Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Mayor Nir Barkat (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Mayor Nir Barkat
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
One fine day Five Jerusalem minimarkets open on Shabbat have been fined NIS 470 each. Following the decision of Mayor Nir Barkat to accept haredi partners in his coalition, municipality inspectors visited the minimarkets – four in the city center and one on the seam road facing the Mamilla Mall – and fined them for being open in violation of the municipal deci- sion proscribing Shabbat commerce. The response of the minimarket owners was to appeal to the court, asking for a new debate on the matter and for suspension of the rule to close down on Shabbat. One of the owners, Gabriel Ben-David, who owns the 24/7 mini- market on Heleni Hamalka Street, even declared that if the current rule permits only non-Jewish owners to open their businesses during Shabbat, he would seriously con- sider conversion to Christianity to save his livelihood. Even without resorting to such extreme solutions, all of the owners of the minimarkets in question have announced their determination to keep their businesses open on Shabbat, as it is the only day on which they can make a significant income. One of their claims is that the municipality is applying a double standard in this matter – since bars, coffee shops and restaurants, as well as cine- mas are open on Shabbat in several parts of the city, while they are the only ones requested to close.
Which shadow The decision of the Gilo neighborhood council and community center to include the rapper Hatzel in the festive show for the eve of Independence Day continues to raise opposition. A number of people, including residents of the neigh- borhood, some members of the city council, teachers and educators in various high schools in the city (not only in Gilo) have objected to the performance and have tried to convince the management of the local council to cancel Hatzel’s participation. The rapper has recently expressed a few political state- ments representing far right-wing positions, including some that have been considered blatantly racist and even inciting – though he has never been investigated by the police for these declarations. One of the reasons invoked by city council members opposed to the rapper is that the show is part of the events planned for the city for Independence Day. However, due to an ongoing disagreement between Mayor Nir Barkat and the Gilo neighborhood council, it seems that the financial support for this specific show comes not from the municipality’s budget, but from private donations. Hence the refusal, as of this writing, of the Gilo council to cancel the controversial rapper.
The right to know Laura Wharton, city council member and sole repre- sentative of the opposition at city council, basing her action on the law for Freedom of Information, is attempting to require the mayor to publish his sched- ule of activities. Wharton (Meretz) claims that Barkat is so busy promot- ing his plan to enter the national political field that he is neglecting the city’s affairs. Barkat has published a Face- book call for Jerusalem residents to join the Likud Party, a step he himself took publicly a few months ago. Wharton is calling on him to stop promoting Likud membership, which she alleges is a misuse of his position. Following Barkat’s refusal to stop urging residents to join the Likud, Wharton requested that he open his agenda to the public. Believing that he is evading her request, she decided to attempt to leverage the freedom of information law.
We need education The annual “Education Week in Jerusalem” is set to take place next week, right after the 68th Independence Day ceremonies. The week of conferences, presentations, debates and cultural events will run from May 15 to 19, in vari- ous locations across the city. The guest of honor for the opening will be the renowned chess champion Gary Kasparov. The event will include lectures and debates on topics related to the educational issues. Barkat (holder of the education portfolio at city council) will deliver the open- ing lecture on opportunities for equality for students from different economic backgrounds, and the role of public financing. Stone embroidery At first blush, it sounds incongruous, yet Stone Embroi- dery is the title of a new exhibition of the local sculptor Raheli Tauber, who brings together two very different art forms. Embroidery is traditionally a delicate profession utilizing soft materials, while sculpting tends to evoke images more along the lines of brute strength, cold iron and large blocks of stone.
“The connection between these two very different forms of work” explains Noah-Leah Cohn, the curator of the exhibition, “is in itself a mystery.”
Whatever this mystery may entail, the works them- selves will be on display at the Emunah College Gallery, on 104 Bethlehem Road, at the corner of Rivka Street. The exhibition runs until May 30; entrance is free.
Attention, readers One of this city’s beloved legends, especially for book lovers, is embarking on a new path. The famous Stein Books store on King George Avenue, which closed down a month ago, is – like the phoenix – alive again, this time in the German Colony neighborhood. This is good news for book aficionados in the city. David Yehezkely, grandson of the founder of the leg- endary store, is back in business, launching a new outlet on Emek Refaim Street. The new store will not bear the brand name of Stein, for technical reasons following the sale of the name with the original store, but he hopes that his loyal clients will show loyalty and renew this local love affair between Jerusalemites and books.
North Africa not here The North Africa Jewish Heritage Center was greatly disappointed to learn that, despite what they considered to be a closed matter vis-à-vis the municipality, they will not obtain a nearby building to add to their compound. The center, which totally renovated the interior accord- ing to the strict norms of Moroccan-style decor, serves as a cultural center for the North African community. The building is earmarked for preservation, so the center can- not obtain authorization to add to it to enlarge it. Conse- quently, the directorship of the center asked for another building nearby that belongs to the municipality. There was an understanding between the two parties that the additional building, which until two years ago housed a school for disabled children, would be added to the North African center. However, for reasons that are still unclear, the vague understanding was never formalized by an official request approved by the city’s committee for public buildings, and last month, the directors of the North African center were surprised to discover that the building in question was being occupied. Following an inquiry at Safra Square, they found out that the municipality had decided to use it as a center where local artists and performers could rehearse. Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkowitz (Hitorerut) explained that the decision is to use the facility for the many needs of local artists – who do not have enough venues – while the North Africa Jewish Heritage Center already has a large building graciously given to it for its activities.