This week in Jerusalem 466649

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Meir Turgeman, one of the mayor’s deputies, wants to widen the scope of those eligible for the title of Yakir Yerushalayim (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Meir Turgeman, one of the mayor’s deputies, wants to widen the scope of those eligible for the title of Yakir Yerushalayim
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Well-deserving honorees
A good idea or a political move toward potential supporters? An interesting initiative by Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, head of the local planning and construction committee, aims to make worthy residents who do not have academic degrees eligible for the title of Yakir Yerushalayim (Distinguished Citizen).
Turgeman submitted the proposal to Mayor Nir Barkat, asserting that there are many Jerusalemites who have done a lot for the city and deserve to be honored for their activities and love for Jerusalem. Yakir Yerushalayim is an honor awarded every year on Jerusalem Day to residents over age 70 who have served the city in an outstanding manner. While most of the recipients have been highly educated persons, there have been quite a few who did not have academic titles. It seems that Turgeman wants to put an emphasis on a wider range of deserving people and hence enlarge the scope of those eligible for the distinction.
New school year 1
Ever felt that female students are still attracted to the humanities, while boys continue to be interested in science? Mechaneh Meshutaf (Common Denominator), a students’ nonprofit, is trying to change this. The organization was created by a group of psychology and sociology students from the Hebrew University, who volunteer with students in grades 8 to 10 and explain what stereotypes are and how they can be combated.
The volunteers work first with the teachers and then run workshops with the high schoolers, presenting typecasts of such stereotypes and working to bring about a change. This year, more than 4,000 students from across the city have already experienced the workshops.
New school year 2
Like a recurring theme, the need to have guards at the entrances of schools and preschools – and the lack of funding to secure their presence – is back on the agenda this year.
Since the budget for security guards is not included in the city’s education administration budget, every year the need to find a financial solution is back on the table at Safra Square, the Parents’ Association and the Education Ministry.
Every year, usually at the very last moment, an interim solution is found, and the threat of a strike organized by concerned parents is avoided. This year the threat was raised again and all the relevant parties tried to find a solution, but no resolution has yet been found.
In a press release issued this past Monday, the Jerusalem Parents’ Association announced that it supported the struggle of the guards to obtain full recognition of their rights, including the demand that it be considered a preferential job and thus be granted state benefits offered.
Such a decision would ensure better conditions for the security guards and attract more applicants for the position – enabling a safe opening of the school year.
New school year 3
On September 1 the new school year started in Jerusalem, bringing 274,190 pupils from preschool to junior high back to the classroom, in addition to 18,546 new pupils. The breakdown of the three sectors – public, haredi and Arab – is as follows: 109,212 in the Arab sector (private and public); 100,678 in the haredi sector; and 64,300 in the state sector (religious and secular).
While there is a continual increase in the three sectors every year, for the last three or four years the increase in the state sector has been the largest, with 6,000 new students added this year. A quick glance at two figures gives a partial reason for why education in the city seems to be improving. According to statistics from the city’s education administration (Manhi), while 17,720 students start junior high school this week, only 16,567 reach 12th grade and take the bagrut (matriculation exam).
The question that remains is this: Besides the growing number of pupils attending school to 12th grade, how many of them will obtain their matriculation degree, with 74 percent entitled to take the exams? Moreover, two of the three classified best schools in the country are in Jerusalem. And in the Arab sector, there is a constant increase in the number of students taking the Israeli matriculation (some take them in addition to the Palestinian matriculation). This year, it stands at 23 schools.
Get ready to pedal
The municipality’s finance committee has approved a budget of NIS 500,000 to build a bicycle path “From Stop to Stop,” which will extend from the railway station at Malha to the central bus station. The 5.5 km. of the new path (which will join the existing path through Mesila Park) will go through Nahlaot, Rehavia, Givat Ram and Katamonim, Givat Mordechai and Pat.
Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkowitz, who headed the project from the beginning, and city councilwoman Fleur Hassan-Nahum (both of Hitorerut) plan to add more city bicycle paths as part of a vision to encourage the increased use of clean and healthy means of transportation.
Blessed memory
The city council and the mayor have decided to name a city square after Rabbi Paul Roitman, holder of the French Legion d’Honneur and a Yakir Yerushalayim, who died in 2007. The ceremony to mark the square will take place at the Ohel Nechama Synagogue and community center on September 12.
Roitman was born in the Polish hassidic community of Tarlow, moved to France and at 16 founded the Orthodox youth movement Brith Hanoar. Forced to flee from the occupied zone in France to the free zone, he set up a Jewish study circle that formed the core leadership of the Jewish underground. Captured by the Germans in December 1941, he was imprisoned but escaped thanks to his younger brother Leon, another Jewish hero of the French resistance.
In 1945 Roitman married Lea Schleider, a welfare officer and former resistance colleague, and settled in Paris, where he entered the Paris Rabbinical School. In 1950 the Jewish Agency appointed him European and North African director of the religious section of the youth and pioneer department. In France, he introduced the Bnei Akiva religious Zionist youth movement.
In 1958, as the first wave of Jewish refugees left war-torn Algeria, Roitman launched a vast operation to give them communal support. Through his Torah Ve’Zion movement, he reintegrated more than 100,000 Algerian Jews into French-Jewish life, resulting in dozens of communities with their own synagogues and scores of marriages.
In the mid-1960s he created Tikvatenu, a non-political youth movement for those young suburban Jews.
Moving to Jerusalem with his family in 1970, Roitman continued his involvement in social issues through his new movement, Torah Be’Zion, and its junior branch aimed at street children and disadvantaged youth. His tireless efforts were recognized in France with the Medal of the City of Paris, chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and the Consistoire’s title of chief rabbi in 2003; and in Israel with the Jewish Agency’s Jerusalem Prize and honorary citizenship of Jerusalem.
Application, my love
Forget everything you know about ways to get information on events and anything worthwhile happening in the capital – as we welcome the 21st century with the latest application from Safra Square. Yerushalmi (Jerusalemite) is the simple and newest way to get anything you want to know about almost everything on your smartphone. Parking, discounts on shows, deals at restaurants, an easy way to reach the municipal 106 hotline, paying your taxes (and eventually your fines) and even the latest news (or gossip?) from your own neighborhood, and much more.
The municipality launched the app a few days ago, making it available to both residents and visitors, enabling them to access all the information to maximize their time in the city. Of course, one needs to feel friendly towards these technologies and to master them, but clearly this municipality is taking the city and its residents into the future.
The app is available for both Android and iPhone. Enjoy.