This week in Jerusalem 389423

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

The Jerusalem Harley-Davidson Club takes teens with cancer on an extreme ride. (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jerusalem Harley-Davidson Club takes teens with cancer on an extreme ride.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Who blinks first
An unpleasant surprise awaited Mayor Nir Barkat and some city council members at last week’s council meeting, when all the haredi representatives voted against a plan to build a home for lone soldiers in the city. NIS 110,000 was eventually approved for the repurposed Beit Giora building (originally an absorption center) at a second city council meeting on Tuesday.
The reason behind their opposition was not disguised: It was a simple issue of revenge that led the eight members of United Torah Judaism and the four members of Shas – both parties are part of the coalition – to reject the project, which was part of the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood council and Yuvalim community center program for the year. According to Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut), some of the haredi council members told him openly that if any other neighborhood council had planned the project, they would have never opposed it.
The animosity between the haredi representatives and the Yuvalim neighborhood council has been simmering since Barkat managed to pass a vote some two years ago on dividing Kiryat Hayovel into two local councils – a secular one representing most of the neighborhood, and a haredi one representing the ultra-Orthodox families in the neighborhood but linked to the nearby Bayit Vegan neighborhood, which is almost completely haredi itself.
Harley-Davidson on duty
Ten teenagers struggling with cancer were the guests of the Jerusalem Harley-Davidson Club, which took them on an extreme ride last Friday to give them a sense of touching “real life” beyond the daily concerns of their illness. Organizing the activity was the Zichron Menachem association, which works to aid young cancer patients and their families. Starting out from the Jerusalem International Convention Center, the tough-looking riders of the Jerusalem club took the boys for a tour around the city on their motorcycles – one that left both sides, according to the organizers, excited and deeply moved.
Shabbat art in Baka
Residents of the Baka area will have the opportunity to visit local neighborhood painter and musician Mordechai Beck at his home this Shabbat. The event is part of a project that the Greater Baka neighborhood council and community center has launched to provide artistic events for residents on the last Shabbat of every month.
Organized in collaboration with the Yeru-Shalem Forum for enhancing cultural and community activities for Jerusalem residents on Shabbat, the event offers the public an encounter with the artist in his natural environment. Tzaphira Stern, the coordinator for the project at Yeru-Shalem and herself a resident of the neighborhood, has planned a series of such encounters, which are suited to religious and non-religious residents alike.
The initiative attracted quite a few residents to its debut event last month. More details are available at events/924812184210601.
Cover blown
A serious incident occurred on Monday evening in the Shuafat neighborhood, when several undercover policemen were surrounded by hundreds of angry Arab residents and had to be rescued by special forces. The mob believed them to be Israelis trying to kidnap a young Palestinian boy in order to kill him. The undercover policemen had just arrested a nine-yearold boy on suspicion of throwing stones at the light rail, but since the incident happened very close to the place from which Muhammad Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and later murdered last summer, it raised the ire of a group of young adults in the area. They in turn alerted friends and neighbors, who tried to prevent the boy’s arrest. Several residents were injured in the melee.
Jerusalem heroes
Even before the Jerusalem Municipality revealed the names of the 12 Distinguished Citizens of Jerusalem for 2015 to the wider public, there were objections to one of the names: Rabbi Yeshayahu Lieberman, director-general of the Bais Yaakov seminaries in the city. Yoav Lalum, a Sephardi haredi attorney who has been leading the struggle against the illegal exclusion of Sephardi girls from Bais Yaakov seminaries sent a letter to Mayor Nir Barkat asking him to cancel the honor. In the letter, also addressed to Jacob Terkel, the president of the committee that chose the candidates, and to all the members of the committee and of the city council, Lalum describes at length all the incidents in which Lieberman has shown contempt toward the law and refused to admit Sephardi girls to his institutions.
But the list, including Lieberman, was approved 29 to two on Tuesday night.
The ceremony, which traditionally closes the Jerusalem Day festivities, marks the anniversary of the reunification of the city following the Six Day War, and will take place at the Tower of David in the presence of the mayor and other notables.
This year’s honorees are Prof. Eitan Avitzur, maestro and composer; Justice Ezra Kama; Sissy Shiklovski, founder of the “Becoming You” religious girls’ college; Prof. Nava Ben-Zvi, who created the Snunit website for students confined to their homes, as well as the ELAM project promoting the participation of women in medicine in the Middle East; Dr. Yaacov Hadani, a Jewish studies scholar and founder of the B’Yachad association to preserve North African Jewish traditions; Prof. Dvora Hacohen, a longtime educator who has contributed much to the study of Jerusalem, throughout history and in the modern era; Prof. Aryeh Durst, a Holocaust survivor who studied medicine at the Hebrew University, was a military doctor and founded the capital’s first hospital transplants wing, having also headed the surgery departments at Hadassah University Medical Center and Bikur Cholim Hospital for years; Prof.
Eliezer Shweid, who was born and lived all his life in Jerusalem, studied philosophy at the Hebrew University and won the 1994 Israel Prize for his research in Jewish thought; Prof. Tamar Ross, who made aliya from Detroit in 1956, is a scholar in education and Jewish thought, and is one of the most influential woman in the field of religious feminism; Lieberman, founder of the Bnot Batya youth movement for girls – which has 300 branches across the country, with 67 in Jerusalem – and one of the first educators to have created special programs for at-risk youth, both religious and secular; Rabbi Yehoshua Maman, who was the youngest presiding judge at the rabbinical court in Rabat, Morocco, made aliya in 1967 and joined the city’s Porat Yosef Yeshiva, now considered one of the most important halachic decisors in the Sephardi religious sector; and Dr. Martin Weill, former chief curator and director of the Israel Museum, and before that, artistic adviser to mayor Teddy Kollek.
These residents will, as of May 17, join the long and prestigious list of Distinguished Citizens of Jerusalem.