Among the haredi [ultra-orthodox], one's communal identity and association often dictates where one lives. With many streams and sub-streams, there is a clear preference for people to live among "our own." This phenomenon triggers certain mechanisms and patterns of segregation with impact on the "spatial organization" of residential areas, explained Dr. Shlomit Flint, of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London, at a recent JIIS seminar.
Titled "Between the Individual and the Community: Residential Patterns of the Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Population in Jerusalem," Flint researched three residential neighborhoods in Jerusalem – Ramat Shlomo, Sanhedria and Kiryat Hayovel. Her goal was to investigate "the tension between the haredi individual's preference and the needs of his community in the neighborhood's spatial organization." She found that in Ramat Shlomo, a relatively new ultra-orthodox quarter on the edge of Jerusalem, the spatial organization was structured around the different haredi streams and dictated by the leaders of those streams. In Sanhedria, by contrast, which has been ultra-orthodox for much longer, individuals have more freedom in choosing where to live within the quarter, although they are "guided to an extent by the 'spirit' of the community." Meanwhile, in Kiryat Hayovel, which has rapidly changed from a secular neighborhood to a primarily ultra-orthodox one in the last decade, the growing number of yeshivas [religious study groups] have greatly influenced the spatial organization, attracting their followers to live close by to them.
Thus, in Ramat Shlomo there was always a clear segregation between the different ultra-orthodox streams (the Lithuanian, Chassidic, Sephardi and so on, in addition to the national-religious camps), each one living within its own sub-neighborhood. This trend has grown over the years. In Sanhedria, communities have ostensibly been "mixed," yet a closer look shows that in fact there is a consistent "spatial code" that dictates the "spatial behavior" of individuals which results in a concentration of the different streams in various areas – although there is no obvious intervention by any leadership in this case. In other words, nobody is telling individuals where to live, but they know where they are welcome.
In Kiryat Hayovel, she noted, the ultra-orthodox trend to move into the quarter began from the adjacent ultra-orthodox Bayit Vagan neighborhood. Married students of a Lithuanian yeshiva were encouraged to systematically purchase real estate close by as non-orthodox residents moved out; married students of other yeshivas followed. The rapid pace of "haredization" of Kiryat Hayovel highlights, she said, the ability of one group, in this case an ultra-orthodox one, to set and achieve a goal in the face of a group that is comprised of individuals who are not in any way organized as a collective, in this case the secular population.
In the bigger picture, Flint's research sheds new light on the relationship between the individual and the group in the context of urban spatial patterns.