Women’s Shabbat This Shabbat, Conservative synagogue Moreshet Yisrael is holding its second annual event to mark International Women’s Day. For the weekly portion of Vayakhel-Pekudei, female cantors and other spiritual figures will lead the service and give a dvar Torah to encourage support for more equality for women in Israeli society.Joanna Selznick Dulkin, cantor at Congregation Shaare Zedek in St. Louis, Missouri, and award-winning writer and composer of the Cantor’s Assembly in the US, will lead the prayer on Friday evening. The dvar Torah will be given by Tova Hartman, professor of gender studies and education at Bar-Ilan University, specializing in gender and religion, and gender and psychology. The author of Feminism Encounters Traditional Judaism: Resistance and Accommodation, which won the National Jewish Book Award in 2008, Hartman is also a founder of Jerusalem’s Kehillat Shira Hadasha.For more details: 625-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Festival season The 12th annual Jerusalem Arts Festival kicks off this week, with a wider range of cultural events than ever, performed mainly by amateurs from the city and elsewhere. An initiative of the municipality, the festival provides a stage for performers who are not part of show business per se but are dedicated to high-quality artistic achievement.This year, the opening event is a tribute to the late Haim Hefer and the songs of the pre-state era. This will be followed by an evening of Arabic and Jewish songs, a homage to the songs of Cat Stevens, and a family evening on the theme of Cinderella. Between March 11 and 19 in venues throughout the city, some 30 events will be offered to the public at very affordable prices. This year’s special performance is the musical Hairspray, with cast members of Anglo and Ethiopian origin.Running for the children Among the 20,000 runners who took part in the the third annual International Jerusalem Marathon last week were 18 female New York students who volunteered to run for the benefit of a children’s Passover day camp. The students, who are combining a year of study at the Midreshet AMIT in Jerusalem and doing volunteer work at the Beit Hayeled home for children, ran in the marathon to benefit the children they work with. The girls have come to Israel for a year after graduating high school. They continue their studies here and volunteer as counselors for the children who have been removed from their homes and live in Beit Hayeled. Their run was sponsored by donations from family and friends in the US.Training the boys An ambitious program to train and facilitate a way for young haredi men to study and find employment has been launched as a joint initiative of the municipality and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.The plan and the financing come from the ministry, and the implementation is the responsibility of the municipality, which has already acquired some experience in such projects, though on a smaller scale.The training center will provide education and counseling for young haredi men who want to find employment and require basic tutoring in various aspects of the working world, as well as vocational training and support.The program includes workshops on topics such as how to look for a job, how to write a CV and how to prepare for an interview. There will also be courses for other professional requirements. The center will provide assistance until the participants find a job.To ensure that the project is successful, a budget of NIS 48 million has been allocated to the program, financed by the Treasury.Honoring women Within the framework of International Women’s Day, city councillor Rachel Azaria and actress and playwright Gabriella Lev will be honored at a ceremony at the Cinematheque. The event, organized by the local branch of WIZO and the Jerusalem Israel Film Archive, will include a screening of Dustin Hoffman’s new film Quartet. The proceeds will go toward WIZO’s projects for girls and women at risk.Azaria will receive a special achievement award for her efforts to promote pluralism in Jerusalem, and Lev will receive one for her accomplishments in theater.The event will take place on March 11 at 6:30 p.m. For reservations, call 625-3641.Persona non grata A new point of contention is the community center in Baka, where local residents are refusing to accept the local council’s initiative to run a genderseparated camp for Chabad children aged six to nine two weeks before Passover. According to some of the residents, the camp is being offered at a highly subsidized price to attract needy families. But in fact, the Chabad camp is one of two options proposed in the neighborhood. A non-haredi program will also run in the community center; but according to activists in the neighborhood who are against holding programs for haredim, the latter may cost much more (as it is not subsidized) and may compel most parents to send their children to the Chabad camp.Yerushalmim (represented on the city council by Rachel Azaria) and Tnua Yerushalmit are still trying to prevent the Chabad program from taking place in the neighborhood because, among other reasons, not all the children attending will be residents of Baka.