This week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs.

Moshe Lion 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Moshe Lion 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A new contender
Moshe Lion, formerly director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office and until recently head of the Jerusalem Development Authority, has officially announced his candidacy for mayor of Jerusalem. The rumor that Lion, a close friend of MK Aryeh Deri and confidant of former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, was seriously considering the candidacy was carefully fed to the media for the last three weeks, and now he has made it official at a press conference.
On the terrace of Mishkenot Sha’ananim, wearing a black suit and a broad smile, surrounded by supporters (mostly entrepreneurs) and two residents who had all been close to Mayor Nir Barkat and have since become his fiercest opponents, Lion declared his love for and commitment to Jerusalem – even though he only moved here recently. He revealed his plans for the city under his leadership, such as cleaning up the streets, promoting a high level of education, offering a myriad of services to residents and catering to the needs of all residents, including those in east Jerusalem.
On the question of his eventual close ties with the haredim, something that could easily bring him a majority in the October 22 elections, Lion insisted that he had no preliminary agreement but admitted that he would seek a broad coalition. And if that sounds familiar, it is. Mayor Nir Barkat made a similar claim five years ago.
Veteran tenant
Less than an hour later and less than a kilometer away, the senior tenant of the mayor’s office, Mayor Nir Barkat, received the award of Champion of Religious Zionism by Arutz Sheva (radio and newspaper) for his “outstanding efforts and activities on behalf of religious Zionist ideals and the development and promotion of Jerusalem.”
Barkat was handed the prize by two candidates for the position of chief rabbi – Shmuel Eliyahu and David Stav – two days before the end of their campaign for the title. Barkat thanked the organizers and pointed out that the religious Zionist movement was a natural ally of his ideology and in his efforts to develop and advance the city’s position. In fact, this was in a way his response to the announcement of the candidacy of Lion, who has haredi support, while Barkat has a strong alliance with the nationalreligious residents.
The following day, Barkat added another element to his campaign and invited residents to join him in walking through several neighborhoods and sites to look at what he has achieved over the past five years.Cross that road
The residents of Beit Safafa won a significant achievement in their struggle against the Begin Road extension being constructed through the center of their village. Next week, the residents of this neighborhood – which before the Six Day War in 1967 was partly inside the Green Line and partly under Jordanian control – are set to submit to the High Court of Justice their response to municipality proposals for addressing the multiple noise and pollution hazards it is anticipated to cause the area. The residents, backed by strong support from associations and residents from other neighborhoods, oppose the project, which will run a six- to 11-lane highway – reaching a maximum width of 78 meters – through 2 kilometers of Beit Safafa’s center. The cost of construction of the highway is over NIS 1 billion.
Puppets on a string
Jerusalem’s 22nd International Puppet Festival offers a wide range of outdoor events for the whole family, all free of charge – an important opportunity for parents to avoid total bankruptcy this summer. Taking place August 4 to 8 in the courtyard of the Khan Theater, the festival will feature puppet shows performed by local artists, most of them students of the Naggar School of Photography, Media and New Music in Musrara and the Pandora Art Collective. The activities will include films, music and more, everyday between 4 and 11 p.m. Some of the free events will also take place at the First Station complex and at the Liberty Bell Garden’s amphitheater across the road. More details at
Judaism studies
The 16th World Congress of Jewish Studies will take place next week at the Hebrew University, with Prof. Yehudit Hauptman of the Jewish Theological Seminary as guest of honor. Cantor Haim Louk will lead an evening of liturgical songs at the opening. Top scholars in Jewish thought – 1,558 from across Europe, the US and Israel – will attend this major event, which will run for five days, starting Sunday, July 28. The congress will deal with some of the major and prominent issues of the modern Jewish world, such as “Who is a Jew?” and will also focus on the need to consider Jewish studies from a broader perspective than just the observance approach. Topics will include the world of the Bible’s, history of the Jewish people, Jewish literature from all periods, and Jewish art – with a total of 1,600 lectures open to the public.Natalie Portman enters the land of Oz
The novel by Amos Oz A Tale of Love and Darkness will soon be brought to the screen by Natalie Portman. The Israeli-born American actress recently received NIS 1.6 million from The Jerusalem Film and Television Fund of the Jerusalem Development Authority, which is the highest sum the fund has ever granted. All shooting for the film will be done in Jerusalem and will include a reconstruction of the period (the early 1950s). Portman will direct the film and play the main role.
The Jerusalem Film and Television Fund was created to enhance the presence of Jerusalem in films made here to promote the city as a tourist and cultural site to, among other reasons, change its image abroad as a place of war and conflict. Every year, the fund grants a sum of money to encourage filmmakers to shoot here.
This year, the total sum granted is NIS 3.19m. Filming for Oz’s biographical novel-turned-film will begin later this year.New curator in town
The Israel Museum has appointed Dr. Noam Gal as its new curator of photography. Gal will begin his work at the museum on September 1, replacing Nissan Perez, who retired on June 30 after serving as the museum’s founding curator of photography for nearly 38 years.
A curator and scholar, Gal has focused his academic research on the interpretation of modern visual culture, in particular photography, within the broader framework of critical cultural theory. He teaches visual culture and theory of photography at Ben-Gurion University and at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, lectures and teaches literary theory and visual culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and leads the Photolexic Research Group at Tel Aviv University, which concentrates on questions of spectatorship in the field of photography. He has also worked to engage younger audiences in photography and, together with the Shpilman Institute of Photography in Tel Aviv, is developing new teaching platforms that incorporate photography in the language-skills curricula of Israeli secondary schools. Gal also organized the international academic conference and artist workshop “Capture 2012: Photography, Nature, Human Rights.”