In the past two years, rental prices in many parts of Jerusalem have skyrocketed forcing Haredi families in the nation's capital to adapt in the most astonishing manner.
For instance, in the orthodox neighborhood of Har- Nof, we were invited to Moshe Wienbaum's modest abode – a long shelf converted into a small but cozy home to Moshe's family of eight. Moshe studies at the nearby Yeshiva and his wife Yemima supports the family by juggling three and a half jobs while raising her eight kids and taking care of her elderly parents who moved in after they were kicked out of their shoebox. Yemima is also expecting twins in the spring (God willing!).
Moshe admits that living on a shelf isn't easy," Before we moved to this shelf we lived in a luxurious six by two closet, where we all had room to sleep if we stood," Moshe says, reminiscing, "When all the kids were at school I used to sit down just for the fun of it, but those carefree days are over – the owner of the closet raised the rent for the third time this year and we just had to move out," Moshe explained.
"Not that I'm complaining, God forbid," Moshe says, "Thank God we all have our health and I'm studying Torah and that is all that really matters, isn't it?
"But still, I can't help thinking about the children – sometimes the richer kids who live in upper-class closets, posh window sills or exclusive, closed porches taunt them at the Talmud Torah and my youngest, Shmuel has already vowed to get rich and buy a whole room for his family when he grows up. Of course I try to knock that kind of nonsense out of his head, I mean, such dreams are completely unrealistic and will only cause him disappointment later in life. With any luck he'll find a good Shiduch and maybe, just maybe, if both families pitch in they'll be able to afford a decent shelf that they will be able to call their own and they won't have to rent like we do," Moshe says, "Assuming, of course, that the price of shelves in Jerusalem won't go through the roof by then…"