This week in Jerusalem: Metaphorical fishing rod

A round-up of city affairs.

WORKERS AT the Yehuda Matzos factory in Jerusalem prepare matzot for Passover. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
WORKERS AT the Yehuda Matzos factory in Jerusalem prepare matzot for Passover.
 Metaphorical fishing rod
Last week 120 men and women ran for the children of Afikim – the nonprofit association created to address the educational, nutritional and recreational needs of children across the country at risk of poverty, neglect or abuse.
Afikim gives children from social and geographic peripheries equal opportunities to succeed and advance in life through education and hard work. Its comprehensive program provides students from fourth grade up with scholastic help, social frameworks and more, with support for needy families, additional courses in various aspects of arts and culture, all with the participation and supervision of the Education Ministry. Afikim CEO and founder Moshe Lefkovitch, an Alexander Hassid, vowed years ago to build bridges connecting the different parts of the Israeli society, based on his vision that a fishing rod is better than a free meal. 
The annual Afikim run from Jerusalem to Eilat comprised 37 hours; Shabbat was spent with many of the children and their families in Eilat. The sum of NIS 2.3 million was raised from across the world from more than 2,500 donors. 
Blooming battle
Following robust opposition from environmental activists and city council members (primarily from the opposition), “Lupins Hill,” located south of Armon Hanatziv (Talpiot Mizrah) apparently will not be damaged. 
According to Mayor Moshe Lion, the plan to construct a police station and additional structure there as part of the municipal Emergency and Security Division will not be carried out. After visiting the hill last week, he announced that the additional structure has been canceled and the police station itself will be moved to the slope of the hill, preventing damage to the lupines. 
However, some remain unconvinced by the mayor’s declaration. Yossi Saidov, a board member of the Gonenim local council and social activist, says that Lion is not the final address, as the decision is the prerogative of Homeland Security and the original plan hasn’t been changed there. 
One of the leading opponents to the project is a member of Lion’s coalition, Yehuda Ben-Yosef, who was the first to find out about the project and led the opposition by residents and activists who continue to seek clear assurances that the project will not harm the hill. 
Hope springs eternal
For those hoping to take advantage of some welcome leisure time after casting their ballot for the March 23 election, the Nature and Parks Authority has announced that the Ein Hinyeh water source, which has been closed for renovation for the past three years, will be open free of charge on Election Day. Located in the Jerusalem hills close to Ein Yael, the spring includes two pools from the Byzantine period.
Trees in the breeze
Same city, same authorities – but different fates for the trees in different places. 
While the district Planning and Construction committee and the municipality are moving forward with the enlargement project of the Knesset and the housing projects in Rehess Lavan – which will uproot hundreds of trees – the same municipality is promoting a new ecological tree-planting program. 
The first phase was executed recently in French Hill, Rehavia, German Colony and Katamon, where 300 trees were planted, with more of the same in additional neighborhoods soon to follow. The plan is to carry out a large environmental program for the city, which a special emphasize on trees in the city wherever suitable places can be found. The project is progressing in high gear in order to compete it before the next Jewish year starts, as it is a shmita year (the seventh in a cycle) that forbids such planting.
I hear a symphony
  The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is back to business with a Festive Program for Passover. It will perform its first concert next week, on March 2021 at the Henry Crown Hall – and online too. 
With the return to performing in front of an audience at the Henry Crown Hall, the JSO invites the Jerusalemites to a variety of concerts during March, including works by Mozart and Mendelssohn, a new series with Dr. Astrith Baltsan, a festive Passover concert with Maestro Eli Jaffe and renowned cantors, and a special Easter Concert under the baton of Nizar Alkhater, which will be broadcast live and free of charge on the JSO’s Facebook page ( and on YouTube (
 The Easter concert – in full conformance with relevant Ministry of Health regulations – will take place in Shfar’am, but will be broadcast live.
Lower the flames
The problem: Every year going into the Passover holiday, Jerusalem residents burn excessive amounts of hametz in large bonfires that have caused harm in the past. 
The solution: The municipality is strategically positioning 400 specially marked containers in neighborhoods throughout the city where people can deposit hametz, leaving them with less that needs to be burnt. All containers will be cleared away by Friday at noon, in order to enable Jerusalemites to perform the traditional burning of the last hametz found. The municipality calls on residents to end the burning of all the remaining hametz by noon on Friday, so that all the barrels can be removed on time. 
Seamingly insecure
Residents in the region surrounding the city have launched an ongoing protest to call attention their lack of security, which they feel is insufficiently addressed by the government. At the most recent large gathering of residents last week, Mateh Yehuda committee chairman Niv Viezel declared that the lack of security along the seam line and the otef Yerushalayim fence is a nightmare for locals. 
So far only the Mishmar Hagvul (Border Police) division commander of the has responded. He agreed to tour the fence area with Viezel to identify specific problems, such as breaks in the fence that enable illegal entries from the PA that endanger the lives of the residents living so close to the capital. Viezel declared that the protest will go on until the government provides adequate solutions to these issues.  
It’s worse to coerce
A west Jerusalem kindergarten parents’ association has asked Mayor Moshe Lion to intervene to compel school staff members to take the corona vaccination. Dozens of such kindergarten and school associations have tried to convince every member of the staff in their institutions to take the vaccine to protect the children and their families from COVID exposure. 
According to sources at Safra Square, about 20% of the education staffs have not yet been vaccinated. Only a few of them – mostly Arab staff members – openly declare that they refuse to take the vaccine. Lion answered that he opposes coercion, preferring to persuade the population to take the vaccine, as evidenced by the new campaign recently launched by the municipality.