This week in Jerusalem 438290

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Lions Fountain in Mishkenot Sha’ananim (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Lions Fountain in Mishkenot Sha’ananim
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
No home for us
Should the municipality keep open a fire-scarred building that has been declared unsafe, just because it serves as a refuge for homeless youth? The opinions on this matter are divided, but meanwhile, a group of teenagers and a few young adults all living outside any familial or educational framework are out in the cold.
The structure, situated on Jaffa Road opposite the central bus station, is abandoned – like a few other such buildings in the city. For more than a year now, it has become the refuge for a group of homeless youths, who recently even obtained some support from those living nearby. Blankets, some additional necessities and food have been provided by neighboring residents, who have tried to somehow ease the conditions of these homeless – especially the few teens among them (some barely 13). But there is an evacuation order on the building, a target of arson three years ago, which, for unclear reasons, hasn’t yet been implemented. Now, at the worst time for the homeless – during Jerusalem’s cold winter – the time has come to implement it, and the group has to vacate the place in search of a likely nonexistent alternate solution.
The municipality has programs to help homeless persons, in accordance with their ages and personal situations.
For those who refuse to participate in a rehabilitation program, the municipality provides short-term alternatives during particularly cold periods (and in particular when there is snow).
There are several programs for the young homeless, but as explained by a high-ranking official at the administration for youth welfare at Safra Square, the major problem is their total disconnection from their families; the fact that they are minors adds to the complexity of their situation.
The building on Jaffa Road is unsafe, but the question remains what – if any – alternative solutions the city can offer them.
Back to business
More than two months after the current wave of terrorism struck the city, some signs of a return to normalcy could be seen on the east side since last week. The Friday market days on Salah a-Din Street are back in business, with women from area villages again bringing agricultural products such as vegetables, olive oil and homemade cheese to the neighborhood residents.
At the same time, the traditional open market for preparations to celebrate Christmas has returned to the Damascus Gate area. There, Jerusalem’s small Christian community (comprised of no fewer than 18 different factions) and guests from abroad can find all the necessary objects for the traditional holiday – including the famous Santa Claus suits.
A city police source confirmed that even though the security situation has not fully returned to normal, there is some feeling that life is coming back to business as usual in the city, including on the east side.
Whose children are they anyway?
Are the children of Jerusalem endangered because of the city’s decorative fountains? Following the death of a child in one such fountain in Herzliya last week, some concern about a similar situation in the capital has been raised at city council.
Deputy Mayor Tamir Nir (Yerushalmim) believes it is parents’ responsibility to keep an eye on their children to protect them, and therefore no changes whatsoever should be made to these fountains (such as obstacles to prevent infants from falling in and drowning). However, city council member – and sole representative of the opposition – Laura Wharton (Meretz) believes it is the city’s duty to ensure that no harm can come to very small children at these sites. At some of the fountains the water in the pool can exceed a depth of 24 cm. – deep enough for an infant to drown.
For the moment, the decision is to check on every one of the 35 fountains across the city, to determine whether they are really dangerous before taking any action.
No more need to say sorry
Ever been in the embarrassing situation in which a light rail inspector gives you a ticket upon discovering you’ve made use of a personalized Rav-Kav card that belongs to someone else? It has happened, according to the Transportation Ministry, more than a few thousand times, costing the perpetrator a fine that is more than 10 times the cost of a journey.
The personalized Rav-Kav is a smartcard containing owner information.
However, riders often use someone else’s card, not realizing that it is illegal to do so. In the case of two seniors, the price reduction being the same, there is no benefit to using someone else’s card, and the same goes for students or schoolchildren.
Bottom line: As of now, those who use another person’s Rav-Kav on the light rail will no longer be fined.
The newly completed list of buildings and homes slated for preservation in six neighborhoods, 8,000 in total, was set to be presented this week to city council for approval.
This is the result of Deputy Mayor Tamir Nir’s major efforts to bring the list to this stage.
The list, which includes the German and Greek Colonies, Rehavia, Katamon, Baka and Talpiot, will be an asset for high-ranking officials at the city’s planning and construction committee. As of now, in every case of planning, construction or enlarging of any structure in these neighborhoods (which have the largest number of such buildings to preserve), any approval to build or renovate will have to take the list into consideration.
Nir points out that this not the case in other neighborhoods, like Nahlaot for example, where a master plan has already been presented to the residents and approved. “In those cases, residents already had the opportunity to learn of the plan and present their opposition.
The procedure is finished and can no longer be changed – including the preservation of such historical buildings.”