web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Re-Imagining Av – Signs of Hope in Jerusalem

A view of west Jerusalem, seen from the Old City.

A view of west Jerusalem, seen from the Old City.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

During the Hebrew month of Av, Jews around the world mark the nine somber days of mourning followed by Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av), one of the most solemn days on the Jewish calendar. There are many reasons why we mourn during this period, but most famously it is because of the destruction of Jerusalem and the thousands of years of exile that ensued. Today, Jerusalem is showing signs of returning to its innovative roots, and while we are not theologians, this new spirit of social and entrepreneurial energy should be a cause for celebration for all those who care deeply about this city.

Jerusalem is a city about which many poems have been written, prayers read and songs sung, all inspiring intense emotions both for her residents and by people the world over. Yet, as the city continues to grow and surpass the rest of Israel’s municipalities in population and geographic size, Jerusalem also regularly appears on the top of the charts as Israel’s poorest city.

A related and perhaps most alarming phenomenon is the trend of negative migration from the city that saps the capital of much-needed human capital. Today, Jerusalem struggles to compete with Israel’s coastal cities in offering the high-quality, well-paying jobs that are needed to keep young, educated families in the city. Additionally, housing prices continue to rise at a rate that makes buying a home completely unattainable for those families. There is an ongoing competition with Tel Aviv with regard to culture and important quality of life factors, and it seems that not everyone wants to make their home at the center of such religious fervor like Jerusalem.

It does not need to be this way. Jerusalem of biblical times was the center of the world; not only in terms of purely religious beliefs, but also in what we would today call “social entrepreneurship.” In fact, the first Israelite Temple was built as a result of an innovative public collections system initiated by King David and brought to fruition by King Solomon. The Second Temple was reinstituted despite the lack of enthusiasm by the established leadership, and was the result of an all-out grassroots campaign by the Jews returning from Persia. Jesus, too, preached his message of social justice from the streets of Jerusalem.

We envision Jerusalem rising again as a center of social activism and entrepreneurship. The city has become a hub for young people fighting to reclaim and renew the ancient Jerusalem—and we believe the intensity and diversity which many point to as a negative is actually the city’s foremost advantage.

One striking example of this development is the budding community in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel. Originally built as housing for union workers and students, the neighborhood is today characterized by many different socio-economic populations, often poor and underprivileged ones that represent Israeli society as a whole. Today, thanks to organizations like Ruach Chadasha, scores of young idealistic students and families have been moving into Kiryat Yovel and working together to improve the neighborhood. Through educational and cultural programs that encourage communal Shabbat celebrations and mentoring young children, the organization has connected veteran residents in new ways to their neighborhood. Ruach Chadasha has also led the way to developing affordable housing models in Jerusalem, and and is currently working with its partners to develop the first built-for-rental housing project in Israel.

Another example of Jerusalem leading the way is the internationally successful Moishe House. By bringing together residents to live together and host diverse programs every month for their peers, the Jerusalem Moishe House empowers young adults to become facilitators and leaders of their community. When Moishe House first sought to establish a location in Jerusalem some were skeptical. Within a few weeks after the announcement, this center received more applications than those received at any of its global locations– demonstrating a thirst for pluralistic gathering spaces which celebrate diversity rather than blaming it for social ills.

Such programs are not created in a vacuum. Organizations like PresenTense step up to train these young social entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools they need to create innovative community start-ups that change and improve Jerusalem communities on a daily basis. While these start-ups often shine a spotlight on the less-than-desirable elements of Jerusalem, we tend to see the silver (or golden, in this case) lining. Jerusalem’s population, with all its complexities and problems, actually serves as a microcosm of Israeli society. By encouraging grassroots, entrepreneurial solutions in Jerusalem, we believe that the seeds are being sown for solutions to many of the challenges that Israeli society faces as a whole.

While there is still much work to be done, accomplishments are already appearing on the Jerusalem horizon and we can already see the emergence of a thriving city. By harnessing the creative energy that is bubbling below the surface, Jerusalem is being restored to its rightful place as the center of world-wide social innovation.

About the Author: Charlene Seidle is Vice President and Executive Director of the Leichtag Foundation and Senior Vice President of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. Brachie Sprung is the Associate Director of Business Development, PresenTense and oversees the training of more than 100 entrepreneurs throughout Jerusalem and the world.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Re-Imagining Av – Signs of Hope in Jerusalem”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Obama Stops Punishing Egypt for Dumping Muslim Brotherhood Prez
Latest Indepth Stories
hurva

The rededication of the Hurva caused international hysteria.Arabs called the action a “provocation”

Photo from President Barack Obama's past visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

{Originally posted to author’s website, FirstOne Through} TRUST Trust is the bedrock of a functional relationship. It enables one party to rely on the other. A trust that includes both intention and capability permits a sharing of responsibility and workload. The relationship between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu started off badly and further […]

jabotinsky with sword

Jabotinsky said “Go To Hell” was a good retort to opponents of the Jewish people; fitting for Obama.

Obama Racine

Obama pulled off one of US history’s greatest cons,twice fooling a gullible electorate and most Jews

While in Auschwitz I felt a tangible intensity. I could sense that I was in a place of sheer evil.

Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu but Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,IS

My beliefs & actions have led to numerous death threats against me; my excommunication by my church

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

More Articles from Charlene Seidle and Brachie Sprung
A view of west Jerusalem, seen from the Old City.

By harnessing the creative energy that is bubbling below the surface, Jerusalem is being restored to its rightful place as the center of world-wide social innovation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/re-imagining-av-signs-of-hope-in-jerusalem/2012/07/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: