This Week in Jerusalem 463891

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Arye Deri (Shas) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Arye Deri (Shas)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Running for nothing
Politics is a sphere not fit for everybody, and sometimes even political battle veterans may be surprised. That is what happened last week following publication of an announcement stating that Mayor Nir Barkat is planning to leave Safra Square sooner than predicted and will be replaced by Zvika Cohen, a Shas member on the city council, until the 2018 election. This information appeared exclusively in last Friday’s edition of Hashavua, a local haredi Sephardi newspaper owned and edited by Haim Cohen, a former supporter of Shas leader MK Arye Deri.
“Former supporter” is the operative term here, since Haim Cohen has transformed from a friend into an adamant foe. All parties involved in the coming campaign for the next mayor know that Deri and Shas support Moshe Lion, who is also the preferred candidate of the Ashkenazi haredim. Presenting Zvika Cohen – not exactly a darling of Shas on the city council – as the Barkat replacement will not ensure his career path to the mayor’s office, but could raise the ire of Deri, a juicy enough goal for a foe.
So Cohen, the city councilman, is not going to be the next mayor and Barkat is not going anywhere for the moment, but hey… this story appears here, which is already something.
Puppet show, French style
The international puppet festival is back in town.
Scheduled performances include one with a French flavor, put on by French Ensemble Telele, with two shows. Don Cristobal, about a rich and lonely man haunted by a mysterious lady in his dreams – or perhaps in reality – develops into a political satire accompanied by live music; Animals Circus delivers 45 minutes of sheer joy for children aged four and above.
The festival, founded by the Train Theater (established and supported by the Jerusalem Foundation) is hosting the French puppet shows courtesy of the Romain Gary French Institute. More details and tickets available at
German and Greek Friday
A guided tour of the German Colony and Greek Colony neighborhoods will take place next Friday (August 19) under the slogan of “Falling in Love Again” – with the country and/or the city. The tour will wend its way through the charming alleys and streets of these two neighborhoods, with historical reminiscences from the First Station (regarding the old railway station linking the city to the Center).
Small landmark houses, little coffee shops, mysterious graveyards – these and much more are included in the tour. For more information, contact Moran at 050-621-4647.
One more woman
Batya Kahana-Dror, director of Jerusalem-based NGO Mavoi Satum, which fights in the rabbinical courts for agunot, chained women whose husbands refuse to grant them a get, has scored another success.
On August 4, she was informed she had won her Supreme Court appeal requesting that she, a woman, be allowed to present her candidacy for the position of CEO of the rabbinical courts.
The court ruled that since the post does not involve religious authority, it falls under the law requiring full gender equality in state positions.
Kahana-Dror terms this an important breakthrough on the way to consolidate the democratic and Jewish character of the State of Israel and erase remaining discrimination against women.
Taking the gloves off
Things are heating up in the city’s haredi sector, with a focus on the Chachmei Lev yeshiva in Kiryat Hayovel. Earlier this week, posters appeared calling for the haredi population to join a demonstration “of anger and wrath” against the project, scheduled for next week. The signboards singled out Bezalel Cohen, founder and director of the yeshiva that enables ultra-Orthodox students to study according to the general curriculum and take the matriculation exam, terming him the “man who is aiming at the total destruction of the haredi way of life.”
The campaign against Chachmei Lev and Cohen is being run by Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus, who claims that Cohen’s true goal is not to offer an alternative to young haredim who cannot thrive in regular yeshiva, but “simply to hasten the full destruction and eradication of the haredi ways of the Torah.” The posters also call for haredi residents to donate money to hire a lawyer to prevent the municipality from providing a plot for the yeshiva in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.
Summer in the Rova
Close to the Western Wall plaza and the Old City walls, yet a little removed from the tumult of these heavily toured areas, the Old City’s Jewish Quarter – the Rova – has a lot to offer. Between guided tours at night (with oil lamps!), a ride on a road train around the gates, movies reimagining the pilgrims’ path in olden times, a mini-festival constructing mosaics, various games on archeological themes, historical quizzes and reconstructions – there’s more than anyone can absorb in one day.
Some of the attractions are free and others require entry fees, but in most cases prices take into account the financial limitations of large families in the last weeks of summer vacation. Most family tickets cover two parents and an unlimited number of children – as long as you can prove they are yours. More details and reservations at *4987.
Who pays?
Everyone agrees that accessibility for the disabled is a high priority, and now the law stipulates it for public institutions. What remains unclear is who should pay for these installations, which can be quite costly. In Jerusalem, the cost of the accessibility for all public places is estimated at NIS 2 billion, and an appeal to the Supreme Court has been submitted this week to obligate the government to finance these works. The appeal was jointly submitted by a number of parties, including organizations for the disabled, the association of engineers and city council executives from across the country.
Nigun Yerushalmi
The capital is full of events throughout the year and especially in the summer, but the Klezmer Festival seems particularly attuned to the atmosphere of the city. Running from August 16 to 22, end-of-summer vacation days for most schools and yeshivot, the festival brings the iconic, spirited Jewish music to key city venues: the courtyard of the Bible Lands Museum, the Jerusalem Theater, the First Station compound, the Israel Museum and Beit Avi Chai. The major event will take place at Safra Square.
Clarinet players from the Metropolitan Opera in New York and local virtuosos will present a wide range of Jewish music under the artistic direction of internationally acclaimed clarinetist Hanan Bar-Sela, also featuring violinist Mirel Reznik, maestro Helmut Haizel of Germany and others.
This is the fourth time the festival is taking place in Jerusalem, with kudos to city councilman Dov Kalmanovich, who holds the Jewish Music and Culture portfolio. More details and reservations at or *6226.