THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: Nice to meet you

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

AN AERIAL view of Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
AN AERIAL view of Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Nice to meet you
This is not the first attempt (there were already two during the 2013 election) but this time it’s officially happening: a haredi woman is running for the next city coun - cil – and her name is Pnina Pfeuffer. What was till recently just a dream, mostly due to heavy pressure from rabbis and from the haredi sector in general, seems to be only bad memories now. Pfeuffer, a mother of two, is not the first haredi woman who decided to step into the political arena, but she is the first such woman who can do it and not have to resign at the last moment, as hap - pened with other women in past years. The growing influence of activists among haredi women, including the already well-known group of women striving to be elected inside haredi parties at the Knesset, as well as a general trend to have more interaction between diverse communities, are motivating these changes. Pfeuffer is not running on a haredi list – that will perhaps come later – but her public participation in the dem - ocratic rules of the game says a lot about these changes, which are happening mostly within Jerusalem’s ultra-Ortho - dox sector. This revolution has also been made possible thanks to Fleur Hassan-Na - houm, head of the Yerushalmim list, which is publicly striving to include representatives of as many of the city’s residents as possible.
Changing of the guard
There’s a new city council member on the Hitorerut list – and his name is Dan Illouz. An immigrant from Montreal and a former Jerusalem Post columnist, he is today a vice president at Jgive, an initia - tive to promote philanthropy among Israelis. Illouz, 32, studied law at McGill University before making aliya; he is a long-time activist for civil society issues in Jerusalem. He graduated from the Jew - ish Statesmanship Center for Strategic Planning here, and worked at the Knes - set and at the Foreign Affairs Ministry before becoming interested in the local politics of the capital. Two years ago, he joined Hitorerut; as of this week, he is one of its four members on city council, representing French- and English-speaking immigrants.
Local press convention
How does the local press look in 2018? The convention, which took place at Jerusalem’s Crowne Plaza Hotel April 25-26, had a rather puzzling title – “70 years of local press in Israel” – since the idea of local and regional news is a much younger concept. But the convention was nevertheless an important one. In the framework of the awakening to the particular problems and interests of the periphery, local newspapers – both independents and branches of big national-level papers – only began to appear some 30 years ago. This started, not surprisingly, in two of the least peripheral cities – Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Some of the “big” names of Israel’s media have started there, such as Ha’ir (Tel Aviv) and Kol Ha’ir (Jerusalem). At the convention, some of the journal - ists who began there talked about their experiences, as well as presenting the com - plex relationship between the local press and local mayors and councils.
Don’t eat the pasta!
The struggle for control of kashrut in Jerusalem has reached the street-war stage, with many of the components of a real war – threats, shaming, and stories in the press and on social media. For now, the focus is on one specific venue – Pasta Basta at the Mahaneh Yehuda market. The fast-food pasta restaurant recently quit Rabbinate kashrut supervision, mov - ing to the alternative kashrut of the Tzo - har association. Until recently, the only challenge for Rabbinate kashrut was Hashgacha Pratit of Rabbi Aaron Leibovitch (Yerushalmim). But about two months ago, the Tzohar association, led by the prestigious rabbi Oren Duvdevani, entered the supervi - sion market, and it became difficult to simply disregard the competition. As a reaction, another association called Hotam, linked to the Chief Rabbinate, has publicly come out against Pasta Basta, accusing the owners of not keeping kashrut according to strictly Orthodox rules. “Whoever wants to eat Kosher shouldn’t eat at Pasta Basta” said Hotam in a public statement. Tzohar responded immediately, saying that “there is noth - ing bad about competition.” This has rapidly degraded into a call to boycott the restaurant (which now also has branches outside of Jerusalem), with Hotam representatives adding that if this new alternative kashrut organization gets compliments from the Reform movement, then it certainly cannot be considered as real kashrut supervision. Stay tuned for upcoming developments...