In Jerusalem

This Week In Jerusalem: Changing flags

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Jerusalem
Photo by: Courtesy
Changing flags

“The religious community hasn’t raised the right flag so far” was the consensus after a long day of debates and lectures organized by Kol Israel Haverim at Yad Harav Nissim last week.

More than 100 rabbis, all of whom describe themselves as Zionists, presented their views and positions on the current social problems facing Israeli society. They ultimately concluded that only a joint effort, one that dealt with the most pressing social issues through a genuine Jewish approach, could offer a viable solution to the problems. A stronger emphasis must be placed on social issues and bringing rabbis back to these aspects of Jewish life – and the sooner the better – agreed the participants, concurring that social justice must be the dominant aspect of a true Jewish state.

Flying down to Rio


Jerusalem Foundation president Mark Sofer, accompanied by Adina Bar-Shalom, founder and head of the Haredi College of Jerusalem, flew to Brazil this week to try to raise the necessary funds to build a campus for the college.

Before taking off from Ben-Gurion Airport, Sofer met Bar-Shalom’s father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who gave him a blessing for the endeavor.

According to the Council for Higher Education, the Haredi College will offer higher education to some 4,500 haredi young men and women in various disciplinary fields of technology, sciences and social sciences.

The Haredi College was founded by Bar- Shalom 12 years ago with the blessing of her father to provide a solution for young haredim who wanted to get an education and join the workforce without having to compromise their level of religious observance or study in a non-haredi environment.

In and out at Beit Avi Chai


David Rosensohn has been chosen to replace Danny Danieli as director of the Beit Avi Chai cultural center. Danieli submitted his resignation after six years of intensive work following the launching of the center that has created a tremendous change in the city’s cultural atmosphere.

For 11 years, Rosensohn established and headed all the activities of the Avi Chai Foundation (founded in 1984) in Russia, a position that the board of the foundation regarded as significant enough to prepare him for this new task.

Rosensohn, 41, married and the father of six, has a master’s degree in Russian literature and is currently writing his PhD thesis on Jewish Russian author Isaac Babel.

Jerusalem – it’s academic Beit Hahalutzot (literally “the house of the women pioneers”), part of the Yad Ben-Zvi compound in Rehavia, has undergone extensive renovations and will be inaugurated this week. The refurbished building, which is classified as a historical site, will house Yad Ben-Zvi’s prestigious new project – the International School for Jerusalem Studies.

The renovation process included meticulously restoring the beautiful building, which had served as a hostel for young pioneer women who came to Israel to be part of the Zionist ethos.

The work was planned and executed by architect Ada Karmi-Melamede, an Israel Prize laureate for architecture.

The International School for Jerusalem Studies, the first of its kind, will offer high-level courses in every area connected with the history of this city, from the ancient past to modern times.

New park in the Old City

As of this week, the Muslim Quarter in the Old City is home to the first ecological garden in the city, thanks to support from the Jerusalem Foundation, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem Development Authority.

The NIS 1.5 million garden, which grows vegetables, spices and beautiful fruit trees, with benches nestled among them, is operated by the Abna Al Quds Community Council. On the other side of the garden, a children’s playground has been installed.

The Jerusalem Foundation has secured funding for various programs, such as the employment of counselors who will work with handicapped children and the elderly through gardening and environmental studies.

The garden was inaugurated earlier this week in the presence of Mayor Nir Barkat and Mark Sofer, who is president of the Jerusalem Foundation and Israel’s ambassador to India.

“This is a place of opportunity, a tranquil natural setting for residents of the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. For the first time in perhaps hundreds of years, butterflies can be seen here, thanks to this garden,” said Nadim Sheiban, director of projects at the Jerusalem Foundation.

With respect to Rachel


Thinking about paying a visit to Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem for her memorial day but afraid of the tremendous number of visitors and the lack of sufficient security? Fear no more.

At least, according to the members of the Knesset committee that has assumed the task of improving the conditions.

Following a visit to the site by the committee members last week, some important decisions were made in regard to preparations for the matriarch’s memorial day (11 Heshvan, which this year will be observed on Sunday October 28).

Transportation will be provided at a low fare but very high frequency, with buses shuttling some 120,000 visitors to and from Rachel’s Tomb. And additional fees will no longer be required at the entrance to the site.

There is one issue, however, that has not yet been agreed upon – which of the two major medical organizations will have the right to handle any illness or accident that might arise – Magen David Adom or United Hatzalah. The committee has decided to ask for a tender and will choose the one that offers the lower price.


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