This week in Jerusalem 456940

Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs.

A poster advertises the light rail contest at the Haturim station (photo credit: ERICA SCHACHNE)
A poster advertises the light rail contest at the Haturim station
(photo credit: ERICA SCHACHNE)
Not just a light rail
Hard to believe, but the light rail has been functioning here for five years and has, no question, changed the way we move in this city. To mark the date, CityPass has launched a light rail-inspired competition through Instagram.
“My Light” (or in Hebrew, Hakala Sheli) is open to the public, and will award three prizes – all sophisticated cameras – to the three best photos. All you have to do is take a photo of yourself in a light rail car, post it on Instagram with the hashtag #MyKala (in Hebrew), and wait for the judges’ decision – expected by the end of July.
What remains to be seen is if this nice initiative will be enough to erase the level of frustration caused by what many see as overly frequent passenger fines, yet for the moment, there are high hopes that the competition will create a warmer atmosphere between CityPass and Jerusalemites (and others) that use the light rail.
Visiting experience
On June 8, Yad Sarah launched its first visitors’ center at its site on Herzl Boulevard, in the presence of many guests and donors. Uri Lupolianski – founder and president of the nonprofit, which provides care and lends medical devices across the country – has even brought the association to the United Nations.
(Yad Sarah is the only such organization with special recognized status at the UN, serving as a model for similar organizations in various countries around the world.) Invitees had an opportunity to get to know staff and learn how Yad Sarah meets the needs of those with medical conditions or disabilities. Today, no less than 500,000 people across Israel use the organization’s services and devices, and visitors now have an opportunity to learn the “Yad Sarah Language” – of giving to those in need.
The visitors’ center is open, free of charge, Sunday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 124 Herzl Boulevard.
Genesis Prize
Violinist Itzhak Perlman will be awarded the prestigious Genesis Prize by actress Helen Mirren in a ceremony at the Jerusalem Theater on June 23. The prize, $1 million, will be awarded to Perlman for his outstanding achievements as a musician, educator and above all, his efforts for disabled persons, supporting their integration in the world of music as well as fidelity to Jewish values. On the 23rd, Perlman will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and post-ceremony will answer attendee questions.
Mirren, who starred in Woman in Gold, recently advocated for the return of art to the relatives of Holocaust victims whose treasures were looted by the Nazis.
Meanwhile, in Walaja…
Last week, building inspectors from the Finance Ministry issued demolition orders for five housing units in Walaja, for the third time since April in the part of the area that is annexed to Jerusalem. Since construction of the security barrier near Walaja in 2010, no demolition orders have been issued. However, since this past April, 19 homes have received demolition orders, four of which were implemented.
These were the first demolitions for building without permits to take place in the neighborhoods of east Jerusalem beyond the security barrier. So far, all of the targeted homes were built in recent years and in most cases, the families had not yet taken up residence.
In 2009, the municipality rejected a master plan initiated by Walaja residents, and as a result, it is impossible to obtain building permits in the part of the area annexed to the capital.
Hacking and the avant-garde
A graduate exhibition of students in the experimental music and sound art programs at Musrara’s Naggar School will be presented next week (June 23-30), in the framework of the Musrara Conference for Social Change, which will take place at Beit Hansen.
The Musrara School, which began as a modest alternative to the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, has over the years become not only an alternative arts school but also a center for social change and activism.
The exhibition on sound, “Akuma” (from the Hebrew for “inclined”), will feature composition and theories on contemporary music. In between, an evening of experimental music will be presented at the Mizkaka by students and graduates, with Musrara’s Prof. Nick Collins giving a workshop on Hardware Hacking.
No coffee today
Not everyone has noticed, but on June 7, the popular coffee shop attached to the German Colony’s Lev Smadar Theater closed. The owners, discouraged by the bureaucracy at the municipality’s department for business permits, simply shut down. The first time the request for a permit was presented to the owners was some five years ago, and they say that the bureaucracy was such an obstacle they finally decided to give up and close down the coffee house – the last one still open on Shabbat on Emek Refaim Street.
Although the closure was not linked to the movie theater, there is a serious economic risk that the theater won’t make it without the cafe at its side. Thus there has been a serious attempt, promoted by the Smadar cinema owners, to find new owners for the coffee shop as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, for those going to the movies there on Shabbat, better bring your beverages with you.
And now, Lifta
Less than two weeks after the threat to create a large construction project in Mitzpe Neftoah was removed, here comes the next threat – a project for luxurious housing in the ancient village of Lifta. Only 12 families are still living in what was once an Arab village, handed over to new immigrants after the War of Independence.
Last week, just before Shavuot, a first evacuation order was delivered to the Muallem family, which has four children – one of them a wounded soldier recovering at the home.
The major issue is linked to the status of neighborhood residents; they claim they are living legally, after the state and the Jewish Agency encouraged Jewish citizens to settle in villages abandoned by Arabs during the War of Independence. But authorities today, including the municipality, insist these are not the original residents, and therefore are considered as squatters, who should be evacuated now that a building plan has been approved by the district planning and construction committee.