Jewish identity The Israel Association of Community Councils and Centers held a one-day conference on the topic of “Jewish Renewal in the Association,” which was attended by the organization’s staff and representatives of other Jewish organizations. Representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements, as well as other movements that focus on informal education and Jewish renewal, shared with directors of community centers in Jerusalem and across the country their visions of the role of the centers in this process.Various forms of Jewish identity and interaction between secular, traditional and haredi community centers serving different populations were at the heart of the conference.The Jewish Renewal department of the association is on top of the changes occurring in this field and is seeking viable solutions that the association can provide. Jerusalemite Dr. Ya’acov Maoz asked the participants to look for new paths and directions within the Jewish communities and to look for suggestions for Israeli identities that are not only Jewish. Sara Tesler, head of the department, suggested considering how these new issues could be addressed not only with Israelis but also with Jewish communities abroad.Back in business The Hofshishi market is back. The open market based exclusively on free exchange of goods, which operated for the last 10 years at the main office of the Jerusalem branch of the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel, is back in business. Following the closure of the offices in the Sergei Courtyard three months ago, the market had to stop its activities. Now, with the Jerusalem branch of the SPNI’s relocation to the Media Quarter on Derech Hebron, the market will function again starting today in the courtyard of the Natural History Museum (on Mohilever Street in the German Colony). The market will be open every Friday from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. Bring your stuff, and you can take whatever you like for free.Trash – not what you think Take-Away, a new play by Palestinians and Israelis reveals how we trash one another. In a garbage dump on a sacred hill, trash-pickers inspire hope. This initiative, led by Palestinians and Israelis, whose lives and worldviews usually exclude one another, decided to try to some new pathways.In their words, “to break through impasses, to unlock the grid of violence and to mend what is broken.” Creating theater is their shared language, and the stage is their meeting point. They are Muslims, Jews and Christians who collaborate and face difference and difficulty with care and respect. This is a community theater project. The YTheater took upon itself to explore, interpret, reinterpret and innovate.The plot of Take-Away, in Hebrew and Arabic without translation, focuses on a profit-seeking entrepreneur who plans to evict a neighborhood of trash pickers from their homes. Refugees from large and small wars eat, sleep, shower, forage and garden together on a sacred hill that has become a garbage dump. At the crossroads of survival and sanctity, the characters navigate satire and selfreflection, destruction and remorse. Even as the intruder offers the possibility of redemption from banal daily life, she sows seeds of enmity that jeopardize home, love and community.The play will be performed in Jerusalem, but the group needs support from the community. More details at ytheater.wordpress.comBalancing the budget for 2013In 2013, Jerusalem will have a budget of NIS 4.36 billion, which is NIS 272 million more than in 2012. The municipality will have an additional development budget of NIS 1.2b.(NIS 125m. more compared to 2012) for infrastructure, development and renovation throughout the city.This budget will be submitted for approval by the city council at the end of December. (No drama is expected, as Mayor Nir Barkat heads a docile coalition that includes 28 of the 30 council members, him being the 31st.) Along with the budget, a detailed working plan of the municipal departments will be revealed to the public, the highlights of which focus on education, renovating streets and sidewalks and expanding sports facilities and youth programs and projects. At a press conference held on Monday at Safra Square, Barkat shared his vision of turning Jerusalem into a capital for culture, sports and the young generation.With regard to the physical aspects of the plan, such as programs to improve sanitation services and the further development of large sports venues (like the renovation and enlargement of Teddy Stadium and the completion of the Arena), there is at least one part of the budget that may augur a dramatic improvement in the quality of life of young families – the education system. According to Barkat’s plan as it is outlined in the new budget, in 2013 all elementary schools will have a long school day until 4 p.m. for children aged three to nine. NIS 60m. supplied by the government will allow for after-school programs that will cost a maximum of NIS 200 per child (the real cost is much higher, hence they are subsidized by the state and the municipality). In addition, NIS 24m. will be invested to continue to lower the cost of preschools (age three and four) according to the Trajtenberg Committee’s report, aimed at making all educational facilities for early childhood affordable. Although the long school day program will be beneficial to young families, it may have a detrimental effect on the community centers. They are the main providers of after-school activities, for which they charge high prices. From now on, these programs will be provided within the school infrastructure, leaving the community centers with almost no income.Asked how he was going to solve this problem – since the community centers are part of the municipality – Barkat simply said, “Alternative solutions are being worked on.”The budget for repairing, renovating and maintaining streets and sidewalks has jumped from NIS 15m. to NIS 120m. for 2013. That dramatic improvement will enable sidewalks and streets to be repaired once every 30 years instead of once every 400 years as has been the case until now.Turning Jerusalem – a city generally associated with spiritual and religious issues – into a sports capital doesn’t happen by itself, so it requires a lot of money. That is exactly what Barkat had in mind when he determined to allocate – in addition to the funds already approved for the completion of Teddy Stadium and the Arena – another NIS 5m. for a skateboard facility in Liberty Bell Park. Two new public swimming pools will also be built – in Beit Hanina and East Talpiot – and a third one is planned for Pisgat Ze’ev. NIS 1m.will go toward the renovation of the sports facility in the Sieff high school in Beit Hakerem, and another NIS 2.5m. is earmarked for the renovation of the Yad Hamoreh school in Ramat Eshkol.As for classrooms, 800 new ones will be built in the coming year.Half will be in the Arab neighborhoods (where they are still lacking about 600), and 400 will be added to the haredi schools.