This week in Jerusalem 492222

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs

‘PERFORMING SOLO is still a work in process for me but it’s a great pleasure to emotionally connect with the audience,’ says world renowned Israeli musician Idan Raichel. (photo credit: ELAD WEISSMAN)
‘PERFORMING SOLO is still a work in process for me but it’s a great pleasure to emotionally connect with the audience,’ says world renowned Israeli musician Idan Raichel.
(photo credit: ELAD WEISSMAN)
Waiting for the discount
Do you owe money to the municipality on your arnona (municipal taxes)? Consider waiting a bit before you dash off to find the money. Again this year the municipality, with the backing of the Interior Ministry, will launch a special operation giving large discounts on outstanding arnona debts.
According to figures from the city tax administration, residents and businesses owe the city no less than NIS 5.5 billion – a sum everybody at Safra Square knows will be almost impossible to collect.
The discount offer aims to help those who want to pay their debts but lack resources to do so fully. The discount available can reach up to 50% of the debt, provided that the revised debt is paid by September 30.
Those who choose to extend the period of repayment will get a lower rate of discount.
A quick comparison with the figures in other cities in the country shows that Jerusalem’s residents do pay their arnona.
Impressively, 94% of Jerusalemites paid their city taxes as required in the past two years, which means that most of the outstanding debt is older.
Perhaps surprisingly, other major cities have a much lower rate of arnona tax payment. In Tel Aviv, the rate of arnona payment is exceptionally low at about 50%; in Petah Tikva, 60% of residents are current in their municipal taxes. Of the cities surveyed, Ashdod comes closest to Jerusalem’s achievement, with a 65% rate of arnona remittance.
The figures show that this is something in which Jerusalemites can take civic pride.
50 Reasons for Hope
Fifty years of a unified Jerusalem is a good reason to celebrate, but we should also be celebrating hope for the future of the city’s residents, no matter which sector they belong to.
Are there grounds for hope for better tomorrows in which haredim, seculars, Jews, Arabs, left-wing and rightwing activists live together more harmoniously? Is there something that unite them so that they can set aside their differences and rivalries, at least for a while? Some people here think so.
“Fifty Reasons for Hope,” an initiative conceived, planned and launched by the Yerushalmit movement, is presenting a series of 50 short videos depicting a wide range of initiatives that highlight positive aspects of the city. While many people are convinced that dialogue, coexistence and mutual respect between the different communities are impossible and that Jerusalem is nothing but a battlefield, this project demonstrates that the improbable often comes true.
Haredim are involved in friendly activities with their secular counterparts, Jews and Arabs share visions for a better daily life for their families – beyond all the political discourses, these and more are featured in the project that kicked off last week on the social media.
Nobody is claiming that everything is harmonious and mutual love flows freely between the parties. Rather, say the persons in charge at Yerushalmit, the goal is to report on the real story on the ground, which often transcends the differences, showing that there are many reasons for hope.
At least 50.
A unique Israeli flag
Fulfilling dreams can lead to unexpected results.
Verna Black Gartner, 77, made aliya about a decade ago from the United States. Several weeks later, Gartner decided to join an OU Israel Center knitting class. Today, eight years on, she is the leader at the center of a group called “Learning and Knitting” – delving into Judaism and Zionism while knitting together.
The group has undertaken numerous special activities, including their flagship project – knitting an Israeli flag in honor of the jubilee year of Jerusalem’s liberation. As a token of their appreciation for the OU Israel Center’s assistance in helping them to acclimate to life in Jerusalem, she and her friends in the group have donated the flag to the center.
Fifty years – 50 faces
Among the dozens of projects and events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem is a stunning documentary created by the Tower of David Museum.
The project brings together 50 faces and stories about the city through the years. Women, men, Jews, Christians and Muslims, all residents of Jerusalem, retrace the stories – famous events as well as personal tales – that have shaped the human face of the city. The stories are based on recollections from years ago, when the narrators were just children or young adults. Short film clips based on archives as well as private photos and memories shared, help bring the 50 narratives to life, and combine to convey a larger view.
The festive opening is scheduled for Jerusalem Day, May 24 – the anniversary of the historical event that transformed the city and the country 50 years ago – at the Tower of David Museum, at 5 p.m.
Mayor Nir Barkat will be present. Afterward, a party will take place there, inside David’s Citadel, until midnight. The Andalusian Orchestra will perform classic songs for the occasion that praise the Holy City, with lyrics projected on a screen to enable attendees to sing along.
Various stations inside the compound will be dedicated to some of the most famous heroes of the history of the city.
Visitors will have the opportunity to shake hands with mayor from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and complete the visit with a workshop where they can print their own commemorative medal. Entry is free; to reserve a place call *2884 or at
Jerusalem’s white night
One more jewel for the celebration of Jerusalem Day is a White Night in the city center starting Tuesday evening, May 23. Singers, musicians and some of the most famous Israeli performers will entertain the public all night long. The evening will culminate with a sunrise concert starring Idan Raichel at 4:30 a.m. (May 24) in Safra Square; tickets are required. City center coffee shops and restaurants invite the public to cap off the experience with a celebratory selection of discounted breakfast specials.
This will be a Jerusalem Day to remember.
East side story
More than 180 small and medium business owners took part in a conference organized by MATI (the business development center in Jerusalem) on new initiatives and options in marketing in their various fields.
Business entrepreneurship is one of the leading projects promoted by both MATI and the municipality to enhance and sustain small businesses in the city – considered to be the backbone of the economy in Jerusalem. The conference, which took place at the Ambassador Hotel in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, exposed participants to a range of new trends and initiatives, including ideas and opportunities for networking and opening their businesses to a larger audience and expanded customer base.
More at Dreaming in reality Monday evening this week about 250 people packed the lecture hall at the YMCA on King David Street for the launching of Dr. Elan Ezrachi’s book Shfuya Bahaloma (Awakened Dream – 50 Years of Complex Unification of Jerusalem).
The book is a memoir – a carefully documented albeit non-academic work tracking events in Jerusalem just before the Six Day War and thereafter, up to the present day. Born in the city to a family whose grandfather was one of the builders of the Rehavia neighborhood, Ezrachi was present at practically all the stages of the city’s modern history. He was here, as a teenager, when the city ended abruptly at the security walls that separated our part, the west, from what lay over the dividing barrier – the east, with all its mysterious promises. He was here when, within less than two days of battle, these barrier walls were demolished and he could walk over to observe firsthand the places that he could only see in his imagination until then.
He has been here throughout the years, building a family and taking part in all the great waves of change that shaped not only this city, but also the whole country – including the activism, political and civil, of which has been part.
For Hebrew readers, Shfuya Bahaloma is more than just a memoir of a witness of bygone years, it is the living testimony of what happened here during these past 50 years and, more important perhaps, a vision of what might be in the coming years, with a special emphasis on something that has always been one of Jerusalem’s particular strengths – the engagement of the civil society.