|• Hebrew||בְּנֵי בְרַק, בְּנֵי בְּרַק|
|• Mayor||Hanoch Zeibert (Agudat Yisrael)|
|• Total||7,088 dunams (7.088 km2 or 2.737 sq mi)|
Bnei Brak (or Bene Beraq) (Hebrew: בְּנֵי בְרַק (audio) (help·info), bənê ḇəraq) is a city located on Israel's central Mediterranean coastal plain, just east of Tel Aviv, in the Dan metropolitan region and Tel Aviv District. Bnei Brak is a center of Ultra Orthodox Judaism.
Bnei Brak covers an area of 709 hectares. According to figures of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2009, the population was 154,400, with an annual growth rate of 1.7%. In November 2012, the spokesman for Bnei Brak City Hall released numbers from the Ministry of Interior saying that on 27 September 2012, the population of the city stood at 176 556, making it the 10th largest city in Israel. Bnei Brak is one of the poorest and most densely populated cities in Israel.
Bnei Brak takes its name from the ancient Biblical city of Beneberak, mentioned in the Tanakh (Joshua 19:45) in a long list of towns of ancient Judea. The name is also cited by some as continuing the name of the pre-State village of Ibn Ibraq ("Son of Ibraq/Barak") which was located 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) to the south of where Bnei Barak was founded in 1924.
Bnei Brak was founded as an agricultural village by Yitzchok Gerstenkorn and a group of Polish chasidim. Due to a lack of land many of the founders turned to other occupations and the village began to develop an urban character. Arye Mordechai Rabinowicz, formerly rabbi of Kurów in Poland, was the first rabbi. He was succeeded by Rabbi Yosef Kalisz, a scion of the Vurker dynasty. The town was set up as a religious settlement from the outset, as is evident from this description of the pioneers: "Their souls were revived by the fact that they merited what their predecessors had not. What particularly revived their weary souls in the mornings and toward evening, when they would gather in the beis medrash situated in a special shack which was built immediately upon the arrival of the very first settlers, for tefilla betzibbur (communal prayer) three times a day, for the Daf Yomi shiur, and a Gemara shiur and an additional one in Mishnayos and the Shulchan Oruch."
Bnei Brak achieved city status in 1950.
Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (the Chazon Ish) settled in Bnei Brak in its early days, attracting a large following. Leading rabbis who have lived in Bnei Brak include Rabbi Yaakov Landau, Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky ("the Steipler"), Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman (Ponevezher Rov), Rabbi Elazar Menachem Mann Shach and Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz. Notable rabbis who reside in Bnei Brak today are Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, Rabbi Shmuel Wosner and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky. In the early 1950s, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager, founded a large neighborhood in Bnei Brak which continued to serve as a dynastic center under his son, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, and under his grandsons, Rabbi Yisrael Hager and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager.
Beginning in the 1960s, the rebbes of the Ruzhin dynasty (Sadigura, Husiatyn, Bohush), who had formerly lived in Tel Aviv, moved to Bnei Brak. In the 1990s they were followed by the rebbe of Modzhitz. Unlike the former four Gerrer rebbes, who lived in Jerusalem, the current rebbe was a Bnei Brak resident until 2012. The rebbes of Alexander, Biala-Bnei-Brak, Koydanov, Machnovke, Nadvorne, Premishlan, Radzin, Shomer Emunim. Slonim-Schwarze, Strykov, Tchernobil, Trisk-Bnei-Brak and Zutshke reside in Bnei Brak. Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Landau is a respected authority on Jewish law and kashrut supervision. The "Rav Landau" hechsher (kosher supervision) is widely accepted. Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, chief Rabbi (av beis din) of the Lithuanian Haredi community, heads a beth din of Lithuanian and Hasidic dayanim, called She'eris Yisroel.
According to figures by the municipality of Bnei Brak, the city has a population of over 181,000 residents, the majority of whom are Haredi Jews. It also has the largest population density of any city in Israel, with 25,540 /km2 (66,100 /sq mi). In the 2006 Israeli legislative elections, 89% of the voters chose Haredi parties, and another 7% voted for other religious parties.
One of the landmarks of Bnei Brak is the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kahaneman St. It is owned by the Central Bottling Company (CBC), which has held the Israeli franchise for Coca-Cola products since 1968. It is among Coca-Cola's ten largest single-plant bottling facilities worldwide. According to Dun's 100, "CBC's dedication to excellence and innovative technologies in all areas of its operations has won it prizes from the US-based Coca-Cola Company, as well as recognition and accolades from various public institutions for its environmental-friendly operation and ongoing community service".
Two major factories which dominated the centre of Bnei Brak for many years were the Dubek cigarette factory and the Osem food factory. As the town grew they found themselves in the middle of a residential area; both left the area. Osem's main factory is now located on Jabotinsky road in Petah Tikva, just next to Bnei Brak.
A business district is being built in Bnei Brak as of 2011, which will include 15 office towers.
Culture and lifestyle
Until the 1970s, the Bnei Brak municipality was headed by Religious Zionist mayors. After Mayor Gottlieb of the National Religious Party was defeated, Haredi parties grew in status and influence; since then they have governed the city. As the Haredi population grew, the demand for public religious observance increased and more residents requested the closure of their neighbourhoods to vehicular traffic on Shabbat. In a short period of time most of Bnei Brak's secular and Religious Zionist residents migrated elsewhere, and the city has become almost homogeneously Haredi. The city has one secular neighborhood, Pardes Katz. Some names of streets with a Zionist connotation were renamed for prominent Haredi figures, for example, the part of Herzl St. south of Jabotinsky street was changed to HaRav Shach St. Bnei Brak is one of the two poorest cities in Israel.
Bnei Brak is noted for its abundance of self-help and volunteer organizations. Several organizations help the ill, special needs population, and the poor. There are also available abundant articles to be borrowed free of charge, from extra baby beds, electric drills, paint rollers, to bridal dresses.
The Bnei Brak municipality set up an alternative water supply, for use on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. This supply, which does not require intervention by Jews on days of rest, avoids the problems associated with Jews working on the day of rest at the national water company Mekorot. Most of the streets are closed on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
Twin towns — sister cities
Bnei Brak is twinned with:
- "Statistical Abstract of Israel 2012 - No. 63 Subject 2 - Table No. 15". .cbs.gov.il.
- "Table 3 – Population of Localities Numbering Above 2,000 Residents and Other Rural Population". Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- "בני ברק – העיר העשירית בגודלה בארץ" [Bnei Brak - The Tenth Largest City in the Country] (in Hebrew). Israel National News. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
- No walk in the park in Bnei Brak
- Cancik, Hubert, Peter Schäfer and Hermann Lichtenberger (1996), Geschichte-Tradition-Reflexion: Festschrift Für Martin Hengel Zum 70. Geburtstag. Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 3-16-146675-6. p. 484.
- "Bnei Brak at 75: City of Torah and Chassidus". Dei'ah VeDibur. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- Mills, 1932, p. 13
- "Home Page". Bnei Brak Municipality. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- Rosenblum, Jonathan. "L'chaim in B'nai Brak". Torah.org. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- "Dun's 100 – The Central Bottling Company Group profile". Duns100.dundb.co.il. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- Raviv, Sivan (March 23, 2011). "Financial District Being Built in Bnei Brak". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2011-05-31.
- "Bnei Brak". Israel Ministry of Tourism. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- Hawley, Caroline (2006-04-20). "Israeli Shop Opens Only to Women". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- Nahshoni, Kobi (May 31, 2011). "Bnei Brak Gets Twin Sister". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2011-05-31.
- E. Mills, ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.