THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs

The Jerusalem municipality is finalizing preparations for the June 6 Pride March.

A CHILD reacts to some Israel Museum relics. (photo credit: AMIR RONEN)
A CHILD reacts to some Israel Museum relics.
(photo credit: AMIR RONEN)
March in June
The Jerusalem municipality is finalizing preparations for the June 6 Pride March. Despite the large haredi/religious majority in the city council, there is no move to block the parade. Mayor Moshe Lion has consistently pledged to be the mayor of all individuals and communities, including those who didn’t necessarily vote for him, such as the LBGT community. He indicated that he would not prevent the parade but would not take part in it, as that is not his way of life.
A call to engage mayors across the country to secure LBGT rights in every town has been signed by 30 mayors, but Lion has refrained from adding his signature. Council and coalition member Laura Wharton (Meretz) said that while she would like Lion to sign it, there is no need for concern regarding him harming any of the community members’ rights – and that should be the real test.
Home run
Earlier this week, the district committee for planning and construction approved two new housing projects in the city: 1) 700 housing units will be constructed in the Massua neighborhood, and 2) a pinui binui (evacuation/ construction) project in Neve Yaakov will see the rise of four towers – 12, 13, 14 and 15 stories – with 235 housing units. Both projects, which are promoted by the Israel Land Administration, include public institutions and business areas.
While great progress is being made on housing projects – new construction as well as urban renewal – which is part of the Lion’s program to lower housing costs, implementation of a second key objective of his – employment – is progressing more slowly, as new attractive employers are being added at a slower pace.
Little shops of horrors
If you have recently bought plants in one of the city’s nurseries, you may have brought home some of the dangerous fire ants that have been found in some nurseries. They bite, and it hurts. The Environment Ministry is spreading the word and delivering special instructions and warnings regarding this threat. Nurseries are warned to check their merchandise and clients are asked to pay special attention upon acquiring plants.
Museums: Now you see ‘em
International Museum Day will take place on Monday, May 15, when schools are closed for Lag Ba’omer. On that day, some 70 museums across the country, and of course here in Jerusalem, will offer free entry for all visitors. The visits will include activities, special guided tours, workshops and gallery talks. The Jerusalem museums taking part are: The Israel Museum, The Bloomfield Science Museum, The Old Yishuv Court Museum, The Museum on the Seam, Bible Lands Museum, The Museum for Islamic Art and the Museum of Underground Prisoners. Details about the exhibitions in the museums can be found on their websites.
Celebratory stats
More than 250,000 Jerusalemites and many thousands of visitors and tourists marked Independence Day in the capital, a record number. Credit, according to the municipality and organizers, goes to the decision to significantly enlarge the budget for the events to NIS 1.5 million. The “hottest” locations for the celebrations were facing the Old City Walls, the Mamilla Mall, Jaffa Gate and David Tower Museum, and, of course – the Mahaneh Yehuda shuk area.
The city’s sanitation employees worked literally around the clock that day, collecting 550 tons of garbage from all the around the city, including the parks and malls. The workers distributed some 4,500 plastic bags for garbage to celebrating residents and visitors, especially in the parks where barbecues were sizzling.
Prize writer
In 1968, Teddy Kollek founded 2019 Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society. This year’s prestigious prize was awarded to American writer Joyce Carol Oates, a leading author of our time. Mayor Moshe Lion bestowed the award at the May 11 ceremony at the YMCA at the close of the Jerusalem International Writers Festival. Oates (born in 1938) was feted for her broad horizons that opened new perspectives in literature. Her books reflect the aspirations and will of human nature inside and outside of families and society.
“A just society has to take upon itself the responsibility to protect the weak and the persecuted,” she said at the ceremony.