This Week In Jerusalem

Ruth Bachi launches new book; Is a new religious war looming on the city council?

Yael Badihi 311 (photo credit: Zipi Litvak)
Yael Badihi 311
(photo credit: Zipi Litvak)
A Joint effort
Ruth Bachi, a well-known writer and researcher in the history of Eretz Yisrael, will launch her latest book, I Am Your Brother Joseph, chronicling the remarkable life of Joseph “Jo” Schwartz, who was the head of the Joint Distribution Committee in Europe during the dark days of World War II. Schwartz struggled in an unbelievable way to save the lives of his fellow Jews across Europe and worked under very difficult and often dangerous conditions. Bachi, who retired recently from her position as senior documentary editor at the Voice of Israel, wrote the book after extensive research on the man and the period.
The launch, including a musical evening with singer Yael Badihi, will take place on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Badihi’s home in Nataf in the presence of Ralph Goldman, honorary deputy president of the JDC. Participants will have an opportunity to purchase the book at a special price.
Info: 534-4773
Showtime or showdown?
Is a new religious war looming on the city council? Unless some local sheriff minds the gap (in the coalition), the haredi parties will vote against the annual budget of the Kiryat Hayovel community council. Officially, the reason is their opposition to the planned Friday evening movie screenings in the neighborhood, sponsored by the local council Yuvalim.
But sources at Kikar Safra indicate what might be the real reason behind this new battlefront. For the last three years, haredi families have moved into the neighborhood, considered up to recently a rather secular one. To accommodate the new demographic, the local council and the community center have developed a few programs specially adapted to their needs (including separate enrichment programs for children and women, separate days and hours at the swimming pool and so on). 
“In fact, we’re getting very close to the situation in Ramot,” said a community center employee, “and the next step will probably be a request for a separate community center with separate budgets.”
While Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus and city council member Shlomo Rosenstein have already announced that their party and Shas will oppose the community council’s budget if the Shabbat screening goes ahead, Deputy Mayor Pepe Alalu (Meretz) and the neighborhood action committees have announced their intention to build a local movie theater that will screen films especially on Shabbat and holidays, thanks to the support from the community council’s budget.
Bent on destruction
While the now famous illegal construction in Silwan, inhabited by Jewish residents, is still there despite all the sealing and demolition orders against it, the municipal attorney may have found a new target: Two buildings built a few years ago by an Arab entrepreneur in Abu Tor, also ruled for demolition, are still standing.
The first demolition order, issued nine years ago, couldn’t be implemented for technical reasons. The originally permitted 200 sq.m. building is, in fact, a huge structure of 4,500 sq.m. Since then, the municipality has purchased the technical means to demolish it, but for reasons that remain unclear, nothing has been done.
Sources close to the Jewish residents of Silwan point to what they consider an unfair attitude, but at Kikar Safra the finger is, once again, pointed at the police. “Without their logistical support, nothing can be done.” Meanwhile, the reaction of the police is “As soon as the municipality decides on a date to conduct the demolition order, we will provide all the necessary protection.” And so on, until… when exactly?
For the sake of remembrance
The leading organization of the Jews of Ethiopia has asked thegovernment to launch a large-scale project to document the names of theEthiopian Jews who did not survive their journey to Israel. In a movingletter addressed to the media and the prime minister and the presidentof the state, Avi Masfin, head of the Association for Ethiopian Jewry,requested that this important work be done “before it is too late toremember all those who died on the way to Zion.”
According to Masfin, this is the most important issue for the olim fromEthiopia, who feel that their sacrifice to fulfill their dream has notbeen made public enough to the general population, and even to theiryouth. The names of the thousands who perished on their way to Israelare still known, explained Masfin, but will soon be forgotten as peopleget older and die.
New rule for Old City
As of this week, entrance to the Old City will be prohibited to carsfrom 9 a.m to 6 p.m. daily, except for residents and commercialvehicles. Following a decision by the municipality and the police, thenew rule is designed to preserve the special character of the Old Cityand to stem the traffic jams on the narrow streets.
Visitors are invited to park – at low prices – in one of the nearbyparking facilities (Mamilla or Karta) or to use bus No. 38. The 38 buswill now be offering a reduced fare.