Meah Shearim

Meah Shearim is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Jerusalem. It was established in 1874 by a company which originally had 100 shareholders, in order to provide decent housing to the growing "Old Settlement" of the old Jewish Quarter in the Old City. The original inhabitants were members of the Perushim community, whose parents and grandparents, disciples of the Vilna Gaon, had arrived in Palestine in the early part of the century. The name was taken from Beraishit (Genesis) 26:12, as a prayer and blessing that the community would thrive and expand: Isaac sowed in that land, and in that year he reaped "מאה שערים - a hundredfold"; G-d had blessed him. The neighborhood has conserved its traditional pious character, with its population exclusively of ultra-Orthodox Jews and the customs of old Hungarian Jewish centers. Because Meah Shearim is the most strictly Orthodox neighborhood in the world, it has slowly become a major tourist attraction. To counter the flow of scantily-clad tourists and large groups of outsiders, the neighborhood rabbis have had special posters in Hebrew and English put up at every entrance to the neighborhood. They request that tourist groups stay away and that visitors dress modestly.

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