This week in Jerusalem: The night train

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 STARTING SEPTEMBER 17, trains headed in each direction from the capital to the airport will run once an hour between Saturday and Wednesday nights. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
STARTING SEPTEMBER 17, trains headed in each direction from the capital to the airport will run once an hour between Saturday and Wednesday nights.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

The night train

About 1,000 Jerusalemites signed a petition to have the train from Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion Airport operate during the night. Most of those signing the petition were Labor Party activists, who called on their chairwoman, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, to extend the operating hours of the train to the airport. 

The ministry responded, and starting September 17, trains headed in each direction will run once an hour between Saturday and Wednesday nights. The question remaining is why such a petition was even needed, when the same service has existed to and from Tel Aviv for years.

Forgiveness time

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is preparing for the arrival of tens of thousands of people as the first Slihot prayers at the Western Wall plaza have begun and will continue until Monday, October 3, the eve of Yom Kippur. From Elul, the Jewish month of mercy and forgiveness, the Western Wall is the site of crowds of Jews during this season of forgiveness and into the High Holy Days. 

This year, especially after two years of COVID-19 restrictions, large crowds are expected every night at the Western Wall and in the Jewish Quarter. The Slihot services will be held at the Western Wall and will be conducted by a cantor. Special amplification and large screens will make the Slihot services accessible to all. It is part of an effort to encourage the public to come to Jerusalem during these special days. The Slihot services will also be broadcast live on the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s website for those unable to come to the city.

 SLIHOT IN 2021. After two years of limited attendance due to the pandemic, Western Wall organizers are expecting huge crowds every night for the penitential prayer service.  (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS) SLIHOT IN 2021. After two years of limited attendance due to the pandemic, Western Wall organizers are expecting huge crowds every night for the penitential prayer service. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

On Monday, October 3, the eve of Yom Kippur, a large crowd is expected for the last Slihot event, which will be held until dawn. 

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is also organizing prayer tours that highlight piyutim (lithurgic songs) and prayers in the Old City and at the Western Wall Tunnels. Also, the Chain of Generations Center, and a new route in the Western Wall Tunnels, be opened until late-night hours during the entire Slihot period.

Red line ready

Imagine that the light rail red line will start operating in a little more than six months. No need to use your imagination, according to Mayor Moshe Lion, as it will be the reality. The red line, which will run from Neve Ya’akov, through Kiryat Yovel and the Ora junction to the Hadassah-University Medical Center, will be ready by May 2023 – coincidentally less than six months before the next mayoral and city council elections. 

The red line, an extension of the existing line, will serve the 40,000 residents of the northern neighborhoods and the 70,000 residents of Kiryat Yovel and Kiryat Menachem. It’s good news – except that this extension was supposed to be ready about three years ago.

Manofim is back

The Manofim Contemporary Art Festival is launching The Land of Wild Creatures, a bilingual children’s club with activities for families and children. The festival will run in a unique complex that was built especially for the whole family. It will combine art workshops, music and theater performances, and the creation of a mural in collaboration with communities.

In the Land of the Bridge Creatures, children and parents will meet colorful creatures that help them face fears, create new connections, and learn to know each other through art, story and imagination. Participation in the workshops is NIS 5, with advance registration. The festival is being held from September 13 to 19, under the Bara bridge at Hamesila Park. 

Approving plans

On September 12, the planning council of the Civil Administration is expected to discuss – and approve – two major plans for the building program known as E1 (East-1), situated between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim. Left-wing civil rights organizations say that if approved, these plans will displace roughly 3,000 Palestinians living in small Bedouin communities in the area, such as Khan al-Ahmar.

In recent months, the Supreme Court has expressed frustration with the state’s ongoing request for extensions and has stated that it will not grant the government additional time to submit its response. The plans include the Givat Hashaked proposal for 473 housing units on 38.7 dunams of land located in Sharafat, the northwestern part of the Beit Safafa neighborhood. It is noteworthy that part of the housing units planned there are also intended for Ara city residents. 

Dead Sea in arts

A solo exhibition by multidisciplinary, Jerusalem-born artist Sigalit Landau will run at the Israel Museum, from October 6 to June 17, to mark 20 years of her work featuring the Dead Sea. Highlights include fishing nets from the Jaffa port that are dipped in the Dead Sea, sweet watermelons floating in the salty water, and a stone thrown from one side of the sea to the other. 

Landau, who has been creating artworks about the Dead Sea for two decades, notes that the area is a source of inspiration, energy and creativity. The exhibition explored the Dead Sea’s past and present. Visitors “dive” into this sea on a spectacular and powerful journey – from the ancient destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah till today, with the area facing an ecological disaster.

Landau, born in 1969, lives and works in Tel Aviv. She was awarded the title of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. 

Here it comes 

Starting Sunday, a new bus line will connect south Jerusalem to Tel Aviv’s Central Train Terminal. The new 490 Egged line will travel on the new Route 16 without crossing at Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station and will use the fast lane on its route to Tel Aviv.

Good afternoon 

Afternoon classes, which began in 2018, are being offered in the current school year, according to the city’s Education Administration. New kindergartens that opened this year will be able to take advantage of these extended classes. 

Green is my city 

On the afternoons of September 14-16, the Green Inside and Out festival will take place in the courtyard of the Science Museum in Givat Ram. The festival is an initiative of the Sustainable Jerusalem Lobby and the Social Sustainability Department at the municipality. In addition to the festival and the annual conference on sustainability and community, a fashion show of second-hand clothing presented by Haboydem will also take place next week. Teenagers and young adults will model the clothes, conveying the message that it is possible to be both eco-conscious and stylish. ❖