This week in Jerusalem 402974

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

An Egged bus driving through Jerusalem (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
An Egged bus driving through Jerusalem
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
It’s Shabus
The number of people using the recently launched Shabbat bus services has grown significantly. While about 100 residents used the private bus service two weeks ago when it first launched, last week more than 500 Jerusalemites registered to use the new transportation option.
Provided by a coalition of organizations, including members of the local Meretz branch, the “Shabus” is gaining support from a wide range of residents – not just young people who want to get to the city center, but also seniors who want to visit their families in other neighborhoods. The Shabus runs once an hour on Fridays night starting at 8, from the city’s outlying neighborhoods to the city center and back. The cost is NIS 30 for a monthly pass.
A transportation company from the Arab sector is operating the Shabus, which for now consists of three minibuses. However, the organizers believe that the number of buses may grow if there are more customers.
A shop opening on Shabbat...
Users of the new Shabbat bus service will be able to stop for a coffee at the new coffee shop in Independence Park, following the owners’ final decision to open it on weekends.
Although opening on Shabbat was the original plan for the coffee shop, pressure from haredi coalition members at first caused the owners to change their minds. However, that step led to anger among the secular members of the coalition at city hall, especially from Hitorerut members, who in turn put pressure on both the owners and the city council. They seem to have won their case, since the owners have announced that the establishment will be open on Shabbat.
...And one staying closed
Several of the Holy City’s eateries have garnered fans in the Center of the country over the past few years, especially in Tel Aviv. Two months ago, the legendary Azura restaurant, famous for its kubbeh soup, opened a branch in Tel Aviv’s Sarona compound, and it has enjoyed much success.
Now it’s another local legend’s turn: The Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu delicatessen, located in the Mahaneh Yehuda shuk, is opening a branch in the same complex.
But owner Yaron Tzidkiyahu, who has become religious over the years, refuses to open on Shabbat, even outside his city.
The Sarona complex requires all its businesses to be open on Shabbat and holidays, but Tzidkiyahu remained adamant, saying he was prepared to withdraw from the deal if that remained a condition. Earlier this week, he managed to convince Sarona’s owners to allow his establishment to be the only one closed on Shabbat.
Men on a mission
City council member Aryeh King (United Jerusalem) is known mainly for his activities as a right-wing activist and as director of the Israel Land Fund, an organization that seeks to purchase land and properties for Jewish installations beyond the Green Line. King himself is a resident of the Ma’aleh Hazayit neighborhood of east Jerusalem.
Earlier this week, he was called for an emergency duty – to confront a group of Christian missionaries in the city center who were trying to persuade young Israelis to read their brochures and hear about their mission. King is a member of a volunteer group of activists dedicated to combating missionaries in the city. He said he managed to chase the missionaries away.
The group of volunteers is composed of some 200 men who are always ready to go any location in Jerusalem where missionary activity is reported.
“Whenever we get a call, whoever is close to the location goes there immediately and sees that the activity is stopped,” King said.
Jerusalem Day for three faiths
In an effort to counterbalance next week’s annual Flag March – the traditional Jerusalem Day parade in which Jewish residents march through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter – a number of groups have arranged alternative events throughout the city.
One of them is “Ma’aminim” (Believers), an interfaith prayer gathering for the peace of Jerusalem. The event, which will be in Hebrew, Arabic and English, will take place on Sunday at the First Station and invites all believers from the city’s three monotheistic faiths to participate.
The gathering – which will close a series of events meant to celebrate the city in an atmosphere of peace and understanding among its different communities – is an attempt to reach residents who have distanced themselves from the traditional ceremonies and parades marking the anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification.
Several organizations are taking part in these events, including the Yeru-Shalem Coalition, the Forum for Jewish Renewal, the Ginot Ha’ir community center, Hebrew Union College, New Spirit, the Yerushalmim Movement, Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum’s Zion congregation, and the Secular Yeshiva in Ein Kerem.
Among those attending the prayer gathering will be Hadassa Froman – widow of interfaith activist Rabbi Menachem Froman – and Sheikha (female sheikh) Ibtisam Mahmid.