On your mark, get set....There are still three weeks to go, but Mayor Nir Barkat is already launching events connected with the Jerusalem Marathon, the city’s third international race, which will kick off on March 1.Runners from 52 countries have already secured their participation, with an anticipated 17,000 runners in all.The marathon is not only about fun and health, it’s also about business. At least 7,000 hotel bookings will be added to the city’s economy, not to mention an additional income estimated at a few million shekels. Some 70 TV crews will cover the event, in which 1,600 of the runners will be foreigners.The route of the Jerusalem Marathon is considered to be one of the most difficult, as it snakes up and down the city’s hills, but the view in many places is breathtaking (perhaps not such a good idea; after all, we’re talking about runners). Before and after the marathon, participants will enjoy lectures, films and documentaries, as well as some exhibitions about the city’s history at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.Streets will be closed, and traffic will be redirected to alternative routes. Perhaps it is better for non-participants to try walking on that day. The participants will have the choice between a full 42- kilometer marathon and a 10-km. mini marathon. More information is available at www.jerusalem-marathon.co.il Help stop the violence There are many ways to stop, or at least decrease, violence against women. Here is one local suggestion. New Spirit invites all those concerned about it to attend a special evening on February 14 to support the activities of the Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center. The event will take place at the Mitte Bar on Horkanos Street, beginning at 9 p.m., as part of an international event dedicated to this issue. DJs and lots of music will help you to do the right thing: Donate to the cause. That’s what’s called mixing fun with funding.Back to tradition It seems that Yiddish is becoming the next big thing. A special evening about the language and the culture will be held at Teddy Hall in the Jerusalem International Convention Center on February 13 within the framework of the 26th International Book Fair. The National Authority for Yiddish Culture has resumed its activities (after a six-year hiatus) and is presenting its new programs.These include support for seven new publishing houses of Yiddish literature.Mendy Cahan, the founder and major facilitator of YUNG YiDiSH, will moderate the evening. Cahan has launched a large campaign of gathering old books in Yiddish from across the country (this would be the perfect time to see what you may have in your library or storeroom). A documentary, as well as a klezmer group, will also be part of the program. Admission is free.National service, French style They are young, mostly religious and have lived with their families in France or Belgium. They share a strong Zionist feeling and believe that as such, their duty is to serve the country. So these young women – aged 18 and 19 – made aliya and immediately joined various National Service programs through the Shlomit organization.That could have been quite enough, but they wanted to do more, so they created a Facebook event, calling on other women like them to join the effort and take a one-year National Service program in Israel. The Jewish Agency organized them and brought them here, and the families have remained in Europe – perhaps not for long. Meanwhile, these women feel that they’re not just talking about their civic duty but are really performing it.They serve in hospitals, in the MDA branches and many other places, where they meet Israeli society and serve its various needs. The right to strike Parents of preschool and kindergarten children and the teachers’ assistants continue the fight against the Jerusalem Municipality with regard to the increasingly poor employment conditions offered to the TAs. Following the Trajtenberg Report, afternoon programs for children aged three to five have been removed from the community centers and were handed over to the public domain via local municipalities. In this way, the cost of the programs was substantially reduced from NIS 825 to less than NIS 200 a month per child. However, parents were dismayed to discover that this significant financial reduction would come at the staff’s expense, as their salaries would be drastically lowered.No one at the municipality had predicted such a unified struggle, but on Sunday it culminated in a one-day strike by the teaching assistants. Some 150 preschool teachers and assistants demonstrated at Safra Square against the new measures, and the strike received the full support of the parents’ representatives. School staff members are now organizing a workers’ association that will not be part of the labor union. According to the law, once the teachers’ aides become full members of this workers’ association, they will have the right to declare a grievance about their employment conditions, which will then enable them to strike two weeks later if their employers have not offered a viable solution by that time. Staff members have announced that they will vote for a strike if nothing has changed by that time, since they have the full support of the parents involved in the dispute.The teachers and parents agree that the municipality’s latest proposal is not a feasible solution. However, city council member Rachel Azaria, who has been closely involved in the dispute and was a consultant for the Trajtenberg Committee, said that some movement has been made in the right direction. At a meeting with the parties on Monday evening at Safra Square, the proposition suggested by the municipality was that longtime employees would be paid more per hour, and newer teaching assistants would receive an additional sum. But this amount was still lower than was requested.However, Azaria and the parents opposed to the arrangement indicated that so far, all these proposals will be financed by the parents, whereas they want the municipality to add some of their allocated budget as well. Another meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, but by press time it was not clear whether the situation was developing toward a strike or some form of agreement.