This week in Jerusalem 222385

A large housing project in Pisgat Ze’ev might be stuck just before it reaches completion, and this time it has nothing to do with Obama.

portrait of kollek _521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
portrait of kollek _521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Levy left holding the bag
Bad news for city council member Rami Levy. The Jerusalem District Court has ruled that despite the uncertainty as to the final decision regarding the next stage of the Holyland project, Levy cannot back out of his agreement to purchase one of the plots in the project. Following a decision by the local planning and construction committee, the second phase of the Holyland construction project – four additional towers – will be frozen until the corruption allegations are completely clarified by the court. Levy purchased one of the plots shortly before the scandal erupted and tried, due to the freezing of the project, to retract his acquisition.
Now the court has ruled that despite the loss of money caused to the supermarket tycoon, there is no way to cancel his agreement, and Levy will have to wait until the committee decides about the future of the whole project – something that, according to sources on the committee, will not happen anytime soon.
School’s in for the summer
Following the considerable success of last year’s 11-month kindergarten school year, the municipality is expanding the project for all the kindergartens in the city. The little darlings will not study too hard during the hot month of July but will enjoy an inhouse summer camp in their kindergarten, thus relieving the parents of having to find an alternative framework for the children.
In 2009, the pilot project was launched in 12 kindergartens, was expanded last year to 80 kindergartens, and as of this July will apply to all the municipal kindergartens. The program, run by the regular staff of the kindergartens, will operate from July 3 to 28 five days a week (not Fridays) from 7.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.
Jerusalem headquarters
Hitorerut B’yerushalayim, the party representing the city’s youth on the city council, never sleeps. Inspired by the Channel 10 affair (the channel’s news department is required by the law to move to Jerusalem, but its owners are considering setting up in Abu Ghosh, a decision that Mayor Nir Barkat is trying to prevent) the party’s representative, Merav Cohen, has an exhaustive list of government offices that are not located in the capital. Cohen sent the list (four pages!) to the press in an attempt to put pressure on those who are not yet moving to the city.
The list includes MKs Limor Livnat, Yossi Peled and Silvan Shalom, the offices of the Agriculture and Defense ministries and various authorities connected to the Industry, Trade and Labor, Education, Justice and Health ministries. Even the Shin Bet (Israel’s security agency) and the Mossad are located in Tel Aviv and not in the capital. Cohen says she is planning to stage a massive campaign to bring all these national offices to relocate in the city, as required by the law, thus adding a large number of employment opportunities to the residents of Jerusalem and empowering the city in general.
No way out
A large housing project in Pisgat Ze’ev might be stuck just before it reaches completion, and this time it has nothing to do with President Barack Obama. The project, with hundreds of housing units approved (long ago) and almost completely built, may remain empty and perhaps even turn into a ghost neighborhood because of what looks like negligence on the part of the local authorities. The northern neighborhood suffers from a shortage of exit roads – the only road that links it to the city center carries all the cars coming not only from this large neighborhood (35,000 residents) but from Givat Ze’ev and all the surrounding areas as well. In fact, the rush hours at the junction have become a nightmare for the city.
But for some reason, all the plans to add more lanes to the road or to build another one have ended in fiascos. That’s why the planning committee added an unusual condition to the project’s approval – to ensure that the developers will build another entry road to the neighborhood. But this new road has not yet been built.
Thus since the prerequisite condition has not been fulfilled, there is a good chance that the apartments will remain empty indefinitely. Or residents of Pisgat Ze’ev will see their traffic nightmare increase to monstrous proportions if the new residents move in without a new access road.
Young volunteers
Volunteer Jerusalem, a new grassroots initiative offering young Jewish adults an opportunity to volunteer for Jerusalem-based social service projects, is launching its program for this summer. Chaired by Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, the project includes renovating children’s homes and building community gardens in various neighborhoods. The program is a perfect opportunity for young adults visiting Israel to find meaningful ways to spend their time. Young Jews who come to Israel and want to contribute can find a way to do so in this social start-up, while getting to know Jerusalem beyond the tourist bubble.
“By working with real communities serving real causes such as social and environmental issues, they are exposed to Jerusalem’s complex urban makeup, including multiple challenges and major social, political and ethnic gaps, and have the opportunity to work beside Israelis and meet Israeli peers,” say Volunteer Jerusalem founders Elan Ezrachi and Lisa Barkan.
Dear Teddy
This year, the annual convention and board meeting of the Jerusalem Foundation will be dedicated to the memory of its founder, Teddy Kollek. An impressive list of major donors will attend the meeting (only those who have donated at least $2 million). For this special occasion, an exhibition of portraits of the legendary mayor will be displayed at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, painted by some of the country’s most famous artists, in tribute to the man who loved and did so much for Jerusalem, says Ruth Cheshin, president of the foundation and former assistant of Kollek’s.
Since Cheshin was appointed head of the foundation 45 years ago, it has raised more than NIS 6 billion for the financing of thousands of projects in art, welfare, education, health and culture. Kollek, a recipient of the Israel Prize, died in January 2007 and is buried on Mount Herzl. The exhibition will run from May 30 to June 6 at the Dwek Gallery at Mishkenot Sha’ananim from 10 a.m to 8 p.m. Entrance is free.
Jerusalem marathon of events
Jerusalem Day at Beit Avi Chai offers an entire night of events – with food, panels of journalists, a movie marathon and much more. All these activities, most of them free of charge, will take place during the night between Thursday June 2 and Friday June 3. All the halls, lecture rooms and the courtyard of the cultural center will be open all night long, with lots of local food and good music.
For more information: or 621-5300.