This week in Jerusalem - A round-up of city affairs: Freeze!

What has been going on in Israel's capital this week?

MANHI IS working to make Zoom teaching more interesting and effective. (photo credit: PIXABAY)
MANHI IS working to make Zoom teaching more interesting and effective.
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
As previously reported, private building company Shikun U-Binui received a permit to demolish Kiryat Hayovel's Taylor Community Center and public swimming pool to build a private construction project. Now the court has upheld local residents' objections to these plans.
When city councilman Yossi Havilio discovered that the law bars private construction on a plot exceeding four dunams that was designated for public use, the permit was frozen by the municipality. Now the freeze ordered by the local planning and construction committee has been strengthened by the local affairs court ruling that any act of demolition requires a separate permit, even if it is being done to advance an approved project.
All activity at the site is thus frozen. Local residents are hopeful that the proposed private project will not be allowed to deprive them of their community facilities for swimming and other social activities.
Shot in the arm
More than 26,000 Jerusalemites were inoculated during the first week of coronavirus vaccinations in the city. In addition to the Payis Arena facility, all the health funds offer the vaccination in their main branches and the municipality is planning to add even more facilities across the neighborhoods.
The operation started with vaccination of medical staff at hospitals (Sha’arei Zedek, Hadassah and Herzog) and health funds. Early in the week, Mayor Moshe Lion opened the first vaccination location for the Arab sector in the Sheikh Jarrah Clalit branch. Imams, principals of schools in the Arab neighborhoods and medical staff were present to encourage residents to get immunized.
At the end of last week, 6,803 here were ill with coronavirus and the city was classified red.
We're only human
The Jerusalem Foundation and the Van Leer Institute launched a new prize for “Humanism in Jerusalem” this past Monday, thanks to a generous grant from the Adele Zinger Ziskind Fund for cultural and religious pluralism. The prize aims to emphasize groups or individuals that work to spread humanism, tolerance and coexistence in Jerusalem – in honor of late author Amos Oz, who was born in the capital. The ceremony to launch the new prize took place on Zoom, with a recorded blessing from President Reuven Rivlin.
Prof. Fania Oz-Zalzberger, one of Oz’s children, was the principal speaker.
Telling tales
Manhi (the Jerusalem education administration) is promoting the use of storytelling as a tool to enhance teaching in kindergartens and the lower grade levels and make Zoom teaching more interesting and effective. At a recent training day held by the municipality the new approach was presented to teachers, preschool staff and parents.
How green is my valley
The local Planning and Building Committee earlier this week approved the Nahal Zamir Park project, a 70 hectare (1,700 acre) area of city park on the east side of Pisgat Ze’ev. Interestingly, this is a part of the 2000 Master Plan for Jerusalem, which hasn’t been completely approved but has become the basis for many of the municipality’s current plans. The new park project has been submitted to the District Planning and Building Committee at the Interior Ministry. It includes a large nature reserve, four bicycle paths, walking paths, a community garden and sports areas for residents of the local and surrounding areas. The park will be accessible on the Jerusalem Light Rail and will be organized and directed by the recently elected local neighborhood council. Residents are invited to take part in the project, which will complete the green belt surrounding the city from the north.
Spare those trees
The Lobby for a Sustainable Jerusalem has submitted its definitive opposition to the project to enlarge the Knesset building. The lobby represents no less than 68 different organizations and nonprofit associations. The lobby said it was surprising the Knesset management has invested so much time, money and planning for the past two years to turn Israel’s Parliament building into a green structure – saving energy, recycling and introducing different methods for saving the environment – but is now ready to destroy a large part of the green environment surrounding it. Naomi Tsur, former deputy mayor and holder of the environment portfolio at Safra Square, concluded her objection as founder and president of the lobby by recommending that additional space required for the Knesset be obtained by renting offices that are easily available in the surrounding area.
Get with the program
Vacation programs for students from kindergarten through the fourth grade in the Arab sector were available all week, until the last day of the year. Two hundred such programs operated in various neighborhoods on the east side, including leisure and educational programs for more than 4,000 children. All the programs were conducted by Lavi, a nonprofit educational association that works year-round with the education administration of the municipality providing various programs for school children in all parts of the city. All the programs are under the supervision of the municipality.
Save the forest
Fearing municipality plans will harm the nearby Jerusalem Forest, hundreds of Har Nof residents have launched a campaign to thwart the effort. The construction of 10 educational institutions for the haredi population would take up 40,000 square meters in an area that has provided open space for these residents and surrounding neighborhoods. So far, nearly 2,000 Har Nof residents have signed a petition to stop the project, arguing it was not presented to them through the local council and is being carried out especially fast, raising suspicions that they are creating facts on the ground before they can be reversed.
Of note: the local planning and construction committee is headed by a representative of the haredi sector. Off the record, some activists opposing the project have expressed frustration that said committee head is not taking into account the interests of all neighborhood residents.
Giving a socioeconomic boost
Monetary prizes have been granted to over 50 businesses for advancing the capital's socioeconomic character. The first prize of NIS 15,000 – from the Jerusalem Foundation – went to Muslala, a cooperative of artists, activists, educators and social entrepreneurs founded in 2009. The Mifletzet pub was awarded second prize, followed by the Poundak arts center and hostel with the third prize and Haboydem, a secondhand clothing store, in fourth place.