This week in Jerusalem

The government has pledged to build 'a home for Hebrew language.'

Home for the Hebrew language (photo credit: Reuters)
Home for the Hebrew language
(photo credit: Reuters)
Save the trees
It is too late for 200 trees but still a victory for the rest, and even more so for two residents of Hantke Street in Kiryat Hayovel. The two led a relentless struggle against the systematic uprooting of the old trees in the street to clear the way for the installation of the tracks for the light rail. Their triumph was achieved last week thanks to the decision of the man responsible for the forestation of state land, including in cities, who had not even been aware of the municipality’s decision to do so.
Israel Galon, “Mr. Tree,” the forest commissioner at the Agriculture Ministry, alerted by the two residents supported by the Adam, Teva va’Din organization, immediately called a halt to any further uprooting of trees in the area until things were clarified. Later, Galon issued a decree that the uprootings did not conform to his policy and, in fact, had not officially been requested.
Eventually, the trees were supposed to be replanted in the same area. That was partially done, but the trees that were replanted in private yards on Hantke Street suffered from neglect (no one took the responsibility of watering them, and many simply died of dehydration).
What is so interesting about this story is that there is someone at the municipality who is responsible for trees, and that was exactly the person who authorized the uprooting!
Turf war
A tender issued by the Housing and Construction Ministry to build 312 housing units on the “Country” plot in Ramot has added fuel to the fire in the ongoing struggle between the haredi and secular residents of the neighborhood. As soon as the tender was issued, a race was sparked between the haredi and secular communities to obtain the rights to build on the plot. Ramot is one of the oldest areas of struggle between haredi and non-haredi residents. Secular activists who promote actions to keep the neighborhood free of haredi hegemony say that if this plot falls into haredi hands, that would seal the deal of Ramot as a haredi neighborhood and create a massive exodus of the nonharedi residents – hence the importance of the issue.
One of the significant aspects of the tender is that it is open to specific conditions, which require that the cost of real estate remain affordable for young couples and families. Secular activists request that military service be included in the prerequisites for residents entitled to the housing, a condition that would obviously exclude most young haredi couples.
This issue has not yet been resolved, and the struggle is far from over.
Right-wing fireworks
We usually use the word simha to mean “a happy occasion,” but the word is also used in reference to a juicy scandal. Well, here is one of those instances, with the outburst of passions “reaching fireworks proportions” (as described by one of the protagonists) at the local branch of the Likud party.
For years, the Jerusalem branch of the party that forms the government was considered the largest and most influential in the country. But in recent years, its image as the home of prominent MKs and even prime ministers has become that of a battlefield. The most recent episode has revealed an interesting fact – that many of the immigrants from Ethiopia have joined this party and are registered as active members of the local branch.
As a natural result of this relatively new trend, Avraham Negose, a veteran oleh from Ethiopia, was recently elected head of the branch. So far so good – but not for all concerned. A large group of local Likud members, some of them well-known figures, say that the appointment of Negose is just a way for another group of members to take over the branch and dictate their will. City council member Meir Turgeman, head of the opposition on the city council and a longstanding member of the party, says that as a result of the new situation, he has to run as a representative of Likud in the next municipal elections. He adds that he is not alone, explaining that the first result of this situation will be that “once again, the Likud, the party that governs the country, will not run a realistic candidate for the capital’s city council, and that’s a shame. Indeed, a real ‘simha.’” Home for Hebrew
Despite the current situation, which requires a lot of attention from the government in general and the prime minister in particular, Binyamin Netanyahu found the time to preside over a festive session of the committee to build “a home for the Hebrew language,” which will include a museum for the development of the renewal of the ancient Jewish language.
Prof. Meir Bar-Asher, president of the Academy of the Hebrew Language, which is responsible for the creation of new words in Hebrew, thanked the prime minister and reminded him that David Ben-Gurion set the example some 64 years ago when, in the midst of the War of Independence, he found the time to make the decision to establish the academy. An initial budget of NIS 1.2 million has been approved. The plan is to match public money with private donations to be raised for the completion of the project. It will be located in Givat Ram, not far from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Shabbat shalem
The Yeru-Shalem Coalition for an Inclusive Jerusalem, a forum for an inclusive Jerusalem through pluralism, is launching its first wide-ranging activity in the city. On November 23 and 24, a series of events for all ages and tastes will be offered to the public – observant and secular alike. Called Joy of Shabbat, the event will run through this Shabbat, followed by two other events in January and March. The program includes a musical Kabbalat Shabbat, cultural events for youth and adults, prayer services at various synagogues, activities for children and the whole family, performances and study sessions. The wide array of events is adapted for those who are Shabbat observant and those who are not. Many of the events will take place outdoor in the streets of Jerusalem as a means to bring life and activities back to the city, even during Shabbat.
Elan Ezrahi, president of the Ginot Ha’ir community council, director Shaike El- Ami of the same council, Elisheva Mazia of New Spirit and the staff of the Jerusalem Institute for Israeli Studies are just a few in a long list of names that are taking part in this project and expect more to join for the Shabbat events to come.
More information can be obtained at and strength to strength
Alana Shiff is Israel’s representative in the international women’s bodybuilding competition in Hamburg, Germany. Shiff, who is not an Israeli citizen but resides here with her husband (who works at the American Consulate), entered into the world of bodybuilding by chance.
Nevertheless, she has decided to take it seriously until she wins a gold medal.
A little over a year ago, Shiff started to go to Sky Gym to lose some weight. After a while, her trainer Meny Elbaz saw that not only had she reached her goal weight, but she had also attained an impressive level in bodybuilding. He asked her if she was willing to give it a serious try. With her decision to go for it, Shiff was connected to Elbaz’s wife, Lia, who is a nutritionist, and the couple got to work preparing Shiff for the competition.
On Saturday night, Alana Shiff, a black woman from Barbados, will wear the colors of Israel and bear our national flag, representing us in the world women’s bodybuilding championship. The Elbazes are confident that she will bring a lot of honor to the city.