This week om Jerusalem
Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.
Hadassah Medical Organization Photo: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
Health and money
Can money buy health? Two of the city’s major hospitals are facing financial problems, though to very different degrees. The situation at Hadassah University Medical Center, which has two hospitals in the city, is the more complicated, following the departure of its director- general, Prof. Ehud Kokia, and a heavily unbalanced budget with a NIS 200 million deficit. There are some concerns that a replacement for Kokia might not be chosen from among the doctors but from among administrative and financial experts. In that context, one can understand the president of the Israel Medical Association’s request of the Hadassah Women’s Organization that a doctor who is a resident of Israel be selected as the next director-general.
“I can understand the concern,” says a source at Hadassah Ein Kerem, “since the major problem of the hospital is not its medical level but its finances. It could make sense that the next director would be someone who understands money matters.”
As for the other large hospital in the city, it seems that Shaare Zedek, with almost no deficit, is not facing any administrative or management problems but is trying to cope with a substantial drop in donations. The total income from donations for 2011 was NIS 46m., compared to NIS 75m. in 2010.
Much better in the east
Who said that east Jerusalem is suffering from neglect? Here is an example that shows the contrary. While over the past few months an impressive number of streets in east Jerusalem neighborhoods have been given names, it seems that there are some difficulties on this front coming from the other side. Not that all the street names in east Jerusalem were devoid of any sensitive issues. For example, popular Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum, known for her hatred of Israel, had a street named for her in Beit Hanina, causing dismay to some of the right-wing city councillors despite the street naming ceremony in the presence of Mayor Nir Barkat and a young Arab singer, who introduced the mayor to one of Kalthoum’s most popular songs.
But when it comes to the Jerusalemite and philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who never missed an opportunity criticize Israeli politics, including coming up with the (in)famous “Judeo-Nazi” expression, things get much more complicated. Last week, for at least the third time during Mayor Nir Barkat’s term, the committee in charge of naming the city’s streets, presided over by Justice Jacob Terkel, failed to make a decision on the matter. And even if the committee does decide to include Leibowitz on the list of people to name streets for, nothing is set in stone. The final decision is in the hands of the city council, and Leibowitz still has some powerful enemies there.
In the footsteps of a mayor
Slowly but surely, the next municipal election is becoming part of the current agenda, although there are still about eight months until D Day. The latest news in this context is more of a rumor than a fact, but it indicates the prevailing atmosphere, which will certainly become more tense very soon. City Councillor Meir Turgeman, Mayor Nir Barkat’s fiercest opponent (and once his closest friend), is seriously considering running for mayor. This would not be the first time that Turgeman would be trying to fulfill what he has called his “greatest dream,” but it would be the first time that his attempt is directed toward the haredi community.
It is no secret that among the haredi members of Barkat’s coalition, there is a sense of frustration regarding what they consider to be very minimal gain from their loyalty to him. Despite a few plans to enter a haredi candidate into the running, no tangible solution has yet been found. While some say that Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) hasn’t given up the idea of convincing the rabbis to let him run, many haredim believe that the best solution would be to support a candidate who would be dedicated to paying special attention to their needs. Turgeman, who is a religious Zionist but not a member of the Bayit Yehudi party, could be that candidate, especially given his good relations with the haredi community.
A new Talpiot
Looking for a nice apartment in the Talpiot-Baka neighborhood that won’t cost you a fortune? There might soon be an answer to that quest. Following the approval of the local planning and construction committee and the approval of the district committee at the Interior Ministry, a new construction project has been launched.
Talpiot Hahadasha (new Talpiot), which is slated for completion in 2015, is the largest housing, leisure and commercial project conceived for the quiet neighborhood. It will comprise eight 12-story buildings, with a total of 352 apartments of three, four and five rooms (including a few penthouses) on Bethlehem Road, in the heart of Baka.
The first stage of the project includes 88 units, 50 of which have already been sold. A three-room apartment, which has access to a street mall in the nearby neighborhood, will cost about NIS 1.45m.
Also part of the project is a new business complex, which will be within walking distance, on the edge of the Talpiot industrial zone.
This project may be followed by others to renew the neighborhood, which is also near the train station project on Hebron Road in the Old Railway Station complex.
Freedom behind the grid
The Jerusalem Medal for Freedom was scheduled to be awarded yesterday to Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, who is still in prison. As a symbol of the will of the Jewish people to be free, the medal was awarded to Pollard as an expression of the city’s support for the prisoner, who is serving a life sentence in the US for spying. The decision to give the medal on the eve of Passover, the holiday that symbolizes freedom, is a gesture of hope that Pollard will eventually be released and able to return to Jerusalem. The initiative came from city counselor Yair Gabai (Bayit Yehudi), an active member of the committee for the release of Pollard.
When I’m 64
A relatively new initiative to enable residents over age 60 who wish to return to the workplace is gaining success. The project, which consists of a workshop designed to get the candidates acquainted with modern and up-to-date technology, is open for both prospective employees and for developing private businesses.
After a long period of difficulty for those in their 50s and 60s to hold onto their jobs or find a new one, it seems that the attitude of employers is changing. The private organizers, in a joint effort with the municipality, say that the seriousness and reliability of seniors, together with their experience and knowledge, have begun to make them popular as employees. The 10-week course for men and women takes place in the Talpiot Industrial Zone and is the fourth since the initiative was launched. According to the organizers, about 50 percent of the workshops’ graduates manage to find employment, while about one-third open their own businesses.