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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Chol HaMoed Walking Tour

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Rav Brodie stipulated that the residents of this neighborhood learn for him and say Kaddish for him in his nusach, the nusach of the Prushim. Even though all of Am Yisrael was precious to him, the 26 apartments in this area, known as Batei Brodie, are meant only for Prushim. Even nowadays, residents must sign that they will daven only in the shul of the neighborhood.

Rav Brodie sent seven crates of expensive seforim to be learned in the shul. The Vaad HaKlali made a large Chanukas HaBayis at the opening of Batei Brodie. Rav Brodie wanted to pay for the ceremony, so he sent the Vaad an extra four hundred pounds sterling without specifying what the money should be used for. This was the very sum used to buy land for Knesses Gimel, built in 1925 opposite Batei Brodie. These houses were already much more spacious with porches for every two apartments.

In 1910, Batei Rand was built opposite Batei Brodie – the chassidic counterpart to the litvishe neighborhood. To point out the differences between the two neighborhoods, it was said that in Brodie they were describing the flames of Gihennom before Maariv of Motzaei Shabbos, while in Rand they would still be singing the zemiros of Seudat Shlishit. As the elders of Brodie awoke and washed hands before the Vasikin minyan on Sunday, the elders of Rand were washing mayim achronim after their Melava Malka seudah. The day on which the differences are most sharply noted is Lag B’omer. Enthusiastic dancing on this day can be still be seen in Batei Rand.

Batei Rand was built by Rav Meir Rand, a chassid of the Divrei Chaim, who had owned vast tracks of forest lands in Galicia before he made aliyah and moved to Tsfas. When he later moved to Jerusalem, he built 22 apartments, a shul and a mikvah. The houses were built with long iron beams, brought to Jerusalem by train and then transported on two camels walking in unison (each camel holding up one end of the beam) to the building site.

The last of the seven neighborhoods was Batei Munkatch which was built a number of years after Rand when the Rebbe of Munkatch asked some of his adherents to purchase land.

Spiritual Grandeur

Rav Hillel Liberman, the pioneer of Bais Yaakov in Eretz Yisrael, lived in Knesses Gimel. Once when teachers did not receive a salary for a few months, three teachers from Petach Tikva came to his home to demand payment. They thought Rav Hillel lived in a villa. What they saw instead was beds being moved to make space for the visitors to come into the living area. They did not say a word about their back salaries and left. While the homes in Knesses Gimmel were more spacious than in the other areas, they were still small and modest residences. Yet the lack of space did not detract from the spiritual grandeur of these neighborhoods.

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About the Author: Originally from south Africa, Vardah has been living in Eretz Yisrael since 1974 and the more she learns about our glorious Holy Land the more she gets to love this prime property that Hashem has given to the Jewish People. She is studying to be a tour guide and hopes with the help of Hashem, through this column to give readers a small taste of the land.


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