IT’S NOT only the installation of the infrastructure for the light rail system that has led to a nightmare of traffic congestion and other difficulties for so many Jerusalemites. Some of the seemingly illogical regulations introduced by the municipality and the Transportation Ministry ignore the rule that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and drivers have been forced to take circuitous routes because they can no longer make a turn at a certain intersection or cannot proceed along a certain street.

However, both the municipality and the Transportation Ministry have a five-year plan that will supposedly ease the frustrations of drivers and pedestrians alike. Details of the plan will be revealed by Mayor Nir Barkat and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz at the next meeting of the Jerusalem Economic Forum, which will be held at the Renaissance Hotel on May 23. The catch is that you need an invitation to get in.

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WHEN AACI opened its new premises in Talpiot, one of the stated aims was to provide a gallery setting for immigrant artists to exhibit their works. The first to do so was New York-born artist Yitzhak Greenfield, who came to Israel in 1951 and who has lived and worked in Ein Kerem for 45 years. His work explores both the landscapes and views of Jerusalem and the eternal spiritual meaning of the city.

Greenfield’s exhibition has been on display at AACI since May 5 and has aroused much interest. Art lovers will now have the opportunity to discuss the paintings with Greenfield, following a gallery talk that he will deliver on May 25 at 5 p.m. The meeting with the artist will enable those who appreciate his work to learn what inspires him and to ask about specifics related to his art.

MOST HOTELS in Jerusalem are in cluster groups, meaning that they are next to, across the street or around the corner from other hotels. A notable exception is the Regency Hotel on Mount Scopus, which continues to stand in solitary splendor. Now there’s another, the Alegra Boutique Hotel in Ein Kerem.

Named after the heroine of a true Jerusalem love story, the hotel is housed in an old historic building, the interior of which was revamped at a cost of NIS 6 million. The entrepreneurs are Yishai Malcha, 36, a resident of Herzliya, and Gadi Dalman, 39, a resident of Tel Aviv, who are both graduates of Bezalel and who work in architecture and advertising.

Entranced by the charm of Ein Kerem and the panoramic views that it offers, they decided that it would make for an ideal vacation destination for people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Because of their common Bezalel background, the two are also very art conscious and have decided to decorate the walls of the hotel with changing exhibitions of contemporary art.

n IT’S A well-known fact that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has a fondness for restaurants and coffee bars. Before he moved back into the prime minister’s official residence, he used to frequent the Resto-Bar, which is just around the corner. Meanwhile, since his return to the office of prime minister, a new luxury apartment block has been constructed literally next door to his private residence. The ground floor will be the new premises of the Rehavia Sushi Bar, where it will be very convenient for the prime minister to hold meetings after he passes the baton to someone else.

Not that there’s a shortage of coffee bars and restaurants on Rehov Aza. In fact, there are so many eateries and grocery and fruit and vegetable stores that Aza is beginning to look like Emek Refaim, where the number and variety of food outlets continues to grow.

n THE NUMBER of attractions for the public increase from one Jerusalem Day to the next, and this year was no exception. Among the additions was Open House at Yad Ben-Zvi, with visitors permitted to traipse through the whole complex. To be honest, there’s something much more stately about the wood-lined walls of the hut than the building that currently serves as the official residence of the president of Israel.

Also, the carpets specially commissioned by Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi with the help of her good friend Ruth Dayan, the founder of Maskit who had them woven at the Maskit factory plant in Umm el-Fahm, are no less striking now than they were then. Bearing in mind that Ben-Zvi was keen on agricultural development and that she was also a feminist, the design of the carpet reflects both those passions.

Almost every sign and explanatory text at Yad Ben-Zvi is in Hebrew. Hopefully this will change once the expansion of the compound of the institution is complete; management may take into account the need for signs and explanations in English, French, Russian, Spanish and Arabic.

Fortunately, Yad Ben-Zvi is located back-to-back with the property that for many years belonged to The Women’s League for Israel, which provided educational, vocational and social service programs for young Israeli women, particularly new immigrants. The former Women’s League premises are incorporated in Yad Ben-Zvi’s expanded campus, designed by Israel Prize laureate Ada Karmi Melamed, whose previous projects include the Supreme Court building, Beit Avi Chai and, most recently, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. The new complex will look somewhat less modest than the famous hut of Rehavia.

One of the rare pamphlets printed in English offered some information that is not generally known. While it is common knowledge that Ben-Gurion’s name was originally Green, few people are aware that Itzhak Ben-Zvi was born with the name Itzhak Shimshelevitz and that his wife was originally Golda Lishanski.

THE LONG arm of coincidence can stretch across the years in the strangest way. Australian expatriates Shmuel and Sara Klein, long before they actually made aliya some 18 years ago, had many years earlier come independently of each other to Israel, and it was here that they decided that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. They married in 1968. The officiating rabbi was She’ar Yashuv Cohen, who later became chief rabbi of Haifa.

A native Jerusalemite who fought in the War of Independence, defending Jerusalem and the Etzion Bloc, Cohen was severely wounded in battle in the Old City and was taken captive by the Arab Legion of the Jordanian Army. He was transferred to Amman, where he became a leader of the Prisoners of War. Following his repatriation, he continued to serve in the IDF for seven years, holding senior positions in the IDF Rabbinate, including chief rabbi of the Israel Air Force.

Cohen likes to come back to Jerusalem as often as possible. On the Shabbat prior to Jerusalem Day, he attended services at the Great Synagogue, where at the monthly Friday night dinner for lone soldiers he shared some of his experiences before during and after the War of Independence and received a rousing ovation. He stayed on in Jerusalem after Shabbat so that he could be here for Jerusalem Day.

With his wife, Naomi, he went to Nir Barkat’s reception at the Tower of David to convey his greetings to the mayor. The Kleins happened to be at the Tower of David at the same time. They would have been overjoyed to see the Cohens at any time, but especially on this particular day because it happened to be their wedding anniversary.
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