This week in Jerusalem 391581

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Bimkom is objecting to a new master plan for Abu Ghosh. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Bimkom is objecting to a new master plan for Abu Ghosh.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jewish vigilantes
Arieh King, city council member (Bayit Yehudi) and resident of the Jewish neighborhood of Ma’aleh Hazeitim in east Jerusalem, is leading a group of fellow residents to defend themselves against repeated attacks by their Arab neighbors.
Following assaults that have included stone-throwing and fireworks hurled at a kindergarten that have remained unattended to by the security forces, the armed group patrols the area daily.
Last week, the new vigilantes caught a group of young Arabs in the act of throwing fireworks on the roof of a Jewish kindergarten and chased them into the Muslim neighborhood.
King said that he and his Jewish neighbors have given up trying to obtain the degree of protection that the security forces – including the Israel Police – should provide and have decided to take the matter of security into their own hands.
Broken contiguity
Is the continuity of the area of Jerusalem’s jurisdiction being threatened by one of the city’s new projects? According to city council member Arieh King at least, that is exactly the situation. A new project for a garbage dump in the middle of area E1, not far from the Anata neighborhood, which constitutes the contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, may change the status quo, says King.
The issue of municipal garbage dumps has already caused a lot of tension. The former site, near the village of Abu Dis, has aroused a lot of criticism and opposition. The new site is located beyond the Green Line but is not near any inhabited area. The proposed site is situated southeast of Jerusalem and should enable contiguity from the capital to Ma’aleh Adumim and the rest of the Israeli settlements in the region.
The project is at the initial stage, but King says the area should have been used to create a Jewish neighborhood for young couples and students who can’t afford the current housing prices.
Academic wedding
The Tzohar organization of religious-Zionist rabbis has launched a new initiative. Students will now be able to register for weddings on the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University. Students will be able to go to the Tzohar offices to choose a rabbi to officiate at their wedding and get all the information they need for the big day without missing classes or having to leave the campus during study hours.
Up to now, the 128 student couples who got married through the organization had to find the time to go to the region’s main offices in Lod.
So now, for those who plan to use the services of the organization dedicated to ensuring that the joyous occasion remains a pleasant experience, all they have to do is go to the campus and arrange things there.
Faraway places
For those planning a trip to New Zealand, South America or any other exotic location and who are in search of tips and ideas, the Jerusalem branch of Lametayel – the super shop for all the necessary equipment for such trips – is offering free information evenings, tips and advice. The store, located on Pierre Koenig Street in Talpiot, offers weekly meetings with experts on such locales, including the opportunity to ask all the questions they have regarding trips. Nepal, the Galapagos, China, Australia – you name it, and the experts and knowledgeable guides will share everything they know. For more details, call 077-333-4504.
Lentils? Why not!
Parents of children who receive a meal at school are invited by the municipality to listen to some lectures about healthy food. The program for healthy nutrition at schools started last year, but it seems that the eating habits of most of the children have not yet adapted to the new food on their plates. Parents have reported that their children return home hungry because they refuse to eat the meals they are served, apparently because they are not used to the new menus. Lentils, green vegetables and whole grains were not very welcome by children who perhaps were used to eating junk food.
The lectures are designed to explain to the parents that it is in their best interest as well to encourage their children to open their minds – and their mouths – to the benefits of having healthy meals. The lectures will be given by nutritionists at the community centers in each neighborhood. Details about the dates and times of the lectures are available from schools and kindergartens.
Do not forsake the elderly
Idan, the nonprofit organization that has taken care of the city’s seniors in various programs for the past 30 years, is bankrupt and is facing closure. The organization owes the municipality at least NIS 4 million in property tax. Despite all its attempts to reach some agreement, it has been rejected.
There is no way that the money can be raised within a few days as required by the municipality, so the management (the director general does not receive a salary) has announced that it will have to close down all its programs. These include a series of day programs, as well as homes for the elderly who cannot live on their own or don’t have a place to live.
Popular site
The municipality website received some 500,000 hits last month from 17 countries such as Russia, the US and France, as well as Iran and Iraq. In January alone, the site had a 50 percent increase in the number of hits. Most of the hits were for practical purposes such as registration at schools and kindergartens or other municipal services that are available through the website. More than half of the hits were made by residents who already use that mode of connecting to the municipality’s services, which indicates that there is a certain degree of satisfaction with the site.
Plans for Abu Ghosh
Bimkom, a Jerusalem nonprofit organization that helps residents obtain their rights in planning and construction projects, presented the objections of Abu Ghosh’s planners and residents to a new master plan for the village. According to the objectors, the new plan will not solve the problem of the lack of housing for the young generation and does not offer any possibility to develop the village’s capacity in terms of business, community needs and the like.
The new master plan is set to replace the one implemented in 1993, but the residents are complaining that it doesn’t take into consideration the increasing needs of a growing population, especially newlyweds and young families. The residents are requesting that the commercial sector, which is only the main street in the village, be expanded to the surrounding area to enable a small tourist section.