Barkat repelling 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Throughout history, conquerors have rappelled down the Old City walls on their
way to lay claim to a besieged city. But Thursday was the first time Jerusalem
Mayor Nir Barkat, joined by a dozen children and adults with disabilities,
bounced down the wall of the Tower of David Museum. Their goal wasn’t to hoist a
new flag over Jerusalem’s walls, but to prove that disabilities do not stand in
the way of physical obstacles, in honor of World Disabilities
Thursday’s event featured a zipline across the courtyard and
rappelling from the 20- meter high balcony near the Tower of David. The event
was organized by Etgarim (Challenges), an organization that provides programming
and outdoor extreme activities for 1,500 kids and adults with physical and
The event was also organized by the National
Insurance Institute through the Fund for Development of Services for People with
Nati Gruberg, the Israeli hand-cycling champion who will
represent Israel at the 2012 London Paraolympics, joined Barkat for the first
rappel down the walls. Gruberg said that, despite competing in grueling races
such as the Tour de Israel, the rappel wasn’t the easiest thing because he
suffered from a small fear of heights.
Still, Gruberg said, he was glad
he did it.
“We really need more support for the handicapped in Israel,”
said Gruberg on Thursday. “These challenges give us support and a push, which is
exactly what we need.”
Gruberg, who was in a motorcycle accident in 1999
that left him in a wheelchair, added that some of the areas around the Old City
had greatly improved their handicapped accessibility in recent years, but that
much more work is needed to make Jerusalem more accessible.
Development Authority earmarked NIS 5 million for making the Old City more
“The city is constantly changing and growing, and the
municipality feels committed to making the city’s buildings, gardens and streets
accessible to its entire population so that all people can use and enjoy public
property,” Barkat said in a statement released by his office.
works across the country and organizes scubadiving trips, bicycle rides, hikes,
rappelling and other extreme adventures. It also helps teenagers with special
needs draft into the army.