Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Classroom (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Go and build
It seems that victory for the petition of the Jerusalem Parents Association to the High Court of Justice regarding the lack of classrooms in all city sectors is on its way. Justices Miriam Naor, Yitzhak Danziger and Hanan Meltzer held a hearing on July 30 on the matter at the Education Ministry, whose representative at the session couldn’t even say exactly how many classrooms are lacking.
According to the parents’ association, and backed by the figures provided by the municipality, no fewer than 3,800 classrooms are lacking as of this coming new school year. However, while construction plans have been approved for only 385, the ministry has so far budgeted for only 60! Paz Cohen, president of the association, declared after the hearing that it was a shame that the court had to remind the ministry about its duties. The municipality says that only 5 to 10 percent of the city’s classroom needs for all sectors are in fact provided by the ministry (on behalf of the government) and hence fail to supply some of the most basic needs of the residents.
Local harvest
Israeli movies we always wanted to see – and didn’t when they were screened – are back on duty. Beit Avi Chai is launching a series of some of the best during the month of August. Screenings take place each Thursday at 8 p.m., preceded by a short presentation on the film itself or the issue it represents. Tickets, including traditional popcorn, are available at BAC.
Sweet bridge
Like a (sweet) bridge over the troubled waters of the latest violence in the Old City, an island of sanity and hope was founded on August 2 at the Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem. This was a ceremony marking the conclusion of the first round of a special program for Arab women on ways to prevent and controlling diabetes conducted in community centers in several Arab neighborhoods.
In the presence of the specialists and doctors who built the program and the community leadership, women participants in the program told about their struggle and personal engagement in preventing the disease.
Arab women residents have long been involved in various health programs, most of them provided by Hadassah, which include raising awareness of typical women’s health problems.
Fighting together
The JDC–Herzliya and Shatil (a branch of the New Israel Fund) operate a joint program for Jerusalem’s lay leadership to fight racism in the city. The program, in its third year, works with locals from all denominations and political affiliations who share the same concern for preventing racism and violence in the city.
The program includes training for such situations, as well as learning to identify and thereby avoid threatened racist actions.
Participants represent almost all the sectors in the city’s population, including haredim. This year, for the first time, Arab residents will also take part.
Druse memorial
According to Communications Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud), Jerusalem should have a square named after the nation’s Druse soldiers. Following the murder on the Temple Mount of two Druse policemen last month by three Arab Israeli residents of Umm al-Fahm, Kara has proposed finding an appropriate location in the city to be named in their memory. A first meeting of Kara, Deputy Mayor Yael Antebi and representatives of the Israel Police has taken place to select a location and move on with the project during the 50th year of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Judea and Samaria commerce
Judea and Samaria towns and villages have their own chamber of commerce, the result of an initiative by a couple of residents, Gedaliah and Elisheva Blum, as an answer to the BDS campaign. The Blums, who have already created a Dapei Katom (“Orange Pages”) listing of more than 2,600 businesses, decided to focus on other means of economic development aside from promoting local businesses to local residents.
The Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce will focus on generating more revenue for businesses as well as new investment opportunities for both domestic and foreign investors.
The upgraded local business directory aims to promote an online market enabling direct purchasing, as well as promoting domestic and foreign investment opportunities.
“We are interested in a new opportunity for a man or woman to be employed in a position where they can remain in or move to Judea and Samaria, build, have children and grow the community,” the Blums explained.
Top secret
Less than two weeks after Mayor Nir Barkat revealed his plan to restructure the division of Jerusalem between haredi and secular areas, nobody – city council members nor residents involved in such plans – has a clue as to what is actually going to happen.
Officially, the plan is supposed to provide fair solutions to the different sectors, enabling haredim to obtain their needs in terms of kindergartens and schools in their neighborhoods, thus relieving the secular population – especially in Kiryat Hayovel – of fears that the neighborhood would eventually be “taken over” by haredim. However, it seems that two things have caused the whole project to become suspect in the eyes of both haredi representatives and secular residents.
The Kiryat Hayovel local council claims that the plan was conceived without their participation.
In addition, the plan does not give a clear picture of what is to be expected. One of the details that raised suspicions is the 30 kindergartens for haredi children slated for Kiryat Hayovel.
Considering that even the holder of the haredi education portfolio on the city council, Zvika Cohen (Shas), says there is no need for so many haredi kindergartens there, it is no wonder that activists and members of the Kiryat Hayovel council are outraged.
On the other hand, Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism), himself quite involved in the plan, says that the major “reward” to sweeten the 30 haredi kindergartens, namely the Warburg compound reserved for secular cultural activities, is out of the question.
“We need that space for haredi schools,” he explains.
Members of the opposition on the council demonstrated against the plan at Safra Square on Sunday.
Sweet monster
On Sunday (July 30), the Jerusalem Court for Local Affairs annulled the closure order issued a few weeks ago by the municipality against the Mifletzet Bar & Cafe in Kiryat Hayovel. Justice Paul Shtark ruled that there was no reason to close the bar on the grounds of not yet having a business permit.
The secular residents and activists in Kiryat Hayovel consider this decision a great victory regarding the character of the neighborhood, which is at the center of the haredi-secular struggles in the city.
The Mifletzet Bar & Cafe is a local community organization initiative, founded and managed by members of the organization.
It is considered one of the most important locales representing the secular residents in shaping the character of the neighborhood. The Mifletzet will officially reopen next week.
Safe journey
Ever had to wait too long for your bus? Frustrated when there is no discernible link between the information on the electronic board at a bus stop and the actual arrival time of the bus? Feeling cramped in a bus that is too crowded, arrived late, is not very clean and on top of that, whose air conditioning is not working properly? Elad Malka, until recently a member of the Hitorerut list at the city council (and now following a rotation agreement, out of the council) believes he has the solution. Malka, who has been monitoring the performance of the Egged bus company and documenting its many failures, wants to introduce taxi lines that would supplement bus service on some of the busiest and longest bus lines, utilizing alternative – and shorter – routes.
Malka has tried to force Egged to meet their commitment to provide bus service at frequencies according to the approved schedule, and suggested that in order to do so, Egged should hire more drivers. But despite support from the Transportation Ministry, the situation has not really improved. Now Malka is trying to promote, within regulation guidelines, a viable alternative to the Egged monopoly on certain key routes in the city.
The proposal is to introduce sherut (shared taxi) lines on some 10 of the busiest bus routes. The goal is to improve the daily lives of the many residents who rely on public transportation – and perhaps to convince Egged to upgrade its performance.
Expensive wine
The 14th annual Wine Festival (August 7 to 10) in the beautiful Japanese garden of the Israel Museum Art Garden, will provide – as it does every year – access to a number of Israel’s popular wineries.
The first evening this year coincides with Tu Be’av, a Jewish date that bears some similarities to Valentine’s Day. The opening event includes an outdoor concert featuring two very popular bands: Red Band will host Mercedes Band in a show specially created for the wine festival and for Tu Be’av. This attractive addition to the usual festival program, however, apparently comes with a cost that is reflected in the ticket price for the first evening.
The entrance fee for all other days of the festival is NIS 95, which itself reflects an increase over previous years, but entry the first evening this year costs no less than NIS 140, a price that might deter potential attendees. A museum spokesman attributed the first-night price hike to the Red Band/ Mercedes Band concert.
On all nights, the ticket includes unlimited free tastings from all participating wineries, as well as cheese stalls, chocolates, olive oils, unique sauces, different types of jam and more. According to the museum, more than 20,000 wine and culture lovers flock to Jerusalem from all corners of Israel for this special wine celebration – although it is not clear how the public will react to the decision to raise the prices on the first evening.
Live concerts will accompany the goings-on during the subsequent evenings of the festival, as well. In addition, the museum will stay open until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and festival visitors are invited to visit the museum with no extra charge. The festival gates open at 7 p.m. and close at 11 p.m. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the event will begin at 6 p.m.