Jews are very heavy on numbers – one God; two stone tablets; three patriarchs; four matriarchs; five books of Moses; six orders of the Mishna; the seventh day of rest, the day of the week in which no work is done; and the seventh year, in which fields lie fallow. Starting from a different chronological point, every seventh year is known as Hakhel, a year of Jewish unity, in which Jewish communities all over the world come together to listen to a Torah reading.
In ancient times, they streamed from all directions to the Temple in Jerusalem to hear the reading of the Torah by the king. But today, Israel has no monarch, and Jews are united by their local rabbis and lay leaders.
Hakhel is celebrated by Chabad on the 19th of Kislev, which this year falls on December 13. Referred to in religious circles as Yod-Tet Kislev, it is also considered by Chabad to be the “New Year of Hassidism.” Among the gatherings being organized in Jerusalem is that by Rabbi Eli and Chanie Canterman, directors of Chabad of Talbiyeh-Mamilla, with guest speaker Rabbi YY Jacobson, who will speak on “Navigating a world of confusion: Switch on the light.”
The event will be held at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Seating is separate for men and women. There will also be musical entertainment and refreshments.
Rising prices means the shuk is less crowded
■ VISITORS TO Mahaneh Yehuda market may have noticed that it is far less crowded than it used to be. The reason: Rising prices have made shoppers more wary, and people on limited budgets are more inclined to buy only what they need in small quantities.
Going purple in solidarity with people with disabilities
■ THE PRESIDENT’S Residence was lit up in purple on Thursday night of last week in tandem with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. “Integrating people with disabilities is essential so that each person can realize his or her potential,” said President Isaac Herzog.
130th anniversary of the first Jaffa-Jerusalem railway line
■ THE YEAR 2022 marks the 130th anniversary of the building of the first railway line from Jaffa to Jerusalem at the initiative of Jerusalem businessman Yosef Navon. The railway, despite its long, winding route, played an influential role in the economic and cultural development of Jerusalem.
It was closed down in 1998, and a series of tourism and transport ministers kept promising the construction of a new line, but it was not until 2005 that another railway station was opened, in Malha. In the interim, both the original Jaffa station and the Jerusalem station were turned into leisure time facilities, with many restaurants, commercial outlets and entertainment.
The Malha station was closed in March 2020, two years after the opening of the Yitzhak Navon Train Station, which is situated at the entrance to the city, directly opposite the Central Bus Station. The Navon station is named for Israel’s fifth president, Yitzhak Navon, who was a native son of Jerusalem.
Many more additions to public transport in Jerusalem have taken place since 2018, and more are in the offing. Last week the National Committee for Planning and Construction announced the extension of the high-speed line running between Herzliya and Jerusalem, with two underground stations running through the center of town. One will be at the Davidka (which allows for easy access to the Mahaneh Yehuda market), and the other will be at the Khan Theater, which is diagonally across the road from the First Station.
Steve Sattler, who is a leading figure in The Trains and Trams Society of Israel, notes that Israel Katz, who bulldozed the A1 line to Jerusalem when so many before him failed, was unable to secure funding to build underground tunnels for the line to be extended.
Apparently, that funding is now available, and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion anticipates that the first stage of the extension project will be completed by 2030.
It’s possible that by then, he may no longer be in office and that a number of existing plans may change. Anyone who thought that construction of any kind in their neighborhood had been completed should think again.
The local Hebrew papers regularly run reports about projects. Among the latest is a municipal construction project on Agrippas Street, which has closed access to some of the businesses, not to mention parking facilities. The proprietors of these businesses, according to reports, were not notified in advance, and some of them have been operating for less than a year. The first year in business is almost always tough. Now it’s even tougher, and the municipality is not offering any compensation or reduction in arnona.
According to another report, the Jerusalem Municipality is building a synagogue on parkland in Kiryat Yovel. Here, too, neither the residents near the park nor the local community center were notified in advance.
Is Lion committing political suicide? Does he not realize that the discomfort and loss of income foisted on residents of the city will cost him votes and may even result in an exodus when the city powers that be are so busy trying to attract more residents and more business?
The amount of construction in the center of town is mind-boggling. Not every shop that is closing down carries a notice in the window and, from one day to the next, all the merchandise disappears and the interior is empty. In some cases, the same can be said of a series of neighboring shops, and a week later the area is a construction site for a new building that often includes a boutique hotel or even a larger one. A huge influx of tourists is expected for Israel’s 75th anniversary celebrations, but one wonders what will happen to all the new hotels afterward. Urban renewal has robbed Jerusalem of its uniqueness, and it may not be as attractive to tourists as it used to be.
A mayor who ignores the wishes of not just one group of residents in a particular neighborhood but of several groups in different parts of the city does not seem destined for the continuation of his political future.
Merav Michaeli tours Israel
■ LABOR PARTY leader Merav Michaeli is touring the country, speaking to party members about building the party anew. She promises to listen carefully to what everyone has to say and to give serious consideration to all that she hears. Her Jerusalem meeting is scheduled for December 12 at 6 p.m. at the Levi Eshkol Museum, 46 Ben Maimon Boulevard. The venue is quite symbolic, given that prime minister Levi Eshkol was one of the founders of the party.