This week in Jerusalem 408488

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Kobi Kahlon
Musical chairs
Who is going to take over from resigning Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon? Depends whom you ask.
At least three city council members consider themselves the best candidate for the position, which entails heading the planning and construction committee and filling in for the mayor when he is absent. Yossi Daitch (United Torah Judaism) and Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut) are interested in the committee position, but so is the committee’s acting chairman, Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman.
For the moment, Mayor Nir Barkat has decided to divide the legacy of Kahlon, who is leaving Safra Square in November, and his first decision in that regard was to nominate supermarket magnate Rami Levy as deputy mayor, without the salary that accompanies the position.
Since Barkat’s previous term, Levy has refused to receive any salary, and the new title is merely an honorific.
Experimental and religious
The country’s first open experimental school for the religious stream will open in the capital in September, when the new school year begins.
The move is the result of a long and persistent struggle, led by a group of parents who have children in the city’s religious public school system. Until now, the municipality’s Education Administration has refused – for unclear reasons – to answer the parents’ call for an experimental religious school, but has finally admitted that the demand for such a school merits a positive response.
The new school will be in the Kiryat Menahem neighborhood, and it will grow naturally as children progress to each new grade. The registration for pre-school and for grades 1, 2 and 3 has opened, and the parents’ association and Education Administration may consider opening a fourth-grade class as well, based on the high demand from the public.
Additional information is available at the Education Administration or through the Kiryat Menahem neighborhood council.
Save the forest
A new protest is stirring in the city, this time against the municipality’s plan to move three army colleges to the Zippori Center in the Jerusalem Forest. The fear is that implementing the project will require enlarging the existing structures, and thereby lead to the destruction of part of the forest – the city’s largest green lung.
Although some of the protesters are in full agreement that bringing the military colleges to the city is a positive project and will contribute to the capital’s economic development, they add that so far nothing in the project indicates any concern for the preservation of the forest.
This issue will probably continue to develop in the next few weeks, but for now, a group of residents, along with former municipality legal adviser Yossi Havilio, is planning a protest campaign to reach as many of the city’s residents as possible.
A tribe in the city
Some of the city’s oldest families have already gotten together to share their stories; now it’s the Armoza family’s turn – though they’re really more of a tribe, judging by their size.
Jerusalem-born storyteller and singer Moni Armoza held a family gathering this week at the Gerard Behar Center, welcoming members of the tribe scattered throughout the country and abroad – thousands of them, by his estimate. The evening, which consisted of stories and songs about the family, went by the title “Agrippas, Corner of Rahmo” – a reference to the spot at the Mahaneh Yehuda market where the family had its shops. In Hebrew, Ladino and Greek, he recounted the whole story, punctuated by anecdotes and numerous songs.
The family, which originated in Spain, was expelled in 1592 and traveled to Turkey, the Balkans and Greece. Its members finally reached Jerusalem’s Nahlaot neighborhood and the Mahaneh Yehuda market, where they settled, like so many families exiled from Spain.
We need a director
For the past two years, Hadassah University Medical Center – one of the city’s most important institutions – has suffered from strikes and crises. With the appointment of the new government following March’s elections, United Torah Judaism MK Ya’acov Litzman has been appointed deputy health minister (since members of the ultra- Orthodox party have always refused to be full ministers), and the prime minister is in charge of the health portfolio. Meanwhile, after a reorganization of the Hadassah board following the dismissal of former director Prof. Shlomo Mor- Yosef last year, the institution still does not have a permanent director.
In an urgent appeal to Litzman, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has called for an immediate decision on the appointment of a new director, writing that “the city of Jerusalem cannot afford to have such a large and important health institution continue to function without permanent and steady direction.”