Jewish Religious Denominations

Mount Zion – Remembering Oskar Schindler and the Holocaust – Together

There are those who say that the conflicts between the different religions on Mount Zion go back 500 years, when the Muslims expelled the Christians from the Room of the Last Supper, which is in the David’s Tomb complex. And the Christians blamed the Jews for this occurrence.  There are those who say that the inter-religious conflict began 1,000, 1,500, or even 2,000 years ago, depending on which event you count as the beginning.

What’s for sure is that up until a few years ago, the tension could be felt among the different organizations on Mount Zion on a daily basis, and this tension was known to erupt and develop into difficult, even international, incidents.

Plaque honoring Oskar Schindler, at the Chamber of the Holocaust

Plaque honoring Oskar Schindler, at the Chamber of the Holocaust

Over the past two years, thanks to the Window to Mount Zion program (see it’s website here, and specifically the one about the graveyards of Mount Zion), the atmosphere has been different. Drastically different. Window to Mount Zion has enabled the residents of Mount Zion, despite their different religions and different approaches to religion, to respect one another and to help one another, both on a day-to-day basis (we call it the ‘cup of sugar’ relationship), and on broader issues, such as cooperating to clean up a local Muslim cemetery, and to release a joint letter of condemnation when that cemetery was desecrated, as well as working together to ensure that the cemetery was cleaned and better prepared to prevent further incidents.

Despite our new neighborly relations, we were still pleasantly surprised when the Diaspora Yeshiva called and invited us to an event commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), which was to honor Oskar Schindler, who is buried in the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion. They asked us to invite representatives from the different Christian orders on Mount Zion. The Franciscan and Benedictine monks were touched to be invited, and we were honored to be a part of a moving ceremony. The ceremony began at Schindler’s grave and ended at the Holocaust Memorial, where a plaque in honor of Schindler was unveiled. Both Rabbis and Monks lit remembrance candles.

Here’s the link to the ynet article, (in Hebrew) which includes a short video about the ceremony.

And here’s the Facebook post in Hebrew:

Congratulations to Window to Mount Zion for bringing about this revolution in inter-religious relations on Mount Zion!

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Close the Garbage Can! Campaign Gets Underway

How do you go about getting people to close the lids on the garbage cans and put them back in their place after emptying? Have breakfast, of course. So on January 4, some 40 sanitation workers, from truck drivers to shift managers to department directors, and Haredi activists from Bayit veGan, had breakfast together to discuss how to make the streets of their neighborhood, cleaner.

It was far from obvious that this meeting took place. There are many differences between these two groups – religious, ethnicity, nationality, gender, occupation, standard of living. Despite these differences, everyone present wanted to see – and work toward – a cleaner Bayit veGan.

This initiative is part of our Little Prince project, which seeks to advance a range of initiative to help make Jerusalem’s streets cleaner. The garbage can initiative was first presented at our Open Space Technology meeting that we held in May 2017, led by the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee of the Haredi neighborhood of Bayit veGan.

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

This breakfast was the culmination of a long process of discussing the extent of the problem, the root of the problem, and possible solutions to the problem. We helped the women of the committee reach the conclusion that, in order to improve the situation, it was critical to develop a relationship with all involved, and not just be seen as complainers. Thus, the breakfast idea was born.

The idea was to invite all the local sanitation workers together with their managers to learn about the garbage collection from their standpoint. The local community center, alongside the community social worker and the community center director, invited all to breakfast at the community center.

So many attended there was barely enough food

So many attended there was barely enough food

The breakfast itself was a huge success. We were prepared for 5 workers, and 25 – 30 showed up – including all the regular workers, some substitutes, the managers, and the regional manager for Bayit veGan. Everyone cleared the air in an unusually good-natured meeting – residents complained about cans having their lids opened, how the trucks block the streets, how the cans are put back in different places. The workers complained that cars parked on the sidewalks and blocked access to the cans and other issues. Each ‘side’ brainstormed about ways they can help each other make the streets of Bayit veGan cleaners again. All came away with a fantastic feeling that despite the great differences in identity – ranging from Muslim Palestinian and Ethiopian Israeli to Haredi – bridges were built that laid the groundwork for future cooperation. And ultimately, cleaner streets.

Keeping our streets clean means so many things to so many people. From construction waste to littered parks to shutting the lids on the garbage cans in the streets, and having workers put them back in their place after they’d been emptied. Brainstorming and planning together about how to advance these issues in our individual communities – that is the beauty of the Little Prince. It is an example of wonderful, uniquely contemporary Jerusalemite, cooperation. We all live in Jerusalem and want to see it cleaner – for all of us.

Here’s the post from Facebook that was published on the Jerusalem Tolerance Facebook page:

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Coming Together to Take Care of the Dajani Cemetery

We wrote here about our efforts earlier this year to clean up the Dajani Cemetery on Mount Zion. We are proud of and grateful for our partnerships with the different institutions on Mount Zion, organizations and authorities that made this project possible.

Cleaning up a special grave

Cleaning up a special grave

In November, we were unfortunately called to action again in defense of this cemetery. This time after head stones had been smashed and grave sites desecrated.

Dajani Cemetery, after the damage

Dajani Cemetery, after the damage

In response, the residents of Mount Zion released a statement in three languages:

The statement of the residents of Mount Zion

The statement of the residents of Mount Zion

Recently headstones were smashed and grave sites were desecrated at the Muslim cemetery on Mount Zion, belonging to the Dajani family. The cemetery is adjacent to David’s Tomb on Mount Zion – a holy site for many people. Esteemed Jerusalemites, members of the Dajani family, are buried there.

We, the religious and civic organizations and the residents of Mount Zion, together with Dajani family are shocked and hurt by the desecration of the memory of the deceased, and by this violent act.

We call upon the police to locate the perpetrators and to bring them to justice. Moreover, we call upon the authorities to renovate the headstones and the neglected cemetery urgently, as well as to improve on-site security. We will assist in any manner possible.

Signed:

Diaspora Yeshiva

Jerusalem Intercultural Center

Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Harp of David

Custody of Holy Land

Rachel and Boaz Cohen

Dormition Abbey

Jerusalem University College

Dajani Family

A few days after this was published (and picked up in the Arabic press as well), trucks from the Jerusalem Municipality came to clean the weeds and trees that had accumulated in the vandalized cemetery.

In addition, new and better security cameras were installed for the police in an attempt to prevent further damage.

Municipal workers doing the heavy cleaning

Municipal workers doing the heavy cleaning

On the following Friday, members of the Dajani family, volunteers from the Dormition Abbey and from the Tag Meir organization, helped to clean up and improve the area. Muslims, Jews and Christians worked side by side to bring the cemetery back to its former condition as much as possible.

Improving and protecting the cemetery as much as possible

Improving and protecting the cemetery as much as possible

 

News of this incident made the Arabic, Hebrew and English press as well.

AlQuds November 21, 2017 article

AlQuds November 21, 2017 article

Here’s the text of the article that was published in the December 22, 2017 edition of the national Ha’aretz newspaper. (Here’s the link to the article, and a .pdf of the text.)

When a Jerusalem Cemetery Is Desecrated Yet Again, Jews, Muslims and Christians Team Up to Clean It
The often-vandalized Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem’s Old City is neglected by the authorities

Shakked Auerbach, December 22, 2017

White fragments from smashed headstones were interspersed with the yellowed autumn leaves spread over the Muslim cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The graves of the Dajanis, the Palestinian family entrusted by the waqf (Muslim religious trust) with caring for the site prior to 1948, next to what is traditionally thought of as David’s Tomb, had been vandalized more than once in the past. But this time the perpetrators did not make do with scrawling graffiti – they also smashed five large headstones into smithereens.

“The Dajani family, according to their tradition, and written testimonies, protected David’s Tomb for nearly 600 years,” says Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu, chairman of Tag Meir, a coalition of Jewish groups that seek to counteract hate crimes. “Unfortunately, the headstones are frequently desecrated. It happened a few weeks ago, but it’s a recurring phenomenon.”

Following the most recent act of destruction, all the groups that have a presence on Mount Zion – Jews, Muslims and Christians – banded together to denounce the vandalism and issue a statement, which called on all the relevant authorities to take responsibility for the cemetery. “Many Jerusalem dignitaries are buried in the cemetery,” the letter stated. “We, religious and civilian institutions and tenants on Mount Zion, are shocked and grieved at the desecration of the honor of the dead and at the violent act We call on the authorities to restore the headstones and the cemetery forthwith.”

Tag Meir also declared a joint cleanup day, on Friday, December 8, and launched a campaign to raise funds for the renovation of the site. According to Gvaryahu, the Muslim cemetery, in addition to being a target of nationalist attacks, does not receive the same kind of publicly funded care that other Old City religious sites do.

“Because of its location, this place is very neglected and dirty, like a backyard, or a public garbage can. So we decided to go there,” says Gvaryahu. It’s not the first time that voluntary groups have undertaken to clean up the cemetery, but it requires regular maintenance.

“We hope that all the authorities will mobilize to deal with the cemetery,” says Merav Horovitz-Stein, coordinator of the “Window to Mount Zion” project run by the Jerusalem Intercultural Center, which aims to heighten public interest in and activity on behalf of the site. “There are graves there of a family that safeguarded David’s Tomb. This story is part of the history of Jerusalem.”

The recent cleanup campaign was testimony to the cooperation that has existed for years between several institutions on the mount that have been attacked by nationalists and religious extremists.

Gavaryahu: “A large number of volunteers from the Dormition Abbey came, as well as Franciscan clerics and also representatives from the church at Tabgha [the Church of the Multiplication, on Lake Kinneret]. There is much symbolism in the fact that representatives from Tabgha and from the Dormition came. The Dormition was vandalized four times by the [ultranationalist] Tag Mehir group, and Tabgha was once [in June 2015], as we all remember.”

One of the volunteers in the campaign, Katharina Bloebaum, 33, from Germany, was delighted to discover her coworkers speaking Arabic, German, English and Hebrew.

“It was a good feeling to meet with so many people from different countries and to clean the cemetery together. I think it is a sign of solidarity,” said Bloebaum, who arrived in Israel a year ago to work on behalf of Jerusalem’s Church of the Redeemer, a Lutheran institution. “This way we will understand the way of life and thinking of each person. And that is very valuable.”

A spokesman for the Jerusalem Municipality stated that the owner of the Mount Zion cemetery is the Israel Land Authority, which is also responsible for its maintenance. The spokesman added that the municipality had no knowledge of any desecration of the cemetery.

The lands authority stated: “The ILA and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority are working to clean up the cemetery and improve the situation there, including dealing with the damage done recently to the headstones there. It is our hope that we will already be able to see results in the near future.”

Many thanks to all who helped. May this be the last of these types of incidents. Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their ongoing support of this program.

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Working Together, Working Separately to Help Jerusalemites Live Safer, Live Longer

We wrote here about introducing the Living Safer, Living Longer program into the Haredi community in Jerusalem. But really, the program is not just in the Haredi sector, it’s being developed simultaneously in the Palestinian population, and in the ‘general’ (religious / secular Jewish) population. We’re especially excited about this new model for effective activism – each sector is focusing on preventive health / home safety, but each sector is developing, designing and refining the program to meet the specific needs of that community. All three sector share information and lessons learned, but the program is developing uniquely in each sector.  It is the community itself, through the volunteer Lead Teams – not the professionals – who are leading the way.

Volunteer Lead Team hearing about self breast exams from a nurse from the Bishvilech organization

Haredi Volunteer Lead Team hearing about breast self-exams from a nurse from the Bishvilech organization

We’re now getting down to business in all three sectors. There have been 5 meetings of the Haredi volunteer Lead Team, which chose to focus on preventive medicine. Thus far, they’ve learned about different issues affecting babies and toddlers, to youth, to women and seniors. Some of the lectures were given by nurses from the local well-baby clinic, and others from the Bishvilech organization, is the first and only woman to woman nonprofit organization in Israel focused on preventive medical care. (One of the lecturers was a female Haredi doctor, whose husband studies in Yeshiva, and who works at Sha’are Zedek hospital and volunteers with United Hatzalah emergency response organization. We thought she was really cool.) The team is currently in a learning stage, and are also considering learning about home safety as well. As the learning process progresses the team will come up with a checklist that will be used when going into people’s homes.

The West Jerusalem team (religious and secular Jews) has also had five meetings. They chose to focus on home safety, and learned about home safety for children from the Beterem organization, and learned about home safety for senior citizens from the Milbat organization. (They also tried out Milbat’s phone app for home safety for seniors.) They’ve already devised a checklist, and are in the process of revising and refining it. Members have even designed a logo (we’ll share it when it’s final), and are networking to bring in more participants into the program.

Introducing Living Safer, Living Longer to MiniActive women in East Jerusalem

Introducing Living Safer, Living Longer to MiniActive women in East Jerusalem

And on November 8, we held the first meeting of one of two Arab East Jerusalem teams. This 20-woman team is from the MiniActive program, one of East Jerusalem’s largest networks of volunteers, which has been working since 2012 to improve infrastructure in East Jerusalem. In this introductory session we presented the program, its importance and its principles. Right now they’re also focusing on home safety, and the next meeting next week will feature a lecturer from the Beterem organization, who will talk about home safety and children. Until then, the women were asked to photograph a place in or around their homes and ask themselves if this area really is safe for children. How would you do in such as test?

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Meaningful Trash Talk in the City Center

Usually the term “trash-talk” is used when sports competitors try to psych each other out to get even a little competitive edge.

We, together with activists from all sectors and populations, have also been doing a lot of “trash talk” lately, but this kind is critically important to how we view our city. And to how we smell – and experience – our city.

Through the Little Prince – Cleaning Up Jerusalem initiative, we’ve been mentoring activists from all over the city. In our unique model of advancing grassroots activism throughout the city, we’ve been working with groups from the ‘regular’ Jewish (religious / secular) sector, the Haredi sector, as well as the Palestinian sector of the city. As in many of our activities, we are there to help, follow-up, and support. But the real work comes from the grassroots – and to those residents we tip our hat!

One of the more active groups has been one led by residents of the City Center, who deal with a range of issues, from garbage collection to restaurant exhaust, and more. Some issues are caused by their proximity to the Mahane Yehuda market and its numerous stalls and restaurants. Some are due to its location in the city center, in the heart of Jerusalem’s commercial and business district.

On September 27 the group held an organizational meeting at the local community center, in which they discussed the different problems as well as potential solutions.

Meeting to discuss solutions

Meeting to discuss solutions

A month later, the group held a protest at city hall, and as a result the mayor asked to receive a detailed report about the health and sanitation hazards the residents face. Here’s a collage of pictures from the protest:

October 26 at the Municipality

October 26 at the Municipality

They also decided to form a resident forum on sanitation in the community. In continuation of this process, on November 9 the forum held a tour of the Mahane Yehuda market for 50 people.

November 9 tour of Mahane Yehuda

November 9 tour of Mahane Yehuda

Here’s a Facebook post that describes the tour, which took place on November 9:

This is the whole text of the post:

‘Following the smells of urine and smoke’ –

Last night we held a tour, the first of its kind, joined by 50 participants, to get a closer look at what is going on in the backyards and houses of the Mahane Yehuda market area.
The participants in the tour heard, smelled and saw the serious hazards in the area, and left with deep impressions. During the tour, we met with various professionals who gave their opinions, along with residents who painfully told of how they were forced to suffer daily from serious environmental hazards, including strong and polluting smells from illegal chimneys and unsafe gas cylinders, sanitary hazards, unreasonable noise and threats to our personal safety. One of the places that shocked the participants most was during a visit to a family home, where businesses installed chimney and compressor openings from all sides directed at the family’s windows, including the children’s room.
This is one of a series of tours that are expected to take place in order to raise social awareness of what is happening in the area. We will continue to work together until an appropriate response is given to the quality of life, health, and safety of the residents.

The City Center group has also managed to convince the Municipality to give a thorough cleaning to the streets:

 

As part of the Little Prince initiative we’re following the efforts of City Council members, Deputy Mayors and other city officials to push for a cleaner city. There are many more than what we’re able to post here. Here’s a video posted recently of a City Council meeting:

 

We’ll keep you posted on future developments.

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From Gilo to the Center in 15 Minutes

Have you ever taken a bus from Gilo to the central bus station in Jerusalem? Better have a good book and a lot of patience – because today it’ll take you more than an hour, regardless of traffic. How long does it take in a car when it’s not rush hour? Oh, about 15-20 minutes.

What?!?!?!?! 5 times as long if you don’t have a car?!?!

Thanks to an active group of Gilo residents, together with the Gilo Community Council, and with our assistance and that from the 15 Minutes organization that seeks to offer good, fast public transportation all over Israel, the Ministry of Transportation has promised an express bus from Gilo to the central bus station in 2018. Most importantly, this line will be in addition to existing lines, not instead of. This decision was published on the MyNet Jerusalem web site, and in the Kol Ha’Ir newspaper, which carries local Jerusalem news. Here’s the article in print, and here’s a link to the online article.

Kol Ha'Ir Headline: Gilo: New Bus Line from the Neighborhood to the Central Bus Station

Kol Ha’Ir Headline: Gilo: New Bus Line from the Neighborhood to the Central Bus Station

 

All the partners in action worked superbly together to bring this about – bringing the issue to the press and raising public awareness, bringing in key public figures, organizing a trial run with representatives from Gilo, 15 Minutes, the Dept. of Transportation, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Egged Bus Company, and more, until the decision was made. We were there to support the activists, proposing new strategies and tactics, making connections to move the process along, adding positive energy to feed the momentum. We will also be there to make sure that follow through to the end.

Gilo residents meeting with 15 Minutes in October

Gilo residents meeting with 15 Minutes in October

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its support for our activities to advance deliberative democracy in Jerusalem.
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Window to Mount Zion – Who Are the People in Our Neighborhood?

We believe that our offices sit in one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Jerusalem – Mount Zion. Mount Zion includes David’s Tomb (the only place in the world that is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims), the Diaspora Yeshiva, the Dormition Abbey, historic Muslim, Christian and Jewish cemeteries, and much more.

When Window to Mount Zion began two years ago we started a new tradition, an annual social gathering for all residents. This year, we – representatives of all institutions and organizations that live and work on Mount Zion – did something even more unusual – we took a tour of a number of different hidden gems that the ‘neighborhood’ has to offer. This enabled residents to get to know their neighbors – and neighborhood – just a little better.

The tour started in the Chamber of the Holocaust, which is operated by the Diaspora Yeshiva. This was one of the first places established to commemorate the Holocaust, yet, for many, it was the first time they had been. It was a somber yet fascinating experience.

In the Chamber of the Holocaust

In the Chamber of the Holocaust

From there we moved on to the complex of David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper (Cenacle). There, we heard the site director talk about efforts to improve maintenance at the site. We saw the new setting to place candles and noticed the improved cleanliness of the site. From the police station at David’s Tomb the community police officer spoke about the cultural competency training that we provided for the entire David Precinct (that is responsible for the Old City and Mount Zion), and how the work on Mount Zion served as a model for action.

On the roof of David's Tomb

On the roof of David’s Tomb

We enjoyed the view from the roof of the David’s Tomb complex, and were able to see its environs, and enjoy Jerusalem’s fresh, mountain air. The head of the Ad Cenaculum monastery spoke briefly about the monastery and its long history.

From the roof we then descended via a hidden, back exit, which led to two green gates and two fabulous gardens. One belongs to the Dormition Abbey and the other to the Beit Yosef complex. Both are actually associated with the Dormition Abbey. Their representative explained that in the past it had been one garden. During the years 1948 – 1967, when Jerusalem was divided but Mount Zion was an Israeli enclave surrounded by no-man’s land, the Dormition Abbey allowed the State of Israel to use the access path to the garden in order to access Mount Zion. This is the path that  splits the garden today.

On Mount Zion, even the garden paths are historic

On Mount Zion, even the garden paths are historic

We visited the well-kept gardens and heard more about the Franciscan community in Jerusalem.

The visit ended with dinner and discussions in our own beautiful garden, underneath one of the oldest mulberry trees in Jerusalem. What a wonderful way to end an evening, discussing ideas and thoughts about the diverse and varied communities who live on Mount Zion.

Here’s the link to the Facebook post (in Hebrew):

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Wisdom of Experience in Cultural Competency

After 10 years trailblazing the area of Cultural Competency we and our partners in action have garnered a broad spectrum of experience in a wide variety of areas. Throughout the country, there are many people who have developed expertise in different aspects of cultural competency, in different disciplines. They’ve dealt with countless difficulties and are proud of impressive achievements. We’ve all come a long way. After 10 years, we and our partners in action are excited to share some key aspects of Cultural Competency in Israel, and are taking a moment to reflect on the journey of the last decade.

We’ve called this reflection “Wisdom of Experience” newsletters. They detail different issues in Cultural Competency that we’ve dealt with. Each 3-5 page description includes a page introduction about the topic, plus a detailed description of the subject, written by our partners in the field.

Rabbi as a Hospital Consultant

Rabbi as a Hospital Consultant

Thus far we’ve written about (in Hebrew):

Rabbi as a Hospital Consultant (for matters concerning the Ultra-Orthodox population)

In Your Language – Language Accessibility at Hadassah Medical Centers

Assimilating Use of a Telephone Interpreting Hotline

Training at the Western Galilee Medical Center

We’ll continue publishing these newsletters monthly. Other subjects soon to be published include our Haifa-based round table with Haredim and the Maccabi HMO, Cultural Competency in Mental Health, making health services accessible to French-speaking olim, and more.

These newsletters join our series about multi-cultural and religious holidays, that we continue to revise in 2017 (on our Hebrew publications web page).

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued partnership and support of cultural competency over the past decade!

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Continuing Support for Jerusalem Medical Interpreters at Shaare Zedek

It’s always nice to be praised by someone else. This time, it was by the Sha’are Zedek Medical Center’s social media team, after our Dr. Michal Schuster led a meeting for Jerusalem-based medical interpreters.

Dr. Michal Schuster, leading the workshop

Dr. Michal Schuster, leading the workshop

Here’s their Facebook post:

 

The meeting was held on July 19, for more than 20 medical interpreters. Most were from Sha’are Zedek, and others came from Hadassah Mt. Scopus and Ein Kerem hospitals, ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital, as well as from the Tene Briut organization. The first part of the meeting dealt with the role of medical interpreters in bridging cultural as well as linguistic gaps. In their training the medical interpreters had studied mainly how to translate medical terms from one language to another; the concept of bridging between cultures was not focused on. Michal raised several examples in which medical interpreters were faced with the need to bridge cultural gaps, and they discussed how to approach these differences. This discussion was important for the interpreters, since previously many had focused mainly on language translation, and the concept of cultural bridging, although an important intuitive aspect of medical interpretation, had not received as much attention. It was now brought front and center.

Afterward, participants split up into groups according to mother tongue. Each group discussed specific issues pertaining to medical interpretation in that language.

Thanks to Sha’are Zedek for the mention! And of course, many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued partnership in our Cultural Competency efforts throughout the past decade and into the future!

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Jerusalemite Day – Connecting Us To One Another / Celebrating the Diversity of the City

Jerusalem Day, the 28th of the Hebrew month of Iyar. That day in 1967 that the Israel Defense Forces captured the Old City. Some called it “reunification.” Others called in “occupation.” In all cases, it is etched in the hearts and minds of millions around the world.

For many years thousands descended upon Jerusalem on the 28th of Iyar in celebration of an ideal. But where were the Jerusalemites in these celebrations? Many did not leave their houses. Or they left the city for the day.

Many building blocks to Jerusalemite Day

Many building blocks to Jerusalemite Day

Starting last year, we, together with hundreds of activists and tens of thousands of Jerusalem residents, began to re-claim Jerusalem Day, with a true celebration of Jerusalem and its residents, of every race, ethnic group, religion and community. Our vision sought to create a day to celebrate Jerusalem – of Jerusalemites, by Jerusalemites and for Jerusalemites. Last year, 50 initiatives and thousands of people showed us that such an initiative was answering a real need in many residents hearts and minds. We had started a tradition in one single year. There was already talk of “what we’re going to do next year” before the sun set on A Different Day in Jerusalem 2016.

Our Director, Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir, talked about this in the May 19 edition of the Jerusalem Post’s In Jerusalem section:

Jerusalem Post, In Jerusalem

Jerusalem Post, In Jerusalem

“This is our second year, which is really great. Last year people thought we were crazy, but now we have made it clear that it is the right thing to do.”

You can download a .pdf version here.

And then we we came to 2017. This year we called the day, Jerusalemite Day of Diversity.

Here’s a 2-minute video about some of the day’s 80 events:

Here’s a version in Hebrew/Arabic as well. There is also a dedicated web site with all the events, and here’s a complete list of  the events in English.

This year was even more complicated than last, being 50 years since the 1967 war.  One of the most often-used phrases  this year has been: “ירושלים – עיר שחוברה לה יחדיו – Jerusalem – A city that has been joined together” – (Psalms 122: 3)

Many use this phrase in the political sense, describing the reunification of Jerusalem. This year, we emphasized a different, non-political reading of the Hebrew verb, לחבר – lechaber, which encapsulates in one word our vision for Jerusalemite Day of Diversity.

Connecting through knitting in the Katamonim

Connecting through knitting in the Katamonim

In addition to ‘join together,’ lechaber also means ‘to connect.’  This is exactly what we are trying to do in Jerusalemite Day of Diversity.  In this Times of Israel blog post, Michal Shilor, our Coordinator for the Campaign for Grassroots Tolerance, wrote:

“we seek to connect residents to each other – neighbor to neighbor, community to community, people to people. When we connect to one another, we find common ground, argue about differences and see one another as individuals and not representatives of an entire community.”

As in most successful initiatives, Jerusalemite Day of Diversity wasn’t born in a day. In February we sent out a call for initiatives, asking residents to propose activities / initiatives / ideas for Jerusalemite Day, and in March we had our first Open Technology meeting for planning. Since then, we’ve been working with dozens and dozens of activists, helping them to plan, produce, and carry out their initiatives. Itamar Farhi, a Jerusalem storyteller who organized an evening of storytelling at the Shutaf Cooperative, noted that

What makes me love Jerusalem more than anything else is its variety and its contradictions, which are interwoven together, Arabs Haredim, secular, religious Jews, Muslims, Christians, people from all ethnicities and of all types. Together they create a special shatnes [mixture]. Sometimes it’s complicated and disheartening, but sometimes, it creates magical and special moments like yesterday [at the story telling evening].

Our job was to spark and mentor the passion of activists, spotlight and showcase their activities, and re-frame the whole to make one beautiful celebration of Jerusalem and its spectrum of residents. And the vast range of activities throughout the Day sought to do just this. You could choose from playing sports, such as soccer with Jewish and Arab girls in Hapoel Katamon’s Neighborhood League Tournament,

Religious and secular, Jewish and Arab girls playing soccer

Religious and secular, Jewish and Arab girls playing soccer

and martial arts on the midrachov (Ben Yehuda St. In west Jerusalem’s city center) with Mosaica,

All passersby welcome to learn ju jiistu

All passersby welcome to learn ju jiistu with “Mosaica”

To tours of Jerusalem’s urban centers in both East and West Jerusalem with Ir Amim,

With Eran Tzidkiyahu and Ir Amim

With Eran Tzidkiyahu and Ir Amim

of Mount Zion as a symbol for the complexities of Jerusalem with Window to Mount Zion,

With our very own Window to Mt Zion

With our very own Window to Mt Zion project

on the seam line between Haredi and non-Haredi Jerusalem by Tarbus,

Between Haredi and non-Haredi Jerusalem

Focusing on Nahlaot, Jaffa Road, Mekor Baruch

of the National Library

"City of Dreams" Exhibit at the National Library

“City of Dreams” Exhibit at the National Library

and of Jerusalem from the viewpoint of African refugees and asylum seekers, by members of the Jerusalem African Community Center.

By the Jerusalem African Community Center

With active residents from the Jerusalem African Community Center

You could also choose to see performances. There was Bat Hur at Beit Hansen,

Bat Hur at Beit Hanson

Bat Hur at Beit Hansen

Beit Alliance,

"Heroes" by religious male dance troupe, Between Heaven and Earth

“Heroes” by religious male dance troupe, Between Heaven and Earth

the Abraham Hostel,

Souls (Nefashot) – Coping through Art

Souls (Nefashot) – Coping through Art

The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem (Click here to go to the project’s web site),

50 Years 50 Faces Project

50 Years 50 Faces Project, 50 short films about Jerusalemites

Wandering Around the House, on roofs in the Old City

Wandering around the House

Wandering around the House, short play in which a Palestinian man and a Jewish woman choose to take an open place and claim it as their house

at the Museum of Italian Jewry,

Staged Reading of ‘Everything Private,’ play based on meeting minutes of the Barashi synagogue’s board in Nahlaot

Staged Reading of ‘Everything Private,’ play based on meeting minutes of the Barashi synagogue’s board in Nahlaot

And the First Station.

My Heart is in the East – Jerusalem in the Eyes of North African Liturgy

My Heart is in the East – Jerusalem in the Eyes of North African Liturgy

There was also a movie marathon at the Ma’ale School of Television, Film and the Arts.

Student films that dealt with and take place in Jerusalem, covering the entire spectrum of lifestyles

Student films that dealt with and take place in Jerusalem, covering the entire spectrum of lifestyles

There were also a number of lectures and discussions, including discussions with Haredim, new Harediam and the formerly religious,

Israelis of Ethiopian descent, describing their sometimes arduous aliyah stories,

To discussions about Jerusalem

Holiness and Politics: Jerusalem of Three Religions – A panel by the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue (Formerly JCRC)

Holiness and Politics: Jerusalem of Three Religions – A panel by the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue (Formerly JCRC)

And of course we can’t leave out the major events in the public sphere. The Jerusalemite Parade, with 3,000 marchers along the Jerusalem Railway Park, was one of the major events.

All Jerusalemites marching along the Jerusalem Railway Park

All Jerusalemites marching along the Jerusalem Railway Park

Along the way, marchers were invited to design cookies that represented their Jerusalem, a tolerant Jerusalem:

Cookie decorated with, "Everyday Jerusalem," produced by Jerusalem Cake Design

Cookie decorated with, “Everyday Jerusalem,” produced by Jerusalem Cake Design

In parallel, cookie and cake designers from all over the world were invited to design cookies for Jerusalemite Day, in an initiative called, “Let’s Bake a Difference.” Here’s an example from a decorator from Malaysia:

"With the support of peace, respect, hope, gratitude and loves bloom the flower of tolerance in Jerusalem," commented the artist

“With the support of peace, respect, hope, gratitude and loves bloom the flower of tolerance in Jerusalem,” the artist wrote

Afterward, participants were invited to take part in the Believers festival at the First Station.

Believers – An evening of inter-religious prayer and listening circles, on listening and the Holy City, with Kehillat Zion, Marsh Dondurma, Tahrir Eastern Bar and the Yerushalmim Movement, and Arab and secular and Haredi Jewish leaders.

An evening of inter-religious prayer and listening circles, on listening and the Holy City, and Arab and secular and Haredi Jewish leaders.

Nearby, residents of the Katamonim neighborhood celebrated their Jerusalem-ness with workshops on knitting, kubbeh-making, songs and dances, and much more.

Making kubbeh with Hannah

Making kubbeh with Hannah

In town, there was of course the 200-strong Flower Parade organized by Tag Meir, that distributed flowers to the Palestinian residents of the Old City, before the Flag Parade.

Gathering with flowers before going into the Old City

Gathering with flowers before going into the Old City

At the light rail station at Safra Square, the Ruach Nachon pre-Army Preparatory Program operated the Tolerance Stop, which greeted passersby with music and activity to demonstrate the necessity of working together.

Working together, building Jerusalem

Working together, building Jerusalem

Further on down the light rail, at Davidka Square, we, together with the Citypass company (that runs the light rail) and Lego, ran a station that invited passersby to build their Jerusalem out of Lego. (There were even specially-painted gold Lego pieces to build Jerusalem of Gold!)

Diverse Jerusalemites building Jerusalem from lego

Diverse Jerusalemites building Jerusalem from lego

People built the Calatrava Bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem

Do you know how many times this fell apart before it worked?

Do you know how many times this fell apart before it worked?

A mosque

Building all parts of Jerusalem

Building all parts of Jerusalem

And even “Jerusalem” in Chinese! (this has been checked for accuracy with a fluent Chinese-speaker)

Jerusalem in Chinese

Jerusalem in Chinese

Nearby at the Alliance Building there were more celebrations with the Jerusalem for All of Us festival, which featured a stage for Jerusalemite performers, a panel on Jerusalem entrepreneurship, stands selling art, art installations and a poetry slam.

Jerusalem for All of Us

Jerusalem for All of Us

Close to the Ben Yehuda midrechov, Shir Ezra, working independently, wrote questions about Jerusalem on a large white sheet, such as: Is Jerusalem open? Is it tolerant? Does it represent us all? She invited passersby to write their answers, also on the sheet. She reported that many interesting discussions arose from this activity.

Is Jerusalem reunited? Tolerant? Open?

Is Jerusalem reunited? Tolerant? Open?

And in the Haredi neighborhood of Mekor Baruch, graffiti artist Salomon Souza led Haredi boys and girls in decorating the walls of their neighborhood, with a number of onlookers.

Organized by the Artists Shelter that works in the area

Organized by the Art Shelter Gallery that works in the area

After all those pictures, here’s the 2 minutes video again:

The event was also covered in the press. In addition to the Jerusalem Post article above, there were a number of articles in the Hebrew Israeli press before and after the event. This included a mention in the May 17 edition of the national  Ha’aretz daily newspaper, in both its Internet and print versions. Here’s a picture of the print article. You can download the .PDF version here.

First page, Ha'aretz Article

Ha’aretz Article, “A New Agenda for Jerusalem Day”

And here’s the second page:

Second Page, Ha'aretz article

Second Page, Ha’aretz article

This article quotes JICC Director, Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir:

The point is that Jerusalemites are saying that they want to take back the day for themselves. I’m a Jerusalemite, what does this discussion about moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem have to do with me? We don’t want to argue about whether we re-unified or occupied. We want to celebrate the diversity of the city.

On May 18, we appeared in Globes, a major national financial newspaper:

Globes article

Globes article

 

In addition, Michal Shilor was interviewed in Hebrew on the national Galei Zahal radio station on May 22, (minute 5.30).

Hagai was also interviewed (in Hebrew) on the national Educational Television station:

There were also stories in the local Hebrew-language Jerusalem news site about the Lego initiative and the wall art. In addition, Eetta Prince-Gibson wrote about us in her opinion piece for Moment magazine, “It’s Hard to Celebrate on Jerusalem Day.”

Over 80 initiatives, tens of thousands of people, celebrating Jerusalem’s diversity. Can’t wait for next year!

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of this and other activities that promote tolerance throughout the year. And a huge thanks to all the organizations, initiatives, activists and participants who took part! Thank you for helping to make Jerusalem a city that represents all Jerusalemites.

 

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