This week in Jerusalem: Shabbat rumblings

A round-up of city affairs.

 ISRAELI POLICE clash with demonstrators following the death of Ahuvia Sandak last year, at the entrance to Jerusalem, November 6.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
ISRAELI POLICE clash with demonstrators following the death of Ahuvia Sandak last year, at the entrance to Jerusalem, November 6.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Shabbat rumblings

Extremist ultra-Orthodox vandalized traffic lights and attacked Arab passersby last Friday night, apparently as part of the protest against the light rail planned to run through haredi neighborhoods in the north of the city. However, a source inside the community rejected any connection with the light rail project, saying these were youths not under control of their rabbis, who may have already dropped out of the haredi educational system. 

Witnesses reported that dozens of these youths threw stones at Arab vehicles headed in the direction of Har Hotzvim toward the Arab neighborhoods in north Jerusalem. The youth smashed several traffic lights and caused heavy damage to infrastructure. A local resident complained that although police arrived quickly, they left without making any arrests. The riots resumed shortly thereafter, causing additional damage. This is not the first time haredi youths have attacked Arabs, likely out of boredom due to the lack of structured frameworks, causing concern among those haredim fighting the light rail.

Disquieting end of Shabbat

Four police officers were injured as dozens of youths, mostly residents of the settlements, gathered Saturday night under the String Bridge to protest the investigation of the death of Ahuvia Sandak, killed when her car overturned in a police chase about a year ago. Protesters climbed onto the roof of a bus and refused to get down, until police caught and arrested them. 

Dozens then blocked the Sakharov interchange. Some protesters tried to block the axis of traffic and clashed with police, throwing stones and causing damage to police vehicles. Twenty-one people were arrested, with four policemen injured. Traffic was blocked on Road 1 between Sakharov Gardens and Herzl junction to Begin Road; traffic police redirected drivers to alternate routes until late night. Police said they will continue to allow freedom of protest within the law, but will not permit public disturbances. 

Stay in your lane

The municipality has installed new enforcement cameras on the Begin Highway, nine months after the first section of the public transport route was opened. Similar cameras were also installed on the Yermiyahu public transport route. The municipality hopes the cameras will reverse misuse of these public routes, thereby easing traffic; the fine for driving on the public routes is steep, at NIS 500.

On Sunday, enforcement cameras were activated on the new public transportation route, in the section between the Ben-Zion Netanyahu and the Golda Meir interchanges. Additional enforcement cameras will soon be installed on the Begin route leading to the Givat Shaul interchange.

No bottle today

Wonder where Jeruslaem’s bottle recycling facilities have gone? After several complaints from residents, the municipality explained that due to the new Bottle Deposit Law, expected to take effect December 1, there is no longer a need for recycling facilities in public areas.

Even though the deposit law will come into force in more than three weeks, the municipality has already started collecting the facilities from different areas of the city.

Collection of the facilities was done in coordination with the Environmental Protection Ministry and subject to the law, and therefore was the timely thing to do. With the implementation of the law, the responsibility for recycling the bottles will pass to the Environmental Protection Ministry, which, through the newly established ELA recycling corporation, will establish new recycling facilities in the retail chains. Upon returning the bottles, customers will receive a credit voucher.

Path to college

The municipal education administration (Manhi) this week launched a groundbreaking program, in cooperation with city academic institutions. The “Jerusalem College” program is the first in the country in which 500 high school students from around the capital study in 30 different courses at 12 local academic institutions, combining academia and social entrepreneurship. 

Participation is independent of study tracks, academic achievements or financial ability; it is primarily based on motivation, commitment to meet course obligations and commitment to taking part in program activities. 

The project was conceived and formulated by former Manhi head Aviv Keinan, with the full (and enthusiastic) support of Deputy Mayor Chagit Moshe, who holds the education portfolio. This program and additional initiatives are all part of the city’s overall changes to the education system, aimed at bringing Jerusalem’s students into the 21st century, with its technological challenges. 

Follow the money

Good news for new immigrants and returning residents who wish to own businesses in Israel. The Aliyah and Integration Ministry, through the Business Entrepreneurship Division, is currently awarding “Digital Incentive” grants of up to NIS 5,000 to business owners and returning residents to promote online activity. This is a very welcome initiative at the municipality, since the number of immigrants choosing Jerusalem as their new home continues to grow. This initiative is valid until the end of 2021.

Therapeutic dance

The municipality, and the respective city welfare and arts departments, are turning to dance as an outlet for abused women to express themselves. During “Breathtaking Dancing” therapy sessions, participants experience movement as a way to break free from their pain and regain control of their lives. Through dance, they feel the freedom of release and aspire to step out of the cycle of violence and into a more peaceful life.

Ten women, aged 30-50, are at various stages of breaking the cycle of violence and rehabilitating their own lives, as well as their children’s. Overseeing the initiative is a dance facilitator from the municipality, as well as family social workers. Meetings are held once a week at the Kangaroo Community Center in the Gonen neighborhood.

Art and entertainment

Throughout November, the Israel Museum will host three young musical ensembles, included in the price of the entrance ticket. The performances will take place in the Cardo at the front entrance to the auditorium, on Tuesdays (5:30 and 7 p.m.)  and Fridays (11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.) and will run from November 11 to November 30. Featured performances include the Tamar and Nethanel duo, Orca, and the Oren Hasson trio.