This week in Jerusalem 448994

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Followers of ultra-orthodox Jewish rabbi Moses Teitelbaum of the Satmar Hassidim pack the Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar in the town of Kirays Joel, New York (photo credit: REUTERS)
Followers of ultra-orthodox Jewish rabbi Moses Teitelbaum of the Satmar Hassidim pack the Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar in the town of Kirays Joel, New York
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Lost pictures
Are the merchants of Salah A-Din Street protecting terrorists who murder Jewish victims? According to a source in the Jerusalem police, some merchants whose cameras monitor the entrance to their shops have destroyed the footage filmed on the day a Palestinian terrorist stabbed a Jewish passerby on that street last week.
The police have their own security cameras positioned throughout the Old City, which helps to keep order inside the walls and track potential stabbers, but there are cases in which the footage inside the private cameras of the merchants can be of additional value in investigations.
According to the source, the reason behind the decision of the merchants to erase the films may be connected to their fear that they will be accused of collaborating with the Israeli authorities, something that could put them in a difficult position vis-à-vis militant Palestinian organizations operating in the Arab sector in the city.
Lost souls
It may have not been noticed by all Jerusalemites, but the city hosted, last week, one of the most prominent figures of the anti-Zionism groups in the world – the Satmar Rabbi, Aaron Teitelbaum – on a visit here to meet the local members of his hassidic sect.
Satmars are vehemently anti-Zionist, and refuse even to visit places that were added to the Israeli control following the Six Day War – which they call the Six Days of Darkness. The rebbe even instructed them, a short time after the 1967 war, to leave the country, for fear they would be contaminated by the euphoric atmosphere of military victory here.
Strict rules of engagement apply when Satmar come here, including abstention from buying any product that could profit the Zionist state, or even thanking a policeman or a doctor who helps or saves the life of a member of the sect.
Unlike most of the haredim in the country and in Jerusalem, Satmar do not participate in political life, do not vote and avoid any contact with any representative of the Zionist entity, which is what they call the state of Israel. In 2008, during the campaign for the city council in which Uri Lupolianski ran for mayor, they attacked him in the Geula neighborhood and hurt two of his assistants.
Some call it the “Azaria effect.” Others simply feel that reason has finally won. One way or another, highly contested issues linked with mikvaot seem to be moving in a liberal direction.
One of the issues is the struggle of a large group of mostly local women to obtain the right to immerse in a ritual bath without the presence of a bath attendant.
Another issue is the request of the liberal movements – Reform and Conservative – to have the right to perform conversion immersions in them.
The aspirations of both groups are being advanced in the fallout of a Knesset bill on the subject. Government legal adviser Avichai Mandelblit said that a law forbidding Reform and Conservative access to public mikvaot for conversions and preventing women from immersing without an attendant could not be defended at the High Court.
For now, the legislation is being revised to make it acceptable, and while haredi opposition at the Knesset is strong, there is hope that the final proposal will be less problematic.
As for MK Rachel Azaria’s influence (she was one of the first to push for changes in the way ritual baths are organized while she was still a member of Jerusalem’s city council), her party’s leader, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, was one of the first to express his opposition to the proposed bill, stating that it was “offensive and not acceptable.”
A house for Beitar
The next time you attend one of the local Beitar soccer games, you may consider a package deal and buy – in a ticket to the game – an apartment in the Arnona neighborhood. The two are linked through a decision of the contractors and promoters of a construction project in that neighborhood, “Arnona Place,” to become sponsors of the local Beitar soccer team. Yahalomit Peretz, the construction company, has decided to become a major sponsor for Beitar.
Olé, Olé…
A delegation of top-notch Latino TV and pop stars is visiting Israel. These stars of TV and stage in Latin America, with millions of followers around the world, are visiting and performing across the country this week.
Their trip is sponsored by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, led by Gilad Erdan, in conjunction with America’s Voices in Israel, a wellknown New York-based Jewish organization that has brought many stars to Israel during the past few years.
Last Thursday, the stars toured Jerusalem and had an opportunity to visit holy sites and get a firsthand – and positive – impression of the life in Jerusalem and in the country in general. Steve Waltz, the director of America’s Voices in Israel who brought the group here, explained that these are some of the top stars in their respective countries in South America, and stressed the importance of their visit here in these days of insecurity.
Plants in exhibition
The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are launching a photo competition, that will culminate in a shared exhibition, both here and at the Botanical Garden of San Diego, California. Photos of plants, any plant, taken with a top-notch camera or simply with your smartphone, whether you are a professional photographer or just love to push the button of your camera and “take” a photo of things around you – this competition is the answer.
The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, which offer lots of additional activities (including gardening for seniors and disabled persons) will coordinate all the photos and a jury of photographers will choose the best photos. Each person can send up to two photos. The deadline for submission is midnight on May 12.
The Jerusalem exhibition will take place in June and will be followed by the San Diego exhibition in July and August at the local botanical garden there.
Photos should be sent to and more details can be obtained at (02) 679-4012 or at
Luxury and charity
The Inbal Jerusalem Hotel has launched a new corporate social responsibility initiative that promotes the good works of local charities. As part of this, the hotel will dedicate its lobby showcases to displaying the works of area charities.
The first organization to be given the space is Susan’s House, a nonprofit that empowers at-risk teens to find their place within society through artistic expression, personal investment and creative initiatives.
The showcases feature the beautiful pieces of artwork created by the Susan’s House youth, including delicate glass jewelry and giftware.