This week in Jerusalem: Homeless radio no longer

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs

Some people’s habit of urinating in the city center’s narrow streets, mostly around Zion Square (pictured), has become a major nuisance (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Some people’s habit of urinating in the city center’s narrow streets, mostly around Zion Square (pictured), has become a major nuisance
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Homeless radio no longer
A new home has been found for Army Radio – in the evacuated compound of Kol Yisrael. The beautiful building and its courtyard (property of the Ethiopian Church), home to the public radio for more than 60 years, will come alive again. It seems that Moshe Lion, city council and coalition member, was the man behind the move.
A previous proposal to install Army Radio inside the building that serves as a museum for the underground groups that fought the British Mandate was rejected due to concern that the move would harm the special character of the site.
Lion, with the approval of Mayor Nir Barkat, came up with the idea to use the compound on Heleni Hamalka Street, and it seems that this time all sides agree. Officially, Army Radio should move to its new location very soon, although for the moment no side has published an official date.
Deafening ‘smahot’
The Hebron Yeshiva has started to hold weddings in its hall. According to residents of the Givat Mordechai neighborhood, repeated complaints to the municipality about the loud music emanating from the place have not brought about any change, and the noise is continuing. Last week, things reached a new peak, as residents who are following the situation found out that city councilman Eliezer Rauchberger (United Torah Judaism), who holds the public properties portfolio in the municipality, participated in one of these weddings.
Meanwhile, the yeshiva has submitted an official request to enlarge the dining room, which serves as the banquet hall for the weddings, despite the fact that, according to city regulations, a yeshiva (or any other institution) that is located inside a residential area may not hold such events.
Trashy Treasury
Remember the disgusting and stinky piles of trash scattered in city center last year? Well, they are back. As part of Mayor Nir Barkat’s battle against the government – more precisely, against the finance minister – city employees have scattered garbage at the entrance to the Treasury building in the government complex.
The ritual of the struggle between Barkat and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) is back again, with its usual threats: If the city does not get the budget it is entitled to, the first step will be the dismissal of some 400 employees – and that’s only the beginning.
Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman publicly announced, in a dramatic press conference three weeks ago, that he would not let things reach that level again, and pledged to use his good relations with the Likud Party and with Kahlon himself to prevent such sights, while obtaining the necessary budgets.
Kahlon has been adamant in refusing any contact with Barkat (he does not answer the mayor’s phone calls), and the city is slowly but surely entering another round of fighting over personal pride, at the residents’ expense.
A home for youth
NIS 2 million – that is the new budget approved by the city council to build 13 venues for youth movements in the city. Among them, one for the No’ar Oved movement in the Arab sector will be built in the Wadi Joz neighborhood. This movement aims to provide informal education programs for youth who are not studying in regular schools. More than 40,000 youths participate in 11 youth movements in the city, ranging from Hashomer Hatza’ir to religious youth movements such as Bnei Akiva, Ezra and Ariel.
It took only three years, but despite – or perhaps due to – extensive renovations, most of them aimed to preserve its historical character, the Waldorf Astoria was recently sold.
The Canadian Reichmann family, the first owners, sold the hotel to French Jewish businessman Michel Ohayon, who already owns a few hotel gems around the world – including one of the Waldorf chain at the prestigious historical site of Versailles in France. The Jerusalem Waldorf will continue to operate for at least 15 years under the title of the chain.
The Reichmanns paid $20 million for it when they bought it in 2005 (in the middle of the Second Intifada, which almost ruined tourism to Jerusalem) and spent another $150m. to implement the restoration renovations led by architect Yehuda Feigin. Almost 18 years after the acquisition, the most luxurious hotel in the city has been sold for $160m. – a profit of merely $10m.
The next deal?
After 15 successful years in the city center, the branch of the legendary Rahmo restaurant on Yoel Salomon Street will close down. The restaurant plans to relocate to a nearby location; its original and first location, inside the Mahaneh Yehuda market, is continuing business as usual.
Laurent Levy, a French-Israeli millionaire who has acquired a number of strategic venues in the city, is behind this deal. Levy has an agenda – he buys properties that have bars and restaurants open on Shabbat and requires them to become kosher and close on the holy day. He did that with the former Restobar on Rambam Street a few years ago, and he made his intention known then. Meanwhile, he acquired several other properties in Nahalat Shiva and built “Kikar Hamusica,” which was constructed even before he obtained a legal permit from the municipality. Among the changes he made in the use of the property is the cessation of loud music every evening in the neighborhood. Businesses owners on the street asking not to be identified have expressed a concern that additional businesses will have to change location soon.
Stinky business
Have you ever noticed an unpleasant smell of urine while walking in the city center? To address the problem, the Lev Ha’ir local council and community center has made two proposals: (1) owners of coffee shops and restaurants in the area are being asked to enable passersby to use their bathrooms, and (2) additional public restrooms should be built. Council chairman Ophir Lang feels that the solutions are obvious and should have been implemented long ago. Of note is the Parisian model, which uses a device to convert body waste into fertilizer without requiring draining. Businesses who open their restrooms to the public are to be identified through a sticker on their doors and compensated monetarily by the municipality.
New deadline, better conditions
Following negotiations held far from media attention for a few days, Teva’s employees in Jerusalem are likely to get some relief in regard to their dismissal conditions. Although the crumbling company is not withdrawing from its decision to shut down branches and dismiss thousands of employees in Israel and around the world, more time is allocated to the Jerusalem employees to get ready.
While still unofficial, it appears that under the new conditions, 180 employees who are close to retirement age will be dismissed in the coming weeks, with a better compensation package than the one they would have been entitled to had they just reached their retirement time. As for all the others – about 2,250 employees in the two branches of Teva in the city, the dismissals have been delayed to the end of 2019, giving them the time to look for alternative employment solutions. Professional training and support to move to different kind of jobs will be available in a joint program of the government and the municipality. With almost two years to prepare, the workers have better chances to reach satisfactory solutions.
What is left unresolved is the tremendous crisis that Teva’s failure has caused in a city that continuously fails to attract more such opportunities.
Through the lens
Musicologist, jazzman (saxophone is his instrument) and artistic photographer Shlomo Israeli has a new exhibition of his latest works on display at the Jerusalem Theater Gallery. The title, “Unclear,” reveals, perhaps more than anything else the way the Jerusalemite looks at the world and people through the lens of his camera, but even more, through his own eyes and soul. Photos in black and white and in color depict a reality in which some of the defining lines are not clear – hence the name of the exhibition – and suggest more than one way to view and to understand them. His technique is varied – from clear-cut lines of a person or a landscape picture to the most unclear, whirling, blurred and even – on purpose, of course – out of focus, leaving each spectator to take possession of the photos and to make them part of his or her world. The exhibition will run until January 11; entry is free of charge.
Jerusalem – new street names
Two former chiefs of staff, a rabbi and three women – that’s the present harvest for new names of streets and squares in the city, presented and approved last week. City council member Yael Antebi (Jerusalem Will Succeed) leads the naming committee, which has chosen to honor Moshe Levy and Amnon Lipkin-Shahak (IDF); Sarah Azariahu (women’s leader); Prof. Susan Daniel-Nataf (a scholar); and Esther Cailingold, who died of wounds sustained in the battle for Old City during the War of Independence Rabbi Albert Hazan (former rabbi of the prisons and founder of the institution for rehabilitation of former prisoners), poet Nathan Alterman and Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriah were also selected, but the streets to bear their names have not yet been designated.