This week in Jerusalem 452514

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Shopping center and residential towers in Gilo (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Shopping center and residential towers in Gilo
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Liberty, Gilo style
Residents of the Gilo neighborhood have had enough of the neglect in their streets and parks.
Following weeks of lacking municipal services, including insufficient cleaning, abandoned parks and low public budgets for the large neighborhood’s needs in various areas, a local initiative is calling on residents to join an organized revolt against the taxes.
Since last week, and openly as of last Friday (a few hours before Passover began) from the largest and most popular Gilo mini-market on Yehudit Street, the campaign has been trying to convince as many residents as possible to join. According to organizers behind the initiative, more than 1,000 (of Gilo’s 45,000-plus residents) have already joined and signed a petition to the mayor.
Among the requests: Take steps against the invasion of cockroaches and mosquitoes; fix broken sidewalks and remove the dirt on the streets; and above all, address the severe shortage of parking throughout the entire neighborhood.
Officially, this is a local, independent initiative of residents, who say they have lost their trust in the municipality and share a general feeling that they do not receive the quality of municipal services they deserve. However, there might be also a larger picture, involving behind-the-scenes tension between Mayor Nir Barkat and the head of the local Gilo council, one of Barkat’s most outspoken critics, Ofer Ayubi.
Early vision of the future
Is it just a case of over-organization that has caused embarrassment to the city engineer’s office, or is something else afoot? The tender for the new candidate for the position of city engineer – one of the most prestigious positions at Safra Square – was published last week, about a year before the end of the term of the present engineer, Shlomo Eshkol. He replaced Uri Shitreet, who is in jail for his part in the Holyland Affair. It has just been announced that his term would extend another year, but for unclear reasons, the tender for the new candidate was released at almost the same time.
Officially, the reason that Eshkol was asked to remain in the position an additional year is linked to the fact that the head of the local planning and construction committee, Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, has only recently assumed the position and needs some time to learn the job. However, sources at Safra Square say there might be additional reasons, such as an eventual larger vision of the mayor to completely reshuffle the whole department, including a new position of director of urban planning – and additional and bigger construction plans for the city.
The artist, the woman
American-born artist and painter Ellen Lapidot has a new exhibition, “A Spiritual Leavened (Hametz) Checking,” on display at Beit Hassid, the Center for Jewish Art and Culture at 45 Emek Refaim Street.
Lapidot has lived in many of the world’s great cities, such as London, Paris, New York and now Jerusalem, “to hear great music, see the fine arts and to meet people from all over this planet.”
Her path has also led her to spend a few years in the desert, in Mitzpe Ramon, where she painted gazelles, weather, the seasons, the wind – and friends, too.
Now established in Jerusalem, Lapidot presents works that depict the spiritual path connected with the Passover theme of checking for hametz – both a spiritual and a physical task. The exhibition will be open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., until May 10.