This week in Jerusalem

Pedaling exercise. A happening will take place in the new Jerusalem Park during Pessah.

people walking  (photo credit: Courtesy)
people walking
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Good Tuesday
Tuesday was Good Deeds Day in Jerusalem. Among the many activities, a team of soldiers, municipality employees and Akim volunteers, led by Mayor Nir Barkat, visited Ethiopian olim in Baka-Talpiot to paint and spruce up their apartments for Pessah.
This is the first year the capital joined the annual national event.
More than 8,000 volunteers cleaned, painted and renovated apartments of new immigrants, elderly and disabled people in Baka-Talpiot, Nahlaot, Shmuel Hanavi, Beit Hanina and Kiryat Hayovel. The national day was launched five years ago by the Good Spirit organization established by Shari Arison.
Rooting for Rahel
Following the Knesset’s recent decision to allow the city to have an additional deputy mayor, a campaign began earlier this week calling for Mayor Nir Barkat to nominate city council member Rahel Azaria and not one of the haredi party representatives.
Azaria, chairman of Yerushalmim, a party created on the eve of the 2008 elections to represent the interests of young families, is a member of the coalition. Besides being responsible for early childhood and kindergarten issues, she also represents the affairs of community councils and centers and promotes a number of issues concerning young couples and families, emphasizing the nonharedi community. The additional deputy mayor was expected to come from one of the haredi parties, United Torah Judaism (eight seats and one deputy) or Shas (four seats and one deputy). Azaria is her party’s sole representative on the city council.
Delayed (re)action
The eight high-ranking employees of the haredi education department at the municipality who have been accused of spending their work hours on personal matters are still working. Last week, In Jerusalem reported that the new director-general of the municipality demanded their immediate resignation (within 72 hours) or he would take disciplinary action. But a week has passed and the eight are still there, and no disciplinary action has been initiated. There is, however, an increased atmosphere of suspicion and many accusations within the department following a leak saying that the municipal comptroller’s investigation stemmed from information supplied by someone in the department.
Sources at Kikar Safra say that following pressure from the UTJ representatives on the city council, the original 72 hours have been extended to “after Pessah” to give all parties time to settle the matter.
A day in the park
The Jerusalem Parks Authority and the municipality’s sports department are hosting a family sports happening during Pessah.
Bicycle riders of all ages can enjoy the green open spaces of the new Jerusalem Park. There will be free tours of the park led by guides from KKL/JNF and SPNI, with explanations of the history of the region and its flora and fauna. Bicycles will be sold at reduced prices to encourage residents to take up the sport and enjoy its health benefits. The park has several bicycle paths of various lengths and levels of difficulty, ranging from 3 km. to 16 km. For more information about municipal activities during Pessah, call 106.
Anniversary party
Hitorerut, the youth and student movement that has been spearheading some of the changes taking place in the city, is celebrating its third birthday. The movement, born out of a decision of a group of native Israelis who didn’t want to leave the city like most of their friends did, launched a campaign to show there are reasons for the younger generation to remain here. Gimmicks, bold public events (such as a bed paraded through the streets with a ringing alarm clock like a wake-up call) and supportive local press landed the party on the city council in 2008. Since then, party leader Ofer Berkovitch and Merav Cohen – who will soon replace him on the council – have increased their membership, obtained a substantial budget increase for cultural events, and created a more dynamic atmosphere in the city center.
Educated secular young people are still leaving the city, but Berkovitch and Cohen say the numbers are slowly decreasing, and those who stay are no longer considered weird by their friends. On Saturday at 7:59 p.m., a large celebration will be held at Ha’uman 17 hall to look at what’s been done, prepare for the future and register new members.
Amateur festival
Beit Avi Chai’s second amateur theater festival for English speakers is on its way. During Hol Hamoed Pessah, seven plays, two musicals, stand-up comedy and jazz performance will be held at the annual Stage One festival, a joint initiative of Beit Avi Chai and Merkaz Hamagshimim-Hadassah. The Maccabee Queen, a feminist play set in the tumultuous period of the Hasmonean kingdom, and S.Y. Agnon’s story “The Fable of the Goat” will be among the plays. Besides plays translated into English, there will be comedy routines about the difficulties of couplehood and absorption of American olim, performances by young musicians and an improvisational play with audience participation.
Renovating Romema
Romema is having a face-lift. With the framework of the new master plan for this neighborhood, NIS 17 million will be invested as a first step in upgrading one of its major streets, Rehov Petah Tikva. The infrastructures of the area will be renovated, followed by renovation of the surroundings. Playgrounds will be constructed, trees will be planted, and new sidewalks and benches will be installed, as well as a path for strollers. The municipality, through its auxiliaries Moriah and Eden is initiating these works, which will go on for at least a year. During this time, arrangements will be made to enable traffic to continue as normally as possible. Considering the extent of the works, part of it will be underground at the beginning.