This Week in Jerusalem: Cheerful dental care

Peggy Cidor's weekly round-up of city affairs

Hora Jerusalem (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hora Jerusalem
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Cheerful dental care
A new clinic for the elderly called the Golden Age Dental Clinic will open on June 15. The third of its kind, the clinic is located at Beit Kiah on Rehov Agrippas, where subsidized and even free dental care will be provided for the elderly of the city. Patients are accepted on the basis of lists provided by the municipal welfare services. The initiative is supported through private funding and generous grants from abroad.
Oh, Jerusalem
“Even taking away the garbage can turn into a political statement in Jerusalem,” said former MK Ophir Paz-Pines at a special evening at the Begin Heritage Center dedicated to the city. Paz- Pines brought to the debate some of his personal experiences, such as walking in the streets of Mea She’arim and seeing large signs against Zionism and the secular. He concluded that despite formal declarations, even after 44 years, this city has still not become united.
Considering that Paz-Pines, who was the first leader of the “Jerusalem lobby” in the Knesset some 12 years ago, has since left the Knesset and the city (he now lives in Ramat Gan), it is hard to understand why the organizers asked him to assess the situation. Paz-Pines concluded that “It is a fact that Israeli citizens do not identify themselves with Jerusalem as their capital.”
In the same week, at a meeting of the Economics Committee in the Knesset, guest of honor city council member Yael Antebi complained that the symbols of the city and the state were not respected in some of the northern Arab neighborhoods, yet some statistics – such as the increasing numbers of olim who choose Jerusalem as their home – still indicate the importance of this city.
Dancing in the streets of Budapest
The local dance company Hora Jerusalem performed at the Israel Theater in Budapest for 1,200 diplomats and dignitaries to celebrate Israel’s 63rd Independence Day as the official guest of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The group is an official representative of the city and participates in all official ceremonies, often including the opening ceremony of Independence Day at Mount Herzl. The company presented a new program of Israeli folk dances, with 20 male and female dancers. This is the first time that the company was chosen by the ministry to represent Israel at an official ceremony abroad. Following its return to the city, the 50-year-old group, which is highly respected as a folk and modern dance company, performed at Sacher Park to mark the centenary of Teddy Kollek’s birth for Jerusalem Day.
Dry bones
Deputy Mayor David Hadari (Habayit Hayehudi) is promoting an initiative to bring the remains of Moses Montefiore to be buried on Jerusalem soil. Hadari has already sent a letter on this matter to the prime minister and the two chief rabbis, arguing that some halachic investigation had been made by Britain’s Sephardi chief rabbi, Yosef Pinhas Toledano, who ruled that it was not only permissible but even “a great mitzva.”
Behind this initiative lies the concern that, according to British law, it is possible to remove buried remains after 50 years for the sake of public interest. In the graveyard where Montefiore is buried, there is a plan to build a hospital and, in fact, the decision to remove the bones was made in 2008. “Time is of the essence here,” says Hadari, who adds that Jerusalem is the most appropriate place for the remains of the city’s most famous philanthropist.
Labor day
Is the Labor Party coming back to life – in of all places, Jerusalem? After all, if not in Jerusalem, where else could anyone expect resurrection? The city’s Labor Party members are already preparing for the next local elections in two and a half years. The general feeling among the members – veterans as well as the young generation – gathered around the recently elected district secretary, Esti Kirmayer, is that their current representative on the city council, Hilik Bar, does not deserve their support. The reason is that Bar is too much in line with Mayor Nir Barkat, including Barkat’s position on Arab neighborhoods such as Silwan.
Bar, who is also the secretary-general of the party, has a seat (No. 7) assured for the next Knesset elections, but so far there are no indications that he has any intention of moving his office from Kikar Safra to Givat Ram. Kirmayer only concluded by saying, “Everything will be conducted in a democratic way.”
Here it comes
Will city council member Elisha Peleg (Likud) be the next deputy mayor? The chances are more than fair, after Mayor Nir Barkat has apparently withdrawn his initial intention to appoint Rahel Azaria (Yerushalmim) to the post. Azaria, who didn’t have much support among her peers on the city council but raised strong opposition from the haredi benches, has little chance of becoming deputy mayor, despite her loyalty to the mayor.
Peleg, who is not the smoothest or easiest partner in the mayor’s coalition, nevertheless has an obvious advantage – he is not suspected of religious activist feminism like Azaria. The final decision should be made by the end of the week.
Building culture
Two major landmarks in the cultural life of the city were launched this week. One is the plan to enlarge the Khan Theater, a project headed by the municipality and the Jerusalem Development Authority, with strong support by the Jerusalem Foundation. The plan was already approved by the local planning and construction committee last year, and things are becoming a reality. The plan includes a large, new modern hall (450 seats), which will be underground, while the current hall will be turned into a large foyer.
The second plan is a tender to organize and run a cultural center in the old railway station compound. Approved in principle by the municipality about a year ago, the plan will be published soon. The Jerusalem Development Authority has prepared the guidelines for the tender and will be in charge of monitoring its results. At the end of the process, the Cultural Mile, which also includes the Cinematheque, will feature an impressive structure of venues for enhancing the cultural life of the city in one of its most enchanting landscapes, facing the Old City walls.