This Week In Jerusalem: Mayor opts for fewer photo ops

Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs.

Mayor opts for fewer photo opsFollowing complaints from a few members of the city council, Mayor Nir Barkat announced that he has given instructions to reduce the number of his photos appearing on official documents issued by the municipality. The question of whose picture we are going to see on these documents remains unanswered. Who knows? Perhaps in the future, Barkat’s pictures will become collector’s items.
Preferential peripheral treatment?Mayor Barkat has requested, in an assertive letter to the Knesset ministerial committee, that Jerusalem be included in its proposed project for encouraging academic education among youth. According to the original plan, only institutions in the periphery should be entitled to a free one-year study program. But Barkat argued that although Jerusalem is by no way peripheral, its economic challenges make it the most important city to be included in the national project.
A healthy approach to illnessA new clinic for cancer patients has opened in the city. The clinic, located in the German Colony, is initiated by the Yuri Shtern Foundation, dedicated to the memory of the late MK who believed in the therapeutic advantages of a variety of complementary medical treatments. Patients and their family members can receive, for a very modest fee (NIS 30), reflexology, massages, shiatsu, reiki and more. The aim is to provide treatments for the patients and their families in order to alleviate the psychological stress of the illness, as well as increase the chances of recovery. For details:
A man with a visionThe Optical Center, a new facility sponsored by a group of French Jews aimed to serve the needy, the elderly, lone soldiers and underprivileged children, officially opened this week. Since it began operation a few weeks ago, in partnership with the municipal welfare and community department, the center has already dispensed more than 20,000 pairs of glasses. Located in a renovated historical building at the corner of Hanevi’im and Monbaz streets, which served as a school for the blind in the 19th century, the Optical Center is the first of its kind in the country. It provides treatment for the visually impaired, using the most up-to-date clinical therapies. So far, some 7,000 students have been checked. Of these, 29% needed glasses, which were supplied free of charge, including the most modern frames. The founder, Laurent Levy, owns a chain of  optical stores in France, Belgium and Luxembourg (280 branches in all). He says his vision is  “to preserve the dignity of those in need by providing every child or elderly person with the devices they require in a respectful and luxurious environment.”
Festival time The Israel Festival has begun. The Vertigo dance ensemble opened the largest annual artistic event of the country. The festival comprises about 1,000 performers in more than 100 events over a period of 18 days – mostly at the Jerusalem Theater but also at Sultan’s Pool and on the plaza in front of the theater. A week before its opening, 22,000 tickets were already sold (45%), while the International Association for Festivals, which dubbed the Israel Festival an “outstanding promoter of multicultural and quality performances” two years ago, included a “week of the Israel Festival” on its Web site.
Artistic stamp of approval
The Israeli Arts Academy is opening a new arts center in the city.P.O.B – Post Office Bezalel – is a huge space on the first floor of theIsrael Post Office on Jaffa Road. It will serve as a gallery forexperimental artistic projects. The place will develop as a visual labfor arts, raising various issues, such as where and how artwork shouldbe displayed, and will become a venue for artistic events. The openingis scheduled for June 17, exactly 72 years and one day after thebuilding was officially inaugurated by the British governor of MandatePalestine.
Mounted stones
The Israel Diamond Center has launched a new collection of jewelry madeof gold intertwined with stones from the Temple Mount. The stones,dating back at least 3,000 years, were collected from the dust anddebris from the holy site. The Moriah Collection is on sale via the Website
Aleh branches out
Aleh, the home for the disabled, opened a new branch in the city thisweek in the presence of President Shimon Peres. The new facility willprovide the highest standards of care for 70 youngsters, from infantsto 22-year-olds. The children and young people of Aleh, who arementally or physically challenged, require constant care and attention.The staff at Aleh is medical, paramedical and pedagogic, and a lot ofattention is given to ways to enable the patients to derive a sense ofmeaning from their daily life, such as workshops that sell the itemsthey make.