Monthly Archives: February 2019

The Little Prince – For a Clean City Platform

We’ve described here and here some of our latest efforts to make Jerusalem a clean city, thanks to the efforts of the Little Prince – Cleaning Up Jerusalem Together initiative.

Last Friday, on February 22, 2019, Shlomi Buchnik published this opinion piece on the MyNet web site, which is associated with the popular Ynet web site. You can read the Hebrew here. As we can read, the buzz of the Little Prince is deep into this new municipal administration! Hope the buzz will turn into actual outcomes in the streets soon!

Here’s an English translation of the piece:

Three Months after Leon was elected, I feel Positive Winds of Change from Safra Square

The truth is, I did not believe any of the promises of Moshe Leon’s election. I must admit there is something in his clean vision that even bored me. But perhaps after Barkat’s dramatic roller coaster, this silence is blessed.

I remind you of my sins today: I did not believe any of the promises of the municipal elections that accompanied us in the past year, and especially not those of Moshe Leon. I read them with a mocking smile. After every promise I hastened to explain why I did not believe them. I could not believe it when he talked about free parking, and certainly not the one that promised to improve cleanliness. I did not think he would get rid of garbage in the streets, and it seemed absurd to me that he would evacuate garbage daily in areas where people go out.

I must admit that there is something in Leon’s clean vision that even bored me. How do you compare the excitement of Formula 1 or the Marathon to thrill of an empty trash can? In my shallow eyes, I preferred the approach of his predecessor, Nir Barkat, who sometimes did not seem interested in the daily troubles of the Jerusalem resident, but at least he gave us the feeling that we live in a European capital.

The problem is that, like Cinderella, at midnight (and perhaps a little before) we returned to reality. Barkat did invest in a revolutionary program to clean up the city, but the Machane Yehuda Shuk remains dirty. The ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods were filthy, and the garbage activists were often forced to replace the Jerusalem Municipality. When a Jerusalemite wanted to solve the local garbage problem, he preferred to turn to the Little Prince and Jerusalem of Garbage, groups that the residents established to solve the problem.

This week I sat down to talk to an old friend who has been an activist for clean streets even longer. In recent years, the conversations with him were stinking, literally and figuratively. They dealt with the sorry state of municipal garbage, which bothered him more than the access highways to the city or the housing problem. “I live in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood and feel that I live in a perpetual garbage dump,” he always said.

This week my friend smiled when he talked about the garbage situation in the streets. This hasn’t happened in a decade. He explained that since Moshe Leon was elected, the response to sanitation complaints has changed. He has been invited to meetings that deal with the subject in local community centers, and even takes care of dog feces. “Do not be mistaken, there are still quite a few things to do, but I feel that if we continue like this, we’re moving in the right direction,” he explained to me.

City sanitation workers speak enthusiastically about the changing atmosphere. They tell of direction from above that cleanliness is more important than anything. Some explain that Nir Barkat began this last year, but everyone is aware that Leon accepts no compromises. “In the past month, we have been cleaning areas that we have not been in for years. We’ve found trash that’s ten years old,” said one of them.

Leon’s hundred days of grace ended this week. I promised myself that I would not criticize him during this time. I was convinced that at the end of that time I would stand with a bag and criticize him for everything he’s done. Like many of the city’s residents, I was afraid as well. Less because of an increasing religiosity of the city and the alliance with the ultra-Orthodox, and more because of fears of ethical practices.

Today, three months after he was elected, I can say that I feel positive winds of change from Safra Square, especially in the area of cleanliness. There are no strikes that threaten the Finance Minister, no struggles with the heads of community centers, and even the mini-drama in the Shuk ended long before it was exciting.

Moshe Leon still isn’t a visionary. He has no dreams that will excite the Jerusalemites. It’s also clear to me that three months is too little time to completely believe in him, and I promise to be there to make sure he does not fall and does not tire of keeping his morals. But perhaps after the dramatic roller coaster provided by Barkat, this silence is blessed. And perhaps this is our opportunity to give a first and clean opportunity to Moshe Leon.

Many thanks to the Rayne Foundation for their support of the Little Prince, as well as to the Jerusalem Foundation, for their support in developing activism in Jerusalem.


Course for Medical Interpreters in Jerusalem

Have you ever waited for a doctor’s appointment at an outpatient clinic and the nurse comes out and asks, “Can someone help us in translating into Arabic / Russian/ Amharic / French?” Usually, a passer-by will volunteer to help translate the conversation between the specialist and the embarrassed patient, whose secrets are now being exposed to an inexperienced stranger at best. Research tells us the chances are that the quality of translation will be poor, and the chances of making a mistake in such a non-professional translation are very high. And who knows what the quality of health care will be like?

Culturally Competent Medical Interpreting Course held at Sha'are Zedek Medical Center

Medical Interpreting Course held at Sha’are Zedek Medical Center

In January 2019 we opened another course for medical interpreting (i.e. oral translation) skills for medical professionals and volunteers in Jerusalem hospitals. There, the 30 participants are learning to do it right. (because even the Russian and Hebrew-speaking nurse will interpret poorly if he or she hasn’t learned best practices, ethics and proper terminology.) Participants come from Hadassah, Sha’are Zedek, ALYN Rehabilitative Hospitals. There are also some independent participants.

30 participants, from throughout Jerusalem

30 participants, from throughout Jerusalem

Our Dr. Michal Schuster, who has led with us the field of Cultural Competency for over a decade, is leading the course. She’s noted, “One of the things I most like to do in these courses is to take things apart and build them back up. To deconstruct existing viewpoints (either conscious and unconscious) about language, translation and interpreting, and, together with the participants, build a strong basis for proper and more accurate interpreting. It’s not an easy process at all – neither for me nor for them – but it is very rewarding.”

The team working with Michal are the language experts: Tanya Voinova, Salih Sawaed and Messale Mamo.

Learning what medical interpretation is, its main challenges, and why it is so complex

Learning what medical interpretation is, its main challenges, and why it is so complex

One more step in making Jerusalem friendlier – and more culturally competent and culturally sensitive – to all its residents.

Many thanks to our partners

Many thanks to our partners

This course could not have taken place without the partnership of the Jerusalem Foundation, our strategic partner in Cultural Competency for over a decade. And many thanks to our partners in action Sha’are Zedek Medical Center (who are graciously hosting the course), Hadassah Medical Center, and Alyn Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center.

Here’s the Facebook post written by our Director, Hagai Agmon-Snir:

And Michal’s post:

2019-03-02T12:43:12+00:00February 24th, 2019|Blog, Cultural Competence, Cultural Competence in Health Services|

Cultural Competency – The Prime Example of Successful Management

What is the secret to successful management? Cultural Competency, of course!

Dr. Maurit Be’eri, Director of the ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital, was recently a speaker at the 4th annual Women and Business conference, which was held on January 16, 2019 in Tel Aviv. More than 700 women, ground breakers in their fields of business, entrepreneurship and leadership, took part in the day-long conference. This was the largest conference for women in business in Israel. Here is her 6-minute presentation (in Hebrew):

Dr. Be’eri spoke about female leadership in medicine as both an allegory and a challenge. The challenge – the fact that there are only 4 directors of public hospitals throughout Israel. Or the fact that there is another – male – Dr. Be’eri who is a Department Director, and he is referred to as “Dr. Be’eri” while she is referred to as “Dr. Maurit.” But the lesson? The main example she brought as successful lesson of female leadership – was Cultural Competency, which we’ve been privileged to be a part of since ALYN began the process more than 10 years ago. Her main message: Women manage differently than men. When we allow ourselves to manage as women, we are more flexible, open and sensitive. When we keep lines of communication open between administration, staff, and patients and their families, asking for opinions and input – and fostering Cultural Competency – together, the hospital will move forward.

Thank you, Dr. Maurit, for showcasing Cultural Competency at this important conference.

Thank you to the Jerusalem Foundation for its continuous support of cultural competency since its inception. Want to learn more about the conference? You can read more here.

2019-11-16T11:06:48+00:00February 16th, 2019|Blog, Cultural Competence|

Window to Mount Zion – Ceremony for Praying for Church Unity

On Thursday, January 24, Window to Mount Zion volunteers again helped local Christian clergy, followers and tourists celebrate the ceremony of Praying for Church Unity.

Praying for church unity in the Cenacle - Room of the Last Supper

Praying for church unity in the Cenacle – Room of the Last Supper

In the past, people who’ve gathered outside actually disturbed the ceremony inside.

Protesting outside

Protesting outside

Fortunately, since the Window to Mount Zion project began, the ceremony has been held without major incident. You can read about it here and here. You can watch a few moments of the ceremony here:

There were still protesters, but it didn’t bother the ceremony.

Unique processes on Mount Zion

Unique processes on Mount Zion

This year, in addition to thanks from the monks themselves, the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations (JCRC) wrote a great post, thanking the project for the change it has instilled. It was written in response to the following signs that were displayed by two protesters:

Protesting at David's Tomb

Protesting at David’s Tomb

The English sign says, “According to law in Israel you are not allowed to perform any Christian rituals in King David’s tomb.”  In Hebrew it says, “Here is King David’s tomb, which is holy to us, not a Christian church.”

Here’s a translation of post:

Kind David’s tomb has not been a church since 1521, when the Muslims converted it into a mosque. But it was built as a church during the Crusader period on the foundations of the Byzantine Hagia Zion church.

Despite the English sign, there is no law in Israel forbidding a Christian ceremony at David’s Tomb, but since 1948 David’s Tomb has been run by the Religious Affairs Ministry (the National Authority for the Holy Places). It is usually used as a place of Jewish worship, and allows members of different religions to visit. Once a year, the State of Israel allows the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to visit David’s Tomb as part of the Shavuot procession on the second day of the festival.

So what caused the two people to stand with these signs last Thursday near the entrance to the Tomb of David?

The second floor!

On the second floor of the building, which was built as a Crusader church on Byzantine foundations, became a mosque in the 16th century and was expropriated by the State of Israel after 1948,  is the Room of the Last Supper and the Holy Spirit. It is a very important site for Christians of all denominations.
Since the site is managed by the State of Israel (the Ministry of Religious Affairs and today the Ministry of the Interior), the State of Israel has continued the status quo and enabled Christians to visit the site, a short and quiet prayer (as explained at the entrance) and several times a year they can hold short prayers on relevant days.

The State of Israel also allowed the Christians to hold a joint prayer for the unity of the churches that has existed for decades.

But in recent years, in the light of the Franciscans’ appeal to allow them to pray under certain circumstances in the Room of the Last Supper, a request that, by the way, had not yet been answered, rumors circulated about the requests of various churches regarding the Last Supper Room. Some of the rumors have also spread to the first floor and people can still be heard about how the Vatican sought to buy David’s Tomb or whether the pope made his 2014 visit conditional on receiving the keys to the tomb. But there was nothing to those rumors.

The Franciscans had already tried to return the site to their control under the British Mandate – since they had bought outright in 1333 – and failed. At the moment there is no change in the status quo regarding the prayers on the spot.

The tension generated by the project led to the creation of the Window to Mount Zion project (, which aims to create a dialogue among residents on the mount, promote an atmosphere of mutual respect between the citrus and the visitors, and deepen our knowledge and understanding of the complex.

Every year, volunteers from the window to Mount Zion arrive on these sensitive days, where Christians are permitted to hold a short prayer in the Room of the Last Supper, and help the policemen maintain a calm and dignified atmosphere. They talk to those who come to protest, explain to the surprised tourists why the site is closed for visits during the prayer, and talk to the local Christians who are happy to see that Israeli Jews care about them, the Jewish worshipers and Jerusalem.

And here’s the original Facebook post in Hebrew:

Thanks to the many volunteers who make this project possible!

2019-03-02T12:37:42+00:00February 10th, 2019|Blog, Christians, Mount Zion|