This week in Jerusalem: Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs

The reopening of a non-kosher restaurant in the city is a reminder that the battle for the soul of the city is not over.

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira
Big McBattle?
Back in the 1980s when Jerusalem was a small and rather provincial city, the McDonalds on Shamai St. was iconic. The eatery has been closed for years, but the chain’s decision to reopen the legendary branch site is not universally welcomed.
Following last week’s failure by haredi city council representatives to cancel the budget for the Open House for the gay pride, the reopening of a non-kosher restaurant in the city is a reminder that the battle for the soul of the city is not over.
 What can the haredim do? Not much. A debate is expected at the next city council meeting, but McDonalds is a private concern. A protest demonstration is scheduled to take place near the renovated branch on opening day.
Room for improvement
The State Comptroller Report published at the end of last week reported that there were some 3,560 justified complaints about municipal services in the 2016-2018 period, during the former mayor’s tenure. This is the highest number of justified complaints of all the cities in the scope of the report. About 32% of the complaints were about a lack of answers provided by the municipality to residents’ questions, requests or reports on disorders they experienced, such as sanitation.
Citizenship trend
A new Interior Ministry report shows a significant increase in the numbers of the city’s Arab residents requesting Israeli citizenship – up 47% from 238 requests in 2015 to 341 in the past year.
 Most Arabs are “residents,” not citizens. They are entitled to social services and rights like health, National Insurance Institute allocations and employment rights, but do not hold Israeli passports or citizenship.
Citizenship eases the way to obtaining better jobs, traveling at Ben-Gurion Airport, and safeguards the rights of residents of Jerusalem, even if they choose to live elsewhere for a time, rights they can otherwise lose after a set period out of the city.
In many cases, residents try to hide the fact that they hold an Israeli passport due to threats from Palestinian Authority or Hamas activists, but local sources report that even official opponents of this trend already have passports.
Day or night life?
The struggle over the character of Mahaneh Yehuda is heating up.
The small committee addressing this issue – with three representatives who want it to continue as an authentic market place and one who favors expanding the nightlife – requested a reduction in the number of bars and restaurants open until late night. The decision is strongly opposed by the club owners, who accuse the leader of the merchants, Yaron Tzidkyahu, of imposing his will instead of considering the needs of the young generation in the city and the many of visitors, including from abroad, who wish to enjoy the rich and dynamic night life in the market area. It is believed that some of the members of the committee hope to be voted in as the next president in the coming merchants’ association elections.
Kosher but not kosher
Jonathan Vadai, owner of the Bab-el Yaman bar and a restaurant appealed on Monday to the court against the Chief Rabbinate's refusal of to give him a kashrut certificate. Bab-el Yamant is open on Shabbat, but observes all the rules of kashrut and Shabbat, as do hotel restaurants with kashrut certification open on Shabbats and holidays. 
After many meetings with rabbis, it became clear that the relevant rabbinical authorities will not agree to his initiative.
Vadai opened his Azza Street establishment about a year ago. Customers pay before or after Shabbat for their kosher meals, which are served by non-Jewish employees, as is done in hotels. A few years ago, Vadai was one of the first to join the initiative run by former city council member (Yerushalmim) Rabbi Aaron Leibovitch for an alternative kashrut, which would work according to strict kashrut regulations, but outside of the rabbinate framework.