Bet Shemesh Weekly News





Rabbi Dov Lipman has kindly permitted Tzedek-Tzedek to publish "Bet Shemesh Weekly News" - an excellent weekly round-up of what's been happening in Bet Shemesh... (If you would like to contact Dov directly, please email to: ddlipman@aol.com).

We are planning for "Bet Shemesh Weekly News" to be a weekly Friday feature in Tzedek-Tzedek.

Please let me know what you think of this new service?



 MK GAFNI PLEDGES TO HELP WITH 38




MK Moshe Gafni (Degel HaTorah, pictured) visited City Hall last Thursday.  He serves as the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee and can help the city obtain the funding necessary to improve highway 38 which was the focus of his meeting with the Mayor and other city leaders.  Gafni acknowledged that no other city similar in size to Bet Shemesh has its only access road with one lane in each direction and pledged to work with the Transportation Ministry to allocate funding for improvements. 
Degel Hatorah members of the City Council used the meeting to raise the issue regarding lack of school space for Chareidi children and Gafni responded that he feels a responsibility towards Bet Shemesh but towards all its diverse populations, emphasizing that the Chareidi party must use its power in the local government on behalf of the entire city.   



TAX COLLECTORS ATTACKED
Last Friday, officials from the government tax service arrived in RBS Bet to confront business owners who owe taxes.  They were attacked by the store owners and others in the area and had their notebooks with the collection notices stolen. Bags with other documents were stolen from their cars.  Police chief, Koby Cohen, issued a statement that a police car arrived on the scene within 2 minutes of the police receiving the call and by that point the attackers had all fled.  The police assisted the tax officials to leave the scene safely. 


CITY TO CRACK DOWN ON ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTIONMayor Abutbol and city councilman with the construction portfolio, Moshe Montag (Degel HaTorah, pictured) have announced that they will be putting a stop to all the illegal construction which has been going on in the city as of late.  The Mayor explained, "Until today we have been compassionate...we are in power, but we are not kings."  He pointed out that he has delayed signing a demolition order on an illegal structure for over a month and can push it off for more but "I cannot delay the demolition forever."  Montag encourages residents to follow the regular procedures for additions and any construction saying, "We want to help as much as possible but...it is forbidden to build illegally."     


CITY STADIUM TO BE REFURBISHED
The Misrad HaPnim has okayed the transfer of 2.5 million NIS to improve the city stadium (next to the gas station on 38).  New grass will be planted, new lights will be put into place for nighttime use, 1,000 new seats will be added, and new locker rooms will be built.  The city has announced plans to set aside funds for an additional practice field to be built next to the stadium. 


RESIDENTS PRESSURE MAYOR AND POLICE CHIEF

Hundreds of city residents sent letters to the Mayor this week after policemen indicated that the Mayor was the reason for what appears to be police inaction with regard to violence from extreme elements in the city.  Those letters made their way to the desk of the police chief, Koby Cohen (pictured visiting local Rabbis).  The chief issued the following statement to the press, "The Mayor does have an interest in maintaining quiet in the city for the benefit of the quality of life of the citizens but he does not tell the police how to act."  It did emerge from a meeting which I had with the chief this week that the city does not issue complaints when protestors damage city property and, as a result, the police do not investigate or make arrests in those cases.  The chief also emphasized that people should file complaints when attacked and that the police will follow up.  Finally, he explained that many protests are settled behind the scenes through channels he has opened with the Rabbis of these communities and the police are, therefore, not simply doing nothing as it often appears.  

MAYOR VISITS NARKISS-RAKEFET
Mayor Abutbol went to see the problems being created through the traffic work on Narkiss and Rakefet.  Prompted by letters and calls from numerous residents, city councilman, Natan Sheetrit (Likud) sent a letter to the Mayor about the problems being created by the construction and demanded that an outside expert be brought in to analyze the project.  The Mayor promised to bring in professionals to deal with the issue.  


UPDATE REGARDING CELLULAR ANTENNASCity councilman, Moshe Montag, who holds the construction portfolio, met with representatives of Cellcom to explore solutions for the cellular antennas which are currently on top of the mall on Dolev in RBS.  The representatives agreed to explore other options in the areas surrounding the city for the antennas.  The citizens group fighting the presence of the antennas will continue to pressure the parties involved until the antennas are removed.  They are also working to pressure the city into not issuing permits in the future when cell phone companies approach them.   The case returns to court on June 16th.

LOCAL CHIDON HATANACH NEXT FRIDAY
The Bet Shemesh Bible Quiz will take place next Friday morning at 9:30a.m. at Matnas Zinman in the center of town.  This could be a great opportunity to see a side of Bet Shemesh which we don't see often enough and enjoy the mastery of Tanach that can be found among the local youth. 

THE CULTURE CENTER CONTROVERSY
Last week, I reported on rumors that Rabbis from Yerushalayim have issued an order that the new city cultural center not be built in its planned location between Nachala Umenucha and Migdal Hamayim.  City councilman, Richard Peres (Labor), has written a letter to the Mayor demanding a response to the veracity of these reports.  Peres went further and asked for a cornerstone laying ceremony as soon as possible to send the message to the citizens that construction of the cultural center at that location will continue.  While Mayor Abutbol has yet to respond to the letter, he has gone on the record denying the rumors.   The Mayor is most definitely under pressures from all sides regarding this issue but city leaders seem to feel that he would not take the risk of a major coalition crisis over this issue.

BEWARE - INCREASE IN HOT WATER BURNS 
Three children were treated for second and third degree burns this week as a result of hot water in their baths.  Ezrat Achim director, Rabbi Avraham Kop, who treated the children, asks parents to please be careful and not leave their children alone in the bath, especially on very hot days.  The children turned on the hot water taps in their baths and were burned by solar heated water at degrees of between 70 and 90 Celsius.  Parents should also explore installing regulators which restrict the temperature of the water to a maximum of 50 degrees.   


 NEW CITIZENS GROUP FORMING - PLEASE JOIN
I have been working over the past few months to cultivate relationships with citizen leaders in the many diverse populations of the city. 
This effort has led to the formation of a new citizens group which will challenge the city government as one unit when any of the city's communities have an issue to confront.
Instead of small groups trying to fight their battles, we will have the force of tens of thousands behind every issue which arises and we will be organized and unified heading into the next elections.

We are beginning with a mass petition which will help create a group of tens of thousands of citizens who will be joining this effort.  The language of the petition appears in English below the Hebrew.  (Russian will be added shortly)  Please try to sign your name and community in Hebrew if possible and make sure to include your e-mail address.  Children fourteen and over can also sign the petition.

If you are unhappy with the city's direction, please go to http://www.atzuma.co.il/betshemeshelanu/ to sign and join the group.  Please send this message to all of your friends and neighbors as well.   

BLOOD DRIVE ON SUNDAY 
Please make time to attend the MADA blood drive this Sunday June 6, from 5:00p.m. to 10:30p.m. at Beit Knesset Feigenson in Nofei Aviv.
Come with your ID, but preferably no children.  17 yr olds are welcome and can donate with parents' consent.
For transport please call Yossi, 054-763-7025 or Deborah, 054-782-6332.

There will be a representative of Adi present should you wish to order an organ donor card, or need information re organ donating.
More info. at:  www.shemesh.co.il/bd/index.html


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