Crowding, lots of trash and notices slapped on every pole and tree are only a few of the environmental problems facing the Ultra-Orthodox community. Bnei Brak hopes that ‘Benny’ will convince the next generation to embrace a green approach

Billie Frenkel
Published: 06.17.12

In 2011, the city of Bnei Brak saved some NIS 800,000 in dumping fees through a project urging residents to separate small waste and drink containers, figures presented Tuesday at a conference devoted to examining environmental issues in the haredi sector show.

The Bnei Brak Municipality took advantage of the conference to present its environmental activity and PR campaign, which is designed around the character of “Benny” – a haredi amalgam who takes care of the environment.

Benny – created by the Agas ad agency – wears green clothes and is designed to influence the younger generation toward a greener lifestyle.

“The goal was to make Benny ‘all-haredi,’ someone everyone will love – hassidim, Lithuanians, young Shasnikim… the entire religious community,” the Bnei Brak Municipality explains.

The conference was also introduced to new environmental ideas and technologies in use in Bnei Brak, such as “buried bins” – trash cans whose tops are slightly higher than the ground but are mostly underground. According to the city, this approach takes up considerably less space – one buried bin can hold as much as 7 to 8 1,100-liter trash receptacles.

Another green tactic unveiled at the conference, and one that suits a uniquely haredi demand, is the “recycling bulletin board.” Since notices were being flung up on every electric police and tree anyway, the city hopes that by making the sides of recycling bins kosher for notices, fewer pirate placards will be put up on other surfaces.

General issues regarding the Ultra-Orthodox population and environmental sensitivity were also discussed at the conference: a higher number of residents per household, which creates more waste; as well as lower environmental awareness and less green activism than in other sectors.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan also took part in the event, noting that pollution affected the weaker socioeconomic sectors first, since wealthier residents would move away.

“When you receive a gift like Israel from the Creator, we are bound to protect it,” Erdan said.,7340,L-4242196,00.html