This week in Jerusalem: Social services for survivors

A weekly round-up of city affairs

 A MARCH takes place in Tel Aviv to raise awareness of the difficult living conditions of Holocaust survivors, in 2018. The large sign reads ‘Marching for Life,’ and carries the insignia of Aviv for Holocaust Survivors, a nonprofit organization. (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
A MARCH takes place in Tel Aviv to raise awareness of the difficult living conditions of Holocaust survivors, in 2018. The large sign reads ‘Marching for Life,’ and carries the insignia of Aviv for Holocaust Survivors, a nonprofit organization.
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

Social services for survivors 

How many Holocaust survivors live in Jerusalem in 2023? There are 9,808 compared to the 11,600 pre-corona figure.

The municipality operates diverse programs and projects for their welfare, such as 21 social clubs, all in cooperation with the Welfare Ministry, social services departments, and community administrations. With the emphasis on alleviating loneliness, preserving abilities, and improving physical, mental and community resilience, the approximately 650 participants enjoy classes, workshops, lectures, meals, trips and events on a weekly basis, with some programs adapted for Russian and English speakers.

Moreover, Supportive Community grants subsidies to 1,101 Holocaust survivors in the city, offering a basket of services to veteran residents living in the community. A home improvement program, which includes weekly visits by professionals to 300 housebound Holocaust survivors, is also available. 

In addition, throughout the year, respite and recreation programs, which include hotel accommodation and day tours to various sites inside and outside of Jerusalem, are provided by the municipality. Material aid for Holocaust survivors funded by the Friendship Fund and the Ministry of Welfare, in the amount of approximately NIS 530,000, is also delivered through the social services departments to alleviate loneliness, maintain good health and nutrition, and help with expenses. 

And this week, an exhibition of over 50 paintings that highlight parts of the hidden world of Holocaust survivors opened at Jerusalem’s Mofet Club in Beit Hakerem. The exhibition is the culmination of an art class inaugurated last year that enables Holocaust survivors to express themselves through painting.

 WILL HAR Homa residents get a lane on Shabbat? (Illustrative) (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90) WILL HAR Homa residents get a lane on Shabbat? (Illustrative) (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

A special honor

Prof. Avi Rivkind, who established the first trauma unit in Israel at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem and has saved thousands of lives, will light a torch at the 75th Independence Day ceremony. Rivkind said he was very happy about this great honor. Rivkind was born in 1949 and grew up in Rishon Lezion. After his military service, he studied pre-medicine in Italy.

He completed his medical studies at the Hebrew University, and specialized as a surgeon at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. In 1986 he began to develop the field of trauma medicine in Israel and established the country’s first trauma unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem. This earned him the title of world expert in the field of trauma medicine. Rivkind is also the leader of the national project Young People Drive Differently, in which the risks of careless driving are examined.

Cinema complex for sale

Smadar, the iconic Jerusalem cinema operating since the British Mandate period, has been put up for sale. The price? NIS 43 million for the entire complex on Lloyd George Street, which includes a restaurant area and cafe adjoining the cinema, as well as the 23-room Smadar Hotel in the adjacent building.

The restaurant in the lobby closed several months ago. For now, the hotel operators plan to end the contract on June 30. The cinema, which is under the management of the Lev cinema chain, will continue to operate as usual, including on weekends. In 2009, the owner’s decision to sell the movie theater elicited a strong wave of opposition throughout Jerusalem. A petition was published calling on everyone who held the cinema dear to their heart to join a purchasing group, with the aim of buying the building in order to enable the cinema, the cafe and the hotel to remain open. Participants were asked to invest between NIS 3,000 and 5,000, in return for which they would receive a share in the complex. Ultimately, the Lev chain acquired the cinema, which was renovated.

Farewell to a beloved nature lover

Social activist and spokesperson for green organizations in Jerusalem, Anat Cohen, passed away last week at the age of 58, much to the surprise of fellow activists. Cohen was the spokeswoman for the Green Jerusalem lobby, led by Naomi Tzur, for about two decades.

Cohen’s activism led to her joining the Green Jerusalem’s struggles in Mitzpe Naftoah, Ramot. Mitzpe Naftoah is considered one of Jerusalem’s most important nature spots and has one of the largest concentrations of gazelles in the area. In recent years, efforts have been made to stop building in the area. Cohen had also joined activists at the Ora Junction as well, in regard to the massive construction, the White Ridge.

Activists across the country received word of Cohen’s death with astonishment. Tzur, who was also her friend for 25 years, said that it was a great loss for the environmental community of Jerusalem. Cohen was a spokeswoman for the Society for the Protection of Nature. She was also instrumental in the struggle to preserve the Deer Valley, as well as in the struggle to cancel the Safdi plan. She also made efforts to protect the Jerusalem forest and helped to take down the observation tower in the Commissioner’s Palace. The list goes on.

Tons of trash 

According to Safra Square, tens of thousands of tons of garbage were collected by increased numbers of refuse collectors during and after the Passover holiday, as tens of thousands of visitors came to the city on a daily basis for events and festivals. Jerusalem also played host to the blessing of the Kohanim at the Western Wall; the Innovation Festival at Cinema City; the Butterfly Festival in Spring; and the Mimouna at the Tower of David.

According to various estimates provided by the municipality, hundreds of thousands of visitors came to Jerusalem during Passover. They strolled around the main streets of the city, visited the cultural and tourist sites, as well as places unique to Jerusalem. Visitors were also able to enjoy the variety of holiday activities on offer. As a result, 60,500 tons of garbage were removed from the city between Purim and the end of Passover. During the same period last year, 56,300 tons of garbage were removed in the city. 

No money, no plan

Change of government affects what happens in the capital, and it seems that plan 3790, the national plan to improve the infrastructure in east Jerusalem, is in danger of being curtailed. The plan was brought before the government for approval by then-minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ze’ev Elkin in 2018, with a budget of NIS 2.5 billion (later reduced to NIS 2.1 billion). Less than a month before Jerusalem Day, the date on which the government was supposed to announce the continuation of the plan and its budget, (originally planned to be NIS 4.5b) there was nothing: no approved budget, no management of the project, and no government decision on which areas would be included in the next five years. Some fear that there will be no continuation of the plan, which has dramatically changed the eastern face of the city.

Spring and health

Beit Yuri Stern – the center dedicated to providing palliative care for people with cancer and their families – is holding its annual fund-raiser, a spring festival featuring music and treatments. The festival is being held today (April 21) between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Beit Yuri Stern at 6 Emek Refaim St.

Lena Stern, the widow of former MK Yuri Stern, who died of cancer, has singlehandedly created this center which provides support, hope and treatments for those battling cancer and their families. The proceeds of this event will be used to fund the center’s future activities. Discounted treatments, as well as the opportunity to buy clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, bags, shoes, books and housewares, all donated for this cause, await the participants.

Working together

The majority of business owners from the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem tend to employ mainly ultra-Orthodox workers, who have no previous education and therefore earn less than their non-Orthodox colleagues. This was revealed in a recent study conducted by the ultra-Orthodox Institute for Policy Studies in collaboration with Keren Shemesh, in conjunction with haredi-owned businesses in Jerusalem.

The findings confirmed the preliminary hypothesis that the majority of employees in haredi-owned businesses are haredim themselves. The purpose of the study was to map the ultra-Orthodox business sphere in Jerusalem and find business groups with high potential for growth and breakthrough as part of a significant move to strengthen the city’s economy. The data was collected through a combination of processing and analyzing administrative data in tandem with conducting a survey among 170 ultra-Orthodox business owners in Jerusalem.

Whose pool is it ?

Following the ruling of the District Court in Jerusalem, which said the public pool in Har Homa must be operated, even on weekends, the community administration of the neighborhood filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. Deputy Mayor Yossi Havilio’s request to find out where the money came from to finance the ongoing legal proceedings – estimated at NIS 100,000 – has not been answered. Shalom Singer, the attorney representing the community administration in Har Homa, recently filed an appeal in the Supreme Court to overturn the decision of the District Court relating to the pool’s opening hours.

Havilio, in response to the appeal, demanded that the pool be open on Saturdays.

In addition, Havilio has raised opposition to the fact that the community administration in Har Homa is wasting money on repeated attempts to promote religious coercion in the neighborhood. He is also calling for an investigation to discover the source of the money. ❖