Bet Shemesh Weekly News

By Rabbi Dov Lipman

Mayor Abutbol declared at last week's city council meeting that there were no official documents stating that the new culture hall should be built on the lot between Nachala Umenucha and Migdal HaMayim and, on that basis, he established a committee to determine the best location for this center.  Opposition members objected to the establishment of the committee since the location for the culture hall was established years ago and the Mayor is reacting unfairly to objections raised by a Rav in Nachala Umenucha.  This past week, city councilman Shalom Lerner (B'yachad, pictured) produced a document from the national authorities that this land can be used for a culture center and nothing else.  This would seem to bring an end to any thoughts of building the culture hall anywhere else in the city or not building it at all.  Councilman Natan Sheetrit (Likud) explained that the culture hall is not a chiloni vs. chareidi issue since even the chareidim can make use of the hall for any program they would want as well.  Councilwoman Stela Walter (Mishpacha Achat) added that the plans for the culture center took into account possible sensitivities of Nachala Umenucha residents and no entrances or windows of the complex face towards the chareidi neighborhood.  Richard Peres (Labor), who heads the committee established by the mayor has declared that, without a doubt, the culture hall will be built in its originally designated location.
SHEFA, Shipur Pnei Hair, the city department in charge of cleanliness has been under attack as of late because of the lack of cleanliness in many parts of the city.  The city leadership will be scrutinized now as a result of what seems to be a problematic tender for the position of Deputy Head of Shefa.  The tender was not publicized in any local newspaper and listed "knowledge of computers" as the only requirement for the position with no demands for college degrees or any skill or experience related to SHEFA.  This seems to indicate that the city leadership had decided on a candidate before the tender had even gone out, something which is a clear violation of the law.  (There are indications that the candidate was promised the job in return for his work during the elections) 
The chief of the Bet Shemesh police station, Koby Cohen, met with RBS residents and community leaders regarding the problem of RBS youth hanging out on the streets until early in the morning which, of course, leads to numerous problems including drugs and violence.  The chief explained that the Bet Shemesh police force is very limited in its ability to properly address all the problems in the city.  The station has 60 officers and 3 marked cars to cover Bet Shemesh plus 39 yishuvim in the area.  He encouraged residents to get involved in the Mishmar Ezrachi (citizens' patrols) to help address the problem of youth crimes and violence in the neighborhoods.  He explained that the presence of any people affiliated with the police, even citizens on patrol, acts as a proven deterrent to youth hanging out in public at night.  (If anyone wants to join the Mishmar Ezrachi, please contact me at and I will guide you based on where you live - Dov)
The local Melabev day center for the elderly has no home.  They can no longer meet in the Zinman Matnas in the center of the city, as there has been no water for some time.  Once the water pipes are fixed, it has become clear that the sanitary conditions are horrible making it not an ideal location for our senior citizens.  A big thank you to two local shuls - Beit Midrash Torani Leumi (Rabbi David's shul) and Netzach Menashe - who hosted the group.  If any other shuls want to offer space for Melabev, please contact Shoshana Lichtman at  Residents are encouraged to e-mail ( and call (990-9801/2/3/4) the Mayor's office and Richard Peres (990-9761/2, to ask that the city find a suitable location for this critical program for our elderly. 
Last week the city council voted to move forward with a massive project at the entrance of the city near BIG to widen the roads and build a massive traffic circle to alleviate the congestion in the area.  This week it was reported that new buildings will be built across from BIG which will certainly add to the area's facelift.  The buildings will be 15 stories tall and will include 340 apartments as well as areas for new businesses. 
Globes has officially reported that construction of the new BIG mall in Bet Shemesh will begin shortly.  The indoor mall, officially called the BIG Fashion Mall of Bet Shemesh and located across the street from the current BIG, will include 12,000 meters of space at a construction cost of 100 million NIS. 
The city comptroller issued a strong report against the city's management of its warehouses and property.  The report came up in last week's city council meeting where councilman Natan Sheetrit (Likud) highlighted the incredible amounts of money the city has lost due to lack of proper management of its property.  All councilmen agreed that the issue has to be addressed and corrected and the Mayor committed to do so. 
City councilman Mordechai Direnfeld (Agudah) convened a meeting this week in city hall to address the problem of cellular antennas close to residential homes, especially on Nachal Dolev.  Direnfeld raised the objections of the city's residents and their demand that the city do something about the problem.  Councilman Moshe Montag (Degel HaTorah), who holds the construction portfolio, reiterated that the city never issued any permits for antennas but that the law does not demand city permits for the antennas.  Experts on the issue presented that the more antennas that exist, the less damage caused by any one antenna.  The Mayor ended the meeting by announcing that he plans to call all the cell companies in to city hall for a meeting about the issue and that residents would then be invited to a second meeting with city officials and representatives of the cell companies in an attempt to work out a solution to the problem. 


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