This week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs: Old City Flavors Festival was successful but caused haredi members of city’s coalition a bellyache.

Haredim protest Old City Flavor Festival 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Haredim protest Old City Flavor Festival 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Virtual pilgrimage
Cisco, a worldwide leader in networking, hosted a videoconference of The Green Pilgrim Cities Network, an alliance committed to adopting a green agenda, in which Jerusalem is a leading partner. The capital was represented by Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, considered a dominant force in the establishment of the network. The goal of the initiative is to have pilgrimage cities and religious leaders from around the world express their commitment to recognizing climate change as one of the major challenges of our day. At the basis of this earthfriendly initiative is less air travel, less expenditure and less pollution, through the use of videoconference facilities. The four-hour global meeting was held without anyone’s having to get on a plane, a “green pilgrimage” achieved through the technology provided by Cisco. Israel has two cities represented in the network – Jerusalem and Haifa.
Remember my name
Ruth Mason’s half-hour documentary film These Are My Names focuses on the meaning and importance of names in Ethiopian culture. Mason, a veteran immigrant from the US, investigated the connection between names, places of birth, families and their history within the Ethiopian community, and what happened to those names and their bearers once they arrived here and transformed them into a new Ethiopian-Israeli identity. An evening dedicated to the release of the DVD took place on Saturday evening at the Malkat Center for Ethiopian Culture in Talpiot, sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh. The screening was followed by a discussion with Ethiopian-born actress Tehila Adga Yeshayahu, who made aliya by crossing Sudan with her mother in 1982.
Babies on the seam
The 30th Well-Baby Clinic in the city is opening soon, and this one will serve Arab residents of Silwan. The Health Ministry has invested NIS 450,000 to renovate and adapt a structure of 120 square meters, in which four large rooms will welcome mothers and infants and enable pediatric visits and tests. To date, there are only three such clinics in east Jerusalem, although the clinics operating in the neighborhoods such as Gilo, Pat and East Talpiot also serve Arab residents in the surrounding areas.
Care and comfort
Idan Hazahav, the new convalescent center and rest home for seniors, opened this week. The center has undergone extensive renovations and is now ready to welcome elderly persons for a short period of care and relaxation after surgery or hospitalization. The center gives family caregivers an opportunity to have a brief vacation or take a longer trip. The center, located in Katamon and open to all residents of the city, offers professional care that enables families to save on the high expenses requested by professional caregivers. In addition to basic care and support, the center offers various rehabilitation services, as well as a friendly, social atmosphere so necessary in helping the elderly to recuperate. Fees are subject to subsidies, according to the financial situation of the person and his/her family.
In memoriam
A new work of art by sculptor Gideon Graetz is dedicated to the soldiers of the Etzioni Brigade who fought for Jerusalem during the War of Independence in 1948. The sculpture will be displayed in Bloomfield Park, between the King David Hotel and the Lions Fountain. The Moriah Battalion, part of the brigade that fought for Jerusalem in harsh conditions, wanted to honor the memory of the battle and the soldiers who took part. Representatives of the battalion asked the artist, who now lives in Italy, to create a work to commemorate their fallen comrades. The bronze statue is four meters high and depicts two hands holding a flame. The Etzioni Brigade lost 570 soldiers during the battle, and Graetz was chosen because he had fought in the Palmah during the War of Independence. The project was implemented with the support of the Jerusalem Foundation.
Collateral damage
The light rail will operate on Jaffa Road relatively soon, and traffic – and our lives – can return to normal. But not all the damage has been repaired. The downtown merchants’ association has contacted the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, whose members came to assess the situation for themselves. Following their visit, a meeting was held to discuss the financial impact of the light rail project on the center and the Mahaneh Yehuda area. The president of the committee, MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud), expressed his sympathy with the merchants and said he was willing to find ways to help them recover from the financial loss they had incurred during the roadwork. According to the merchants, the total loss of income over the past two years is more than NIS 170 million, and thus far neither the municipality nor the state has offered any substantial help.
Oh la la!
The French Cultural Center Romain Gary and the Jerusalem Cinematheque are launching a French film festival. Between April 2 and 16, a variety of feature films and documentaries will be screened, some of them in the presence of actors and directors from France. Among the expected guests are actress Isabelle Huppert and filmmaker Mathieu Amalrik. Most of the films in the festival are representing France at the Cesar competition. The Cesar is one of the most prestigious French film awards.
In poor taste
The three-day Old City Flavors Festival, produced by the Jerusalem Development Authority, was very successful but also caused the haredi members of the city’s coalition a big bellyache. The areas within the walls set for the festival were filled with visitors – foreign tourists, as well as Israelis – not only in the evening hours of the festival but during the day as well. But alas, nothing could be so simple, including three days of tasty dishes. The fact that the festival included non-kosher restaurants, located in the Christian and Muslim quarters, already infuriated the haredi representatives, who argued that it was not only a disgrace but also a problem for the Jewish population.
The municipality and the JDA rejected the accusations, arguing that clear signs had been placed everywhere to prevent any regrettable mistakes (observant people who would eat at a nonkosher place by mistake). On the opening evening, representatives of the haredi parties and from the Chief Rabbinate visited the festival locations and found, according to the haredi press, that some of the kashrut certificates were false. There is a lot of anger, but so far none of the haredi coalition members is ready to say that the coalition is in danger.