- The Right to the City: The ’Religious’ Beach of Tel-Aviv    click here to open paper content775 kb
by    Ginsberg, Yona | ginsby@biu.ac.il   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper deals with the use of public space by Ultra-Orthodox Jews. It concentrates on a public beach regulated by gender. It also raises the question of exclusion and inclusion.
Much attention has been drwan recently to changes in the life style of Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel. The cultural heritage of this community and their behavior and attitudes are different from that of the mainstream society. One of the striking dissimilarities is in the way they dress. Thus,although they are a small minority they always stand out. In order to keep their unique lifestyle they live in segregated neighborhoods.
It has been argued that the consumption pattern of the Ultra-Orthodox has changed, and in contrast to the past they use urban public spaces that were not considered ''religious'' such as shopping malls and parks. However, there are still some public places where this community prefers to be segregated.
This paper deals with the use of such a public space - the ''religious'' beach of Tel-Aviv. This is a ''gated beach'' surrounded by walls separating it from the adjacant ones, while heavy rubber curtains hang on its entrance. Contrary to all other public beaches this one is regulated according to gender: three days a week it is open only for women and the other three-for men. Despite the fact that it is a public beach open to everybody, most people who patronize it are Ultra-Orthodox.
The study is based on paticipant obsevation of women and their children- girls of all ages and young boys. The only men present on the beach are life guards. In contrast to the general public, the women do not wear bathing suits even in the water and are dressed in cotton robes that cover their knees.
The utilization of public space has symbolic aspects.Observing Tel-Aviv's public beaches presents an opportunity of studying the various ways people use those places, the different meanings they attribute to them, and the mechanisms of inclusion and exlusion. Planners should be aware that people with a different cultural heritage still have ''the right to the city'' (Lefebvre, 1996).
Ulrta-Orthodox Jews, use of public space, cultural heritage.
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