This week in Jerusalem: All hands on deck for the trek

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 THOUSANDS OF runners take part in the 2019 Jerusalem Marathon.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
THOUSANDS OF runners take part in the 2019 Jerusalem Marathon.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

All hands on deck for the trek

AKIM, the Israeli national organization for people with intellectual disabilities and their families, is launching its 19th annual fundraising trek. To participate in this year’s route – from Zichron Yaakov to the coastal plain – one must collect about NIS 5,000 and reach out to new supporters of the institution. 

A group of parents founded AKIM-Jerusalem more than 70 years ago in Jerusalem to provide comprehensive services for their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities that affect varied aspects of their functioning. The institution, which now has 68 branches across the country in Jewish and Arab sectors, provides support, housing and activities for all ages. The money the organizers hope to collect from this year’s trek is earmarked to provide new apartments for disabled persons in Jerusalem. 

More fab jabs

Pre-filled M-001 universal flu vaccine syringes  (credit: BIONDVAX)Pre-filled M-001 universal flu vaccine syringes (credit: BIONDVAX)

As if the COVID pandemic weren’t bad enough, flu season is back. Urging Jerusalemites to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible, the health funds stress that it is not a problem to get both the coronavirus and flu vaccines: the higher the vaccination rate, the lower the hospitalization rate.

The municipality, together with MADA and the health funds, will continue to provide multiple locations to conduct vaccines and tests, prioritizing seniors and those at high risk. Jerusalem was considered “Yellow” at the end of last week; 2,915 had corona – 15% less than the week before. However only 55% of the city’s residents have had the first dose, while 47% have had the first and second. 

Run the course

Canceled last year due to COVID, the 10th Jerusalem Marathon kicks off on Friday, October 29 in accordance with Health Ministry regulations. Although registration closes on October 23, already some 10,000 runners have signed up  for the event. 

Jerusalem “Winner Marathon” offers routes for six levels of difficulty: 1) the full marathon – 42.2 km; 2) the half marathon – 21.1 km; 3) 10 km; 4) 5 km; 5) the family race (1.7 km) and 6) the community race (a Jerusalem specialty) of 800 meters. 

The marathon passes through spectacular landscapes and the main and historical sites of the city: the Israel Museum, Supreme Court, President’s Residence, Old City Walls, Armenian Quarter, Tower of David, Khan Theater, Sultan Pool and more. All six routes will be monitored to maintain relevant crowd limits and masks will be distributed in Gan Sacher to everyone at the end of the run. 

Perhaps a collapse

Concerned about recent cases of buildings collapsing in Bnei Brak, city engineer Yoel Even calls for public vigilance.

“Jerusalem is a large city with a lot of ancient construction. A collapse can happen anytime,” Even emphasized, and indeed, a first case happened last week in the Baka neighborhood. When cracks appeared in a building, the tenants were evacuated immediately. 

The Department of Dangerous Buildings operates around the clock and has clear instructions not to hesitate to declare a structure dangerous, even in sacred and sensitive places. For example, following the fall of the huge stone from the Western Wall in the Israel Square, even this key prayer site was declared a dangerous structure and closed until further notice (it is still forbidden to approach the Western Wall in that area). 

The situation in the Arab neighborhoods, with much old and illegal construction, is even more sensitive. There is almost no strengthening of structures in any framework, and in general there is less awareness of the risks. Safra Square is preparing to take more comprehensive action both in construction supervision and in proactive detection of dangerous buildings.

What works for the Turks

The Jerusalem Cinematheque and Van Leer Institute are launching a week of Turkish films from October 17 to October 28, during which many films that have been screened at film festivals around the world and won awards will be presented. These films provide interesting insight into Turkey and the challenges they face today. 

The screenings will be accompanied by lectures linking the films to the complex Turkish reality, where the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges and difficulties the country has faced in the past decade: the 2016 coup attempt, political and social tensions, waves of Syrian immigration and refugees, ethnic conflicts and more. 

The ongoing tensions in Turkey – between old and new, religious and secular, international and multicultural – appear in the films. The opening event features a musical performance and a lecture on the topic: “There Are Horses that Speak Turkish” presented by Dr. Ido Ben Ami on horses and horse races in Turkey in the past and present.

Disconsolate about the consulate

Totally opposed to the American plan to reopen the American Consulate for local Palestinians, Deputy Mayor Arieh King (United Jerusalem), who represents a religious right-wing electorate at the city council, has launched a petition stating, “Jerusalemites, oppose the opening of an American consulate in the city for residents of Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem. Call on the government and Knesset members to stop the move that will initiate the division of the united city!” 

Although this is not explicitly a municipal issue, it is notable that Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion (King is a member of his coalition) has not publicly expressed opposition to the move.