This week in Jerusalem: No more stink

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 A SCENE FROM the 2018 strike by city workers that left garbage piles at the Mahaneh Yehuda market. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
A SCENE FROM the 2018 strike by city workers that left garbage piles at the Mahaneh Yehuda market.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

No more stink

The trash that had been placed for a long time in front of the entrance to the open-air market in Mahaneh Yehuda, causing a shocking stench, will disappear – at least from the surface – thanks to a persistent struggle waged by the neighborhood’s residents and the community administration. 

This negative symbol and sanitary hazard of the “shuk” – in the form of a giant garbage container with the carton compressor and water pipes that were placed on Agrippas Street in front of the Eini Building – will disappear in the coming months. In their place, an automatic underground compactor will be built. 

After the neighbors complained, for years one must say, the Lev Ha’ir community administration worked with the sanitation department to finally find a solution. The underground compressor won’t harm the needs of the market’s stall owners for garbage removal. Work at the site is expected to start soon.

The disappearing parking lot

Was Mayor Moshe Lion misled to issue an order regulating a parking lot on a private lot without the owner’s permission? Such an embarrassing case seems to have emerged in recent days. 

 JERUSALEM MAYOR Moshe Lion: Every day brings joy and excitement. (credit: ARNON BOSSANI) JERUSALEM MAYOR Moshe Lion: Every day brings joy and excitement. (credit: ARNON BOSSANI)

The mayor’s order to use an empty lot in order to turn it into a parking lot for neighborhoods in east Jerusalem was frozen almost immediately upon publication, and the residents are furious. The word at Safra Square is that the order is only frozen to enable a clarification that took place on the city council among council members involved in the matter. 

It turned out that the owner of the land (who wasn’t even consulted beforehand) objected to the use of his property without a permit, and the position of other neighbors in the area was not examined, either. There is no disagreement that there is an urgent need for additional regulated parking, but the lack of clarity regarding the ownership of the area led to the farce of the permit being frozen as soon as it was published, causing great anger among the residents.

No rest for the dead

About 24 tombstones were recently vandalized in the cemetery near Givat Ram, causing the chairman of the Council of Cemeteries in Jerusalem, Zuriel Porat, to call for an increase in the budget for maintaining the capital’s cemeteries. This one, also known as the Sheikh Bader cemetery, is not the first one in Jerusalem to have its graves damaged. In the past year, there have been a series of incidents of damage to graves and vandalism at the Givat Shaul cemetery, besides repeated incidents of damage to graves at the Mount of Olives cemetery. 

Porat called representatives of the ultra-Orthodox and religious parties in the Knesset to anchor funding in the state budget for the security and development of the capital’s cemeteries. He also appealed to the Jerusalem Police to protect the dignity of the deceased from rioters and the need to secure the roads to the cemetery on the Mount of Olives due to a deterioration in the security situation.

Esther Power

The Hadassah Women’s Organization will present Michal Herzog, the president’s wife, with the inaugural Esther’s Power award this year, for her many years of activity for the advancement of diverse populations in Israel. As part of her role, the wife of the president traditionally works to promote social leadership; increase awareness of mental health challenges, especially among children and teenagers; and strengthen the status of women in Israeli society. 

As part of her activities, Herzog emphasizes integrating citizens from different backgrounds into quality employment and removing the stigma associated with mental health problems. Being the first to receive this award from the Hadassah Women’s Organization, Herzog is an example and role model for women and young people in Israel and around the world.

Better times

Since the beginning of 2022, the number of income guarantee claimants in Jerusalem and the surrounding area (including Ma’ale Adumim, Efrat and Kiryat Arba) has decreased by about 40% percent. According to data provided by the Welfare Authority, the number of claimants has decreased from 4,460 in January to 2,698 in November, according to the Employment Service, as a result of participating in employment rehabilitation programs, which guarantees various social safety nets. 

The guarantee of income is an allowance that helps job seekers who have been unsuccessful in finding jobs even after their entitlement to unemployment benefits ended. 

Most of the time, these are job seekers who face multiple occupational and other barriers, which make it difficult for them to return to the workforce and earn an independent living. 

In order to deal with the challenge of these multiple barriers, the Employment Service established Employment Circles. This is the first and only program that provides customized solutions for income support claimants, maps their personal occupational barriers, and builds customized programs capable of addressing every barrier – from those involving language and digital and professional skills to emotional and motivational ones. 

The 40% reduction in the number of claimants means that the Employment Service was able to bring about a massive return of many of the income guarantee claimants in Jerusalem – the largest and poorest city in the country – and its surrounding area to the workforce, a significant part of whom had been out of the workforce for a long time. About 3,400 people participated in the occupational rehabilitation programs operated by the service as part of Employment Circles.

Shabbos!

The community administration of Har Homa has decided, once again, that the local swimming pool will not operate on Saturdays and holidays, despite the demand of some residents and contrary to the status quo. Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said that the municipal status quo will be maintained and that the pool at Har Homa, like all municipal pools, will operate on Saturdays and holidays. 

Despite the municipality’s announcement, however, the community administration insists that the pool will not operate then, and continues to stand by this position even after a petition was submitted to the court by Deputy Mayor Yossi Havilio and five representatives of the residents. To deal with the petition, the members of the administration decided to allocate NIS 70,000 from the administration’s budget – which means spending public money on the defense, including the public who submitted the legal petition.

Shlomo Golberry, chairman of the community administration, proposed that secular residents who are interested in a swimming pool could go to the ones in the nearby neighborhoods of Gilo or East Talpiot, noting that the administration will reach an agreement with the corresponding administrations so that Har Homa subscribers can enter the pools free of charge. Eight members voted against opening the complex, two voted in favor of opening it, and two abstained.

The market has no home

About a month ago, the complex in Malha where the Ramle-Lod market had been operating, was closed due to infrastructure works for construction of the light rail’s Green Line. Now the merchants are starting a fight against the municipality and the mayor, announcing that they will demonstrate in Safra Square. This market, which has been operating in Jerusalem for 30 years – 15 of them in a complex near the train station in Malha – has been closed for the past month.

Merchants who operated there were at a loss, after they could not find an alternative place. The market traders say that they have been in talks with the Jerusalem Municipality for a long time, but despite various promises they still haven’t found a solution. 

There are currently 181 merchants, representing about 100 families, without income and without work, says Yoav Gabbai, head of the merchants’ committee in the Ramle-Lod market. The merchants, who knew in advance that they would have to vacate the Malha premises, say they will open stalls as part of their protest.