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Grapevine: Construction disruption

CM 02/09/2021


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■ MEMO TO Mayor Moshe Lion: The safety of the residents of Jerusalem is more important than the modernizing, beautification and cleaning of the city. 
Nothing is more important than human life, something of which Jews become acutely conscious at this time of the year when the Divine Creator determines who will live and who will die.
Several months ago, the municipal powers-that-be decided to dig up the area in which the fountain in France Square, better known as Paris Square, is located. The work has been very slow in comparison to that being carried out by private investors at nearby construction sites. The area has been fenced off on all sides, forcing pedestrians to walk on the road in the path of oncoming traffic. To make matters worse, a section of the crosswalk by a set of traffic lights in the immediate vicinity has made it impossible for pedestrians to pass unless they walk into another unsafe part of the road. 

This is not an isolated case. It can be seen in several parts of the city where roads are being dug up to replace or install infrastructure. It will soon be a lot worse when residential and commercial areas will be disrupted by construction of extended light-rail services. 
It seems the mayor is unstoppable in his quest to outdo Teddy Kollek, who was known as the latter-day Herod in recognition of what he did to build up Jerusalem. But Kollek was building on vacant land, and unlike Lion, was limiting the height of buildings to ensure that they did not obscure the view or close out the light.
■ WHEN THEY moved from Paramus, New Jersey, to Jerusalem in 2017 with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, octogenarians Asher and Sandy Berlinger brought in their luggage something that most new immigrants do not have. They brought a Torah scroll. Although that may seem like sending coals to Newcastle, this particular Torah scroll, which now needs to be restored, is a family heirloom with a 190-year history.
It was passed down from generation to generation in the Berlinger family, and was taken to America after the Nazis came to power in Germany. At that time, it had belonged to Asher Berlinger’s grandfather Naphtali, who was the rabbi of the Bodenhausen Jewish community in Germany. Rabbi Berlinger, who did not accompany his family to the United States, thought it important to remain with his congregants in Germany. He died in Theresienstadt. The Torah scroll was used for many years in a Brooklyn synagogue. Although the scroll is currently unfit for use, Asher Berlinger still takes it out from time to time, especially on Simhat Torah.
■ IN RECENT years, filmmakers, TV producers and the print media have been preoccupied with stories about haredi Jews who have left their closed environments in favor of a secular lifestyle. Once in a while, the story is reversed with secular Jews seeking spiritual meaning. 
There’s another story seldom told: of haredi youth addicted to drugs and alcohol, who are estranged from their families – not so much because they want to run away, but because their parents send them away for fear they will be a bad influence and taint the family image. There are rehabilitation centers for such youth across the US as well as in Europe and Israel. In some of the Israeli rehabs, English is heard more than Hebrew, as patients are American and British youngsters sent to Israel by their parents.
One such center is located in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev. An open house facility, it was established by former addict Eric Levitz, 32, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. The product of a normal Jewish family, Levitz, became addicted to drugs and alcohol as an adolescent. His parents were very supportive, and spent a small fortune on rehabilitation treatments, nearly all of which were ineffective. His actual rehabilitation started when police found him in a stupor and arrested him. The lawyer hired by his parents advised them to leave him in prison, because while he was there, he would have no access to drugs or alcohol.
When he eventually left prison, his body was healed but not his mind. He still needed a fix. His parents spent a lot more money on trying to rehabilitate him until he eventually wound up in an open house where treatment was free of charge. It was run by former addicts who understood perfectly where he was coming from. They operated according to a 12-step program, and within a few months, Levitz was clean and ready to face the world.
Five years ago, he came to live in Israel, and found work in a rehab center in Ramot. That was his first encounter with haredi youth. He realized the need to open a kosher open house such as the one in which he himself had been rehabilitated. For the first three months there is no charge. The patients are then encouraged to go out and find work, and pay rent of NIS 1,500 per month. The rest of their wages are placed in a fixed deposit savings account in the bank. By the time the fixed deposit reaches NIS 10,000, the patients are ready to become independent.
Filmmaker Anna Oliker heard about Levitz from a friend. She was already aware that pupils in haredi schools who were addicted to drugs or alcohol or both, were kicked out and wandered the streets, falling prey to unsavory and criminal elements. A graduate of the Ma’aleh School of Film and Television, she was a late starter, who caught up very quickly. Born in Russia, she came to Israel with her parents, who felt that life might be more to their liking in America, and settled in New Jersey. Some 30 years ago, Oliker returned to Israel and became religious. She and her husband have five children. She heard about Levitz from a friend, and was fascinated by what he and his team were achieving, despite the fact that there was always a shortage of money for rent and utility bills. She helped him raise some money, and hopes that her documentary will prompt other people to join in funding a project that not only rehabilitates young haredi boys, but in some cases actually saves lives. The film Kosher Rehab was screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival and will be shown again on HOTVOD and HOT8.
Addiction is seldom intentional. Youngsters, even from the best, most stable and affectionate families, want to try something once or twice. It gives them a good feeling, especially if they are troubled in any way. They then want to experience that good feeling again, they drink more alcohol or inject, sniff or swallow more drugs, and they get hooked. It can happen to anyone.
■ AFTER APPEARING in Jerusalem last month with Esther Ofarim, Yehoram Gaon will be back on September 13, this time with the Hiba Orchestra conducted by Elad Gabbay. Gaon will appear in the Sherover auditorium of the Jerusalem Theatre singing some of his greatest hits, as well as some religious songs in keeping with the Tishrei festivals and all time Ladino favorites. It should be remembered that Gaon, 81, a native son of Jerusalem, is what is known as a Samech Tet (Sephardi Tahor), for whom Ladino is part of his heritage. Although he has not lived in Jerusalem for years, Gaon frequently returns.
greerfc@gmail.com

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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