This week in Jerusalem: Blind to money

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 CERTAIN CITY residents should prepare for Shabbat-morning fireworks. (photo credit: Alexander Kagan/Unsplash)
CERTAIN CITY residents should prepare for Shabbat-morning fireworks.
(photo credit: Alexander Kagan/Unsplash)

Blind to money

A summer vacation program for 40 students from the Jewish Institute for the Blind is about to be canceled due to a lack of public funding. Despite several attempts to reach an arrangement, Safra Square has said the association is not a recognized recipient of state funds. In the coming week, the annual trip will take place, with the cost reaching NIS 93,000 for six days of activities adapted for the blind. And for most of the students, this is the only trip they will take this year. The municipality has said that to receive funding for vacations that include accommodation, they must be operated by organizations that have met conditions set by the Welfare Ministry, and the Jerusalem school is not yet recognized by the ministry. As of print time, there is still no solution. 

Who will take care of the conservation?

The director of the municipality’s Conservation Department is set to retire, leaving this important position vacant in the interim. In recent years, many complaints have been heard about the department’s conduct under her leadership, as conservation in the field of construction in a historic city like Jerusalem always carries many sensitivities and under almost every stone that is lifted here there is one conservation aspect or another. More than once, conflicts and public struggles took place throughout the city around sensitive buildings designated for preservation: for example, Frumin House, where the first Knesset functioned, was repurchased by the state after it was sold to private entrepreneurs, due to or because of conservation problems. Along with understandable complaints from the contractors and developers against the decisions of the conservation committee, there have also been complaints from the professional conservationists themselves against the nature of the municipal department’s activities.

Prominent conservation architects and even the Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites have repeatedly come out against the sometimes puzzling conditions and determinations that the department has placed before those who apply to it. The holder of the conservation portfolio in the municipality, council member Yohanan Weizman, has been more than once in conflict with the department, and has complained of a lack of cooperation.

SAFRA SQUARE has become the headquarters of Jerusalem’s battle against the virus. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)SAFRA SQUARE has become the headquarters of Jerusalem’s battle against the virus. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A warm home for soldiers

Following a compromise between the municipality and the Jewish Agency, the lone soldiers’ home in Kiryat Yovel’s Beit Giora will continue to operate there. The Jewish Agency, which obtained a permit for a three-story addition for the tower they are planning to build to replace the existing building, has agreed to let the home function there once it is constructed. About 40 soldiers live there, which is their only home. The local planning and construction committee approved the updated plan for recommendation, and it will be brought next week for approval.

Town major building

A tender has been published for the purchase of the iconic town major (ketzin ha’ir) building – almost five years after it was abandoned. The Israel Lands Authority issued a tender last week for the purchase of the Hillel Street building, with the minimum bid being set at NIS 95 million. The building is zoned for preservation, and the buyer will not be able to build on top of the structure. The built area currently stands at 2,392 sq.m. The owner of Music Square, Laurent Levy, previously stated that he is interested in purchasing the historic building and connecting it to the square. 

Drive me to Gilo

Changes to public transportation routes in Gilo due to the light rail works were implemented last Friday. Traffic arrangements at the Yaffe Rom, Leshem, Tzviya and Yitzhak and Haganenet intersections will be altered, and the straight trip between Yaffe Rom and Lehem streets will be canceled. There will also be changes in bus lines 30, 30A, 31, 33, 71, 72 and 92, as well as the morning line 19 and night line 102. Due to the changes, 30, 31 and 33 will pass on Tzviya and Yitzhak, near the commercial center and the Up-Town Mall, and new bus stops will be set up in the area in both directions.

Knitting my city

A community knitting group’s composition, made by about 150 senior women from Jerusalem and the surrounding area, was hung on top of the Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art in the city center. The City Knitted Together presents a new definition of mural painting and street art. The work consists of 10 knitted sheets that together create a large-scale environmental image. The sheets, which together form a 36-meter sequence, will adorn the museum’s building and windows. The area of the work is about 140 sq.m., and it is made of about 1,600 rolls of yarn with a length of 384,000 m. Urban knitting allows many women to feel a sense of belonging and pride in “decorating Jerusalem,” the city that many of them have lived in for about 70 years. The women and their families became a natural target audience for the installation, and are excited to visit it, and for many of them, it’s a welcome departure from their retirement residences and day centers. The installation creates a festive scene in the street, and the canvases, which are knitted in special patterns and bursting with color, are made with an ancient handicraft technique. The connection between the modern and the ancient, and the color and iridescence of the canvases reflect the colorful mosaic of the city’s population. The installation is financed by the Ariel and the Eden municipal companies.

Visit a synagogue

The historic synagogue in the Yemenite Village in Silwan will become a visitors center. After more than a decade of legal problems to implement the decision taken back in 2018, ministers Gideon Sa’ar and Ze’ev Elkin reached an understanding with the residents of Shiloah for the establishment of a visitors center there, to be dedicated to the Jewish settlement as well as to the culture and tradition of the Yemenite immigrants. A petition submitted by Ir Amim had delayed the project for years, which then led to another petition - this time by the Benvenishti endowment (owner of the property) against changing the building’s designation. The compromise reached this week in the district court includes the leasing of the existing building to an association that will operate and manage the visitors center, thereby enabling its establishment and eliminating the arguments behind further petitions. 

The budget for the center is NIS 4.5m., with the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry investing about NIS 3m. and other sources allocating about NIS 1.5m. The center will include the preservation and restoration of the floor of the ancient Solomon’s Tent synagogue, an observation deck on the roof of the synagogue toward the Old City and the City of David, and the original well that was there will be restored and accessible to the public. In addition, various exhibitions and historical documents from life in the Yemenite village will be presented there, reflecting the path taken by the Yemeni immigrants on their way to Israel, their culture and tradition, as well as the Jewish settlement there.

Noisy matriculation

Residents of neighborhoods on the seam with the city’s east side should prepare for a restless Shabbat morning. On Saturday morning, at precisely 9 a.m. , results of the Tawjieh – the Palestinian-Jordanian matriculation – will be published. The custom is that for about two hours after the announcement of the results, the graduates of high schools in the Arab neighborhoods celebrate with fireworks and make a lot of noise.

Sports fields in Sacher

A ceremony honoring Robert Kraft’s NIS 15 million donation to establish the new sports complex in renovated Sacher Park took place last week in the presence of Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Kraft family representatives. The municipality, through the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Moriah company, built the sports complex in the northern part of the park; it includes a TRX playground, soccer field, skate park, basketball and tennis courts, and martial arts facilities. 

Kraft, a Jewish businessman and philanthropist, recalled that he fell in love with Jerusalem when he visited the Holy Land for the first time on his 1963 honeymoon. Since then, he has supported many Israeli initiatives, among them 27 mission trips to Israel bringing in athletes and entertainers.