mt. Herzl aka Rechov Hapisga, the main drag of Bayit Vegan. I had time, so I took a leisurely stroll by my old haunts.

I just want to make things clear. I believe in free enterprise and don't consider us as being pushed out of the neighborhood. We wanted to move to a small community in Land liberated in the 1967 Six Days War. There are natural dynamics in how populations change. The fact that today's Bayit Vegan is not the Bayit Vegan I enjoyed living in forty years ago doesn't bother me. I find it interesting. One of the reasons we sold our apartment was that there was no market for rentals on the third floor in the early 1980's. If we had been making good money  on rent, then we probably would have kept it. We used the money to build a house using a quality contractor. 

Here are some pictures:
The Calder is familiar, overlooking Mt. Herzl, Yad Veshem, but there weren't trains way back when.

None of this was here. At most there was some felafel, small grocers, a stationery store, butcher shop. There weren't enough customers for the chains to care.

This sign protests internet. Hmm sure not my neighborhood.

Migdal, the old NRP shul looks the same, but I've been told that it's now Chareidi. There isn't much of a dati leumi synagogue left in the neighborhood.

There were hundred of kids exiting the old Neve Etzion school, which is no longer a state religious school. There is now a chareidi school, actually two. I could see the campus divided by a wall for girls and boys. It's also full of caravans or prefab classrooms. 

The only familiar site was a friend who was volunteering as a crossing guard. There are so many children, cars and buses, that they have to use adults to conduct the traffic. I stayed an spoke to her for awhile to get more information about the changes in the neighborhood.

Two of my daughters went to a small private gan, nursery school on Rechov Hachida. It was then a very quiet, sleepy street. 

Just across from our apartment was a large private home, the size of an apartment house, with a big beautiful garden facing us. I was shocked to see it surrounded by a fence, and then I peeked in and saw that the house and garden are gone, and apparently there will be some new building there.

And here it is, our building. There's now a fourth floor, and the people in our apartment closed off the front merpeset, balcony. My kids and their friends had so much fun playing there. I thought it was the best thing about the apartment. 
a view from the side
The building was known for its green and white trissim, shades. Not too many are left.
There had been, all the years we were there, an empty lot next to us. And next to the empty lot was a playground. Building had begun on the lot when we were planning our move.

This ugly thing is what they built.

The playground is being redone. We used to go there every day.
I used to be able to see it from my kitchen balcony.

I'm truly glad that today Bayit Vegan is thriving. And I'm even happier that I live in Shiloh.


Dena Gottlieb said...

Thanks for the walk down memory lane. We lived on Uziel. Listened to many a "mesiba salonit" on Friday nights. Davened at Migdal on Friday nights. Dad went to the "Tzeirim" on Shabbos. I go back to BVG every year for Rosh Hashana because my husband is an Amshinover. Every Rosh Hashana for the past 7 years I would daven at the Tzeirim in the little budkeh they had right next to the men's section, outside the shul. This year I showed up to daven and it was GONE. That was a shocker. But not really. Most of the congregation have left the neighborhood already for Ramat Bet Hakerem etc.
BTW Bayit Vegan is now very French, in case you don't know. Lots of Frenchies and also South Americans, I think.
I enjoyed growing up and living there (from 1971 till 1991)!!!

Batya said...

Dena, thanks so much for sharing your memories. I wasn't listening all that much to the people all over, just getting the visual experience. I wonder how those enormous families fit into the small apartments.