This week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Rami Levy
It took more than 10 years, but it has finally occurred: An amphitheater in Sacher Park was dedicated on Monday to the memory of late city council member Ornan Yekutieli, who died at age 45 in 2001.
Back in the days of mayor Teddy Kollek, Yekutieli started out as a member of Kollek’s city council list but then moved on to form and lead the council’s first Meretz list; he later led the opposition during mayor Ehud Olmert’s term.
Before that, he was the major actor in a series of demonstrations held in the late ’80s to open the cinemas in the city center on Shabbat.
The amphitheater named after him was built in a joint project of the municipality and the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry, and cost NIS 3.6 million. The dedication was held in the presence of Mayor Nir Barkat, Yekutieli’s family members, his colleagues at city council and his successor at the head of the list, Pepe Alalu, who for years has worked to find a way to honor Yekutieli’s memory.
Another city council member who also died prematurely (in a road accident), Shmuel Meir, who was deputy to Olmert, has been honored by the naming of the new neighborhood of Homat Shmuel.
Barkat pointed out the fact that Yekutieli, despite his strong positions on issues relating to secular citizens and haredim, was also a great believer and activist in finding ways to bridge opposing positions at city council.
In Memoriam
More honors for the departed: The Transportation Ministry has decided to name the new railway station at the city gate after late fifth president Yitzhak Navon. The new station, mostly built underground at the entrance to Jerusalem, is set to begin operating by April 2018, and will connect the capital to Tel Aviv in no more than 28 minutes – including stops at Modi’in and Ben-Gurion Airport. Planned to hold up to 4,000 passengers at a time, the station is also an anti-nuclear shelter, and is located 80 meters underground.
Navon’s family was one of Jerusalem’s most established, with his mother’s side arriving in the 19th century. He himself was a true Jerusalemite, a topic on which he wrote extensively. During the War of Independence, Navon was one of the heads of the Hagana in the besieged city, and he later served as chief of staff for prime minister David Ben-Gurion.
Da Vinci Code
Believe it or not but Jerusalem, more precisely Zedekiah’s Cave near Damascus Gate, has for years been the General Quarter for the Freemasons Order. The order’s local chamber was “King Solomon’s Cave.” Members of the mysterious and secret group, established following special authorization from the Ottomans – who also had some members of the order among them – used to meet there, until the outcome of the War of Independence in 1948 prevented them from continuing. Immediately following the Six Day War in 1967, the local order resumed its activities and meetings there.
Last week, a no-less-mysterious event took place at the cave, which attracted many members from around the world to Jerusalem. The entire event – on which no details have yet been released – was headed by the supreme president of the Freemasons World Order.
Women’s leadership
The Alma Preparatory Academy for Female Leadership, a six-month academy for young Israeli women before they enter the Israel Defense Forces, is to begin in October in a project sponsored by the municipality. The academy will work out of the Beit Nehemia Community Center in the Abu Tor neighborhood, in the framework of the pre-army (mehinot) programs already functioning in the city.
In a ceremony on September 14 to mark the beginning of a new year of study and volunteering at the mehinot, Mayor Nir Barkat announced the new project and expressed his faith that it would support young women during their IDF service and after. This is the first mehina for women’s leadership, and it will join Jerusalem’s eight other mehinot.
New mall
A new mall in Mevaseret Zion, planned and financed by city council member Rami Levy – also known as the owner of a very successful chain of supermarkets – opened this past Tuesday.
The mall, which took three years to build, is a joint project of Levy and Adi Sudai – at an investment of NIS 250 million.
It is located opposite the Harel interchange on the road to Tel Aviv, and has 550 parking places on 3,500 square meters.
The mall includes chain stores, coffee shops and restaurants, all of them kosher, including some that will be glatt kosher, and not surprisingly, a Rami Levy Shivuk Hashikma supermarket on the first floor.
Deep purple
Did notice the purple lights adorning some of the city’s most famous public buildings this past Wednesday night? This was not merely a matter of aesthetics, but a way to raise public awareness of one of the cruelest of diseases.
Melabev is Israel’s leading nonprofit in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients and their families. Many families try to hide the fact that the disease has affected a family member; Melabev seeks to inculcate a different attitude.
Wednesday was World Alzheimer’s Day for raising awareness and talking openly about the disease. In Jerusalem, Melabev is using the purple lights – the color adopted by the associations dealing with this disease – to remind everyone, the sick, their families and friends and all of us, that we should not cover it up but talk about it and support one another.
Meatless Mondays
The newcomer to the initiative of Mondays without meat is none other than the Justice Ministry. As of this week (September 19) the central lunchroom at the ministry’s main building on Salah a-Din Street will serve vegetarian lunches, as part of the ministry’s efforts to reduce Israel’s carbon footprint, as decided by the government in 2012. The lunchroom managers have undertaken to provide “delicious and tasty vegetarian dishes, mostly based on the Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of vegetables, beans and vegetable fat.”
Who is the boss here?
Who really controls the Temple Mount? That was the topic of a study day at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies this past Monday to mark the publication of Prof. Yitzhak Reiter’s research on the subject.
Reiter’s study offers an overview of the current situation on the Mount, along with the changes in the status quo from June 1967 to the present. As Reiter explained in his opening remarks, the study aims to lay the foundation for a “well-thought-out Israeli policy regarding the Temple Mount, and to present alternative approaches for the authorities responsible for this sensitive site.”