This week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Jerusalem (photo credit: Courtesy )
(photo credit: Courtesy )
A rabbi of our own
Last Tuesday, the electing body for the city’s next chief rabbis rejected all the motions and oppositions against the synagogues included in it, thus opening the door to the final stage of the procedure. Mayor Nir Barkat, who was already deeply involved in the matter during his own election campaign, has managed to achieve an election board that fairly reflects the various communities in the city, with 30 percent haredi and 70% other residents.
The election board is made up of synagogues chosen from among the list of synagogues that submitted their candidacy to the board.
The decision reflects fair representation of the Jewish communities in the city, but leaders of haredi synagogues that were not included in the final board appealed. Barkat has a bid for at least one of the city’s two elected chief rabbis to be from the religious-Zionist camp, a goal that he – and the 70% of Jewish residents who are not haredi – will probably achieve now. Next week, the election board will decide on the date for the election.
Learning to play
Have you always wanted to play instead of studying? Well, today it is not only possible but it is even recommended by none other than Nobel Prize laureate Robert Aumann, who will lead an innovative program of study based on his game theory (for which he won the prize). The program will be run in some of the city’s high schools, for outstanding students who have already achieved high grades and will now be able to participate in lessons about strategy, the prisoner’s dilemma and how to reach a decision.
Musical lessons
And for those who feel they could still use some more playing time, here it comes. The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, in a joint program with the Jerusalem Education Administration, will run lessons in history through the works of famous composers.
Learn about the Reformation in Europe through the works of Handel; understand Napoleon’s battles based on Mozart and Bach; discover the Bolshevik Revolution thanks to the music of Prokofiev. One wonders why no one thought of this sooner.
The city’s high-school students will attend morning concerts of the JSO, where maestro Gil Shohat will play, lead, explain (and perhaps even dance a bit) while his partner for the project, TV anchor Oren Nahari, explains what happened in the castles, the salons and the battlefields of the various epochs described.
Choosing a name
This past Sunday, Mayor Nir Barat installed a sign bearing Dr. Zerah Wahrhaftig’s name on a street in the Homat Shmuel neighborhood.
Wahrhaftig’s son and granddaughter said a few words in his memory and unveiled the sign at the end of the ceremony. Wahrhaftig Street is located at the junction with Eliyahu Koren street. Wahrhaftig was one of the top leaders of Hapoel Hamizrahi, the modern- Orthodox movement born in Germany that later became the National Religious Party.
Wahrhaftig was among the few who had the honor to sign the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948, and later became an MK and a minister.
No women, no men
Here is a peculiar solution to a nonexistent problem, which may raise the level of cynicism to new heights. We all remember the refusal of the Canaan Media Company to display photos of women on Egged buses. The Yerushalmim movement (now called Hatnu’a Hayerushalmit) petitioned the High Court of Justice against the state and the Transportation Ministry. Just before the court made its ruling, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz decided not to take the risk of having a court rule against his ministry and declared that the exclusion of women from advertising on buses was illegal.
Hatnu’a Hayerushalmit and its supporters were more than satisfied, and quickly prepared an ad that included photos of women, some wearing dresses with sleeves and some without. Soon, though, Canaan Media decided to publish only the photo of women wearing sleeves. Later, not only did it refuse to use the photo with sleeveless women, it even requested longer sleeves.
Sunday evening’s decision was even more shocking. Canaan Media announced to Uri Ayalon, the director of Hatnu’a Hayerushalmit, that it refused to use any photo with human beings depicted on it – men, women or children. The reason was to avoid vandalism by the ultra-Orthodox, who are fiercely opposed to any pictures of women in the public arena, including on buses. This story, which is beginning to look like a series, will probably supply us with many more episodes. Stay tuned.
Every child is precious
And who are we to disagree? Designer Joelle Medina Eckstein is launching an exclusive sale of select jewelry for the sake of the children of Afikim.
Afikim is an organization whose goal is to help and bring enrichment to children experiencing difficulties in their studies, and to their families. These activities are sometimes the last hope for at-risk children, not only saving them from failing at school but also helping the reestablish a dialogue with their parents.
Medina Eckstein, a well-known jewelry designer in Israel and abroad, has offered to open up her own home for the occasion and to donate a portion of the proceeds to Afikim, which has recently inaugurated its 10th branch in the city, in Homat Shmuel.
Afikim provides help in study and enrichment programs, as well as group activities for parents and their children up to 10th grade, in programs funded by the Education Ministry with the help of generous grants.
For details: or 073-223- 3000