Jerusalem parents stroll for change

1000 adults take part in march to capital's Gan Hasus; "We work so hard, and still can’t make ends meet," says mother of two.

By JONAH MANDEL
August 1, 2011 02:26
3 minute read.
Parents take part in Jerusalem's 'stroller march'.

stroller march jerusalem_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Thousands of children and their young fathers and mothers marched through the capital’s streets on Sunday evening, in a call to reduce living costs and enable them a decent future in the city and the country.

Departing from the Prime Minister’s Residence, where there was a large rally on the same theme the previous night, the families strolled down to King George Avenue’s Gan Hasus (Horse Park), where Jerusalem’s central protest tent city is located. Others have sprung up around the city.

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According to police, a thousand adults took part in Sunday’s march.

“We work very hard, and the prices in this country are out of control,” said Tali Ginsburg, a physiotherapist and mother of two. “I’m not looking to overthrow the government, I just want life to be a bit easier,” she said as she led her four-year-old daughter to the park.

“This isn’t a sectorial protest, this is for all of us,” emcee Haim Har-Zahav said over the microphone at Gan Hasus, with a toddler in one arm and a four-year-old daughter standing next to him, calmly eating half a pita. He explained that his wife, Rachel – “a left-wing Jerusalem resident – yes, there is such a thing” – had organized Sunday’s event along with “a settler from Tekoa.”

“Jerusalem is a hard city, there’s not much to do here on weekends, the roads are blocked with traffic and the public transportation system is obfuscated,” Rachel said. “But this is my city.

Who do they want to live here, tourists in five-star hotels? I want the government to make a change.”

Lilach Cohen of Tekoa, a mother of two who lives in a caravan since she can’t afford an apartment in the city, said that the demanding routine of young professional parents – waking up early, taking the children to kindergarten, running to work, leaving early to take the kids out at time, preparing dinner, putting the kids to sleep, doing the dishes, laundry, finishing the work she brought home, waking up overnight for the baby – doesn’t leave much energy to struggle for social rights, or even to notice “that it is inconceivable that we work so hard, and despite it can’t make ends meet.

“This is not just a struggle about affordable living, not just about free education, not just about good medical services – this is a struggle over the face of our country, our society,” she said.

“We’re told that we don’t have clear demands in this protest, well I say: We want that the salaries of two parents who work hard will be suffice to live here with dignity. They say that we are a spoiled generation, and I say that in a country that proudly celebrates its economic growth, it is not self-indulgent to want to own a home.”

The children and parents were then treated to storytelling by two of the country’s foremost authors. Meir Shalev read his story about The Tractor and the Sandbox, making minor alterations to change the protagonist tractor into the overworked Israeli middle class. David Grossman then captivated the audience with his story about a boy called Itamar who was afraid of rabbits.

To wrap things up, singer-songwriter-guitarist David Broza provided the thrilled parents and children with a passionate serving of some of the children classics he wrote and performed from his stellar The Sixteenth Sheep album, as well as more of his songs, including a reworked hit he and Yehonatan Geffen wrote 34 years ago, “Yihiye Tov” (Things Will Get Better), with the words updated to suit the spirit of the times and the protest.

Organizers called on the participants to join the tent cities and the daily activities in them.


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