This week in Jerusalem: Another choo-choo

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 The first ride of the train between Jerusalem and Modi'in, at Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem on March 31, 2022 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
The first ride of the train between Jerusalem and Modi'in, at Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem on March 31, 2022
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Another choo-choo

The Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee earlier this week approved a plan that combines residences, hotels, commerce and employment with the main rail station of the city center, which is expected to be built below it. It will be located at the junction of Jaffa, Hanevi’im and Wallenberg streets, near the intersection of the red and green light rail lines, with a continuation of the train line from Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport. 

The plan also includes the construction of three towers of 28 to 31 floors alongside four additional buildings of up to eight floors that will include a total of 370 apartments. Of those, 74 units will be small for the benefit of young couples, and only 50 housing units will be allocated for long-term rent. Many objections were submitted to the plan, but as of now it has been approved by the planning administration.

The boss’s house

Shas leader Arye Deri has obtained the green light for an addition of about 45 sq.m. to his Har Nof residence, and the division of his property into three housing units. However, at a city council meeting, the opposition Hitorerut faction said they do not understand why Deri has not accounted for his parking issues. The faction has therefore demanded that this issue be discussed at a future meeting of the municipal council plenum, maintaining that Deri’s parking issue ​was​ not taken into account.

According to the rules, if there is no room for additional parking as required, ​ the ​person dividing an apartment is obligated to pay a parking fine to the municipality. In Deri’s case, according to Hitorerut’s Yovav Tzur, the issue had not been resolved properly.

Aryeh Deri during Shas Conference on February 10th, 2019 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)Aryeh Deri during Shas Conference on February 10th, 2019 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)

Save my mosque

Beit Safafa residents have petitioned the district court to prevent the municipality from destroying the neighborhood’s Golden Dome mosque, which was built without official permits. Right-wing organizations have launched a campaign to demolish it; residents, however, claim that this is a political move that has nothing to do with construction regulations. 

Last week, 60 residents of the neighborhood requested that the court prevent the demolition, noting that the request is tainted by political pressures. They claim that the municipality knew about the construction of the mosque when it was being built and has ignored it since 2018, with the issue remaining with the municipality, which has not taken any action.

Beit Taylor, a never-ending story 

Will Mayor Moshe Lion expropriate Beit Taylor from the owner, the Shikun Vebinui company, for the benefit of the residents of Kiryat Hayovel? Until a decision is made, legal proceedings between the municipality and the company are continuing. Recently, the district court ordered the company to repair the areas that it had already begun to demolish. 

Opponents of the company’s plans say that this is an indication that they may win their case, since the work was done without a permit. The company began dismantling the tennis courts about a year ago, leading to a court decision to reject Shikun Vebinui’s objection. Now the company must repair the tennis court that it had destroyed.

Million dollar baby

Scholarships of NIS 20 million from the municipality will be awarded to students in Jerusalem who contribute to the community. The scholarship program, for the 2022-2023 academic year, encourages Jerusalem students to study in the existing educational institutions in the city while increasing their social involvement, . 

There are over 30 leading institutions for higher education and art schools in the city, turning the capital, in cooperation with the Lottery and the Jerusalem Foundation, into the largest municipal scholarship fund in Israel. The scholarships enable Jerusalem students studying in one of the city’s academic institutions to receive a scholarship of approximately NIS 10,000, in exchange for 140 hours of social involvement and contribution to the community. 

The City Scholarship Fund allows students to connect with about 50 organizations and associations, where they can volunteer as a condition for receiving the scholarship. The associations themselves will provide half of the scholarship amount.

Back home

The Ministry for the Development of the Periphery, Negev and Galilee is moving its offices to Jerusalem. This is in accordance with a government decision, according to which all government ministries are relocating to the capital. 

Oded Forer, the minister for the Development of the Periphery, Negev and Galilee, affixed a mezuzah at the new offices in the capital earlier this week. It is unclear if the employees, who now must work in the capital, are planning to move their families to the city. 

Jerusalem arts campus

A sum of $50 million was invested in the construction of the new Jerusalem Campus for the Arts in the city center. The new mega campus, in the works for more than five years, unites several Jerusalem performing arts schools – including the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School, the Center for Middle Eastern Classical Music, the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio, and the School of Visual Theater– with public performance spaces in one central location. 

The current 2022-2023 school year will be the first full year at the new campus for each institution. The campus features several indoor and outdoor spaces that will be used for performances, workshops and other public events. The UJA-Federation, the Jerusalem Foundation, the Jerusalem Economic Development Company, and many private donors are partners in this project. 

The official opening ceremony took place this past Thursday in the presence of Jerusalem Mayor Lion, Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper, and Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin. 

Also present at the ribbon cutting were Eric S. Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York; the Kirsh family; Robert and Sherry Wiener; Aharon Feuerstein, director of the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio; Maya Levy, director of the School of Visual Theater; Avi Shoshani, founder and director of the School of Middle Eastern Classical Music; Dana Blankstein Cohen, executive director of the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School; and more than 100 other distinguished guests from New York and Israel. ❖