This week in Jerusalem: End of story

A weekly round up of city affairs.

 GOODBYE, BOOKS: Jordan Books closes its doors (Illustrative). (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
GOODBYE, BOOKS: Jordan Books closes its doors (Illustrative).
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

End of story

Rami Meir, the owner of Jordan Books in Zion Square, closed the store last week. Ninety-three years of books – small and large publishers, bestsellers and sweet children’s books – have seen their final days. The store, which opened in 1929, closed down just a few years before marking its centenary in the city. 

Meir, a third generation in the book business, took over after his grandfather, Zvi Zimet, founded the shop. After a few days during which customers came to say goodbye, Meir began putting all the book stocks into boxes and returning them to the various publishers. Jordan Books was a rare store in the landscape of bookstores, as it remained a private store in an era in which belonging to a chain meant the possibility of survival in the business. 

Some books were exclusively available at Yarden, something Meir was quite proud of, as well as enabling him to run an independent policy of prices and discounts independent of external factors. The property where the store operated was subject to key money fees; it will soon be owned by another business owner who is not related to the world of books nor the written word. 

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion is seen addressing the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion is seen addressing the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Argentina is not crying

Does Mayor Moshe Lion mark boundaries for the ultra-Orthodox public represented in his coalition? Some believe that his decision to approve the local planning committee’s expansion of the Argentina school in Kiryat Hayovel is a sign that Lion is not always ready to approve everything the haredim want. Considering the fact that we are entering an election year for local authorities, it is possible that there is more here than a desire to meet the needs of the Jewish population in a neighborhood that has become, in recent years, a battleground between the ultra-Orthodox and secular residents. 

The new wing at the Argentina school will be renovated and include 12 new classrooms and additional educational spaces for the students. A committee of residents representing the haredim in the neighborhood has published an angry letter directed at Lion. “You betrayed us,” it read. “It is not possible to build a secular high school in the heart of the ultra-Orthodox community.” 

The local planning and construction committee discussed and approved last week the expansion of the Argentina campus, whereby a wing will be added to the junior high school. According to the haredi representatives’ complaint, since their community in Kiryat Hayovel has six synagogues, 500 families, 320 children in cheder, 300 girls in Bais Yaakov schools, and 380 children in kindergartens, it therefore should not be disregarded. 

Blame the lawyer

The district ethics committee of the Bar Association issued a warning to municipal legal adviser Eliyahu Malka, following a municipal ruling in an abuse case. The warning was precipitated by a complaint filed by councilwoman Laura Wharton. Jerusalem district ethics committee attorney Hanan Rubinstein noted that the committee “agreed to comment to advocate Eliyahu Malka that it is his duty to be appropriate and careful and precise in the facts he submits in the affidavit.” 

The case began in 2021, as Judge Kamal Abu-Kaoud ruled that there was indeed misconduct by the department against attorney Ilanit Michaeli, who at the time served as Malka’s deputy at the legal office of Safra Square. 

“We are convinced that the plaintiff suffered mental suffering as a result of the forceful moves the municipality took against her, and that her daily routine at work was compromised. The ethics committee wrote to Malka that the plaintiff testified she “walks with her head down, avoids the eyes of her co-workers and turns around as if a mark of disgrace is placed on her head.” However, no decision was made to add any additional disciplinary measures against Malka.

A new gate to the city

A new entrance road to Jerusalem will be officially inaugurated on August 31 and will have two lanes in each direction. Surprisingly, it was decided that the route for public transportation will only be added in the following months. Route 16, the new entrance road to Jerusalem, will run for vehicular traffic along its entire length until the exit at the interchange after Shaare Zedek Medical Center. 

According to the agreement between the Transportation Ministry and the Mevaseret Zion local council, the entrance and exit to Route 16 for the residents of Mevaseret Zion will be open permanently. Highway 16 from the exit interchange to the Bait interchange will be 4.7 km. long, including two sets of tunnels and bridges. The permitted speed on the road will be 110 kph. 

New campus

The Ono Academic College is expanding to a new campus in Jerusalem, which will open in Talpiot. The campus has been built by entrepreneurs and owners of the Zol Begadol supermarket chain, with an investment of NIS 140 million. The campus will be operating soon, and as of the next academic year, about 4,000 students from all over the city and the surrounding area will study there. 

The building will unite the two existing campuses in the city, the general campus and the ultra-Orthodox venue, and will offer students 20 different study programs within the faculties of law, education and business administration. The campus was planned to be accessible both to the population of east Jerusalem and to the ultra-Orthodox population of the city in a way that enables each sector or group to maintain their cultural identity and their lifestyles according to their faith. Accordingly, prayer spaces for all religions are accessible; special programs also have been proposed that will enable the different populations to interact. 

A train home 

The Khan Train plan, promoted by the Israel Lands Authority, was approved last week by the district committee for planning and construction. The plan includes the area south of the old train station and will be about 30 dunams. It will include 200 housing units and another 250 units for sheltered senior housing, alongside commercial units in an urban space oriented to pedestrians. 

The plan is to be implemented in the area between Hebron Boulevard in the east, Miriam Hashmonait Street in the south, Bethlehem Road and the railway park. ❖