In Jerusalem

Letters: September 7

Catholic tradition places the site of the stoning of St. Stephen outside Damascus Gate.

Old City views from the Austiran hospice
Aviva Bar-Am’s columns about walking Jerusalem are always interesting and helpful. Unfortunately, however, the Old City walk last month (“Three religions, one trail,” August 24) was marred by a mistake that needs to be corrected if only not to confuse the visitor. St. Stephen’s Gate is the alternative name, still in use, for the Lions’ Gate, not Damascus Gate as written.

Walter Zanger

Jerusalem Aviva Bar-Am responds: You are right that there is a tradition that St. Stephen was martyred outside Lions’ Gate, and a rock nearby marks this tradition. The tradition is Greek Orthodox, and they built a church named for St. Stephen near the rock fairly recently.

However, Catholic tradition places the site of the stoning of St. Stephen outside Damascus Gate. Therefore, in the late fifth century, the Empress Eudocia built St. Stephen’s Church outside of Damascus Gate to hold his relics. The church is called St. Étienne (Stephen, in French) and is part of a monastic complex that includes the famous school École Biblique.

Regarding “Following the paper trail” (August 17): Thanks again to Peggy Cidor! As if corruption scandals were not enough, we must also put up with incompetence and lack of coordination at city hall. Apparently the Planning and Infrastructure Administration doesn’t talk to Operations Administration, which doesn’t talk to Traffic Police enforcement, which doesn’t talk to Egged, which doesn’t talk to the people in charge of the city’s recycling effort, and so on.

For example, take the recent “approval” for building a 26- story commercial and residential project at the corner of Eliash and Agrippas streets in the city center (the site of the old Eden Cinema ruin). As a result of the new light rail system, buses have been rerouted to these two streets. This rerouting has added significant congestion. Illegal parking at the traffic circle has stopped the double-length buses on numerous occasions. Backups of honking cars and trucks reach for hundreds of meters onto Bezalel Street and even to King George Avenue for up to half an hour at a time. Added to this, delivery trucks cannot service the businesses on Agrippas without parking illegally.

Can anyone imagine the congestion that a 26-story building with commercial space will cause at this location? The traffic circle also plays host to the garbage collection point for the local businesses and residents. The facility is already overburdened.

Frequently at night, pickup trucks full of trash from other neighborhoods will unload their cargo here. The need for neighborhood garbage collection will become nightmarish if this building is constructed. (Not to mention what will happen to the space available for recycling bins.) Finally, as if to add to the ridiculous proposition, real-estate agents promised buyers of apartments in the Windows of Jerusalem tower (just two blocks away on Agrippas) that city regulations would limit the surrounding area to construction of no more than five floors. Now, one could expect real-estate agents to perhaps fudge a bit on the truth, but what could make them miss the truth by 21 stories?

Louis Fried
Jerusalem city center

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