This week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Yom Kippur in Jerusalem 521 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Yom Kippur in Jerusalem 521
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
The first ever pre- and post-nuptial “mutual respect” agreement signing took place earlier this week in a private house in the Baka neighborhood. The event was an initiative of the Mavoi Satum association, which helps women who are refused a get (Jewish bill of divorce) and tries to persuade new couples to sign a prenup before the wedding takes places. The prenuptial agreement is a halachic solution recognized by the Chief Rabbinate to prevent a husband refusing to give a get, thus transforming the wife into a prisoner of an unwanted marriage. Despite the prenup’s being approved by Halacha, the rabbinate does not encourage couples to sign the agreement when they register to get married, hence the need for some action to be taken to serve as a model for couples who are considering marriage.
The event this week involved 10 couples, already married, who are leaders in their communities and who hoped, by their actions, to encourage more new couples to sign prenuptial agreements before their weddings. During the evening, the prenuptial agreement, which was first introduced by Kolech, the Orthodox feminist organization, was explained by Mavoi Satum president Batya Kahana-Dror, who expressed her hope that the trend would soon be adopted by all new couples. Among the 10 participants at the event was a couple that has been married for many years and who have six married children. The couple said they decided to sign the agreement in order to serve as a model for their own children and later for their grandchildren.Last opportunity
A special evening of slihot (penitential prayers said before the High Holy Days) will take place on September 20 at 9 p.m. to “prepare the hearts of the public for Yom Kippur,” according to the organizers. The program, entitled “Towards Closure,” will feature old and new tunes and religious songs from various traditions intertwined with actors’ performances depicting the characters and atmosphere of Jerusalem during this period of the Jewish calendar.
The event will take place at the Gerard Behar Center, and it is aimed at the observant and non-observant alike. “Through the different liturgical traditions of the various ethnicities represented in Jerusalem, we wish to touch everyone’s heart and soul, beyond their own personal attitudes to the religious commandments,” says theater director Benzi Bitran. More details at or 625-1139.
A new prayer
For those who prefer to listen to words of wisdom rather than to sing, the Ginot Ha’ir community center in cooperation with the Shalom Hartman Institute is offering a program of Jewish thought on the meaning of Yom Kippur on September 20.
“Praying Again” will offer the public an opportunity to hear scholars speak on Jewish spiritual issues with a pluralistic approach. Shaike El-Ami, director of the community center, explains that this event fits in with what has already become a tradition at Ginot Ha’ir – to “take Jewish traditions into the public sphere, as we did with the Tisha Be’av events – which have already become a part of our yearly programs.”
Included in the program is a discussion with Rani Yager, who established the Israeli Study Hall, a secular forum for Torah study in the style of a yeshiva, and Bar-Ilan University professor Avi Sagi, followed by workshops on prayers, texts and liturgy. The evening will end with a special performance by Rabbi Menahem Froman of Tekoa and singer Erez Lev-Ari. More details at 054- 772-4611.
A battle for their homes
Under the slogan “they’re stealing my home,” a group of residents of Hanurit Street in Ir Ganim is fighting against the municipality’s project to renovate the neighborhood. The project, which includes the evacuation of the current residents in order to build new buildings, is perceived as a plan to “transfer” the original residents (instead of helping them renovate and rehabilitate the old buildings) to make room for well-to-do new residents.
The residents, who have organized an action committee, say that there are other ways to renovate the neighborhood (which is considered one of the most neglected in the city) and want to be included in the planning.
As a first step to get the word out to the rest of the neighborhood’s residents, many of them new immigrants and seniors, two meetings have been planned for this week in the neighborhood’s park. The president of the local neighborhood council, Eyal Moshe, one of the leaders of the opposition to the municipality’s plan, initiated a petition to the mayor, which he expects to be signed by all residents. He hopes to have the plan reconsidered and replaced with one that will enable the residents to be part of the decision-making process and to propose their own solutions to the current situation of the neighborhood. More details at or call Mike Leiter at 050- 558-1275.
A mile in their shoes
Think Alzheimer’s disease is the end of the world? Think again.That’s the hopeful message sent by Melabev, the non-profit organization aimed at helping senior citizens suffering from this illness and their families. The association is launching a walkathon for the young-at-heart of all ages, from teens to seniors, to join together to hike for a cure to Alzheimer’s. The campaign’s goal is to raise $250,000 this year, to ensure the development of Beit Melabev, the center for Alzheimer’s care in the city.
When fully renovated, Beit Melabev will hold under one roof several model day-care centers and multiple innovative, awardwinning services for older adults.
Melabev professionals run support groups for family caregivers and accredited educational services for professionals in the field, as well as training programs in English for caregivers from foreign countries. Melabev directly serves some 600 families every year and, through its related services, many hundreds more in the greater Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh areas.
The program includes a moonlight walk on the evening of Tuesday, November 27, in the Judean lowlands near Beit Shemesh, which is the kick-off for the walkathon. Over the following two days, November 28-29, hikers will trek through the eastern Negev, in and around the Ramon Crater. Hikers can choose a route according to their level of comfort. Register by September 30 for an early-bird discount. For more information: , or 073-796-3959.