This week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Schalits 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Schalits 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Doing the right thing
Over 40,000 volunteers, all of them residents of the city, are involved in various National Service projects this year. Among these volunteers are 10 young Arab women.
The 10 women – Christians and Muslims – were received last week at a special ceremony held at the city council hall, in the presence of many notables.
The Jerusalem Municipality has found various projects are suitable for National Service volunteers, and 275 locals are doing their National Service within its framework – in public health, social work, babycare clinics and so on. The National Service alternative to the army is open to all citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, including haredim and Jewish volunteers from overseas.
Here comes the solar system
The largest solar energy project in the city has been approved and is on its way to being implemented. Fifty solarenergy systems will be installed on public buildings in the city (mostly schools) at a cost of NIS 35 million. The installation will be done by the Inbar Solar Energy company, which will invest NIS 10m. in the project.
The first schools included in the project are Keshet, Denmark, Beit Hinuch and Gymnasia Rehavia. The solar systems save energy and prevent or reduce to a minimum the pollution from poisonous gas. Another aspect of the project will be a special course on clean (solar) energy and its benefits, which will be given at all the schools included in the project as of next year.
Green building
The World Zionist Organization is seriously concerned about what it considers a “freeze on land acquisition” in the State of Israel and in the Jerusalem region. Prof. Shimon Sheetrit – once a minister (Labor) and city council member and currently a candidate to head the Jewish National Fund – says that if he is appointed, he will institute a green-friendly environmental policy in the venerable institution. Sheetrit wants to put the focus on the periphery, development towns and the capital region, to adapt them to the modern environmental approach and preserve nature. He would like to see more use of alternative and clean energy, and to increase the public’s appreciation of the importance of conservation.
Honey at the shuk
Garin Dvash, a Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel initiative aimed at developing the use of community gardens across the city, will participate this year in the “Balabasta” events at the Mahaneh Yehuda market. Like last year, with the generous support of the Jerusalem Season of Culture, during the whole month of July the market will stay open every Monday until late. Besides the advantage of shopping in cooler temperatures, there will be plenty of cultural events – and the youth from Garin Dvash will add their part. The activity will include teaching visitors how to prepare plants, how to take care of seeds and how to grow plants for home using recycled materials. Most of the plants thus prepared will serve later on to create a new community garden, this time for the Mahaneh Yehuda neighborhood.
Those interested to learn or share their green skills are invited to contact: amandal@
Dancing for a prayer
A Korean dancing group, which came here to participate in Karmiel’s annual dance festival and will also perform in Jerusalem, first visited the Schalit family tent near the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Some of the dancers, members of the Taego Buddhist order, representing about five million faithful in South Korea, are monks and perform traditional dances of their country and culture. One of the ritual dances they perform, a dance meant to bring peace of mind to humankind, is the Nirvana, which UNESCO added to the World Heritage cultural treasury two years ago. The group believes this dance has the power to promote unity and solidarity among human beings of all races and faith.
They believe that by performing this ritual, which they did on Sunday afternoon before going to Karmiel, they might help to promote Gilad Schalit’s return to his family.
Jerusalem and justice
Bema’aglei Tzedek, an organization aimed at promoting justice and equality, especially among workers and their employers, will hold its annual gathering to mark the beginning of the siege on Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. On 17 Tamuz (July 19), the gathering, traditionally held at Kikar Safra, will focus this year on the importance of Jerusalem to all its residents and lovers. Is it a symbol? A city like any other? Is it merely a capital? All these questions and more will be asked – and eventually also answered through learning appropriate texts, open to all free of charge. People who feel they have something particularly important to say on these matters are invited to contact the organizers. More details can be obtained at adihsamuel@
And more justice
 The Jerusalem Municipality is promoting and encouraging employment of people with special needs. As of this month, and thanks to the intense involvement of city council member Laura Wharton (Meretz), tenders put out by the municipality will focus on this sensitive issue.
All tenders that will be published from now on will give an advantage to firms, private companies and employers that employ people with special needs. Wharton emphasized that, in addition to this new requirement, the municipality will see to it that the rights of those handicapped persons employed are strictly upheld, and that they not serve merely as a “decoration” to serve the owners’ interests.
In other words, employers will not only have to employ people with special needs, they will have to give full attention to their legitimate rights according to the law. People with special needs represent about 18 percent of the population in the country.