This week in Jerusalem: Sabbatical culture

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Kolben Dance Company performance (photo credit: Courtesy )
Kolben Dance Company performance
(photo credit: Courtesy )
A new venture from Hatnu’a Hayerushalmit (the Jerusalem Movement) kicks off a week from Saturday, the first in a planned series of events by and for Jerusalemites who want to participate in cultural events on Shabbat.
Tzafira Allison Stern, director of the Kolben Dance School, will be presenting a “Dance and Performance” program at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design’s Jaffa 23 gallery, where the “Mythographies” exhibition is now running.
The event will open with a guided tour of the exhibition, which tests the connection between religion and space through the display of universal images in various societies. In these surroundings, Stern and other performers – all women, all expressing a strong feminist interest in the body and its metaphors – will use humor, clichés, beauty and blatant images to highlight women’s freedom through artistic expression.
Stern and Hatnua Yerushalmit director Uri Ayalon say that neither the choice of topic nor the location and time are coincidental.
“We wanted to show that it is possible to have, in Jerusalem, on Shabbat, cultural events for secular people, and to prove that it is inaccurate to say that this city cannot hold such events,” explains Ayalon.
As for Stern, the event connects to her concerns about art-related feminist issues and the need for “people just like me [to] have the right to enjoy art and culture in this city.”
Ayalon adds that while acquiring all the facilities for the project required some effort, “we soon realized that in a few cases, we didn’t even have to break down any doors, we just had to decide that this was what we wanted to do – to have culture on Shabbat, too.”
The event takes place on May 4 at 12 noon, at 23 Jaffa Road.
The recommended donation is NIS 30. For more information:
Green weekend
The metropolitan parks surrounding the city will be hosting an open-air event for families next week, including creative art workshops, group sing-alongs, guided tours in nature, biking tours along green trails, and picnics at designated spots in the parks.
The joint project by the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Metropolitan Parks Directorate will run from May 2-4 and aims to cultivate a habit among Jerusalemites of enjoying nature close to home.
The organizers hope to make a new tradition out of such “green weekends” in the parks that have been planned and created around the city over the past three years. The goal is to add this event to the list of leisure activities the city already holds regularly, such as the five-day Hamshushalayim festival and other cultural events.
All the activities are offered free of charge, but require advance registration. Information on the bike trails is available at, and more details on the event are at club
The newly established Foreign Press Club at Mishkenot Sha’ananim hasn’t even officially opened, but it has already won a respectable distinction: It has been accepted as a full member of the European Federation of Press Clubs, it was announced April 19 at the end of a Press Clubs meeting. The Mishkenot Sha’ananim club will officially be inaugurated in June.
At the same meeting, Jerusalem Foreign Press Club director Uri Dromi proposed to the assembly of press clubs to host its 2014 annual meeting, a proposal that was immediately accepted by all participants.
The return of history
Jews from Ethiopia had a very different history than that of most Jewish communities in the world. Yet some 30 years since their first wave of aliya, their story is generally not known to the public, and is not part of the official school curriculum.
Now it seems that this is going to change – at least in Jerusalem – thanks to the personal initiative of one student.
Itzhak Damsiah, himself born to parents who made aliya from Ethiopia and a student at the Himmelfarb High School, has proposed to his principal that the school include a chapter on that aspect of our people’s history in its curriculum. Damsiah himself went on a journey back to Ethiopia to learn about his family’s roots, and came back with a feeling that the story should be told to all – not only to those who made the journey and are of Ethiopian origin.
The project was presented to and accepted by Moshe Tor-Paz, head of the education department at the municipality. Tor-Paz is scheduled to meet with Damsiah next week, and the project will be implemented among students through 11th grade – first in Jerusalem and perhaps at a later date, in the entire country.
Pirates among us
The capital has apparently found a very unusual way to rubber- stamp some of the most illegal activities. Illegal haredi kindergartens, open without any permit – including safety permits – have become almost standard in the city. For years, educators and administrators at the education department at Safra Square were aware of the cases, but only recently have they reached the mixed or secular neighborhoods.
Such is the case of three kindergartens, totally illegal and not even registered at the haredi education department, which function on Shmaryahu Levin Street in Kiryat Hayovel. Despite many attempts by the local neighborhood council, Yuvalim, to close them down, the three pirate institutions have continued to function openly, contrary to all rules.
The problem has been raised time and again at the city council.
Last week, a meeting was finally held on the issue between Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and representatives from Yuvalim, in the presence of professional staff of the education department.
But to the deep frustration of participating Kiryat Hayovel residents, the solution offered was not to simply close down the three illegal institutions immediately, but rather to submit the case to a committee to check what could be done to make them fit the rules. The problem was revealed more than six months ago, and activists say it should have been resolved within two months.
Speed dating – not what you think
Here is an innovative idea to help people who live close to each other get even closer. A network of neighborhood businesses will be kicking off a new project, led by the French Hill local neighborhood council at its community center. The “speed dating” will involve a series of 2.5-minute, one-on-one encounters between some 40 residents of the neighborhood, the first to take part in the project. The aim of these short encounters is to enable participants to learn at least the basics about each other – with regard to their profession and skills, and how these can be used within the community.
The event will take place next Tuesday, April 30, at the Eshkol Bagiva community center in French Hill, starting at 8 p.m.
Ronit Cohen-Glusberg, head of community projects at the local council, stresses that the invitation is extended to “residents of all professions, of all ages, in all disciplines.”