Nowadays, whenever the Israeli government approves a new housing project in a community over the “Green Line” the event makes international headlines. The latest community placed in the spotlight is Gilo, one of Jerusalem’s seven ring neighborhoods that were developed after the Six Day War. With a population of almost 40,000 residents, the neighborhood has recently received approvals to build 1,100 housing units.
Street in Gilo; photo courtesy of Gila Brand
The name Gilo is mentioned in Joshua 15:51 and in Samuel 2, 15:12. It is believed that modern Gilo is located on the same site, although some scholars argue that biblical Gilo was farther west in the Chevron hills. Although modern Gilo was officially established in 1971, the land has been inhabited by Jews for over 3,000 years. Archaeologists have unearthed a small settlement characteristic of Iron Age Israelite architecture, discovered a fortress from the period of the First Temple, and have found farms and graves from the Second Temple period.
Gilo is situated on a hilltop in southwest Jerusalem west of the Malcha Mall, and was master-planned with large open spaces, shopping centers, 35 synagogues, many schools and kindergartens, numerous small playgrounds scattered throughout the community and two large parks: Park Gilo and Park Zeidenberg. Over the past fifteen years, Gilo’s main roads have expanded, offering good access to the rest of Jerusalem.
Gilo shopping center & residential towers; photo courtesy of Gila Brand
Gilo has a mix of many demographics: there are low-income and middle-class families plus a smattering of wealthy Israelis (including supermarket magnate Rami Levi); native-born Israelis (60% of the population) and new immigrants (over 15% Russian); older and younger families; and secular and religious Jews, including Dati Leumi (national religious) and a large and growing Chareidi (Yeshivish) constituency.
Gilo is divided into six main areas: Gilo Aleph is where the absorption center is located and the population tends to be on a lower socioeconomic level. Many Chareidi families have moved into this community due to the lower priced housing and the strong services that the neighborhood provides. Bet has a large Dati Leumi community, Gimmel is mostly native Israelis, Hei has a mixed population, and Dalet and Givat Canada also have a mixed population, including a substantial English speaking crowd, most of whom moved to Israel over twenty years ago. Due to its strong population, coupled with nicer housing stock and sweeping views of Jerusalem, housing prices in Dalet and Givat Canada are higher than in the other Gilo neighborhoods.
Panoramic View of Jerusalem from Gilo; photo courtesy of Gila Brand
With Gilo’s relatively inexpensive housing, fine municipal and educational services, and access to the center of Jerusalem, it’s no wonder that housing is in strong demand and that the neighborhood is in expansion mode.
“My Israel Home” is a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy homes in Israel. To read previous articles, please visit Gedaliah Borvick’s blog at www.myisraelhome.com. Gedaliah will be running workshops in NY and NJ in early November; for more info, including locations and dates, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.