Ringing in change

Adam Ross reviews 2013 and looks ahead.

Ringing in change (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Ringing in change
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Stars of entertainment and diplomacy joined President Shimon Peres on his 90th birthday and followed US President Barack Obama – with his fleet of choppers, blacked-out cars and security personnel – as he rolled into town for his first official visit.
Red carpets were also rolled out for the leaders of the Czech Republic, The Netherlands and France. Other visitors who may have slipped under the radar – mainly because most of the roads stayed open – included lively Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and heads of state from Papua New Guinea and Malta, visiting for the first time and hoping to build connections with Israel in the fields of science and technology.
More than 800,000 people flocked to mourn the passing of Shas spiritual leader and former Sephardi chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef.UNCLEAR PEACE US Secretary of State John Kerry zipped in and out of the capital nine times. The travel conditions on his most recent visit, some would say, ironically mirrored the state of flagging peace talks, as he ground to a halt on the snow-covered pass between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Golden Boot-winning soccer star Lionel Messi and his fellow Barcelona team members donned kippot to pray and place notes in the crevices of the Western Wall, while the sound of Formula One racing cars could be heard revving their engines within earshot of Jaffa Gate.
As the calendar year draws to a close and the city’s billboards still show the frayed corners of municipality election material that saw businessman-turned-politician Nir Barkat elected mayor for a second term, what can we look forward to in 2014?
The coming year will witness the third and final phase of the changes to bus routes connecting commuters to the light rail in the north of the city. In turn, train frequency will increase from one train every five-and-a-half minutes to one every fiveto extend to the Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem in the south and Neveh Ya’acov in the north.
2014 could also see the new “green line” of the light rail approved, which would connect the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus and Givat Ram campuses via Safra Square and the Central Bus Station. But don’t expect to see a new flock of CityPass trains any time soon; Jerusalem’s multi-layered history means that the Antiquities Authority has to give the green light before tracks are laid, with local and regional committees of the Interior and Transportation ministries also waiting in line to assess any new plans.
Aside from the usual film, light and craft festivals that punctuate the year, the Israel Museum is gearing up for its largest Jewish clothing exhibition. “Revealing the Jewish Wardrobe,” which will run from March to September, will display more than 100 traditional Jewish costumes and accessories from around the world, exploring the blending of different cultural styles and the connection between clothing and memory.
Among the items hanging on clothing racks, visitors will be able to peruse attire worn by Jewish women of Iran influenced by Parisian ballet dancers; golden ceremonial dresses worn by Baghdadi Jews in Calcutta, India; and an exquisite, richly colored Uzbek coat.
In April, the Bloomfield Science Museum will open an Imagination Playground, inviting children to let their imaginations leap out of the box and build structures with giant blocks of all kinds of materials, as well as take part in a range of intriguing engineering workshops.
June will see the museum’s Mini Makers Fair hit the city, with a band of inventors of every kind offering fun, educational and interactive workshops for children.
In July, the museum will present a major biomechanics interactive exhibition. “The Machine Inside” will turn the spotlight on how the biological world functions, inviting visitors to understand the wondrous inner workings of man and beast.
Among other cultural events in the city, classical music lovers can look forward to a busy schedule, including renowned maestro Zubin Mehta conducting the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in La Traviata at the ICC in March.
Twelve years after the idea was first approved, April is slated to be the completion date of the Jerusalem Arena, the 10,600-seat home for the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team.
The sports complex will include an Olympic-size swimming pool, the country’s largest skating rink and 12,000 square feet of commercial and office space.
For those seeking sheer luxury, $5,000 will land you a night in the Palace Suite of Jerusalem’s Waldorf Astoria, set to open in the spring on Agron Street, overlooking the walls of the Old City.
Years following municipal elections are notoriously quiet on some level, as a new city council gets to work learning the joys of bureaucracy. However, anyone thinking that means it will be a quiet year for Jerusalem should probably think again.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently whispered into Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s ear at Nelson Mandela’s memorial ceremony that he wanted to pay us a visit in the coming months, while Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his plans to visit Israel at a Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund event in Toronto. And there’s a certain resident of Vatican City who, if all the speculation is to be believed, is slated to grace this Holy City in May.