This week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs: A new i-Phone app gives new meaning to the term "telephone guide."

A new iphone app for Jerusalem 521 (photo credit: Courtesy Jerusalem Municipality)
A new iphone app for Jerusalem 521
(photo credit: Courtesy Jerusalem Municipality)
Full gas on neutral
One day of snow can be a delight, you don’t have to be a child to understand that.
Snow breaks up life’s daily routines, and if it doesn’t take too long, most people will even show patience and understanding. But it appears that at Safra Square no one wanted to take the chance of spoiling the residents’ mood. Based on last week’s weather forecasts, the municipality invested a huge amount of time (and probably, our money) to prepare for a possible visit of white flakes.
Shelters were prepared for the homeless, unstable trees were secured, and special equipment was dispatched to clear the major roadways. Indeed, everything was done at the highest level of safety. The snow, we all know by now, didn’t come.
Jerusalem residents were only left with photos of the real thing, which only the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights had the opportunity to experience. As for us, we remain only with the bill.
Ancient application
Jerusalem is getting connected to its past through the wonders of modern technology.
Now visitors can get an application for their smart phones launched by the Jerusalem Development Authority, designed to give a clear and easy tour of the city. In fact, one doesn’t even have to be in Jerusalem to get the tour – which is, obviously, totally virtual.
All you have to do is download the application and you can virtually visit Jerusalem’s narrow alleys in the Old City, or downtown; just beware of the light rail when you cross Jaffa Road. All this thanks to your own private guide – the technology hidden inside your cell. Your private-phone guide will lead you – in Hebrew or English – utilizing a GPS instruction link to help you understand what you see, explain the history of historical buildings, and even find the closest public bathroom. Mayor Nir Barkat, himself a technophile, said that through this device “Jerusalem connects between the past and the future, through the top technology that enables one to wander around Jerusalem, even without the need for a real guide.”
True, but what about the human touch? The device is available for the moment only for i- Phones, but will be soon be adapted for Androids.
Jewish sovereignty and minorities
What does it mean to be sovereign? What responsibilities does sovereignty entail? And above all, how does it work when we’re talking about sovereignty among Jews and minorities. The Van Leer Institute is holding a panel discussion (in Hebrew) on this topic next Wednesday (February 29, at 6 p.m.) at the institute (43 Jabotinsky Street) at the launch ceremony of the inauguration of Identities, a new journal of Jewish culture and identity. The main theme of the panel will be Jewish commitment to the minority within the state – a subject deeply intertwined with the present reality of Israel.
Opening remarks will be given by Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, and closing remarks by Rabbi Prof. Naftali Rothenberg of the VL Institute, who is also the editor-in chief of Identities.
A turning point
Turning Point, a project joining efforts with the Joint-Israel and Eshelim program (with the support of the First International Bank of Israel), provides a comprehensive program of rescue and support to aid haredi girls in distress. The program, which will operate in cooperation with the Haredi Education Administration of the Municipality, will help Jerusalem-based haredi girls develop the skills necessary to find employment in the local-business market in a way that will not conflict with their religious community. Before reaching Jerusalem, Turning Point has been successfully utilized throughout the country for the last five years. The program has helped approximately 7,500 girls rescue themselves from poverty and other risks through employment and professional training. The Jerusalem program will work with 140 girls aged 15 to 18 and will be supervised by Education Administration head, Itamar Bar-Ezer.
Religious leaders
Feel you can bring about peace through religious faith? Think you have the capacity to lead communities of believers – Jewish, Christian and Muslims – to a better life through their monotheistic faiths? Then perhaps this call is for you. The Palestinian-Israeli Religious Leaders Program offers an opportunity to increase leadership skills through one-on-one communication and conflict-resolution coaching.
Sixteen religious leaders representing the three major religions have been invited to join the program, which will include a 10-day overseas expedition in the wilderness, a four-day retreat, field trips to historical and religious sites and networking events with politicians, civil society and business leaders. Applicants must be between the ages of 30 and 40. The deadline for submissions is March 1, at The program is sponsored by Search for Common Ground and the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, and run by the Outward Bound Center for Peace-building, which specializes in leadership training.
Ammunition Hill – epilogue
The drama of Ammunition Hill closing down due to budgetary constraints has a happy ending. The government agreed to give NIS 2 million to keep the memorial site, which symbolizes the most significant battles of the Six Day War and is located close to the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood, open to visitors.
Recently, the management of the site announced that following a heavy budget deficit due to a lack of funding by the Defense Ministry, which is responsible for war-memorial sites, it could no longer function. The site, which tells the moving story of one of the hardest-fought and bloodiest battles of the war, is an official museum where the ceremony marking Jerusalem Day begins every year. Fortunately, less than two hours before the site was to officially shut down – following a very dramatic closing ceremony – cabinet secretary Tzvi Hauser came with an official announcement of the 2012 budget, of which NIS 400,000 was immediately deposited in the site’s bank account.
Hauser confirmed that in the coming weeks a special bill at the Knesset supporting the Ammunition Hill site will be sponsored so that such a situation does not happen again.