This week in Jerusalem 450460

Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs.

S.Y. Agnon
Tamir Nir is leaving
At the last city council meeting, which took place on March 31, deputy mayor and Yerushalmim list head Tamir Nir announced his decision to resign from the council. He will be replaced by the next member on the list, Fleur Hassan-Nahum.
Nir resigned upon realizing that Yerushalmim’s decision to reject Mayor Nir Barkat’s proposal to join his Jerusalem Will Succeed list had a price.
Barkat had always made it clear that he wanted to lead the largest coalition possible, and within that, to preside over a large list of his own – the best way to avoid pressure within the coalition. So far, he has only managed to include Yael Antebi, sole representative of the Pisgat Ze’ev list, and Itai Gutler of the Zionist Union, who broke the alliance with Meretz and joined Barkat’s list. Yerushalmim inside Barkat’s list would have put a lot more power into the mayor’s hands, especially in facing the growing requests within the haredi benches regarding Shabbat issues, but the proposal was rejected.
So, in a way, Nir’s decision to completely resign from city council was predictable; he said he was expecting some sort of retaliation.
This retaliation, according to Nir, came via Barkat’s decision not to grant Yerushalmim a deputy mayor slot during the city council’s second half of its term.
“At the beginning of this council term, when [former Yerushalmim councilwoman] Rachel Azaria left for the Knesset, we were told we would have one deputy mayor for half a term.
But then Moshe Kahlon left the council, and his title (salary included) was available. We expected to get it for ourselves – but the mayor thought differently.
“Remaining at city council, with the large scope of work it requires, as a volunteer, became impossible for me,” explains Nir.
Old Talpiot preservation
About a week before resigning from city council, still-deputy mayor Nir managed to get the approval of the Preservation Committee (over which he presided) to add 58 structures and buildings in the neighborhood of old Talpiot.
Among them, were the residence of Nobel Prize laureate author S.Y. Agnon on Klausner Street and the house of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda on Ein Gedi Street.
Agnon’s house has become a center for culture, offering conferences and literature meetings, focusing on Jewish and Israeli modern literature by Agnon and other writers. The Ben-Yehuda House is recognized as a center for studies for young adults and high-school youth, who spend one or two days in the city to learn about Judaism, the history of the State of Israel and democracy. The Ben-Yehuda House is also open for other kinds of gatherings, including for adults.
Altogether, this committee has found, registered and completed an exhaustive – however still not yet finished – list of historic buildings and structures throughout the city that have to be preserved, and require special permits with strict conditions in any case of renovation or added construction.
For the moment, it is still not clear who will preside over this important committee after Nir.
Who pays
According to Deputy Mayor Zvika Cohen (Shas), who holds the portfolio for haredi education administration, due to the lack of adequate buildings for education institutions in that sector, taxpayers are financing no less than NIS 100 million in rental fees.
Cohen, like all those who previously held this portfolio at Safra Square, complains about the dearth of plans to build new classrooms and schools. According to him and to sources at the municipality, there is a lack of some 1,500 classrooms. The situation on the ground is unbearable, added Cohen, as pupils are packed in temporary solutions such as rented apartments or warehouses without adequate air conditioning or heat.
The situation is about the same in the Arab sector, with a difference. Due to an appeal to the High Court of Justice in 2000, the Education Ministry and the municipality were ordered to build new schools and classrooms for the Arab sector. Since then, the ministry and municipality have made efforts to build about 100 classrooms a year, in addition to several new schools. Such a court decision does not exist on the haredi side; Meretz, which submitted the Arab appeal, did not include the needs of the ultra-Orthodox, and so far, no new schools have been built for that sector.
It is not clear if the sum of NIS 100m. covers both of the sectors using rented venues or if it only covers the haredi budget for that purpose, but one thing is certain: too many children, both haredi and Arab, are studying in deficient physical conditions, and this is a blight on the city.
‘The King and I’ – 2016
The King and I, the beloved Rodgers & Hammerstein classic about the culture clash between East and West (as it looked back in the early 1860s) will be at the center of this year’s theater traditional production offering of the Frankel Theater, in the Frankel School in French Hill.
This school has established a tradition over the years of presenting to its pupils and their relatives – as well as to the large public – high-quality theatrical shows, acted and directed by teachers, students and parents at the school, with home-made costumes and sets.
The title role (of the King of Siam) will be brought to life for the third time by Joe Romanelli, known to many Jerusalemites as the founder and director of the Jerusalem Barbershop Ensemble. He played the King of Siam in 1989, when his own children were Frankel School pupils, as well as in 1997. Anna, the widowed teacher who is brought from England to teach the king’s numerous children and wives, will be portrayed by Bat Ami Yonayov, who is a teacher at the school, a mother of pupils there and a former professional opera singer.
Performances will take place on Monday, April 11 at 6 p.m. and on Tuesday, April 12 at 4 and 8 p.m. at the Hirsch Theater in Beit Shmuel, 6 Shama St. Tickets (NIS 40) can be purchased at the Frankel School, 20 Etzel Street, or ordered by phone at (02) 581-7070.