This week in Jerusalem: Bless you

Be blessed!

Considering the limits imposed by the coronavirus, this traditional Priestly Blessing of Sukkot was a great success. To accommodate more people, the ceremony, led by hundreds of kohanim from across the country, was held twice – Wednesday and Thursday.

Thousands of Jews from all over the country and abroad flocked to the Western Wall Square for the traditional blessing introduced into the Torah. Launched 40 years ago, it has been held without interruption twice a year, on Passover and Sukkot. This year, 8,000 men were allowed to reach Kotel Plaza, through hundreds of capsules. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, in charge of the ceremony, also broadcast the entire ceremony live for those who were unable to enter the site.

All roads to the Old Town were blocked during the festival, allowing only neighborhood residents to enter, with visitors and pilgrims asked to use the shuttle available at nearby parking lots. Some 8,000 police officers were deployed during the summer vacation in the city.

Make a deal

Another almost annual – albeit less joyful – tradition at this time of year is the threat of a strike in the education system. This time, the threat of an all-out strike comes from the Association of Childminders, which wants its employer – the municipality – to regulate their working conditions and pension rights.

In a matter of weeks, the 900 employees who work in the afternoon enrichment programs at municipal preschools and elementary schools could choose to shut down all of these city institutions, affecting around 10,000 children aged three to six. . The association claims that the strike is a last resort following the refusal of the municipality and community administrations (the local councils in which these kindergartens operate) to discuss improving employment conditions.

The association says that while there are only about 22 children in these settings in the rest of the country, the average number in Jerusalem is 30, which requires more staff. Yet, because the wages are so low, it is virtually impossible to find additional candidates for the jobs.

Don’t waste

The first permanent residence in Israel for a food rescue group was inaugurated earlier this week (September 22) in Givat Shaul. This permanent home will include a reception center, the first of its kind in the country, which promotes ongoing activities with the wholesale market, to systematically save food to help needy families and provide a platform for speech around of the food system. The center also has a workshop space and an industrial kitchen, and will be open to the general public – for educational activities, food preservation workshops, lectures and panels, catering activities and community cooking.

The Food Rescue Center, which operates the new facility, provides weekly assistance to around 800 needy families in 22 neighborhoods in and around Jerusalem.

This initiative is designed to create a holistic system model for the local food system that minimizes waste, making it an example for other cities as well. Mayor Moshe Lion, who launched the new center, said he welcomes the establishment of a permanent residence for this group, which cooperates with the business sector – including owners and employees of the wholesale market. of Jerusalem, food vendors and restaurateurs throughout the capital.

“In this way, it helps families in need and encourages the creation of an optimal reality for all,” said Lion.

The group consists of diverse and multi-age populations: single mothers, community center participants, local students, businesses, the elderly, as well as the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian sectors – all working in conjunction with the Givat Shaul wholesale market. , their suppliers, and food producers in and around Jerusalem.

On the hill

The local planning and construction committee for Safra Square has approved a new master plan to increase the number of housing units in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood. The master plan for the area, comprising 3,900 additional units, was presented last year but has not been approved so far. It will replace the 2,610 housing units in the 2014 master plan already approved.

Being under the jurisdiction of the local planning committee, this new plan does not need to go to the district planning committee, therefore tenders for construction will be published and accepted at an early stage. While those keen to provide more housing solutions in the city welcome it, it is raising concerns among left-wing NGOs like Ir Amim.

Illuminated: The YMCA (credit: ARIE LEIB ABRAMS / FLASH 90)

Light brigade

During Sukkot and for a few more months, the city’s iconic YMCA building is expected to be illuminated for the first time.

As part of a larger “Monument Lighting” project led by the Municipality with the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, the month-long lighting project will dramatically illuminate a number of important buildings located in the tourist areas of Jerusalem: the historic Mishkenot Sha’ananim flour mill, the Mount Zion connecting canal, the old city walls and gates and more.

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