This week in Jerusalem - A round-up of city affairs

What has been going on in Israel's capital this week?

A CLINICIAN and medical clown pose at Shaare Zedek, 2017. The medical center’s emergency rooms are set for an expansion.  (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
A CLINICIAN and medical clown pose at Shaare Zedek, 2017. The medical center’s emergency rooms are set for an expansion.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
 Make up your mind
The Jerusalem Local Affairs Court canceled the municipality decision forbidding the use of a building in the Baka neighborhood as a yeshiva. Yet in the same decision, the court ruled that the use of that particular structure as a yeshiva is illegal.
The issue – one that raises a lot of emotion among Baka residents, religious, secular and traditional alike – began a month ago when Gad Street residents discovered that a group of haredi students with a lot of equipment had slipped in past midnight into a building belonging to a private entrepreneur. The anger arose not only because the students entered in the dead of night, but moreso, because nothing had been coordinated ahead with the local council or the municipality as it should.
It turned out later that two haredi institutions had been installed, both lacking any prior arrangement; one is a Talmud Torah for 70 young boys and the second is the New Hebron Yeshiva, which recently had to leave Beit Hakerem also due to their use of a building without a permit. A source at Safra Square says Mayor Moshe Lion was not informed about the decision to move the two institutions to Baka. On the other hand, Lion has to step cautiously since he is quite dependent on his haredi partners at city council. For now, it is not clear to where the court’s decision will lead, and Baka residents have already announced they will fight the two institutions.
Think globally, act locally
The global day of climate action involving parents around the world took place last week, but it is never too late to raise awareness on such an important issue for us all. Parents from Brazil, Nigeria, India, Australia, Poland, the UK and Germany joined their children in the fight for climate activism and change on September 25 (in Israel, this took place on September 22 in several locations). The Parents for Future Global network, consisting of 130 groups from 27 countries works with the Parents for Climate Israel group, with its hundreds of parents from different parts of the Jewish state.
Parents for Climate Israel joined the young people in a united call for all national governments to solve the climate crisis, to work toward solutions and to include climate education in all school curricula.
Be careful
In a joint effort to reduce the toll of the corona-infected, the municipality has initiated a public service project in two of the most affected sectors – haredi and Arab neighborhoods. The project includes vans equipped with loudspeakers driving through these neighborhoods, explaining the dangers, causes and need to observe Health Ministry guidelines. Hundreds of United Hatzalah volunteers on bicycles, cars and motorcycles spot at points to speak directly to residents and explain the dangers of the coronavirus and how to preserve their health, providing instructions, distributing stickers and answering questions.
High toll in the city
Despite the lockdown, Jerusalem still holds the dubious honor of being one of the most coronavirus-infected cities in the country. From the day the second lockdown began until the end of Yom Kippur, there were 4,157 new cases diagnosed, with more than 70 of them severe. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Jerusalem has had close to 33,000 people infected with the virus, according to Health Ministry data as of Tuesday morning. The situation in the city’s hospitals is very difficult. Shaare Zedek Medical Center has 81 COVID-19 patients, including 33 severe cases and 10 on ventilators. Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem has hospitalized 119 patients with the virus, including 30 in the emergency wing and 13 on ventilators. The figures are expected to continue rising in the coming days.
A time to build
The local Planning and Construction Committee has approved a large expansion of the emergency rooms at Shaare Zedek Medical Center. The approval for a 1,000 sq.m. emergency room with separate rooms for testing patients came so quickly that the president of the committee and Deputy Mayor Eliezer Rauchberger (Degel Hatorah) themselves had to inform the hospital administration of the decision. Rauchberger said the rapid approval was due to the urgent needs caused by the coronavirus.
High Holy Day vandals
As in the few past years, a Jerusalemite riding a car in the city on Yom Kippur was attacked by vandals. While usually the persons suffering these vile attacks are Arab citizens traveling from one neighborhood to another within their sector, this time it was a young Jewish nurse.
David Graniewitz recalled what happened to his daughter drove back home after an exhausting shift caring for coronavirus patients. Graniewitz said his daughter was driving home from work to her apartment in Katamon at about 3:30 p.m., hoping to be home in time to catch the day’s closing Ne’ila prayer in her neighborhood. Upon arriving at Pat Junction, she saw a group of about 20 youths who had placed traffic cones in the road to stop any cars that were passing. As she stopped to move the cones so she could proceed, three young men, apparently waiting for such an occasion, started throwing stones at her car, smashing the rear window.
Graniewitz called the youths bored, undisciplined adolescents “who couldn’t give a damn about anyone except themselves, and use Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, when the main streets are empty, to throw stones at passing cars.” For years, such ugly scenes were the regular experience of Arab citizens on Hebron Road at the Banks Junction. Recently, however, police have managed by means of a massive presence to put an end to the practice at that location. Now it seems the hooligans have simply moved to another junction.
A guide to the revolution
Former deputy mayor Rachel Azaria and Kulanu MK from 2015-2019 hasn’t wasted any time since leaving the Knesset. Last week, her new book, A Guided Revolution, was published (in Hebrew), and a very cautious corona-era book launch was held in the Gazelle Valley. Azaria writes in her book about how to change Israeli society for the best, and brings her experience and insights gained over the past few years to the work. A Guided Revolution is a step-by-step guide largely aimed at women who believe they have the power and the will to change the culture.