This week in Jerusalem 322491

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs

Ancient crusader hospital rediscovered by the IAA 370 (photo credit: Yoli Shwartz/Courtesy of IAA)
Ancient crusader hospital rediscovered by the IAA 370
(photo credit: Yoli Shwartz/Courtesy of IAA)
Back in business
Less than a year after he left the Knesset and, officially, politics in general, it seems that Zevulun Orlev (Bayit Yehudi) is back in business. According to officials within the party, Orlev wants to head the local branch of the party and, as such, to lead the party to the city council. His major obstacle for the moment is the strong support given by the party leader, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, to his “protégé” Herzl Yeheskel, who plans to be the one to lead the party to Safra Square.
Behind that difficulty lurks another one that is no less daunting. Yeheskel supports – at least unofficially at the moment – the candidacy of Moshe Lion, who is from the national-religious sector. But Lion has behind him a “best man” who is raising opposition inside the party – Shas chairman MK Arye Deri. In that case, the local national-religious sector might remain in Mayor Nir Barkat’s camp and support him.
Orlev has a lot of support in Jerusalem, but Yeheskel is not likely to give up any time soon. One thing is certain: Orlev’s official declaration that he was finished with politics didn’t sustain itself for even a year.
Opening a stall at city hall
Sounds like a gimmick, but it might be true. The Mahaneh Yehuda Merchants Association is seriously considering running for the city council on an independent ticket. In what seems like a last-ditch attempt to deal with what they consider to be the municipality’s total neglect of their needs regarding investment and infrastructure development in the shuk, the merchants recently elected a committee that will go to the city council to secure what they need.
“But this time, we will not beg them to pay attention to our needs, we will simply vote for it and obtain our rights,” explained a vendor at Mahaneh Yehuda on Monday.
A large renovation project in the market area, already approved and budgeted, was recently postponed by the mayor until next year due to lack of funds, arousing much anger among the merchants. One of their complaints was that the mayor has used the market to promote his plans to increase the number of tourists in the city but denied the merchants the benefit of using the increased income to improve their conditions.An olive branch?
More than four years of anger, bitterness and blunt discourse – including two episodes of police interference during city council meetings – ended last Thursday, August 1, with a colossal switch – when Mayor Nir Barkat announced that his most uncompromising antagonist on the council had just become a member of his list. Meir Turgeman, once a close friend and until last week a fierce opponent, has obtained what he wanted all this time: to become No. 2 on Barkat’s list for the next elections. If the mayor wins in October, Turgeman will probably become deputy mayor (the present No. 2 and 3 on the list, Kobi Kahlon and Rami Levy, are apparently not continuing) and will hold sway over the community centers and local neighborhood councils. Asked if this step meant that he had finally become a real politician – meaning someone who could easily forget the nasty things done by other politicians – Barkat explained that he was able to assess Turgeman’s great capacities, as well as his biggest disadvantages, and thus believed they could work together for the benefit of the city.
Before Florence Nightingale
A huge structure that served as a hospital during the Crusader period was recently discovered by the Antiquities Authority. It was uncovered during work on a new restaurant in the Old City and belongs to the Wakf Muslim religious trust.
The structure held up to 2,000 beds and was the largest hospital in the region. In fact, it is even larger than most of the modern hospitals in Israel today. The ruin, which archeologists dated to the end of the first millennium, served the Christian pilgrims who made their way to Jerusalem, mostly to die in the Holy City, and was a very important institution. The structure is reminiscent of the Knights’ Hall in Acre. According to archeologists, it was from approximately that same epoch and continued to function as a hospital even after the Arab conquest and under the reign of Saladin, who allowed a group of nuns to take care of sick people there.
Apparently, the hospital ceased to function following the earthquake of 1457, which almost completely destroyed it. This week, after extended restoration and renovation, the hospital reopened for public viewing.
Committed rabbis An innovative study program to train rabbis to be more deeply involved in social aspects and the needs of their communities has been launched by Kol Israel Haverim and the Memizrah Shemesh pluralist beit midrash. The program will equip rabbis – from local areas and abroad – to serve as social and religious leaders in their communities and among the younger generation. With support from the Sephardi Educational Center led by Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, the program emphasizes the need to use social affairs as an integral part of rabbinical activities and functions. Subjects covered will include problems of modern society, social justice and tikkun olam (repairing the world), all well-rooted in Sephardi Jewish traditions, using study of Jewish texts to gain a new outlook.
It’s all in our ears A new application for smartphones, provided this time by the Jerusalem Municipality, will enable users to know, at the touch of a finger, about events in the Holy City. The app includes a direct connection to the 106 call center at Safra Square – in case one has an urgent announcement about some dirt discovered in their neighborhood! But the main use will be to let us all know, easily and rapidly, where to go for an interesting cultural event, information about transportation and traffic, or alarms in case of a terror attack. In addition, the app will provide some important phone numbers and updates about any municipal tax increases, the education administration and much more.Russian romance
The former Soviet Union’s new and veteran olim will be represented on the next city council list led by Mayor Nir Barkat. Marina Kontsevaya, a journalist and editor at a Russian-language newspaper, and simultaneously the Likud’s spokeswoman for Russian speakers, is Barkat’s newest acquisition. Until the Jerusalem Will Succeed party obtains its seats on the city council, Kontsevaya will head the group’s headquarters for Russian olim in the city – to convince them to vote for the mayor.Kibbutz tribute
Muki Tsur, a legendary figure and educator from Kibbutz Ein Gev, came to Jerusalem last week to pay tribute to the late Tamar Kollek (widow of the no-lesslegendary mayor Teddy Kollek), who died last week. Tsur delivered a eulogy for Tamar, explaining that the kibbutz and its senior members never forgot their pioneer days with the Kolleks. They were among the founders of the kibbutz on the shores of Lake Kinneret but left after the Foreign Affairs Ministry requested that Teddy serve at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. When he returned home, Teddy was selected by the Labor Party to run for mayor of Jerusalem – a position he obtained in 1965. In those years, Tamar was not very happy with the direction taken by her husband, arguing that she had come from Vienna to Palestine to be a farmer on a kibbutz and not the wife of a mayor. Nevertheless, she remained at his side and helped him a lot during his 35 years as mayor.
Last week, at the age of 96, Tamar Kollek was buried beside her husband – who died in January 2007 – in the official cemetery on Mount Herzl.