This week in Jerusalem 444634

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Preschool teachers from the city’s Arab sector take part in the Bible Lands Museum study day (photo credit: Courtesy)
Preschool teachers from the city’s Arab sector take part in the Bible Lands Museum study day
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Christian moneys
City council member Arieh King opposes acceptance of a gift from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, accusing the organization of using indirect methods to promote missionary messages to city residents.
Presided over by Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein, the group presented the city with a massive jeep, new and fully equipped, that would serve as an advanced mobile security center to deal with terrorist attacks. King, who holds the security portfolio at City Council, says that there is no such need in the city now, and that all security needs are already well addressed by existing measures and equipment.
However, a large part of King’s refusal to accept the costly gift – estimated at no less than NIS 1.5 million – comes from his strong opposition to the activities of the Christian group.
According to the city council member from the Yahad list (a Zionist religious party that split from Bayit Yehudi), the city should not accept any gift from what he calls a missionary group, and stressed that the fellowship requests that the name of the organization appear in large letters on all sides of the vehicle.
King expected his fellow religious and haredi council members to join him in opposing the proposal at the vote last Thursday at the city council’s monthly meeting, but he was disappointed; 12 of the haredi members, and the two additional members from his own list and from Bayit Yehudi voted to accept the jeep, while he and Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) were alone in opposition.
“Alt-New,” a new exhibition at the recently opened Rosenbach Gallery for Modern Art, will include works from various selected artists – the third in a series at the gallery promoting the idea of group exhibitions.
The main concept behind the project is to establish a link, addressed by works of art as well as talks, between modern art and spirituality – and Judaism in particular.
Rosenbach Gallery is situated on Hess Street (off King David Street). The inauguration of the exhibition is scheduled for Thursday, February 1, at 7 p.m.
Old stuff
A new initiative to bring peace – at least to Jerusalem, if not the whole country – has managed to elicit mostly harsh criticism on the local scene.
The plan, presented by former MK and minister Haim Ramon, is to renounce the city’s jurisdiction over 29 Arab villages/ neighborhoods, and thus demographically ensure the Jewish character of the city.
There has yet to be any official reaction to the proposed plan, but unofficial criticism from both the Left and the Right has been strong. Ramon’s plan is part of a larger vision to reactivate the peace process for the city and the country – and bring him back to the political scene after a long period of absence.
While the proposal notes that most of the Arab areas were not always part of the city, there is a question whether any of them would agree to be disconnected from the city today.
The plan, for unclear reasons, fails to take into account that much of the proposed withdrawal is virtually impossible from a practical aspect. Jewish neighborhoods built after 1967 surround some of these Arab villages/ neighborhoods – and therefore prevent that possibility.
Ramon and his group, largely former Labor MKs and ministers, call his proposal “the plan for saving Jerusalem,” insisting that this is the only way to save the capital and keep it “Jewish.”
Mayor Nir Barkat’s reaction to Ramon’s plan was quick and acrid – at the Be’Sheva convention held in the city earlier this week, he defined the proposal as “a hideaway game and a slippery slope on the way to renounce the Western Wall.
“Whoever believes that Jerusalem can be divided simply lives in delusion.”
One more time
Bureaucracy? Not significant enough a sum? Lack of information? These and other reasons explain why only a small number of eligible business owners in the city center have submitted requests to get money from the special fund approved more than a month ago to help them cope during the “situation.”
With the onslaught of terrorism, the Finance Ministry, the Jerusalem Development Authority and the municipality reacted quickly to set up a special fund to help businesses in the city center, mostly bars, restaurants and coffee shops, that are heavily affected by the security issue. The fund offered help – grants and very favorable loans, according to specific cases and needs, of NIS 5,000 to NIS 70,000 – but the response has been negligible.
As a result, the deadline to submit a request has been extended for another month, although few business owners are submitting requests. Some explain that the bureaucracy is so complicated that they just give up from the beginning.
But for others, the situation is so problematic for that they simply prefer to shut their businesses down.
Last week, a flagship of the restaurant scene shut down: Topolino, which was the first one to accept the alternative kashrut promoted in the city by councilman Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz. The popular local eatery closed its doors and moved to Tel Aviv – a significant loss for Jerusalemites.
And the winner is...
TripAdvisor, the bible of many tourists seeking the best accommodations around the world, has added a small Jerusalem hotel to its latest edition.
Arcadia Ba’Moshava has been ranked as one of the 10 best hotels in the country, and as one of the 25 hotels that give the best service for tourists.
Arcadia Ba’Moshava, a boutique hotel with 24 guest rooms, is located in one of the most picturesque neighborhoods of the city – the German Colony – in a wonderfully restored historic building, and has been accepting guests since 2012 as part of the Arcadia hotel chain.
From east to west
Despite the tensions and security issues, no fewer than 150 preschool teachers from the city’s Arab sector participated in a special seminar focused on the promotion of museums in the pedagogic process.
The fourth annual symposium at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum focused on ways for attendees to utilize the museum’s facilities and resources to introduce new ideas and experiences to young students. The role of art and artifacts in education were among the highlights of the training session.