This week in Jerusalem: Beware of polio

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 KIRYAT MENACHEM’S sole post office has closed (Illustrative). (photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)
KIRYAT MENACHEM’S sole post office has closed (Illustrative).
(photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

Beware of polio

The Health Ministry and the municipality have decided to transfer infant polio vaccines to the Yad Sarah center in Beit Hakerem, hoping to attract extremist hassidim who do not want to receive government services or identify with government institutions. The goal is to vaccinate 20,000 babies by Passover

This decision comes after an unvaccinated four-year-old girl in Jerusalem was discovered to have severe polio symptoms. Since then, the Health Ministry and the municipality launched a broad vaccination campaign in the city – baby clinics (tipot halav) have been mobilized to try and bridge the gap in polio vaccines after ministry experts warned that about 1,0000 children have contracted polio in Jerusalem in the recent months.

No mail today

The only post office in Kiryat Menachem has closed after 60 years of service, as part of Israel Post’s major restructuring plan. However, this step brought with it a lot of protest and anger in the neighborhood, as this will harm populations that cannot carry out operations remotely or take a bus to another branch. 

A woman stands at the counter inside a Israel Post office in Jerusalem (credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)A woman stands at the counter inside a Israel Post office in Jerusalem (credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

About 100 residents demonstrated in front of the closed post office, claiming that its closure would significantly harm the elderly and new immigrants. Israel Post responded that it will address residents’ needs for all services in Kiryat Yovel.  

Kiryat Menachem is home to many senior citizens, immigrants from Ethiopia and hard-off families who will now have to travel elsewhere to do crucial transactions, such as making electricity, water and gas payments, since most of them do not have a computer at home or are not computer literate, don’t have a car and still pay bills at the branch. Some of them come with their neighbors to the post office to help them; not to mention mentally handicapped tenants of a local hostel, most of whom are unable to travel alone by bus to another branch.

Out of here 

Following an unprecedented protest by young women of a prestigious haredi seminar against sexual harassment, the suspect resigned this week. 

Last month, the first demonstrators arrived at the school gate with placards and covered in white masks. The court of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu summoned principal Zvia Rotenberg to a hearing this week to have her answer the serious allegations against her, but she refused to attend, and a day later issued a letter to the students announcing her resignation. 

Public activist Avigayil Heilbronn, who previously attended the school and acted to expose the evidence against Rotenberg, expressed satisfaction with the success of the fight, but noted that the resigned principal has yet to apologize to the students harmed by her. In a letter sent to students, Rotenberg expressed regret over the publication of the affair.

Whose assets are they?

Are haredi residents getting more properties assigned to their city institutions than other parts of the city’s population? This is what a recent report issued by the Allocations Committee at Safra Square has revealed, with 80% of the assets recently allocated by the municipality for education, culture and welfare going into the hands of haredi organizations. 

A high-ranking municipal source says most of the requests came from haredi bodies, hence the results. Reports from previous committee meetings over the past year reveal a similar trend, as it turns out that time and again, the ultra-Orthodox factions in the coalition have managed to obtain a large percentage of the available assets for their communities. The result is that both the secular and Arab sectors are forced to settle for far fewer structures than their share of the population. 

This situation seems to illustrate what a lobby for the pluralistic public launched last week by three city council members, Laura Wharton, Yossi Havilio and Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, can change and influence, determining the designation of properties so that it fits the character of a neighborhood. Yet, with or without this lobby, one thing has to be taken into account: the growth of Jerusalem’s haredi population, which, while currently at 29%, requires more structures for a wide range of institutions, mostly educational. 

For your sake

A budget of NIS 97 million has been approved at Safra Square for making buildings and public places accessible throughout the city. The plan, which has been approved by the Municipal Finance Committee, will be spread over four years, with NIS 23.5m. for 2022. According to the plan, public buildings and spaces (playgrounds and urban sports complexes) will become physically accessible, with the work being done through the Moriah Company. 

It is worth noting that just a few weeks ago, the municipality completed a three-year plan to make the entire Old City handicap-accessible, both for residents and visitors. The municipality is also promoting the new levels of accessibility it is providing for various services, such as accessing documents, and information and forms on its website. 

In addition, the municipality has begun training sessions with the Access Israel organization. Municipal employees have been hearing about the association’s experiences, expertise and extensive knowledge, and a team of experts on its behalf, including people with disabilities, have been sharing with them stories about their lives, coping with difficulties, their limitations, successes and how to integrate them into daily life. The municipality hopes the training will raise the awareness of its employees about the rights of the disabled.

Lend me your ear

A 55-year-old man injured while working in a carpentry shop arrived at Shaare Zedek Medical Center with the loss of the upper half of his ear. The emergency team quickly attempted to save the ear by stitching the stump into place, but the stump did not receive a sufficient supply of blood. 

Instead, plastic surgeons led by Dr. Yoav Gronovich, director of Shaare Zedek’s Department of Plastic Surgery, opted to perform a unique operation using a cartilage replacement made of alloplastic material. The cartilage substitute is imported from the US, and the surgery allowed the employee a full recovery and a rapid return to his daily life despite the severe injury, while obtaining a very good aesthetic result.

Breathing room

On Monday afternoon, Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Nahalat Shiva, launched a global campaign to mobilize support for Ukraine. Titled “Ukraine Can’t Breathe,” it repurposed the slogan associated with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US – a phrase Evans says applies to the current conflict. 

“The Ukrainians are indeed the victims, and they need all the support they can get. Ukraine must have airspace to breathe.”

Evans and his son just returned from Ukraine, where they delivered 19 tons of food to feed 45,000 people. The Ukraine Can’t Breathe campaign can be followed at ukrainehope.com.