This week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Boy at Kotel 370 (photo credit: Yoram Sela)
Boy at Kotel 370
(photo credit: Yoram Sela)
Verse in the Valley
This month, Emek Refaim will host a series of poetry reading events. Starting this Sunday, readings by the poets themselves will take place at various coffee shops and restaurants in the neighborhood. The series, initiated and organized by A Place for Poetry, which has moved from the Lev Ha’ir community center to the Ginot Ha’ir community center on Emek Refaim, strives to widen the audience of poetry lovers in the city. Among the poets taking part in this week’s session are Almog Behar; Israel Prize winners Israel Eliraz and Meir Wieseltier; and Hagit Grossman representing the younger generation. The readings will be held at the Ben-Ami café and at Masaryk, followed by a concert in the Ginot Ha’ir courtyard featuring rock singer Hemi Rodner. Entrance is free.
For more information, contact or 566- 4144.
Fashion at the station
Do you have a passion for fashion and want to display your talent to a wider audience? D-Station may be the answer. A new concept for showcasing fashion, D-Station is reaching the public through a new venue, the First Station, which will soon open its doors. The old Ottoman railway station, which has been undergoing extensive restoration and renovation, will open for Shavuot with a special blend of local culture and cuisine – restaurants, coffee shops, galleries, fashion design rooms and sports activities for the whole family. Local fashion designers are invited to present their creations at D-Station to give aspiring designers the opportunity to be exposed to the public and give them an initial boost at the start of their career. The idea, explain the organizers, is to give novices a better chance to face the giants of the Israeli fashion industry, thereby promoting new initiatives and thus helping to develop the fashion brands of tomorrow. Festive opening on May 14-15.
Sustainable education, Kenya style
Africa is generally considered a place where sustainable societies rely on nature and its resources instead of accelerated – and sometimes harmful – Western style. However, it seems that it does not necessarily work that way. Hence the need for educators from Kenya to learn about a better option. This week, a group of educators from all across Kenya completed a two-month course run by the David Yellin Academic College, which trained them to combine the advantages of Western civilization with the values of ancient sustainable societies living in harmony with nature. The course was partly funded by the Foreign Ministry. The idea was to provide the students with the tools necessary to develop a modern society that would not become disconnected from nature and ancient traditions and to learn how to attain a balance between progress and tradition, modernism and roots in nature. One of the examples taught in the course was to accept that a scientist, such as a biology researcher, could move easily from his laboratory to field work and still feel that he was accomplishing something natural, explained Dr. Eyal Bloch, head of the Sustainable Education program at David Yellin, at the closing ceremony of the course.
National Library, take 2
Following the debacle of trying to choose an architect to design the new building for the National Library, it’s time for a second attempt. A special committee, presided over by architect Prof Luis Fernandez, met the architects who had submitted their candidacy for the prestigious project. Ultimately, they selected Swiss architects Herzog and De Meuron, winners of the Pritzker award for architecture, to design the new national library.
Shortening distances
For those who sometimes feel that the distances in the city are too great, here’s some good news. A cable car system could easily shorten the distances and allow free and easy access to some of the high points in the city. This is one the latest projects proposed by Mayor Nir Barkat, who recently informed the city council about his plan to build a funicular system that will connect the Khan Theater to the Western Wall, and from there to the Mount of Olives Cemetery. In fact, it is already more than just a project. Barkat said that a team of experts at the municipality is already working on it as a joint initiative of the municipality, the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Transportation Ministry. According to the plan, the cable cars will transport between 4,000 and 6,000 passengers per hour and thus become a major component of the mass transit system for the city’s tourists.
Alleviate the pain
Palliative therapy is an accepted tool in the holistic approach to cure and alleviate chronic pain. The Center for Holistic Support, created by late MK Yuri Shtern and some of his family, has become a much-appreciated center for cancer patients. The center is run by volunteers, and the organization that funds it is presided over by Shtern’s widow, offering help and therapy to some 2,500 patients a year. However, it has never received any support from the municipality through the welfare services, despite repeated requests to do so. The term “social-medical support,” which describes the nature of the help offered by the center, fails to meet the criteria of the municipality year after year. This week, after receiving its fourth refusal from the Welfare Department (which did not include reasons for the rejection), the staff and directors of the center decided to protest and to request a reexamination of their request. The center is run by 120 volunteers and a very small professional staff.
Sweet 13
Young boys who live in boarding schools and hostels whose families cannot afford a festive ceremony to celebrate their bar mitzva have a double reason to feel let down – their situation and the feeling that they are getting less than other boys their age. It’s hard to explain to a young boy that he will not be able celebrate such an important day in his life as lavishly as he would like. To allay that disappointment, several generous people and organizations got together to produce a beautiful event for the bar mitzva boys of the SOS hostels and the Reut hostel in Jerusalem, part of the Or Shalom organization.
The event, which cost more than NIS 200,000, was celebrated last week with a Torah reading at the Western Wall and a dinner and party for friends and family at the Euphoria banquet hall, in the presence of Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon. In the middle of the banquet, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called to congratulate the 36 boys celebrating their bar mitzva. All the expenses were covered by funds raised for the event from donations and private enterprises.