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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem

News Digest: Haredi MK demands closure of Mahane Yehuda night scene


"The drunks at the yeshiva who forced Litzman [1] to fight Mahane Yehuda [2].

The election campaign in Jerusalem was rattled this week as Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman demanded the closure of nightlife area in the Mahane Yehuda market as a condition for the support of the Gur Hasidim [3] for any mayoral candidate.

All the candidates, it should be noted, announced that they would not close the entertainment area, except for Moshe Leon [4], who evaded a clear answer when he said he did not believe in war politics. Deputy Mayor Yossi Deitch [5] has still not stated his opinion on the subject.

Mahane Yehuda is closed during the Sabbath so that there are no desecration of the Sabbath nor do the stores sell non kosher products.

According to Yair Sharki’s [6} report, Litzman's demanded to close the compound becaust Yeshiva "Sfat Emet" [7] of the Gur Hasidim is located only 30 meters from the market, on the other side of Jaffa Street. The building is of great importance to Gur Hasidism, as the graves of the Admorim [8] of the "Imrei Emet" [10] and his son "Pnei Menachem" [11] are located there, and the building reconstructs the façade of the Gur Beit Midrash [9] in Poland.

According to Sharki, a few months ago two drunken, young women who may have been under the influence of drugs entered the Yeshiva which caused a big commotion.The yeshiva, as well as the incident with the drunk women, are the reasons why Litzman decided to demand the closure of the clubs in the market, a demand that on surface level seems unrealistic.

No response was received from Litzman’s office.”

-Kikar HaShabat


"Trendy or dirty?

Between Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman's statement that the 'debauchery and hedonism' of [Mahane Yehuda] Market must be stopped, and the declaration of mayoral candidate Ofer Berkovitch [12] that there is ‘no debauchery’ at the market and it should remain exactly as it is – there is another part to this story that sadly did not receive the attention it deserves.

It is impossible to ignore the fact that the market area has been transformed in the last couple of years and has become a vibrant center of nightlife and entertainment. However, we should not disregard the negative trends prevalent in the area. More and more pubs that do not conform to regulations are being opened at the expense of the market’s stores and stalls, in an unacceptable manner. If this trend continues, it might eventually lead to the closure of the authentic market.

Additionally, instead of adults and students that used to frequent the area, minors go to the market to get drunk in the area, [and this phenomenon is] accompanied by violence and vandalism.

Neglect, poverty, and crime fill the vacuum created by the empty apartments that despairing residents have abandoned. This is in addition to the indifference and extreme insensitivity of the authorities towards the plight of the population of a lower socio-economic class who remain in the area. They suffer greatly from serious environmental hazards created by illegal chimney openings that have been installed next to their windows, as well as hazardous gas tanks, sanitary problems, unreasonable noise, blocked passages – all of which put their personal safety at risk.

Things can be done differently. I believe that it is important to recognize the negative trends. From that starting point we can brainstorm and introduce a practical plan to create cooperation and balance between the different businesses, the area’s nightlife, as well as paying due attention to the residents’ health and quality of life."

– Ofir Lang, Head of the Local Administration of the City Center

[Selected Comments:]
– "My heart goes out to the residents of the market that suffer from noise day and night. But the question is what can be done to ease their suffering? I mean, the bars and restaurants aren’t about to close."
– "Market by day, Harlem by night."
– "I responded to Berkovitch’s post and told him that I pity the area’s residents if he is chosen. Litzman may have used the wrong words, but his intentions should be commended, and we must go along with his suggestion in this."

0202 Editor's Notes:
[1] Yaakov Litzman, Deputy Health Minister, is a member of the Haredi party 'Agudat Israel' and a Gur Hasid. A few days ago, Ltizman called for the closure of the nightlife center at Mahane Yehuda Market.
[2] Mahane Yehuda Market, also colloquially known as the 'The Shuk' is popular marketplace in the center of Jerusalem. During the day it is known for its fresh produce, spices, dairy, meat and baked goods. In recent years, 'The Shuk' has emerged a center of Jerusalem nightlife with many bars, restaurants and live music venues.
[3] Gur is a Hassidic dynasty that was founded in the small town of Gora in Poland in the early 1800s by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter. The sect is known for their strict practices and regulations regarding joy, housing, gender segregation and sexuality. Today, Gur is the largest Hasidic sect in Israel and is characterised by its large influence on politics, media and education.
[4] Moshe Leon is an Israeli municipality politician. He ran for mayor of Jerusalem in 2013 but lost to incumbent mayor Nir Barkat. In August 2015, Leon joined the municipal coalition and the faction of Mayor Nir Barkat. As part of the coalition agreement signed between the two, he began to serve as a member of the city administration and as the holder of the community management portfolio. He declared his candidacy for the 2018 municipality election aims to form a coalition of Haredim, non-Haredi religious Jews, and the secular community.
[5] Yossi Deitch is a Haredi politician from the Haredi ‘sub-party’ “Shlomei Emunim” which is part of the national Haredi party “Agudat Yisrael”. The ‘sub-party’ was set up to run party representatives for local elections across the country.
[6] Israeli journalist and political analyst
[7] The Sfas Emes Yeshiva is a Gur men's religious seminary in the Mahane Yehuda neighborhood in Jerusalem. It was founded in 1925 by Rabbi Mordechai Alter, the fourth Rebbe of the Gur Hassidic dynasty. Today, hundreds of students across Israel and abroad learn in the yeshiva under the direction of Rabbi Shaul Alter, the son of the seventh Rebbe of Gur.
[8] Admor is an acronym for "Adonainu, Morainu, VeRabbeinu," a phrase meaning "Our Master, Our Teacher, and Our Rabbi." This is an honorific title given to scholarly leaders of Hassidic Jewish communities.
[9] A Beit Midrash (lit. house of learning) is a Jewish study hall.
[10] Many famous Rabbis are known by the title of their published works. The Imrei Emet (lit. sayings of truth) are the writings of Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (1866-1948), the fourth Rebbe of the Hasidic dynasty of Gur.
[11] Many famous Rabbis are known by the title of their published works. The Pnei Menachem (lit. facets of Menachem) are the writings of Rabbi Pinchas Menachem Alter (1926-1996), the seventh Rebbe of the Hasidic dynasty of Gur.
[12] Ofer Berkovitch is head of the Jerusalem 'Hitorerut' party, one of two prominent pluralist parties in the city. Hitorerut (lit. Awakening) is a party in Jerusalem municipal politics based off of principles of pluralism and ensuring residents stay in the city. The party largely represents young and secular residents. Ofer Berkovitch is running for mayor in the upcoming elections.

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