A chance to envision and actualize our ideal Jerusalem

When Rachel Azaria dropped out of the mayoral race on Wednesday, it became clear that the only candidate for those who believe in a Jerusalem for all is Hitorerut’s Ofer Berkovitch.

September 30, 2018 10:46
3 minute read.
Jerusalem city hall in Safra Square

Jerusalem city hall in Safra Square. (photo credit: DANIEL BARÁNEK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

When I immigrated to Israel and began ulpan, one of the first phrases I learned was cacha ze Yisrael, “such is Israel.”

When I waited more than 40 minutes for a city bus to come, cacha ze Yisrael.

When trash piled up for a week outside of my building as a worker’s strike was left unsettled, cacha ze Yisrael.

When I walked by an abandoned building laden with graffiti, sitting there uninhabited on one of the busiest streets of Jerusalem, cacha ze Yisrael.

When a friend’s heart was in Jerusalem, but she was forced to move, unable to find a job in her field, cacha ze Yisrael.

As an olah (immigrant) to Jerusalem, I found this attitude paradoxical and antithetical to the Israeli attitude I know and love.

Especially as olim, we came to Jerusalem not only to have a front-row ticket to the unfolding of the Jewish story, but to be an active player in the game.

Jerusalem represents the pinnacle of Israeli society, for better and worse, and as our mayoral elections on October 30 quickly approach, this is our opportunity to take the field by envisioning our ideal Jerusalem and voting for the party that will actualize our values and expectations for the city.

As a believer in a pluralist Jerusalem who has seen one party prove that positive and efficient change is possible, I do not want to say cacha ze Yisrael or cacha ze Yerushalayim. There is only one natural party and candidate left who represent progressive change for the city – a party that like Jerusalem itself represents the most unique parts of Israel.

When Rachel Azaria dropped out of the mayoral race on Wednesday, it became clear that the only candidate for those who believe in a Jerusalem for all is Hitorerut’s Ofer Berkovitch.

Berkovitch is the only mayoral candidate who has a proven record of working with any individual or party with the shared vision of building Jerusalem. With 10 years of experience fighting to make change in the city and four years as deputy mayor, he has the experience, vision, energy and idealism to continue on the path of positive change.

Within Hitorerut are secular and religious, Left and Right, old and young, olim and sabras. And this is no coincidence. As I sat under a sukkah with other members of the Hitorerut Party, we realized that like the four species, our differences and diversity become a positive force when we unite for the sake of our shared goal of building our ideal Jerusalem.

Hitorerut has opened its doors to anyone willing to build Jerusalem – those who do not take our challenges for granted and wish to see economic and cultural change in the city, free of cynical political deals and red tape.

Hitorerut has made Jerusalem more immigrant-friendly, offering incentives to youth movements to include Jerusalemite immigrants who are then able to become the voice for this underutilized and underrepresented sect of the population.

Hitorerut works for the religious, helping haredi (ultra-Orthodox) schools to build curriculums with basic education that fits their needs, while fighting to keep the First Station open for the secular population of Jerusalem. 

Toward Jerusalem’s economic revolution, Hitorerut has helped bring over 300 new hi-tech start-ups to the city, renovated 14 business centers throughout Jerusalem and reduced business barriers to support small, local businesses.

Toward a more culturally vibrant Jerusalem, Hitorerut was behind the first events in the shuk and increasing the budget for cultural institutions that unite Jerusalemites through new, creative means.

Toward an efficient Jerusalem, Hitorerut has enacted quick solutions for abandoned buildings around the city while promoting the construction of smaller, more affordable apartment complexes.

As progressive Zionists who believe in Jerusalem’s potential as a young, vibrant, clean city that represents and works for all sectors of society, Hitorerut is our natural home. By voting Hitorerut and Ofer Berkovitch, we are not resigning ourselves to how things are - cacha ze Yisrael - but how things could be - cacha yihiyeh Yisrael.

The writer is a journalist, an olah and a proud, new Yerushalmi.

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