This week in Jerusalem: Jerusalemites’ rapid response

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 THE SCENE where a woman was hit by a trash bin pushed by haredi protesters. (photo credit: FLASH90)
THE SCENE where a woman was hit by a trash bin pushed by haredi protesters.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Jerusalemites’ rapid response

Members of Jerusalem’s academic institutions reacted promptly to the news that controversial MK Avi Maoz will be responsible for the Education Ministry’s Unit for External Programs. Hebrew literature professor Galit Hazan-Rokem sent an email to her colleagues asking them to join her initiative to establish a framework in which teachers in higher education would be registered to volunteer in schools as part of enrichment programs. 

Some 150 academics from all over the country and all areas of teaching signed up. These included lecturers from six research universities and seven academic colleges, who in total offer lectures in 40 different areas of study. Their goal is to balance different approaches and to allow school administrators to invite lecturers to talk about their subjects without having to seek additional funding.

New regulations for Mea She’arim trash bins

After Mea She’arim resident Mirel Dzalovski was seriously injured during recent protests when a large trash bin was thrown at her, leaders of the extremist groups issued new rules regarding any future protests: “It is the duty of the finders/throwers of the bins to make sure that no women are found nearby,” reads the posters distributed in the neighborhood, outlining a new policy for protesters on how to set fire to bins during demonstrations.

 Israel Police officers survey the damage after heavy rioting from ultra-Orthodox protesters in central Jerusalem, December 15, 2022. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESMAN) Israel Police officers survey the damage after heavy rioting from ultra-Orthodox protesters in central Jerusalem, December 15, 2022. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESMAN)

Directions are as follows: “From the moment a bin is removed from its place, there must be at least one adult to watch over it. It is mandatory to ensure that the entire process is photographed from beginning to end. [Photographs should be passed] on to the leaders, who should also make sure that no women are nearby, due to their lack of attention to be careful.” 

Earlier last week, the Jerusalem District Police arrested a suspect for setting fire to a large trash can that seriously injured Dzalovski, who remains in serious condition in hospital, where she is sedated and on a ventilator.

Emek Refaim, here we come

As the light rail’s Blue Line will approach the Emek Refaim station, more businesses are considering leaving the German Colony. The first to leave is Mr. Obsfeld, one of the leaders in the fight against the light rail and owner of the Emek Refaim branch of Aroma. Obsfeld is selling his franchise after 20 years in the business. For many years, this branch was in a secular stronghold in the city, still operating on Shabbat. Later, it became the first kosher franchise in the chain, after which many other branches followed suit.

But now, just before they start digging in Emek Refaim, Obsfeld has decided to sell his thriving business. Although the Master Plan team promised that the works would be completed in 18 months, Obsfeld, who is also the legal adviser of the group leading the public fight against the route of the Blue Line, decided not to take any chances. Like many residents there, he believes that even after the works have been completed, not everything will return to how it was, and the quality of life for the residents will decline. 

Two years ago, the district committee rejected the demands of residents and business owners in the area to have the Blue Line run in an underground tunnel under Emek Refaim. Accordingly, the plan now is for the light rail to run on Messila Park, as committee members were convinced that the overground route across the boulevard would be best for the city’s residents. 

The Blue Line will provide a direct connection from southwest Jerusalem to the city center and, if all goes to plan, will greatly improve the level of service of public transportation to the area. As for the municipality, it has already put in place proposals to support businesses while the work is going on. These include concessions, vouchers, relevant signage and designated contacts when necessary. The business owners were also invited to express their needs and concerns and to offer more suggestions.

Closing the kitchen

Karmei Ha’ir on Agrippas, which provides meals for hundreds of people, is having trouble paying the rent. The chairman of the operating organization declared that they are “no longer able to provide food as usual.” 

Karmei Ha’ir, the well-known soup kitchen that has been operating in the Mahaneh Yehuda area for almost two decades, might be forced to close. The place that provides meals to hundreds of people every day is unable to meet the rent and catering expenses. In operation since 2004, it provides about 300 hot meals every day and another 400 packaged meals. 

In addition, in the winter it provides blankets, radiators and heating devices, mostly to the elderly across the city. These days, the operators of the institution are calling on Jerusalemites to offer donations to help fight the eviction notice.

As Yehuda Azrad, chairman of the organization, explains, a 10-month debt for unpaid rent has accrued in the sum of NIS 250,000, as well as other debts for food and catering. So far, Azrad has been able to finance the soup kitchen with the help of donations from the US, but he says that overseas donations have dropped dramatically. 

“In the last six months, there has been a decline. All these years, Karmei Ha’Ir has served hot meals to the elderly, Holocaust survivors, and olim who couldn’t provide themselves with food and basic needs like blankets and clothing, from single adults to families. 

“Parents and children who come in to have a hot meal after school – it’s heartbreaking. There are mothers who are embarrassed. They come and wait quietly for us to bring the food out to them. The population here consists of all sectors and neighborhoods. Here, the food is served by waiters and waitresses,” he states. “It’s in respect for the people, so that they won’t have to stand in line one behind the other. Right now, there is a group of women who are collecting food for us, and we would be happy to receive donations of food, basic products, and anything,” he concludes.

Support from the welfare budget of the municipality hasn’t been requested so far, since this is a private institution. However, sources at Safra Square say that within a few days, the criteria for providing support for the year 2023 will be published on the website and accordingly, the organization is invited to submit an application. Meanwhile, donations can be sent to Karmei Ha’ir, Mizrahi Bank, Branch 458, HN 279261.

Jerusalem: Israel’s second-most congested city in 2022

Waze, the popular navigation application used by over one and a half million drivers in Israel, published data on Monday about traffic trends in the country for 2022. The data reveals, that Jerusalem is among the most congested in the country, and one of the cities where the navigation app is most widely used. 

What is the situation in the other cities in Israel?

Tel Aviv-Jaffa is the most congested city, followed by Jerusalem. Rishon Lezion is in third place, Petah Tikva in fourth, followed by Haifa, Ramat Gan, Netanya, and Holon. Herzliya is in ninth place, and Beersheba closes the list in 10th place. ❖