THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs

Danny Bonfil, Jerusalem region chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, reportedly threatened opposition leader Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut) this week.

May 2, 2019 11:40
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Shoah. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Think fast
It was first proposed in 2016 by a group of Jerusalemite social activists, and this year, Holocaust survivors have added their voice to the call: fast for us – so the memory of the Shoah will not fade out when the last survivors pass away.

The project aims to fix Yom Hashoah as a fast day, to be added for eternity to the Jewish calendar. The project aims to ensure that when there are no longer any living survivors to tell the story and bear witness, the fast will help mark the day for the generations to come.

Maya Sarig, one of the promoters of this initiative, says that this is not a religious act, rather a good way to ensure that the largest tragedy of modern times for the Jewish People will have a prominent place in our calendar.

“Fasting is the Jewish way to mark traumatic events of our past, and we, a group of secular Jerusalemites, believe that this is the right thing to do, to prepare future generations to remember this catastrophe forever.” The ROI Community, a partner of the initiative, wrote on their Facebook page: “How can we make sure that the Holocaust is not forgotten? Tzom Nizkor is a voluntary fast on Yom Hashoah created to help us remember what was – and what should never be again.”

Coping and sharing
Amcha, a worldwide leader in developing psychosocial support for Holocaust trauma – including its long-term influence and delayed onset reactions – had a busy week. Yom Hashoah week is the right time to remind people that this remarkable organization provides year-round professional counseling to individuals, couples, families, and groups to help cope with Holocaust-related anxiety, depression, loss, bereavement and more. Elderly survivors benefit from a wide array of programs that enrich their lives, develop their creative abilities and help them cope with inherent challenges of old age and traumatic Holocaust memories. Special programs connect survivors with young people, enabling the first generation to share their legacy with the generations that follow. Amcha provides also visits to home-bound survivors on a regular basis.

Parking will cost you
Parking in the two large parking areas at each end of the light rail line (Mt. Herzl and French Hill) is no longer free for all. These parking facilities were constructed as part of the light rail project, to encourage residents and visitors in the city to use the light rail instead of their private cars. Parking there will still be free of charge for those who actually use the light rail; for others, the cost is NIS 57 per day, no matter how long you use it.

Clean slate
City council member Arieh King (United Jerusalem) is unhappy that the government, through minister Ze’ev Elkin (Jerusalem Affairs), forces the municipality to use only private companies for sanitary work in the predominantly Arab areas of the city.
This condition of the government for adding a special budget for cleaning tasks in the east side leads to problems, says King, such as the employment of very young persons for the work, all Arab residents, under inferior social conditions to cleaners who are employees of the city. Moreover, he expressed the concern that these cleaners, being Arab residents, might not be reluctant to erase the hostile graffiti.
A greater concern to King is that this decision diminishes the sovereignty of the city. He calls on Mayor Moshe Lion to end this arrangement and restore the task of cleaning Arab areas to the city’s sanitary employees.

Taking a pass

As of the end of next year, CityPass will no longer run the light rail in Jerusalem. The company decided not to submit a bid to run the next two (Blue and Green) lines of the light rail, and announced that it would not continue to run the present (Red) line. Eight years after the company began to run the first light rail in the city, this is the end.
A CityPass spokesman said the light rail tender commission issued a new version of the tender for the Green Line with challenging conditions.
“On the basis of the considerable experience we have running the Red line, we warned the commission about the problematic conditions, such as dividing the risks non-equally between the government and the company. Under these conditions, we have no other choice than to withdraw from the project.”
Sources at Safra Square say that the new conditions in the tender are better for residents and passengers, and may indicate a lack of satisfaction of the authorities with the way CityPass is running the light rail – adding that few, if any, expressed regret about CityPass leaving the city.

Equal opportunity summer fun
A recent meeting of a municipal committee approved NIS 793,600 for vacation programs for youth studying in yeshivas and for youth living in primarily haredi neighborhoods such as Ramot, Ramat Shlomo, Har Nof, Neve Yaakov, Romema, Bayit Vagan, Geula, Givat Shaul and the Jewish Quarter. The subsidized programs include excursions, access to swimming pools, kayaking in the Jordan River, workshops and lectures.
The committee deals with programs and goods that the municipality acquires without having to publish first a tender, because their cost is relatively low, or there is only one provider available.
Hitorerut list head Ofer Berkovitch questioned the fairness of the distribution. He said that while the municipality should provide such programs for youth, especially in large families where both parents work during the summer vacation, these kinds of programs should be available for all segments of the city’s population.
“I would like to remind Mayor Moshe Lion that he is mayor of all the residents, as he pledged, including those who didn’t vote for him.”

Freeze of fees
In light of the taxpayer anger at the prices that some popular singers command for performances on Independence Day (in some cases, hundreds of thousands – even millions – of shekels for a half-hour performance), action is being taken. Interior Minister Arye Deri (Shas) has announced that as of next year, by law, the top fee for any artist invited to a municipal stage for Independence Day will be NIS 70,000.

Rockin’ liturgy
The Confederation House, a home for world and ethnic music in Jerusalem, is offering a free Independence Day event, “Piyut and Atzmaut,” which will take place at the First Station next Thursday (May 9) at 8:30 p.m. Elad Gabbay, a kanun player and cantor, with friends and musicians, will perform Jewish music and songs – from rock and roll to Jewish texts, liturgical music and beloved traditional tunes.

Rough talk
Danny Bonfil, Jerusalem region chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, reportedly threatened opposition leader Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut) this week.
During the municipal election, Bonfil, who was convicted in the past of fraud, tried to get Histadrut employees to vote for Lion; Bonfil and the mayor remain close. Last week, Berkovitch accused Lion of not doing as much as he pledged to clean the streets of Jerusalem. In reaction, Bonfil sent Berkovitch a letter accusing him of despising the sanitation employees, adding that he, Bonfil, will take all steps necessary to punish Berkovitch unless he apologizes.
In the letter, Bonfil accused Berkovitch of attacking honest employees who are doing their job, instead of coping with the fact that the current leadership (Lion) is taking care of the city, and not him (Berkovitch). Berkovitch clarified that he didn’t attack the employees but as leader of the opposition, forwarded his criticism to the mayor. Bonfil in reply said that without an apology, “We will take care of him.”

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