This week in Jerusalem: Is this the last of The First Station?

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 A SCREENING ROOM at the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem.  (photo credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)
A SCREENING ROOM at the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)

Is this the last of The First Station?

In December, the tender period for the operation of the First Station by Avi Murdoch’s Florentine company will come to an end, resulting in the expiration of the leases of its shops and restaurants. The complex owners, Israel Railways, will launch a new tender to operate the venue. Some business owners are examining alternative locations. 

From January 2024, work is slated to begin on the light rail’s Blue Line route, which will pass near The First Station. While the construction work goes on, accessibility to the station from the north and the east will be reduced, thus compromising the profitability of businesses that remain in the complex. Sources close to Murdoch say that he is interested in renewing the tender for a further period but first wants to learn about the new conditions of the contract. Murdoch, someone close to him said, “is no less interested in doing business than in protecting this place to continue to be a seat of culture open to all.”

Excellence in action  

American magazine Hollywood Reporter named the Sam Spiegel Jerusalem Film and Television School as one of the 15 leading film schools in the world. 

“The determined and valuable work of the Sam Spiegel community is an expression of excellence in action,” said the editor of the magazine. 

This is the seventh consecutive time that the Jerusalem school made the magazine’s top 15 list, along with schools from Italy, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Spain. Hollywood Reporter wrote that “Sam Spiegel, which moved this year to a new campus in the center of Jerusalem, continues to constantly upgrade and provide a special learning experience for its students. The school, which also recently launched a preparatory course for Arabic speakers from east Jerusalem, is known for its practical approach to filmmaking, and about 75% of its graduates are employed in the Israeli and international entertainment industry.”

 PEOPLE WAIT at the light rail stop on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem on August 7, 2023. (credit: CHAIM GOLDBEG/FLASH90)
PEOPLE WAIT at the light rail stop on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem on August 7, 2023. (credit: CHAIM GOLDBEG/FLASH90)

Lion vs Saidov, round 1,000

Five rabbis recently published a letter expressing unequivocal support for the chairman of the Gonenim community administration, Yossi Saidov, in the heated confrontation between him and Mayor Moshe Lion. The rabbis, not exactly the most liberal, called on the municipality to support “the elected officials in the community administration, Yossi Saidov, Yuval Abutbol, Rabbi Ilan Khalifa, Ms. Mali Sasson, and Ms. Carmit Cohen Shimoni, who work tirelessly for the public as a whole, including [in] the traditional [aspects].” 

The rabbis also wrote about Saidov and his colleagues: “We are strengthening their actions for the sake of the residents, for the sake of pedestrians, and to improve traffic, transportation, and parking in our neighborhood,” which are the major issues between the two opponents. 

The publication of the rabbis’ letter on Facebook drew many reactions. While some expressed support for Saidov and the rabbis who support him, others had difficulty understanding why the rabbis were interfering in the public debate which had nothing to do with religious issues.

We’ve got your back 

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who recently led a tour of French Hill and Pisgat Ze’ev, announced a decision to increase the number of policemen in these neighborhoods to provide added security for the residents. Deputy Mayor Aryeh King accompanied the minister as he met with residents of the neighborhoods and talked to them about their feeling of personal security in the neighborhoods. The tour ended with a visit to a family home in Pisgat Ze’ev which had been hit by a stray bullet from the Shuafat refugee camp. Residents in Pisgat Ze’ev reported a rise in cases of property theft. Many in the neighborhood claimed that in the shadow of the violence in east Jerusalem, which occupies many of the police officers in the Jerusalem district, there are criminals who feel they can operate more easily on the seam. The police often receive reports of vehicles stolen in one of the city’s neighborhoods, and the thieves are arrested in northern Jerusalem. ❖