Bnei Brak  בְּנֵי בְרַק

Bnei Brak is a city on the central Mediterranean coastal plain in Israel east of Tel Aviv. Its population is around 185,000 made up of mainly ultra orthodox Jews. Statistically it is one of the poorest and most densely populated cities in Israel and sixth most densely populated city in the world. The name Bnei Brak comes from the Biblical city of Beneberak in the Tanakh (Joshua 19:45). The modern day city was founded in 1924.

From its inception the town was set up as a religious settlement. It was founded by Yitzchok Gerstenkorn as an agricultural village and a group of Polish chasidim. Many of the early settlers turned to other occupations and the village soon began to change in character. Arye Mordechai Rabinowicz from Krakow in Poland was the first rabbi. He was succeeded by Rabbi Yosef Kalisz, a scion of the Vurker dynasty. In the 1931 census of Palestine the population was 956, with 255 houses. By 1950 Bnei Brak had achieved city status.

Bnei Brak has little industry but one notable exception is the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kahaneman Street. Owned by the Central Bottling Company which has held the Israeli franchise for Coca-Cola products since 1968. It is one of Coca-Cola’s ten largest single-plant bottling facilities in the world. Two further factories were sited in the centre of Bnei Brak, the Dubek cigarette factory and the Osem food factory. But as the city grew they being sited in the middle of a residential area they relocated. A new business district is founded in 2011  will include 15 office towers.

Originally the municipality was headed by religious Zionist mayors until the 1970s. Ultra-religious political parties grew influence now govern the city. Today neighbourhoods are closed to traffic on Shabbat. The Religious Zionist residents has have left the city as it has become Haredi. The city has one secular neighborhood Pardes Katz.

 

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