Aliza Bloch 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Beit Shemesh candidate for mayor Aliza Bloch vowed to improve the lives of the large community of English speakers in the city, in an interview Wednesday with The Jerusalem Post.
Bloch exclusively revealed her platform for helping Beit Shemesh’s Anglo population, which focuses on employment, education and community building. She promised to immediately begin implementing the platform if she emerges victorious in the October 30 election against incumbent mayor Moshe Abutbul.
“Everyone will benefit from the city being run better, but the English speakers especially understand that Beit Shemesh needs and currently lacks a culture of service,” Bloch said. “My campaign is about bringing the city’s different sectors together, but we also need every group to be served according to its unique needs.”
Regarding employment, Bloch noted that the population of Beit Shemesh has quadrupled over the past 20 years but has not added a single workplace.
“Much of the Anglo-Saxon community drives to the train and goes to Tel Aviv,” she said. “But getting to the train station and parking is almost impossible, because it was built without thinking there would be hundreds of people who would take the train, including many who pray on the train minyan [public prayer quorum]. I want to make it more accessible and build an industrial hi-tech zone to allow people to work here and not waste time on transport.”
Bloch said she did not want the city to be solely a bedroom community anymore. She said that there were many working women immigrants from English speaking countries, but who gave up working when they moved to Beit Shemesh because of a lack of employment opportunities in the city.
Expressing empathy with Anglo parents, Bloch said that while moving to a different country is challenging at any age, it is twice as hard for teenagers.
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“They come with mother-tongue English and need Hebrew to pass matriculation tests, so too many of them fall between the cracks,” she said. “We need to do whatever possible to enable them to be tested in English.”
Bloch said that there were hundreds of Beit Shemesh children transported daily to Jerusalem or Gush Etzion for school, and more has to be done to keep them in the city. She said that was especially true of children with special needs, who lack appropriate frameworks.
Asked if Beit Shemesh is part of the national program that gives children one free after-school activity a week, she said “not only is there no free activity per kid, there aren’t enough activities that aren’t free, and that must be changed.”
Bloch wants more to be done to build and serve the Beit Shemesh Anglo community, which she said lacks cultural events and needs more English speakers working for the city to help them.
“Too many people don’t know about services the city offers, because they don’t speak Hebrew well enough,” Bloch said. “We want to be a smart city with more information available digitally and transparently.”
Bloch singled out elderly parents of young couples who make aliyah when they are 70 to live near their grandchildren and do not have enough to do. She said Beit Shemesh needed more English-speaking health care providers to service them.
“This will be one of the first things I will fix,” she said. “I want our immigration and cultural departments to help these people, because they made aliyah for Zionism, for the right reasons. There needs to be service for all the ages. I want them to feel there is someone who cares.”
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