This week in Jerusalem: Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs

Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat will be replacing Aaron Leibowitz on the Yerushalmim list at city council. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat will be replacing Aaron Leibowitz on the Yerushalmim list at city council.
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Almost there
In a recent interview with the Hebrew press, Rabbi Shimon Yaakovi, an attorney who directs the Rabbinical Courts Administration, says that while it is acceptable for a woman to be deputy head of the institution, the position of general manager of the Rabbinical Court cannot be open for candidacy to women because of its requirements for learning in Torah and Jewish law.
On a different note, Yaakovi remarked that husbands who refuse to grant a get (religious divorce) should be subject to punishing conditions, including physical hardships. He suggested keeping recalcitrant husbands in seclusion, with no visitors and cuffed most of the time in an uncomfortable position, as guards urge them to grant the get.
“These husbands are terrorists and should be treated as such,” concluded Yaakovi.
Conservative policies
A new institute for strategic research on conservative policies in Israel will be launched next week in the city. For now, the Begin Heritage Center will host the new organization – the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Research – which will focus on increasing public discourse on conservative positions on security issues linked to the needs and interests of the state. The policy research will focus on the significance of Jerusalem as the capital of the state, as well as on Judaism and the importance of Zionism. The scholars in the new institute will come from the highest levels of academia and from the security establishment.
Torah… and Koran, too
Can these two religious texts interface somehow? At the Van Leer Institute they do, at least on an academic level. Next month, Van Leer will offer a series of lectures on the topic at no cost. A range of scholars will explore the shared (and not so shared) traditions presented in these two books.
The series aims to shed light on the different traditions of these two fundamental narratives and to see how traditional commentaries and learning bring them together or drive them apart. One of the first topics presented will be the sacrifice of Isaac in the Torah and of Ishmael in the Koran.
The lectures will take place every Sunday afternoon, at the Van Leer Institute at 43 Jabotinsky Street.
Changing of the guard
At the monthly city council meeting on October 26, there was set to be a changing of the guard in Yerushalmim, the list that is leading the opposition to Mayor Nir Barkat. Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, who remains the president of the movement, is vacating his place on the council for the member after him on the list, Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat. Fleur Hassan-Nahoum will head the list inside the council until the next election in November 2018. Leibowitz, who founded the alternative kashrut organization Hashgaha Pratit, said he is going to focus mainly on the campaign his movement will run in the next election, aiming to expand to additional communities in the city. The 41-year-old Greenfield-Gilat is an architect, married and the father of three children.
Leibowitz says that now is the time to invest energy in the campaign in order to consolidate strong opposition to ongoing Barkat policies that neglect sectors of residents.
“It is with a great sense of humility and responsibility that I take over as leader of the party with a proud history of affecting change in our city,” said Hassan-Nahoum.
“Yerushalmim is the party that will always put people before petty politics.”
Some hope
The Jerusalem District Court ruled on Monday that the municipality had the full right to investigate the issue of Greek Orthodox Church-owned land in the city. The church has conducted a large-scale sale of plots belonging to them, on which entire neighborhoods are built, leaving residents possibly exposed to total loss of their properties. The fact that the sales were transacted at extremely low prices raised significant suspicion and calls for the municipality and the government to investigate.
The church tried, not for the first time, to prevent the inquiry but the court decided to permit it. Perhaps coincidental is the fact that brand-new city councilman Greenfield- Gilat has a long history of involvement in this matter, leading the campaign to boost residents’ and local authorities’ awareness about the issue.
Broadcasting for Jerusalem
Built in the 1860s, the Russian Compound is a Jerusalem landmark. Part of the compound served as a prison during the Mandate, the site of harsh British measures against Jews, including executions; after the departure of the British, the prison was turned into the Museum of Underground Prisoners.
The compound will soon have a new distinction: it will host the military radio station (Galatz). The official announcement of this decision was delivered earlier this week following a visit there of Mayor Barkat and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
The popular IDF radio station, located in Jaffa until now, will move to the capital in stages and establish its studios in the compound within three years. Barkat suggested that Galatz should start to broadcast from its new quarters as soon as possible, before the move from Jaffa is completed. Liberman and station CEO Shimon Elkabetz were in agreement.
Cuba mi amor
Cuba and Israel do not have official diplomatic ties, but politics need not get in the way when we talk about art – and more specifically, Cuban dance and music.
With dance and music that reflect the soul of Cuba with a contemporary twist, the Lizette Alphonso Dance Cuba company is here to fill up the gap left by politics. Next week, on November 6, at the Jerusalem Theater, the virtuoso dance company will festoon the stage with Cuban rhythm, musicians and singers – all celebrating Cuban traditions and culture.
After graduating
Have you graduated from one of the city’s academic institutions but still don’t know exactly how to start a business in your field? MATI, the Jerusalem center for enhancing and promoting such affairs, is here to assist. The most recent program launched is to help new graduates in various fields, with a special attention to graduates of the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, in collaboration with the school’s staff.
The FitInn Center, the arm of the outreach studies unit at Bezalel and MATI, have unveiled a joint program to help graduates from the Bezalel’s architecture school with business initiatives – launching a new business, reaching out to clients and more. A driving force behind the program is Yorai Gavriel, himself a graduate of Bezalel, who in a program of 15 meetings will lead participants to ownership of a new business.
Nof Zion, the next stage
Some 13 new buildings comprising 176 housing units will soon appear in Nof Zion, located above the Arab neighborhood of Jebl Mukaber. After a relatively long period without any new construction plans for this neighborhood, the local planning and construction committee, headed by Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, has changed the policy – perhaps with a green light from the White House – and is launching plans for construction in neighborhoods beyond the 1967 lines. Together with the 90 housing units already existing there, this will turn Nof Zion into the largest Jewish neighborhood constructed in an Arab sector of Jerusalem.
The sounds of silence
The war over Shabbat reached a peak this week in the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood. A group of residents/activists in the Free Kiryat Hayovel movement managed to get a hold of a number of loudspeakers that haredi residents put on their roofs. The loudspeakers were used for the past few weeks to announce the start of Shabbat, playing traditional Shabbat songs and repeatedly announcing the candle-lighting time at full volume.
According to some of the residents, repeated attempts to have the municipality use its powers to prevent the use of the loudspeakers did not bear fruit. The municipality defined the songs and the announcements as a “short and temporary use of loudspeakers, which should not be a serious nuisance.”
It is not clear what will be done with the loudspeakers, and what the reaction of the haredi residents who placed them on their rooftops will be. Some of the Free Kiryat Hayovel activists said that the next step should be to focus on Gilo, where the same use of loudspeakers occurs every week. However, there has been no complaint from Gilo residents thus far on this matter.
Tricky archeology
Following the intervention of right-wing activist Shamai Glick, the guided tour of the Muslim graveyard in Mamilla planned as part of the Batim Mibifnim event this coming weekend has been canceled.
Brought to the attention of Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, whose ministry finances the largest part of the event’s budget, the tour was canceled because of the “radical Left orientation of the guide,” Yonatan Mizrahi, who is a member of the Emek Shaveh organization, which uses archeology for political purposes.
At first, Elkin’s request was answered by erasing Mizrahi’s name from the program, but the tour remained part of the event. But Glick informed Elkin that he considered it a trick just to gloss over the situation, and Elkin announced that if the tour was not removed from the program, he would simply cancel the budget for the entire program, one of the most popular among Jerusalemites and visitors. On Monday, the tour to the graveyard was definitively canceled.