This week in Jerusalem 457761

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

MK Rachel Azaria (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
MK Rachel Azaria
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The way to the Knesset
She will not be the first to make her way from the Jerusalem City Council to the Knesset, but MK Rachel Azaria is about to add another feather to her cap. Azaria, a member of the Kulanu Party led by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, will soon obtain the Environment Ministry helm (after the resignation of another member of this list, Avi Gabbay) and join the government desk at the Knesset.
Azaria, who was mildly involved in environmental issues as a city council member, is expected by green organizations to take clear pro-environment positions – especially after Kahlon backed the plan of his ministry to build on Mitzpe Neftoah near Ramot – a plan which, after a protracted battle, was finally canceled just two weeks ago.
Not in my pool
For years, and despite protracted struggles between haredi and secular residents on the issue of Shabbat rules, the swimming pool at the Ramot Community Center has remained open on Shabbat. On many occasions, haredi list representatives pointed to that fact, arguing that contrary to some accusations, they do understand that the city belongs to all communities and therefore never requested closing it on Shabbat.
However, other aspects of this situation are now coming to light.Ramot’s haredi residents have argued that since the neighborhood’s pool is open on Shabbat, they cannot use it even on weekdays. As a result, haredi residents who registered for swimming lessons have requested, and obtained this week, municipality financing for transportation from Ramot to the pool in Kiryat Moshe, which is closed on Shabbat.
Not in my backyard
The adamant opposition of residents – Jewish and Arab alike – backed by a serious report conducted by the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, has succeeded in stopping the Og dump project on the seam between French Hill and Isawiya.
The project was presented to the residents and the commission as the best solution for waste construction materials, which were to be buried there, stating that the amount of dumping – and dust – would not significantly impact the neighborhoods’ quality of life. The residents disagreed and waged a long and vigorous struggle against the project being advocated by the municipality.
Last week, Knesset committee head MK David Amsalem brought the issue to the panel’s agenda and expressed his opposition. Amsalem said the official report arguing that the dust risk was negligible was simply not aligned with the facts on the ground. As a result the entire project is, for the moment, totally frozen and an alternative solution is being sought.
Local scholarships
NIS 635,000 in scholarships were distributed last week to local students by the Jerusalem Foundation, with 170 students who study in city academic institutions sharing the grant to ease their way to higher education. This is the largest sum ever granted for scholarships by the foundation, and comes in the framework of marking of the 50th anniversary of the Jerusalem Foundation.
The foundation notes that there has been significant growth this year in the number of haredi students obtaining scholarships for studies in ultra-Orthodox academic colleges for arts and technology in Jerusalem. All grantees are asked to do community service in city neighborhoods and for social projects.
Hanurit – a new life
The head of the city council’s planning and construction committee, Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, closed the debates last week with a large smile of satisfaction. He had managed to bring the ambitious project of evacuation- construction in the Hanurit Compound in the Kiryat Menahem neighborhood for approval. The original plan required adjustments, but despite harsh opposition from many parties, the project was approved and the change for the better for residents is significant.
The major achievement is that, contrary to similar projects, this time the residents will not be requested to leave their homes until the new buildings are completed – preventing damage to Kiryat Menahem’s fragile community fabric. Most of the residents are seniors, primarily immigrants from the 1950s and ’60s, who cannot afford any improvement in their living conditions.
“This is no less than justice,” declared Turgeman.
Game over at the museum
Who said museums deal only with the past? The Israel Museum has presented a new app for the whole family, enabling users to enjoy a virtual visit to its galleries. The general idea is that the app helps users – specifically, children and teens – to look at the works of art on display and learn about them through questions, puzzles and quizzes, focusing on the art instead of other things they can do with their smartphone.
This app is the result of a long year of checking, comparing and learning about similar ideas for apps at the world’s great museums, and the local result is – according to the museum – the best result available. The app is free (from the iTunes app store) and within a few weeks will also be available for Androids.
Wingate is here
As of next week, the Jerusalem branch of the Wingate Institute, the National Center for Physical Education and Sport, is moving from its home for the past five years at Teddy Stadium to the Cosell Sport Center at the Hebrew University at Givat Ram’s Safra Campus. The idea is to make it more easily available to the 20,000 students on the Givat Ram campus (as well as those studying at the Mount Scopus campus), offering the students, as well as the city’s general population that comes to the Cosell Center, a wide range of sporting activities, with an emphasis on health and fitness for all ages.
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