This week in Jerusalem 407098

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

The ‘Garden VIew’ exhibition. (photo credit: Courtesy)
The ‘Garden VIew’ exhibition.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Forgotten children
A very moving program to mark the day of remembrance for lost Yemenite children was held on Sunday evening at Rehavia’s Carousela coffee shop. Mixing brews and sandwiches with culture and social debate, the cafe attracts young adults and students as well as an older crowd – as did this week’s program. The association that organized the event, which aims to raise awareness of one of the saddest affairs that took place in the first years of the state, was at the center of the evening; testimonies by now-elderly women who lived in the ma’abarot (refugee absorption camps) in the early ’50s were presented alongside songs and music from the Yemenite tradition. The little coffee shop was packed, and dozens of people stood on the sidewalk and listened to the words and the music, attracting the attention of many passersby. The organizers announced their wish to mark this day each coming year, to perpetuate the memory and tradition.
IQ gathering
How does it feel to be surrounded by no less than 120 Nobel Prize awardees? Probably very challenging. But that didn’t prevent Bible Lands Museum director Amanda Weiss from inviting them all to visit the museum after hours as part of the international conference of the Center for Research on Rationalism, held in the capital last week. The conference guest of honor was supposed to be Prof. John Nash, who passed away a few weeks ago in a car accident. The guests enjoyed a guided tour, including current exhibition “On the Rivers of Babylon,” covering the Jews’ exile following the destruction of the First Temple. Attendees enjoyed learning about the deep impact of culture over the centuries, despite their life’s investment in mathematics and science.
Sounds of music
The Oratorio Choir will be giving a series of concerts in the summer months in several locations throughout the city. Today (Friday, June 26), the Oratorio’s chamber choir will deliver a concert at 12:30 p.m. at the Messiah Church at the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, facing the Tower of David; it will include works by Grieg, Hovelander and more, to verses from Song of Songs. The Oratorio Choir is the largest choir in the capital and one of the largest in the country, comprised of five smaller choirs that may sing together or separately; the chamber choir has 30 singers, and has been directed by Kate Balchay since September 2014. Tickets: NIS 60 and NIS 40 for students; available at: 054-623-2324.
A garden view
The “Garden View” exhibition on the photo competition organized by the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens has reached its final stage; it will be launched today and will be on display until July 10.
It will include 16 photographs selected for the finals, with prizes for the best three awarded today as well. The competition and the exhibition have been made possible through a grant from UK botanical gardens, and will kick off a series of summer activities on gardening, planting and botany. The entrance is through Herzog Street; tickets available at:
Missionary activity?
A large conference organized by a Christian mission that took place at the Payis Arena in May has raised the anger of haredi city council members. Despite repeated explanations from the organizers – Christians supporters of the State of Israel – there were, up until the last moment, attempts to cancel the event for fear it might be a missionary event. This is not the first time that Christian events in the city, albeit organized by supporters of Israel, have caused concern and opposition among the capital’s religious sector. Former city councilwoman Mina Fenton (NRP) devoted a lot of her activities to preventing such events, not always with success. This time, and despite the involvement of city Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the event was not shelved – due to legal aspects of the contract between the organizers and arena management. Since the arena is a municipal facility, the haredi city council parties obtained Mayor Nir Barkat’s agreement that from now on, any event scheduled in the city by Christian organizations would first be subject to the approval of Jerusalem’s chief rabbis, to ensure it is not missionary-oriented.
Summertime study
The municipality’s education administration is launching a new initiative: a summer program for third- and fourth-graders to improve their English. Project Talma, which will take place in July, will focus on various aspects of learning the language in six schools in the East Talpiot neighborhood. English teachers from the US, together with local teachers, will give the students a summer experience of learning English through music, theater, games and other experimental methods; each class will be taught by an American/Israeli team of two instructors. The program costs NIS 500.
Monster landmark
Famously adorning a Kiryat Hayovel playground, the Mifletzet (monster) slide, one of Jerusalem’s best-known modern landmarks, has undergone an extensive renovation as it marks its 43rd anniversary. A gift from French sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle through the Jerusalem Foundation, it has long been a popular playground for Jerusalem’s children, but required a serious renewal.
The preservation work was done under the supervision of David Bigelajzen, head of the Israel Museum’s conservation laboratories, and Dr. Martin Weyl, former museum director-general, and included painting according to the original work. The entire process was done in the framework of the reconstruction of the surrounding public park – the Rabinowitz Park – which began last September. The cost of renovating and repainting the Mifletzet was NIS 300,000, invested by the municipality for the joy of kids and parents.
Take two in Jerusalem
Under the slogan “Take two days in Jerusalem,” the Jerusalem Development Authority and the municipality are launching a special program for tourists in the capital during the summer months. The package deal includes a 50-percent reduction on second-night hotel stay or a free dinner, alongside a wide range of discounts on cost of entry to dozens of attractions and cultural activities in the capital – mostly adapted for families with young children. This is not the first year the city is launching programs targeted at attracting Israeli tourists to the city, and the results are more than encouraging. During the last five years, there was a more-than 30% spike in internal tourism; moreover, in 2014, 12% more hotels rooms were added to accommodate the increased demand. The campaign is kicking off this week in the national media.