OVER THE past 18 months Tel Aviv, Shfaram and Kibbutz Deganya have each celebrated their centennials, and Rehovot has gone one better by celebrating its 120th anniversary. Now it’s the turn of Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market, which in August will mark its 100th anniversary. According to Shimon Darwish, chairman of the Mahaneh Yehuda Market Merchants Association, there will be further gentrification of the market during this landmark year, including major improvements to the long-neglected Georgian section. Parking facilities will be extended to accommodate 700 additional vehicles, and there will be numerous cultural events in different areas of the market in cooperation with the Lev Ha’ir Community Council and the Culture Department of the municipality.

ON THE subject of the market, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel caused somewhat of a sensation there last Friday by inspecting the stalls, testing the quality of the produce and chatting with merchants. Considering that Mahaneh Yehuda is widely regarded as a right-wing bastion, he was very warmly received.

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MAHANEH YEHUDA is depicted in vivid color in the paintings of British expatriate Rifkah (Rita) Goldberg, whose exhibition “Jerusalem Faces and Places” opens on Thursday at the Jerusalem Artists House on Rehov Shmuel Hanagid and remains on view until July 10.

AFTER A long hiatus, Yehoram Gaon last Friday resumed his weekly current affairs program on Israel Radio. Even though he hasn’t lived in the capital for some time, he set out to prove that a native son remains a proud Jerusalemite forever. A former member of the Jerusalem city council, Gaon talked about the city from several perspectives and reminisced about his boyhood in Beit Hakerem.

He also defended the haredim, whom he said were being unfairly stigmatized. He knows many haredim, he said, who have jobs and pay their taxes. While there are some haredim who don’t do this, he acknowledged, it was wrong, he insisted, to tarnish the reputation of a whole sector of the population on the basis of the actions of a few.

n OFTEN IT is only when people are in trouble that they learn who their true friends are. Thus Shula Zaken, once the strongwoman of Jerusalem as the bureau chief for Ehud Olmert from the time he was mayor of Jerusalem through to most of his period as prime minister, has discovered that she has some extraordinary friends. While some people might be wary of consorting with anyone facing criminal charges, Zaken’s friends have not abandoned her and are busy raising money for her defense. Leading the fund-raising efforts are Dudi Zilberschlag and Rabbanit Hadassah Ralbag, each of whom is engaged in community enterprises for the less fortunate. In the past, Zaken helped to raise money for these causes, and now there’s a degree of reciprocity.   

TOGETHER WITH close to 1,000 other guests, Shula Zaken and Ehud Olmert were at the Renaissance Hotel last week to congratulate former minister Arye Deri and his wife, Yaffa, on the marriage of their daughter Dassi to Yitzhak Iluz. As a child, Dassi made headlines and tore at heart strings when she entreated the authorities not to take her father to prison but to leave him at home for her.

BLOCK PARTIES are par for the course in the United States but are relatively rare in Israel. Still, one of the best ways to befriend one’s neighbors is to invite them to a block party. That is what the Shir Hadash community is doing to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Shir Hadash Center for Jewish Life on June 9. The first phase of the center will incorporate a kindergarten and a family activity center.

Aside from the founding donors and honored guests, who include Mayor Nir Barkat, the Shir Hadash people have invited their new neighbors. That’s one way to quell any opposition that might arise to the construction of the public facility. The site is located on the corner of Dubnov and Graetz streets in Talbiyeh.
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