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Mea Shearim - Israel

Mea Shearim (in Hebrew:"one hundred gates") is one of the oldest Jewish quarters of Jerusalem. Its name derives from a verse of the Parashah (Toledot) that was read the week in which the settlement was founded. According to one tradition, the neighborhood originally had a hundred doors. It is populated by Haredi Jews and was built by the original settlers of the yishùv haYashan. It is popularly known for being the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem populated exclusively by members of the Haredi Jewish community and because there is an air of Jewish Shtetl (the definition used in Eastern Europe for settlements with a high percentage of Jewish population) in Eastern Europe in the middle of the Middle East. Haredi Judaism consists of groups within Orthodox Judaism characterized by a strict adherence to their interpretation of Jewish law and values as opposed to modern values and practices. Its members are often referred to as strictly Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox, although the term "ultra-Orthodox" is considered pejorative by many of its adherents. Haredi Jews regard themselves as the most religiously authentic group of Jews.
Today, Mea Shearim remains an insular neighbourhood in the heart of Jerusalem. The streets retain the characteristics of an Eastern European shtetl as it would have appeared in pre-revolutionary Russia. Life revolves around strict adherence to Jewish law, prayer, and the study of Jewish religious texts. Traditions in dress include black frock coats and black hats for men, and long-sleeved, modest clothing for women. In some Hasidic groups, the women wear thick black stockings all year long, even in summer. Married women wear a variety of hair coverings, from wigs to scarves and snoods. The men have beards, and many grow long sidecurls, called peyot. Many residents speak Yiddish in their daily lives, and use Hebrew only for prayer and religious study, as they believe Hebrew to be a sacred language only to be used for religious purposes. ISRAEL 2013

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