In Jerusalem: Blood, sweat and tears

A round-up of city affairs

The exhibit in its glory at the First Station. (photo credit: Courtesy)
The exhibit in its glory at the First Station.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Blood, sweat and tears
There is a new attempt afoot to close businesses inside the First Station on Shabbat.
Officially, doing so is a simple matter of procedure. The law requires any change in the use of a building to be recorded at the municipality. This permit has to be re-approved periodically. The First Station’s permit to function as a business center (and not as a railway station) is due for re-approval by the Planning and Construction committee.
Committee head Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman is prohibited from coming to his office at the municipality due to allegations of fraud and corruption. Replacing him is Deputy Mayor Yossi Daitch (United Torah Judaism), an unofficial mayoral candidate. Daitch is acting on two fronts: to convince the rabbis that 1) it is a good idea to have a haredi mayor and 2) that he is the best candidate to represent this sector. One good way to demonstrate his value is to re-open the struggle to close the First Station on Shabbat.
Daitch, apparently, is unaware that the First Station has become one of the most successful meeting places for all the sectors in the city, or perhaps he doesn’t care, since his main concern apparently is to promote his candidacy. He does not use a smartphone, so he cannot get messages and generally doesn’t rush to answer journalists’ questions even through his secretary.
Deputy Mayor Itzhak Pindrus, who seems to be less enthusiastic about the idea of a haredi mayor, has nevertheless indicated that he will fight for Shabbat observance in the First Station.
A special meeting of the city council is scheduled for the end of May to debate this issue. An estimated 15 of the 31 council members support Daitch’s initiative, since city council member Arieh King (Jerusalem United) has decided to join the haredim. Nobody knows what the positions of Mayor Nir Barkat or Moshe Lion are on the issue. The continuation of Shabbat commercial activity at the First Station will depend on one or two swing votes. Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, the head of the Yerushalmim party, has pledged to oppose the change vigorously.
Election diary
Mayoral candidate Yossi Havilio held a press conference on Monday to announce that Herzl Yehezkel, a prominent member of the Religious Zionist sector, has joined his list.
Yehezkel was frank about his hesitation before joining, as he, religiously observant, will have to work with a prominent representative of the secular sector, support the struggle to keep the First Station open on Shabbat and support Gay Pride in the city. He said his search for the broadest shared platform among the parties convinced him that he should join Havilio and his team.
Also present at the meeting was Dr. Tamar Tennebaum, a veteran activist in resident struggles, such as over the route of the light rail and the opposition of residents at Mishkenot Ha’uma to the parking lot being built near their kindergartens.
Hanging the sign
This past Monday morning, Mayor Barkat climbed a ladder and hung the first sign directing drivers to the soon-to-open American Embassy. Earlier, the municipality named the square on the junction between the two streets close to the new embassy – David Flusser and Kfar Etzion – in honor of US President Donald Trump. The decision was taken a few months ago by the local committee for streets and squares names headed by city council member Yael Antebi, but was finally worked out recently.
Yakir Bezalel
This past Tuesday, May 8, a moving ceremony took place at the International Convention Center, as the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design’s highest award “Yakir Bezalel” will be awarded to President Reuven Rivlin, and his wife, Nechama Rivlin.
This award, which is a way to honor those who have continuously done beneficial activities for Israeli society, will be a token of gratitude from the Academy for the Rivlin’s extended activities in bringing together people from various segments of Israeli society and from the different tribes of Israel, together – as Rivlin put it recently in his speech about the four tribes that make Israeli society. The Yakir Bezalel award can be compared to the honorary degree of academic institutes. It thanks and honor those who have enhanced and promoted the goals of Bezalel Academy, in all the fields of culture, education and arts.