This week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

 Judy Lewis 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Judy Lewis 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Welcome to Jerusalem
As in many previous cases in the past when the South has been under fire, the Jerusalem Municipality has organized different programs to host children from that area. Hundreds of children and teenagers are spending a “cool day” in the capital, including visits to Ice City, as well as guided tours of the city.
Each day this week children of a different southern city took part in the programs. On Wednesday, 350 children from Ofakim from first through sixth grade spent a few hours away from the red alerts. Previously, children from Ashkelon and Netivot visited the capital.
Even students from Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College in Netivot were invited and enjoyed a “chocolate party” held at the International Convention Center. The programs are planned and run by the municipality and its Ariel subsidiary, and will continue as long as the shelling goes on.
Bnei Akiva’s new home
Construction began this week on a new building for the religious youth movement Bnei Akiva this week. After 83 years of activities held in rented offices, the country’s largest youth movement will finally have a home of its own in the city. The location – near the Israel Museum and the Knesset – will house central offices, as well as the organization’s archives, a memorial hall, a visitors’ center and venues for its various educational activities.
Besides hosting regular activities for Bnei Akiva members, the location be a venue for its alumni programs and events, as well as for its spiritual-leadership conventions and meetings. Bnei Akiva has over 250,000 graduates, who, during their youth, were instructed according to its “Torah V’avoda” (Torah and work) ideology. Over the years, the movement has undergone some changes, the most significant being the request for gender separation among its groups.
New Spirit, new housing
A construction project to provide affordable housing for young individuals and families was launched earlier this week by the New Spirit organization. The project offers 36 apartments in the “New Talpiot” neighborhood – a large private-construction project on Bethlehem Road – created according to new housing rules, and supported by the municipality, thus allowing young, productive residents to buy homes in the city.
Roughly 250 residents attended a meeting held on March 8 by the organization, during which details and registration were proposed. Besides technical aspects of the project regarding the people entitled to buy apartments (under 41 years old, working and with no real-estate assets), attendees also met representatives of the Greater Baka Community Center, who told them about the neighborhood. The apartments proposed in the project have three rooms and will cost up to NIS 1.2 million, which, according to the Trajtenberg Report, should enable young, productive families to remain in the city, thus promoting a varied population.
New Spirit, founded as part of the Jerusalem Students Association about nine years ago, has a branch that develops affordable-housing projects in the city. The New Talpiot neighborhood is its third undertaking this year.
Taking women out the kitchen – Badatz-style
Residents of Rehavia and aficionados of Eastern European Jewish food are probably already aware that the local “Heimishe Essen,” located on Keren Kayemet Street is the preferred meeting point of ultra-Orthodox diners – men exclusively – on Thursday evenings. The restaurant, famous for its typical Eastern European dishes, is under strict control of the Badatz, a haredi kosher supervision authority, which has asked recently that on Thursday nights only men serve the clients.
Israel Hofshit (A Free Israel), which fights religious coercion, has launched a Facebook campaign calling on residents of Rehavia and all supporters of the struggle to rally against the exclusion of women by boycotting the restaurant. “This is an outrageous attitude, and we should not surrender to this disgraceful request,” wrote Eyal Akerman, special operations coordinator of Israel Hofshit on the Facebook page.
Sick imagination
The French Romain Gary Culture Center, whose mission is to celebrate and share French culture, is presenting a theatrical extravaganza (in the spirit of the commedia dell’arte tradition) of the French play Le Malade Imaginaire. The play will be performed in Hebrew on March 27 at the Henry Crown Hall at the Jerusalem Theater, and will feature actor Sasson Gabai and the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Parrott of the UK. Info: 560-5755.
Jazz pianist to give AKIM benefit show
Internationally renowned Jerusalemite jazz pianist Judy Lewis will lend her talents and stage presence to a worthy cause next Saturday evening at 8:30, in the German Colony. The event is being organized by Susan Fraiman, as a benefit event for the Jerusalem branch of the AKIM foundation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Lewis will play an evocative program of works, called “Piyutim – Sacred Poems Revisited,” which is described as “wandering through the musical landscape of the Middle East with joy and reflection.” She is a classically trained musician who hails from Milwaukee and enjoyed a highly successful start to her musical life, wining competitions and spending two years studying at the prestigious Columbia University in New York.
However, she developed an interest in a religious lifestyle and, soon after moving to Israel, she met and married a haredi man and spent a decade bringing up four children. During that time Lewis did not touch a piano keyboard.
She gradually found her way back into music – initially rediscovering her love for the classical side before she became turned on to jazz. She put out four albums that fused the jazz core with a wide range of styles and genres, and performed in Israel and abroad.
Next Saturday’s benefit will be one of Lewis’s last appearances here before she relocates to New York.
For tickets and more information: 563-3218 or
– Barry Davis