On March 1, the Local Planning and Construction Committee convened to discuss the Nof Zahav building plan for 100 new housing units and 275 hotel rooms, which will constitute a major expansion of the Nof Zion neighborhood near Jebl Mukaber in southern Jerusalem. The plan’s potential advancement was postponed last month due to the visit of the US national security adviser. Though the municipality’s professional planning department objects to the plan, the committee members, headed by Deputy Mayor Eliezer Rauchberger (United Torah Judaism), recommended it for deposit at the Jerusalem District Planning Committee this Monday. If approved, the plan will transform Nof Zion from an isolated enclave of 95 residential units with some additional 200 units under construction to become one of the city’s largest new neighborhoods beyond the Green Line, with a capacity of nearly 400 housing units.
Stop the bullying
Last week, in the presence of Mayor Moshe Lion and Deputy Hagit Moshe (holder of the education portfolio), the special municipal program to deal with bullying, ostracism and exclusion in schools was launched. Children bullying classmates at all school levels is a social phenomenon that requires a significant solution. The project includes a model of intervention formulated at Kanfei Dror, an organization established by the El-Ami family, following the suicide of their son Dror, who suffered from bullying as a child. The major aspect of the program says that a solution can be found if all the municipal entities take responsibility and integrate their strategies, alongside assistance from a vast network of “agents of change” in the community space and among those who work with youth.
“It takes a whole village to raise a child... and it takes a whole city to face the challenges of boycotts and exclusion. I am glad that Jerusalem is the first city to respond to the challenge and has formulated an urban system to deal with it,” said Lion at the launch, which took place at the City Council Hall. The municipality will appoint a coordinator to deal with cases of exclusion and bullying, involving a long list of organizations, from the school to community centers, to try to stop such cases even before they happen. The intention is to spread the Jerusalem model to other cities.
Raise the level
In the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, the Gat Street area was completely upgraded, including 14 public walkways along with stairs leading from Gat Street to Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Street. As part of the renovations, the road was scraped and leveled, the sidewalks were replaced with interlocking stones, streetlights were fitted with economical LED fixtures, new benches were installed, handrails and safety fences were set up, infrastructure for car charging stations was installed, two ramps were built for access from Givat Shaul Street, and spaces were designated for trees to be planted. The upgrading work was carried out and funded by the municipality’s Operations Administration, the District Administration, the Community Administration and residents. The street is named after Ben-Zion Gat, who was born in 1909 and was one of the first researchers on the subject of the Jewish community in the Land of Israel.
Out of office
Working from home and feeling a little lonely? Safra Square has a solution for you: a map that enables employees working from home to get to know the city’s shared workspaces and cafes that are inviting them to work in a social and comfortable environment, create personal and business interactions, and maintain a healthy work routine. This is part of an initiative promoted and developed by the municipality that aims to provide an answer to two of the biggest challenges among the city’s remote workers – business-professional loneliness and the difficulty of creating a healthy work routine. The map, which can be found on the municipality’s website, includes the addresses of the businesses, hours of operation and other relevant information.
The Jerusalem Municipality is the first in the country to provide a specific solution for companies with remote workers – a community that makes up about half of the small to medium-sized businesses in the city and consists of about 30,000 businesses, offering a significant solution to various problems that characterize working from home, such as: distractions, infrastructure that isn’t suitable for work, and difficulty separating work and personal time.
Seniors and stories
The Social Welfare Department, in collaboration with the National Lottery, recently documented the life story of elderly residents of the Gonen neighborhood. Municipal representatives visited the residents and filmed them using smart phones, in which they told the story of their lives. They used smart phones to create an intimate relationship with the residents. During the visits, the hosts pointed out major milestones of their lives, showed select photos from albums, and shared their memories of the neighborhood. The stories were filmed and compiled into a longer video, which focused on love, cuisine, slang, songs from their parents’ homes and special objects. The video was then screened at a celebratory neighborhood event that was all about saluting the residents of the neighborhood. It included a review of the history of Gonen and a panel with veterans of the neighborhood. The highlight of the event was the video.
Not in our name
Jerusalemites participating in the judicial reform protest went to the home of former mayor and current Economy Minister Nir Barkat. Makeshift signs were hung with rhyming text expressing opposition to Barkat’s cooperation with the judicial reform. In the building in front of the Barkat family’s private villa, on the parallel balcony and on the top floor, there was a sign that read: “Nir, wake up, the house is on fire,” implying that he is betraying his liberal values.
Never too late
Last week, the Jerusalem Heritage Fund, with the participation of the Big Brother (Ach Gadol) organization, accompanied lone soldiers who made aliyah but hadn’t had a bar mitzvah. The soldiers marched to the Western Wall in a musical procession and were welcomed by the rabbi of the Kotel. A surprise special guest arrived: the mother of a female soldier, who came from Russia for the event. The religious ceremony was followed by an archaeological dig in the Western Wall Tunnels, walking the tunnels’ new Great Bridge Route, and a guided visit of the Chain of Generations Center. The event concluded at the President’s Residence in the presence of Michal Herzog, the president’s wife. Big Brother has done various volunteer activities throughout its 13 years of existence for the benefit of 11,000 male and female soldiers. The organization currently helps guide more than 1,500 soldiers annually. ❖