Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

The Jerusalem International Book Fair’s guest of honor is Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, winner of the 2017 Jerusalem Prize and renowned for his autobiography ‘My Struggle.’ (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Jerusalem International Book Fair’s guest of honor is Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, winner of the 2017 Jerusalem Prize and renowned for his autobiography ‘My Struggle.’
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
United we stand
The third annual Jerusalem Unity Prize was set to be awarded by President Reuven Rivlin at a special ceremony at the President’s Residence this Wednesday.
Launched after the unprecedented wave of emotion that united the country in the summer of 2014 when Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel were kidnapped and murdered, the prize is awarded each year to institutions that exemplify unity among Israelis.
The prize and Unity Day were conceived by Mayor Nir Barkat; the Gesher organization, dedicated to bridging the gaps between different segments of Israeli society; and the boys’ parents. This year’s awardees are Limmud, Tzav Piyus, Dr. Janaan Frajj Falah and Haifa Kehilat Hadar.
The Diaspora winner is Limmud, founded and incubated in the UK. It attracts thousands of participants each year and has spread across Israel and the Jewish world, sparking an impressive worldwide network of Jewish learning festivals that nurture diverse and unified communities. In 2016, 4,000 volunteers – the Limmud project is based on voluntary participation – created events that drew more than 40,000 participants in 84 communities and 44 countries.
The national prizewinner is Tzav Pius, a group that works to bridge the religious-secular divide in Israel. Created by the Avi Chai Foundation and operating from the Foundation Center on King George Street, it strives to foster greater understanding between the different sectors in Israel, especially the religious and secular.
The local prizewinners include Frajj Falah, a Druse woman who has helped advanced initiatives that bridge social gaps between women of diverse backgrounds in the North; and Kehilat Hadar, which promotes social and cultural harmony between local groups of various religions and ethnicities.
Baseball – Jerusalem style
The Friendship Circle in Central Jerusalem, together with Kraft Stadium and the Feuerstein Institute, will host its annual Buddy Baseball All-Star Game for children with special needs next week.
The game will take place on June 11 at 5 p.m. at the Kraft Stadium (near Sacher Park), with several dignitaries and founder Dean Klassman in attendance. The season has been running since the beginning of spring with weekly games. A non-competitive, friendship- building baseball league, Buddy Baseball helps build self-esteem, creating warm, lasting memories on the baseball field.
The Friendship Circle is a portal into the world of children with special needs, partnering special-needs players with buddy volunteers, giving children who may never have played sports with a friend the chance to experience teamwork, camaraderie and the magic of excelling at a sport. The project helps Jerusalem to be “a special and inclusive city,” says Mayor Barkat.
“Jerusalemites – a unique, extraordinary people – band together and become one.”
‘Mishigene’ park
The local council of Greater Baka held an evening on Wednesday focusing on the fate of one of the neighborhood’s most pleasant parks, to inform residents about the municipality’s plans and what residents can do about it.
The “MishugaPark,” planned and constructed by residents a few years ago, is slated for demolition to make way for a sports hall for the nearby Geulim School. Neighborhood activists are not opposed to a modern, well-equipped sports hall in the school (where most of their children study), but object to the claim that the sports hall must come at the price of elimination of the beloved park.
The local council seeks to forestall the municipality’s plan by presenting a strong response from residents that includes workable alternative solutions for the plot and school sports hall.
More info can be obtained at
In the name of three
New names were given last week to three locations in the city:
1) A new promenade segment between Sultan’s Pool and Mount Zion has been named after Elijah the Prophet.
2) The street that connects the East Talpiot neighborhood to the Haas Promenade will be named “Kaf Het B’Iyar Street,” marking the Hebrew date of the beginning of the Six Day War, which led to the reconnection to this area in the city.
3) The square connecting Agrippas Street to Even Israel Street will be named for late actor and singer Yossi Banai, who was born in the Mahaneh Yehuda neighborhood and always maintained tight ties with the city.
The committee responsible for naming streets and squares in the city, chaired by Deputy Mayor Yael Antebi, brings new proposals for city council approval several times a year, based on input from residents, endeavoring to preserve impartiality as much as possible.
As for the new promenade, it will, when complete, run around the Old City from the Hinnom Valley to the City of David site and Shiloah Spring.
The reader’s digest
Many of the People of the Book apparently live in Jerusalem, making it the City of the Readers.
According to figures from the municipality, several neighborhoods reflect their readers’ achievements with high membership in local libraries. Beit Hakerem, for example, reports 74,276 library memberships; Ramot is in second place with 70,610. The Russian Library notes that it lent out 35,500 books to its members.
The central municipal library has 60,544 members from the Arab sector exchanging books on a steady basis.
The total number of books (adult and children’s) borrowed from municipal libraries exceeds 1.5 million.
These figures were published by the city to coincide with the annual Hebrew Book Fair and Jerusalem International Book Fair, scheduled to take place on June 11-15 at the First Station. The International Fair will also hold events at the cinematheque and at Mishkenot Sha’ananim.
The official guest of honor of the 28th International Fair will be Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, winner of the Jerusalem Prize for 2017 and especially renowned for his six-volume autobiography My Struggle, tacking issues such as freedom of the individual in society.
Entrance is free to these events and fairs. More at
We need education
The High Court of Justice imposed a fine of NIS 10,000 on the state on June 5 for the lack of a solution to the city’s educational problems. The fine will go to the Jerusalem district parents’ association, which submitted the appeal regarding the lack of city classrooms.
According to the association, there is a need for about 3,600 additional classrooms in all sectors (3,800 according to the Education Ministry and the municipality’s Education Administration), while the Treasury admits a lack of only 1,750 classrooms. Following debates at the Knesset and meetings with representatives of the involved ministries (Treasury, Interior and Education), association chairman Paz Cohen said there was no other option than to appeal to the High Court.
Recently, Mayor Nir Barkat took a NIS 1 million loan for the construction of classrooms this year, and plans to take another such loan next year, but the main responsibility – and budget – usually falls on the government. This prompted the association to take the case to the High Court.
Exactly 16 years since the Versailles Hall collapse that caused the death of 23 people and injured many others, the property has finally been sold to a local entrepreneur. The price paid was NIS 22 million for the relatively small plot – less than 0.2 hectares – but in a very attractive location, on Bethlehem Road. For the moment, it is not clear if the new owners plan to structure it for housing or business, since it is located on the border between the Talpiot Industrial Zone and the more residential Baka area.
Oriental tunes
The main yard at the KIAH – Alliance Center on Agrippas Street was full of parents and children, with the sounds of classical oriental music filling it up.
The concert to mark the end of the school year at the Dunia conservatory for classical Oriental Music was – for many of the attendees – more than just another end-of-year performance.
Gilad Vaknin, the school’s founder and director, has fulfilled a long-time personal dream by providing, for the first time in Jerusalem, a high-level academic school for children who wish to study the foundations of this music seriously.
Oriental music involves original instruments like the oud, nay flute and darbuka, and songs are intertwined with Jewish liturgical melodies from the Oriental Jewish traditional (piyutim) sound. Students and their teachers provide this neighborhood – on the edge of Mahaneh Yehuda – with the most natural of sounds. Aimed at renewing the cultural traditions of Oriental Jews together with the Jewish renaissance, and carrying a message of possible cultural understanding and ties with Arabs in the region, the Dunia (Arabic for “world”) began its inaugural year with 20 students. The conservatory is located in the Keshet school premises, on the border between Katamonim and Beit Safafa.