NorthEarlier this week, Muslim and Jewish spiritual leaders met at the home of Abu Amin, mukhtar of Sawad Hamra in the Jezreel Valley, to examine ways of building bridges between the two communities. The summit was also attended by Rabbi Yair Silverman of Zichron Ya’acov, Jezreel Valley Regional Council Rabbi Mordechai Zamir, and council head Eyal Betzer.The meeting took place in the wake of an incident in Ibtin last June when offensive graffiti were sprayed on the local mosque. Abu Amin and Silverman both denounced the act of vandalism and put together an initial document of understanding, which they called The Carmel Initiative.More B&B in Haifa The Haifa Municipality has announced a new initiative aimed at expanding tourism accommodation facilities around the city. The Carmelina initiative, being promoted by the municipality’s Haifa Economic Corporation (HEC), has invited local residents to register their available accommodation units in a database of suitable Haifa facilities.The HEC is working to increase the supply of tourist accommodation in the city while investing in business development efforts aimed at boosting the demand for inexpensive accommodation for visitors. Studies in the field indicate that in recent years, tourist occupancy figures have risen in Haifa, outstripping occupancy levels in the rest of the country. Israel Hotel Association figures for 2010 indicate that tourism accommodation bookings rose 27 percent compared with the previous year.Police officers attacked Personnel at Hadera police station have been subject to a number of physical assaults in the past few weeks, including four incidents of extreme violence.In the early hours of February 4, station commander Chief Superintendent Benny Harness was injured when a suspect in a knifing incident first abused him verbally, then punched him in the head and shoulder.In another incident, at the Or Akiva station, a 30- year-old local man refused to provide a police officer with his personal details and punched the officer after being informed he was under arrest.Harness said that the police would devote greater resources to dealing with hooliganism in the near future.Central RegionBeautiful synagogues contest The list of candidates for the title of the Council for a Beautiful Israel’s Beautiful Synagogue competition was enhanced this week by the addition of the Sha’ar Shamayim synagogue in the Neveh Ne’eman district of Hod Hasharon.Sha’ar Shamayim was built in the 1950s with private funding initiated by the late Avraham Erez. His son, Shalom, is now responsible for maintaining the small synagogue, which has a capacity of 40 and boasts a closed-off yard for social functions and other community events.In addition to the aesthetic qualities of the candidate synagogues, the council will examine each facility’s environmental friendliness before announcing the winner.Habimah takes stock Last week, the management team of the Culture and Sport Ministry held a meeting with members of the board of Habimah Theater to examine ways of rehabilitating the theater’s finances. Officials from the Finance Ministry as well as legal and accounts personnel from the Culture Ministry attended.While assuring Habimah that the ministry was committed to the institution’s continued existence, the officials submitted a list of proposals to prevent further financial errors being made there. Among the recommendations were drafting an overall rehabilitation plan, appointing a permanent management team, reducing salaries and formulating a plan for increasing revenue.Culture Minister Limor Livnat called on the Habimah board to begin an accelerated work process, together with staff from her ministry and the Finance Ministry, in order to end the theater’s current financial crisis.More inclusion for mentally disabled Ra’anana Mayor Nahum Hofree has joined a local authority covenant designed to accommodate mentally disabled people in the community. The Like Anyone (“Kechol Ha’adam”) covenant was devised by SHALEM – The National Service for Adult Volunteering association – to develop services and frameworks for improving the quality of life of the mentally disabled and facilitate their full integration into society. A large number of other local authority heads have already joined the agreement.“Ra’anana is working to enable people with disabilities to enjoy a good-quality lifestyle through suitable frameworks and activities tailored for leisure time, and to make public places accessible to them,” said Hofree. “It should be clear to everyone that mentally disabled people have the right to live with honor and respect, and the municipality is duty-bound to provide them with the means to do so.”Education funding on the way The government has approved an initiative proposed by Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel to provide a budget for the core educational infrastructure in Netanya. The proposal also calls for the establishment of 15 municipal task units in Netanya, and units in other communities around the country, costing a total of NIS 10 million.These local task units are designed to support educational activities in a range of areas, including Zionism, Jewish heritage, youth movements, remedial studies and the establishment of rights centers. The units are particularly important in outlying regions.“This decision, in addition to previous ones pledging to provide support to task units in the Negev and Galilee, comprises another step in strengthening the social periphery,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu following this week’s cabinet meeting.