This Week in Jerusalem: Green light

Vandalism, language, and memorials.

Tmol Shilshom: back in business (photo credit: FLASH90)
Tmol Shilshom: back in business
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Green light

As of this week, all of the city’s neighborhoods are designated green against COVID-19. As of last Saturday, only 815 people were ill with the virus. By the beginning of this past week, 417,420 Jerusalemites had been vaccinated with the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and 357,765 had already been administered both doses, meaning that about 77% of the capital’s residents had been inoculated. 
The various health funds have apps to facilitate the process. Details regarding vaccination locations: 

A different language

What can link mysticism, psychology, religion, architecture and music? Is there really a connection among those disciplines? A new series of encounters between representatives of these different worlds will take place at the Confederation House, in an unprecedented attempt to bring them all together for the general public. What does New Age have to say to Neo-Hassidism? What does poetry mean today in a world of digital and virtual reality? How does Jewish tradition contribute to the openness of Western civilization? These are just some of the issues to be discussed. 
Poet Yonatan Berg will host and moderate the six meetings, which can be accessed free of charge and live on the Confederation House’s Facebook page. More information: 

500 years later

More precisely, 529 years later: An official document, certifying their ancestors are authentic Sephardi Jews, has been bestowed to Aharon and Meir Pardess, heirs of former Sephardi chief rabbi of Jerusalem Eliyahu Pardess. A ceremony took place on the evening of the Mimouna, the special celebration marking, for Sephardi Jewish communities, the end of Passover. An initiative of international Sephardi Jewish leaders, it was aimed at memorializing one of the most traumatic events in the history of the Jewish people, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, and perpetuating Sephardi heritage and culture in Israel as well as across the world. The ceremony took place at the recently inaugurated Museum of Israel Friends in the city. 

A decade of memorial

Ten years ago, the Beit Avi Chai cultural center launched Panim (“Faces”), aimed at giving a face and name to soldiers who have fallen in the wars waged by the State of Israel over the years. The project uses the most advanced technology to inform the general public about the fallen soldiers, including a special focus on those killed during the War of Independence and were the last remnants of families murdered in the Holocaust. 
This initiative has been carried out for the past decade, perpetuating the memory and enshrining the names, lives and actions of those who paid the highest price for the Jewish state. More information:

The vandals are here

A poster for the new play by the Mikro Theater was vandalized because it featured a woman. “Yehudit’s Angels” is based on the story of Judith and the beheading of Assyrian general Holofernes, and represents a different point of view not included in the Bible. The poster, which was displayed on Emek Refaim Street in the heart of one of the city's most pluralistic and secular neighborhoods, was discovered defaced at the end of last week, with particular harm to the portion of the poster showing the face of actress Miryam Engel who plays the role of Judith. Mikro Theater CEO Yossi Zinger charged that again, in Jerusalem, a lack of tolerance and bigotry reared its ugly head. He called on Mayor Moshe Lion as well as other officials and organizations to act promptly to preserve pluralistic and cultural society and prevent such acts in the future. 
“Yehudit’s Angels” was the first play presented by Mikro as city cultural institutions reopened with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. As a goodwill gesture, Jerusalem residents were given the choice whether to pay. The five opening-week shows were all booked, but “the poster vandalized in the city center stands out as a warning reminding us all that women’s faces are still banned from the city’s public spaces,“ Zinger asserted. 

New hope

Tmol Shilshom, the coffee shop-bookstore-cultural center, reopened this week firing on all cylinders. Last year the iconic location, a city favorite, suffered a serious blow when founder and co-owner David Ehrlich died suddenly of a heart attack at home; this shock was then followed by the lockdowns.
Tmol Shilshom, named after the famous novel by S.Y. Agnon, which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature, is a place that, since its opening in 1994, has contributed so much to the Jerusalem atmosphere and enabled people from varied sectors to come together to share the same love for such an environment. Last week, Dan Goldberg, Ehrlich’s partner and associate in the café, announced it was coming back as the country reopened. Goldberg said that from next week, all cultural events will return alongside the restaurant. 

Three for the books

Three new community libraries have sprouted in the French Hill neighborhood with a special mission: bringing together different sectors through the love of reading. The new libraries offer books in several languages to enable locals to share some precious moments of community leisure time. 
The initiative was launched by one of the local pre-military college units of “Tene Yerushalmi” operating in the neighborhood. The spots are located in the commercial center; near the entrance to one of the neighborhood schools; and by a bus stop. To enhance the attraction to reading, Tene Yerushalmi launched a series of storytelling hours in the neighborhood preschools and elementary schools. 
Since the libraries include books in Arabic, the idea is that through exchanging books at these libraries, a sense of community sharing will grow there between Arab residents inside the neighborhood and other locals. 

Going off track

A new initiative led by city councilman Elad Malka (Hitorerut) may relieve some of the turmoil caused by the intensive road and infrastructure work for the next light rail lines. The possible use of carriages on wheels for part of the route instead of rails is being examined. 
Eliminating the laying of tracks would spare the city much intensive disruptive infrastructure work planned for the Violet Line that will connect Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem to East Talpiot, through several neighborhoods in the city center. This option could minimize the project’s time (in terms of years) and cost. 
Sources at Safra Square say it is not clear whether the Transportation Ministry, which approved and financed the entire Jerusalem light rail project, will agree to this change. Another possible issue is the change in the type of vehicle to one not in the approved project. Nevertheless Malka welcomed the arrival, earlier this week, of a few such carriages for initial tests.