This week in Jerusalem: Sic transit gloria mundi

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 SERVING UP homestyle food in the shuk’s famous Azura eatery. (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
SERVING UP homestyle food in the shuk’s famous Azura eatery.
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

Sic transit gloria mundi

One of Mahaneh Yehuda’s most prominent figures passed away last week. The legendary restaurateur Ezra “Azura” Scherpler died at the age of 90. The kubbeh restaurant bearing his nickname, which he founded in the early 1950s, became a well-known culinary institution and a pilgrimage destination over the years. 

“Scherpler influenced chefs in the market and outside and became a significant culinary anchor and a source of pride for all of the market’s merchants and for Jerusalemites in the past decades,” said chef and Mahaneh Yehuda Merchants’ Association head Tali Fridman. 

Scherpler was born in 1933 in Diyarbakır, Turkey. After moving to Israel, he became one of the founding fathers of Jerusalem cuisine, which is partially based on the foods of southeastern Turkey. The restaurant’s location in Mahaneh Yehuda’s Iraqi market has been a gathering place for a variety of evening diners – from the city’s sanitation engineers to senior politicians. Actor and singer Yossi Banai wrote about the restaurant in his 1987 song “Azura.” The Merchants’ Association announced it will work to perpetuate Azura’s name as someone who loved the shuk and will be forever connected to the market.

 Ezra Scherpler serves food in a restaurant called Azura at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem on December 21, 2006 (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90) Ezra Scherpler serves food in a restaurant called Azura at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem on December 21, 2006 (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

Winning in basketball court

The basketball court in San Simon Park will remain open on Saturdays following a court ruling against a resident’s petition. Initially, the magistrate’s court ruled it would be closed, following a neighbor’s complaint about the noise. However, according to the new arrangement, which was reached following widespread protests by secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox neighborhood residents, the playing area will remain open on weekends and holidays, will be closed during the week at 10 p.m., and the lights will be turned off at 9 p.m., excluding the evenings of Independence Day, Purim, Jerusalem Day, Lag Ba’omer, Mimouna and New Year’s Eve. Residents said they wouldn’t let their pluralistic neighborhood be changed without a fight. 

Save the women 

The pictures of Aliza Marciano and Esther Abergil, whose sons were among the founders of the Black Panther protest movement, were vandalized last week. Veterans of the protest movement and residents of the Musrara neighborhood see the act as an attempt to erase the Panthers’ legacy, in addition to expressing shock at the attempt to exclude women and whitewash the neighborhood’s history. The vandalism came just as the City Council approved the establishment of a committee whose role will be to propose figures of women to be commemorated throughout the city.

For years, another form of exclusion of women – the defacing of pictures of historically important women – has been a recurrent issue. The municipality’s reaction is a new project to flood the city with billboards featuring portraits of women who worked for society and the city.

Save my garden

The community administration Yuvalim and a number of Kiryat Yovel residents submitted a petition to the district court against the municipality’s intention to continue with the construction of a synagogue in the area of the neighborhood’s Schmoreck Garden. Neither the residents nor the community administration was informed at all, they say, even though their opposition was known. The synagogue would also affect the Platt family, who donated, through the Jerusalem Foundation, the funds for the garden. As in many other neighborhoods, there is a shortage of public areas and green spaces in Kiryat Yovel. And with the possibility that apartment buildings will soon be constructed, residents are concerned that the situation will only worsen. In the meantime, the residents and the community administration are demanding that the municipality backtrack on its decision and issue a temporary order to stop the plan’s development.

New lines 

New and upgraded lines will be operated as part of the second phase of Superbus’s transportation plan. In total, the company will be operating 22 new lines, many of them connecting the more distant neighborhoods to the city center. Line 97 will provide connections between the southern neighborhoods and the northwestern entrance to the city, from Ramat Rachel to the Central Bus Station through Arnona, Talpiot, Emek Refaim and Rehavia. Line 580 will connect Golda Meir Boulevard to the Bar-Ilan/Yirmeyahu intersection via the Har Hotzvim area, operating until 2:40 a.m. on weekdays. All together, a new fleet of 382 buses will be integrated, of which 174 are articulated (accordion) buses, 18 minibuses, 44 short diesels and 146 vehicles powered by alternative and environmentally friendly energy – 95 electric vehicles and 51 natural gas vehicles, which are expected to help reduce air pollution and noise in the city.

Speak English

The Education Administration (Manhi) has now added professional English studies to compulsory kindergartens’ (gan hova) curricula in Jerusalem. A pilot program is expected to be launched in March 2023 with the participation of 50 preschools. The plan is for 150 institutions to participate in the long run.

The investment in the program, launched by the Education Ministry and Manhi, with the backing of Mayor Moshe Lion, is estimated at NIS 2 million for the pilot; a full-year’s cost will be NIS 6m. The lessons will be taught by university students and retired Jerusalemites after undergoing training by the kindergarten staff and Manhi to prepare them to work with the children. 

Digging and digging and digging again

Yefeh Nof’s Nof Harim and Pirhei Hen streets recently underwent an extensive renovation. New asphalt was laid in all of the buildings’ parking areas, even though they are private, and the sidewalks were upgraded with Ackerstein blocks. The construction made a lot of noise, dust and dirt. Now, not too long after the work was completed, front loaders came and uprooted the asphalt in about half of the private parking areas – without telling the residents to move the cars. 

Asked why by the surprised residents, the workers said that after the upgrades were given a failing grade by the Standards Institution, it had to be done all over again. Some of the residents thought the improvements were fine, but the experts didn’t think so, and they ordered the municipality-hired contractors to do it again. 

However, remarked some of the residents, since there is no supervision to ensure that the work is done properly, they’re concerned that this second attempt will be far from the end of the noise and dust. 

The same sequence of events happened in other neighborhoods, such as Talpiot’s Ein Gedi and Beit Lehem streets, where some of the work had to be done three times. ❖