This week in Jerusalem 490495

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

More than 7,000 riders will take part in today’s Yes Planet Ride (photo credit: RONEN TOPELBERG)
More than 7,000 riders will take part in today’s Yes Planet Ride
(photo credit: RONEN TOPELBERG)
Biking for celebration
Today, Friday, one of a long series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification will take place.
Also marking the fifth year of biking events in the city, the Yes Planet Ride will pave the way for riders to bike along routes of varying lengths of between 10 to 50 kilometers along some of the most beautiful landscapes of the city.
More than 7,000 riders will take to their wheels in this colorful event, with residents cheering them along the ride paths. The ride will wend its way past David’s Tower, Jaffa Gate, Hebron Road, the Biblical Zoo and along all the walls surrounding the Old City.
Whose police is it?
On April 14, while the country was celebrating Passover, a young resident of the Rehavia neighborhood went through a most unpleasant experience.
On her way home, Michal Ramati suddenly was confronted by a man exposing himself near her while standing on his balcony.
Glaring directly at her, the man didn’t pause for a moment.
Ramati was accompanied by a friend; the two were shocked by man’s behavior. Ramati chronicled her repulsive experience on Facebook, which led to testimonies from additional young women who had experienced the same thing perpetrated by the same man.
At that point, Ramati decided to submit a complaint to the police, realizing that this man was probably sexually harassing passersby on a regular basis – but then things got strange.
The molester cursed at the first policeman who arrived, denied him entry to his residence and refused to respond to the accusations.
At one point, says Ramati, the accused even threatened the policeman, asserting that he was linked with high-ranking officials who could harm the officer’s position if he proceeded with his investigation.
Ramati refused to relent and submitted a second complaint, but this time the police reacted by closing the file on the basis that the suspect was not found at the house indicated in the file.
“That is very strange,” she says, “since the police had all the details, including the exact address and the day and time of the act. It would be very easy to follow through based on the available information regarding the location of the offender.”
A second objection to the police decision was filed with the police earlier this week, which led to an even stranger response. The police claimed that there was no public interest in the complaint and therefore the case was closed.
Calligraphy at Safra Square
Earlier this week, renowned Jerusalemite calligrapher Max Noize began his latest artistic enterprise – to write the name of the city in a variety of languages and calligraphic styles.
The city’s name now appears multiple times on a surface of 1,000 square meters, on the grounds of Safra Square. The languages chosen for this particular work of art are Hebrew, Arabic and English. The whole activity has been filmed and will be soon on display on the municipality’s official site.
Smart parking
In the coming weeks, the 300 parking meters across the city will disappear and be replaced by several smart payment options. In addition to the application on smartphones – which is not relevant for those who do not use such a device (including most of the haredi sector, about 40% of the Jewish population of the city,) there will be other options to choose from: the EasyPark card, and payment by telephone (not by application but directly to the bureau in charge).
Beyond the desire to keep the 3,000-year-old city up to date with the last technological developments, a key reason for this change is the opportunity to save public money. The use of parking meters requires a payment to the companies that operate them – a payment that will now be eliminated. Still to be revealed is what use will be made of the money saved.
Rabbis, but different
Are you used to seeing only Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis? Well, prepare for something new. As of last Shabbat, Jerusalem has five new rabbis who are totally secular.
The Tmura Institute, which promotes a secular approach to Jewish life and thought, has added these five persons to the 32 already existing spiritual leaders who are secular, but nevertheless are being designated “rabbis.”
The conference before the ordination ceremony for these new rabbis was attended by representatives of various (and more traditional) Jewish streams and educators from a range of Jewish communities in the city. The event ended with a special event honoring playwright Yehoshua Sobol.
Tmura promotes a humanistic approach and understanding of Jewish values and gives a central place to spiritual leaders for the community outside the framework of observance of Jewish law.
New guy with us
Andy Kaye has just joined Israeli crowd-funding firm OurCrowd as president and chief institutional officer. He will work closely with founder and CEO Jon Medved at OurCrowd’s Jerusalem headquarters.
Drawing from his more than 20 years of experience in the finance industry, working with some of the world’s leading investment banks and growth companies from all over the globe, Kaye will be responsible for working with the growing number of institutions that invest in OurCrowd’s portfolio of Israeli start-ups.
Kaye was the CEO of wealth management firm Robertson Stephens Israel, among other executive positions. Founded in 2012 in Jerusalem, OurCrowd boasts 17,000 investors from 110 countries, who have invested some $400 million in 110 portfolio companies and funds.
IDF graveyard
A new facility for bereaved families and visitors at the national military cemetery on Mount Herzl was inaugurated last week, on Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars. The facility, a large building shaped under a round roof opened at its peak to enable daylight inside, holds commemorative plaques with the names of all the soldiers who fell in the wars. Each name on the plaque represents the memory of a fallen soldier, with the name and the date of death. On that date a light will be lit, and all the lights will be lit on the next Remembrance Day, which will mark the 70th birthday of the State of Israel.
The structure enables families and relatives to meet inside before and after official ceremonies.
The Little Prince, local version
Some 200 persons responded to the call issued by the Jerusalem Intercultural Center on Mount Zion, to think together about ways to improve the cleanliness of the city.
With a conceptual link to the legendary book The Little Prince (the prince promoted the notion of cleaning one’s surroundings), the idea was to invite residents of all sectors to share their thoughts and propose solutions to improve the situation on the ground. In the presence of two deputy mayors and the high-ranking official at the municipality in charge of cleanliness in the city’s environment, impressive community work was accomplished.
Even more impressive was the variety of sectors present at this very special gathering – including a large number of Arab residents and quite a few from the haredi sector, even a representative from the Eda Haredit community, whose members traditionally do not cooperate with Israeli-Zionist authorities.
Intercultural Center CEO Hagai Agmon-Snir, who launched the initiative, said this was one of the most stirring meetings between residents and activists of the civil society he had witnessed for a long time. Conclusions and programs will be presented soon through the community centers and implemented in all the neighborhoods who sent representatives.