This week in Jerusalem 485002

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

The Mifletzet sculpture in Kiryat Hayovel, from which the pub in question got its name (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Mifletzet sculpture in Kiryat Hayovel, from which the pub in question got its name
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Serious warning
The Seventh International Jerusalem Winner Marathon last week was a success.
More than 30,000 runners – locals and guests from abroad – ran in the streets of Jerusalem on several circuits, ending with a winner from Kenya.
However, there were two sectors that demonstratively refrained from joining the party, causing the police and security forces to decide that the safety of the residents and the runners required high visibility of security forces.
Protective measures included blocking some of the neighborhoods in the Arab sector, causing a de facto split between parts of the city. Arab residents were allowed to cross the lines after a security check.
On the haredi front, things were more dramatic, with large groups of haredim trying to disrupt the marathon and even prevent runners from continuing the race. They viewed this as a way to express dissatisfaction with what they see as ongoing desecration of Shabbat and violations of the status quo.
Safra Square was aware of plans for disturbances and apparently even one of Mayor Nir Barkat’s deputies – Chaim Epstein, a representative of the Bnei Torah group that split from United Torah Judaism – was personally involved.
In a letter released to the press, Barkat warned Epstein and other spiritual leaders in the haredi sector against such actions and suspended Epstein from all activities (including voting) at city council for 30 days.
Observers view the step taken by Barkat as a severe one, indicating that for him, some of the things being done by his haredi coalition members have crossed a red line (but not the finish line).
Creating a monster
The Mifletzet (Monster) community pub in Kiryat Hayovel has been shut down by the municipality for operating on Shabbat on public property (on the grounds of the Kiryat Hayovel community center), but the partners/owners and many area residents are fighting the decree.
T-shirts with the pub logo, meetings and other forms of activism are visible in the neighborhood and a campaign has been launched to win the hearts of Jerusalemites from other parts of the city. Support for the cause is growing.
Anger was heightened in the neighborhood after local media highlighted the story in an article called “Another Victory for the Haredim.” Activists vow that the last word on the topic has not yet been said.
At a large meeting scheduled at the pub site (behind the Monster playground) tomorrow evening after Shabbat, the direction of the resistance campaign will be outlined and supporters will be offered opportunities to increase their involvement in the struggle.
There is no indication at Safra Square that the mayor or the haredi representatives who pushed to obtain the closure are reconsidering the decision.
New housing in Kiryat Hayovel
How can 228 housing units become 815? Simple, if the authorities – the municipality, Israel Lands Authority and the Housing Ministry, to name just a few – resolve to do so.
Kiryat Hayovel is not just a battlefield for confrontation between the haredi and secular sectors. It is also one of the city’s neighborhoods that offers the greatest availability of housing solutions, and this month a new project has been added to those already in progress.
The new pinui binui (urban renewal) project encompasses three separate locations in this large neighborhood. A construction project launched by the municipality on Tahon Street will enable the creation of 255 new apartments (after demolishing 59 existing ones) in three towers. Two separate projects on Stern Street will clear the way for towers of 11 to 19 stories that will add 240 apartments, most of them for young couples.
Three additional towers due to replace three old “shikun” buildings will add 320 new housing units to the reservoir of housing solutions for young adults and couples who wish to remain in the city and secure affordable housing.
All of these projects are in accordance with the master plan for the neighborhood approved two years ago.
Sivan and Dror get a check
Sivan and Dror are partners with Down syndrome who live in one of the Akim homes in the city (Akim is an organization that provides special care and support for persons with intellectual disabilities of all ages and levels of functioning).
According to experts on individuals with special needs, the close and caring relationship that the two enjoy, which is well into its second year, is so uncommon that it has attracted the attention of the professional staff in their home.
In the framework of the annual “Door to Door” project launched across the country for the benefit of Akim tenants, Mayor Nir Barkat offered the two the first contribution of the city to the operation, a check of NIS 3,000 on behalf of the city. The Akim directors decided to deliver the check personally to Sivan and Dror to celebrate their relationship.
The “Door to Door” operation officially kicks off on March 27. Residents of the city are invited to offer their contributions.
Competition enters next phase
Jerusalemite student Noga Yekutieli is one of the three winners of the recent competition for young scientists hosted last week by the Bloomfield Sciences Museum. Yekutieli and the other winners will progress to the next step of the competition – at the international level – to be held at an academic facility for young scientists in Germany. The site is located on one of the German campuses that Jewish students and scientists were expelled from during the Nazi period.
Christian Jurgens, the German Embassy’s attaché for Sciences and Technology, stressed the significance of having Jewish Israeli students participate in the competition at the campus. It is duty of the German people to remember their history, he stated.
City of David and UNESCO
Mayor Nir Barkat added a new skill to his resumé earlier this week, serving as a tour guide for a group of foreign ambassadors who represent their countries at The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The visitors abstained from voting against Israel in a recent vote by that body.
In a series of actions over the past few months, UNESCO has been attempting to erase the link between the people of Israel and their homeland – and to deny their connection to the city of Jerusalem in particular. Barkat personally guided the group’s visit on Tuesday (March 21) to the City of David historical and archeological site, which has just been nominated by the Education Ministry for the prestigious Israel Prize.
The visit of the ambassadors to the city was sponsored by the American-Jewish Committee. Among the items that Barkat called the participants’ attention to was a coin found in the excavations at the site. The coin’s inscription underscored the profound and ancient link between the Jewish people and the city, a link that UNESCO’s recent activities seek to deny.
Good Deeds Day
No fewer than 40,000 residents of all ages from across the city have registered to participate in the annual “Good Deeds Day” on Tuesday, March 28. Most of the activities scheduled for the day this year are in the community field.
One project will bring more than 200 local students from a wide range of schools to the Hansen compound, where they will work on a variety of devices and solutions to ease the daily life of handicapped pupils of the Dvir Hadash school for children with special needs.
Another scheduled project is the creation of a public library in the Mesila Park near the Beit Safafa neighborhood.
More details and information about registration to participate is available at community centers in the neighborhoods.