Making the old city young again

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A Day in the Life

A day in the life of a family from Beit Hadvash & Beit Yehonatan – Kfar HaShiloach (Silwan)

I wake up every morning at about 6am and make my way, walking casually along the street to my Beit Knesset down the street for Shacharit prayers. After a healthy breakfast, I simply get into our car and drive my children to their school in the neighbourhood and then I take a short 20 minute bus ride to work in the middle of town.( Jerusalem )
I imagine that most readers can identify with such a start to the day as it probably resembles your day. Freely coming and going. No major security incidents. No attacks on your family or household. No need to call police. A simple, straight forward and easy life.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for our Yeshiva students and families living in Beit Yehonatan (7 families and a Kolel) and Beit HaDvash (1family) in the old Yemenite Village of Shiloach. (Also known to some as Silwan) To remind our readers, the old Yemenite village is located on the slopes of Har HaZeitim(Mt.Olives), east of the City of David and overlooking the Kings Garden , and the Old City and Temple Mount itself.

Jewish life was reestablished in the village in 2004 after a 66 year break following the shocking pogroms of the 1930's when all Jews were driven from the neighbourhood. Since 1938, it has become a hostile neighbourhood, full of hatred, terror cells and Arabs who have no regard or respect for the law or Jewish sovereignty. Notwithstanding rampant illegal Arab building in the area and hundreds of court orders against Arabs, little to nothing is done to stem the tide. However, left wing interest groups, and the past legal advisor of the Municipality (Backed by State Attorney General) have been trying to evict the families from Beit Yehonatan, for being in a building built by an Arab and which has some "permit" question marks over its head. The hypocrisy and blatant discrimination has been screaming to the heavens for the last 6 years. These legal pressures is but one small weight on the shoulders of the Jewish families in the area.  Returning to their lifestyle:
Entering or leaving the building is totally dependant on the security vehicles being available and also the Border Patrol being ready to escort the bullet proof security vehicles. The Police have not allowed any movement in or out of the area without their escort and so the families are in their hands. Coordination between these police, the vehicle and the families is tiresome and difficult at the best of times. A mere total of 5 people can sit in the vehicle at any given time and so if many families (children and working parents) need to leave the village or return, the waiting time can be hours. (Literally).
The drive from either Beit Yehonatan or Beit HaDvash to the Old City is a mere 5-7 minutes, but with concrete blocks and Molotov cocktails being thrown onto the vehicle on a daily basis, the ride can take up to 20 minutes in each direction.
I'm sure you can start to imagine the effect that such attacks can have on both adults and children. In addition to being attacked on route to their homes, we are witness to daily attacks on the building themselves. Today -if one had a look at the entrance and rooftops of both homes (Beit Dvash and Beit Yehonatan), one would assume a "war zone". Much of the rooftop play equipment has been destroyed, by concrete blocks, molotov cocktails, oil paints and firebombs. Attempts have been made over the last few months, by the Arabs, to also try to directly attack the families by throwing blocks and firebombs into the windows of the upper level apartments.
Consider your life. I'm considering my life and I'm in absolute awe and admiration to these families under fire ion both Beit Yehonatan and Beit HaDvash.
I have read about the early pioneers who built the State and who made the deserts bloom and who dried the swamps. But such sacrifice. Such dedication and such fortitude – I have never seen. I don’t believe that we see such a lifestyle anywhere in the country.
With all the turmoil in the Middle-East today, Israel is indeed a haven – a democratic haven, and a beautiful country where people can travel, work, tour in peace, ease and in safety. This is true everywhere, except in the old Yemenite Village (Shiloach-Silwan) and this is true for every citizen, except for the residents of Beit Yehonatan and Beit HaDvash. That’s the reality.
The obvious question – where is the law? Where are the police? If this happened between neighbours in Ramat Eshkol or Gilo, the situation would be dealt with immediately and the guilty parties put into prison. None of us could even imagine or fathom such incidents and such a situation taking place in any single neighbourhood anywhere else in Jerusalem . But in the Shiloach – the Arabs are laughing at the authorities and are getting away with 'murder' !!
A month ago, even the border patrol police were driven from one of their outposts above Beit HaDvash by a wild group of Arabs. (Later it was 'taken back', but the disgrace was felt by all) The police and Border patrol police do show up from time to time. Generally they show up late and after the damage has been done. They have had some success with some arrests of minors, but they are always "too cautious" and maybe worried what the world will say. The Arabs haven’t got the message and they basically rule the area.(Note the riots and the closing of streets in the area by Arabs every Friday for the last 2 months)
Our families don’t walk to shul. Our families don’t play with their kids in the local park. Our Yeshiva students and families are effectively under 24 hr curfew and can hardly move freely in or out from their homes. Our families are constantly under fire and attacks and are surrounded by hatred around the clock.
That’s Kfar HaTeimainim today. That’s the life of our families and Yeshiva students.
**No matter how difficult the situation. No matter how many complaints they may have and no matter how many security incidents, our families and Yeshiva students won't move. They are at the forefront and they know the importance of their return to the old Yemenite Village .
It is simply up to all of us (Ateret Cohanim and world Jewry) to make their life as easy as possible.
So how can you help?
There are a number of projects that could help our efforts in Kfar HaTeimanim-Shiloach and may alleviate some of their problems in a small way.
(Not in priority listing).
  •  A shabbat away for all the families (Maybe split over 2 weekends) Approx $500 per family (8 families- total $4000)
  •  Mishloach Manot – a simple gesture of support - $350                                                                                                                                                                      (For all our families and security guards in Old City, Maaleh HaZeitim, Kidmat Zion - $5000)
  • Security steel mesh on all windows of upper level apartments and repair to rooftop playarea- $10,000
  • Maintenance of security vehicle - $1500 per month
  • Payment for driver of security vehicle - $1000 per month
  • Replacement of Israeli flag draped on length of Beit Yehonatan - $85

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