This week in Jerusalem: Life after Teva

A proposal was made that there should be an incentive to other firms in Jerusalem to absorb as many dismissed Teva employees as possible.

People protest outside a Teva Pharmaceutical Industries facility in Jerusalem on December 14 (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
People protest outside a Teva Pharmaceutical Industries facility in Jerusalem on December 14
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
Life after Teva
Former deputy mayor and current mayoral candidate Ofer Berkovitch has presented a request to Mayor Nir Barkat regarding the situation of the Teva employees who are facing massive dismissals. Berkovitch, head of Hitorerut (four seats on the council), requests that a joint committee be established immediately, consisting of the municipality, the Jerusalem Development Authority and representatives of the government. The committee’s task should be to find ways to prepare the 1,700 dismissed employees for alternative jobs, to offer them professional training appropriate for the employment options in the city (not many, one must admit), and to provide them with all the support and consulting they will require. In his proposal, Berkovitch states that this should be an initiative on the part of the mayor to lead such a step in order to find solutions, such as offering incentives to other firms in the city to absorb as many dismissed Teva employees as possible.
Polls apart?
A recent survey within the non-haredi sector conducted by political pollster Mina Tzemah regarding the popularity of the mayoral candidates revealed that Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut) has a significant advantage. The survey found that council member and Deputy Mayor Moshe Lion is the most well-known among the community but is also the least popular, with 32% of the respondents saying that they do not like him, and 25% declaring that they are indifferent to him and his plans. Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, still an unofficial candidate (but very active in promoting his candidacy), obtained 14% who do not like him and 18% who do appreciate him. As for Berkovitch, 22% of those surveyed declared that they would support him, while 5% said they would not.
The bottom line is that the race is between Lion and Berkovitch, the latter obtaining 13% more than Lion. But (and that is a big “but”) the survey did not poll the haredi sector, which is considered the most influential in municipal elections and for whom Lion is the official candidate (provided that Barkat doesn’t run). The survey was commissioned by Berkovitch’s party, Hitorerut.

A learning experience

Has the first swallow appeared for the Barkat Plan for the redistribution of schools in the city’s neighborhoods? If so, this is a harbinger with a significant message. The Education Department at Safra Square has just announced that a new school in the state religious stream will open its doors in Kiryat Hayovel in the next school year (September 2018). This is the first new state school added to this neighborhood in many years. Considering that Kiryat Hayovel has become the “front” in the haredi-secular struggle over the character of some neighborhoods, the school is a turning point – small but still significant.
What’s more, the school will be open to boys and girls together – another interesting message. There will be no gender separation in the first two grades. From there up, classes will be separate, but the schoolyard and recess will be shared by the two genders. All other activities, such as school trips and ceremonies, will be attended by boys and girls together.

Let there be light

A new lighting system has been installed in the renovated building of Beit Hansen, adding beauty to this unique structure. Inaugurated in 1885 as a hospital for lepers in Jerusalem, the beautiful building was turned into an arts and culture complex eight years ago. The purpose was to provide another artistic venue but also to preserve a landmark building that offers a wide range of cultural activities year round, most of them free of charge.
The lighting system was conceived and created by architect Nahum Meltzer. The venue is managed by the Jerusalem Development Authority and promotes projects of the film and TV foundation in the city; a venture capital fund; Erev Rav art and culture magazine; and graduate programs of Bezalel Academy. Now that the project is completed, the new lighting system will illuminate the building all night long.
The Blue Line – one more round
A debate initiated by MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), a former city council member (Yerushalmim), brought the issue of the segment of the light rail on Emek Refaim Street to the Knesset. The Reforms Commission, which Azaria heads, asked the parties to present their views regarding the damage the segment and the roadwork on it would cause the merchants and the residents.
The Residents’ Association presented its plan for an alternative to that segment, which is a tunnel under Harakevet Street. The representative of the Merchants’ Association on Emek Refaim, part of the opponents to the project, said that these days more than ever, while Jerusalem is facing the dismissal of 1,700 Teva employees, it is inconceivable that 1,500 more employees of the businesses along that street should suffer the same fate during the years of planned roadwork.
The representative of the District Committee of the Interior Ministry concluded the debate by stating that the planning staff of the Master Plan have been asked to present a new plan for the segment, which should be based on the requests of the Residents’ Association, whose main proposal is to opt for a tunnel.