The Jerusalem Post

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 MK Meir Porush arrives to coalition talks at the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv on November 10, 2022.  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
MK Meir Porush arrives to coalition talks at the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv on November 10, 2022.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

In the world of journalism, good news is no news. That may account for the paucity of print media reports on the gala event in which President Isaac Herzog conferred 12 medals of honor on individuals and institutions that had made exceptional contributions to the state and society, or both.

In actual fact, there were 13, but at age 102, Haganah veteran, World War II combat pilot and retired officer in the Israel Air Force Dan Tollkowski was too frail to attend the ceremony, so Herzog had visited him earlier at his home to present him with his medal and the accompanying citation. As a civilian, Tolkowski had gone into banking and other areas of finance and was Israel’s first venture capitalist.

A video had been made of each of the recipients, and Tolkowski, spry in his own environment, happily hosted the president. 

On another occasion, a couple of years back, Tolkowski had been asked to what he attributed his longevity. His answer was that he was always busy doing things.


At the actual ceremony last week, Herzog enthused over the fact that the honorees came from so many different professional backgrounds and from so many different places. But truth to tell, the list was top-heavy with people who live in Jerusalem or work in Jerusalem, or both. 

 UNIVERSITY FACULTY accused international human rights activist Prof. Irwin Cotler of prejudice against Palestinians (credit: REUTERS)
UNIVERSITY FACULTY accused international human rights activist Prof. Irwin Cotler of prejudice against Palestinians (credit: REUTERS)

Some, like internationally renowned Canadian human rights activist Irwin Cotler, own apartments in Jerusalem. Cotler is on a frequent commute between Canada and Israel. In the video, he said that he had always been guided by the biblical injunction Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof – Justice Justice Pursue. His mother had told him that it was not enough simply to recognize injustice. He had to feel injustice.

Meir Porush and his father

■ IT WAS somehow fitting that the decision to name a street after Rabbi Menachem Porush should come at a time when his son Meir was minister for Jerusalem affairs and Jewish heritage. 

Both father and son were born in Jerusalem and served on the Jerusalem City Council before entering the Knesset. Each represented the Agudat Yisrael faction in the United Torah Judaism party. Menachem Porush, a seventh-generation Jerusalemite, died in 2010 at the age of 93. As a young man, he worked as a journalist, writing in Orthodox publications both locally and abroad.

He was chairman of the Agudat Yisrael Central Executive in Israel, and founded Boys’ Town and Girls’ Town for the purpose of promoting Jewish education and combating missionary activity.


He was also a deputy mayor of Jerusalem.

Up until now, no street has been named in his memory.

Rabbi Chaim Miller, who heads the Movement for Jerusalem Residents, was pained by this lacuna and approached Mayor Moshe Lion in the hope of rectifying the situation. Miller was also a former deputy mayor serving under Teddy Kollek and Ehud Olmert.

Lion agreed to forward a proposal to the Municipal Public Names Committee, which unanimously agreed that Menachem Porush was indeed worthy of having a street named after him. The Porush family in Israel is very large, and even if only half its members attend the naming ceremony, there will be more than 100 people.

Politics are apparently in the Porush DNA. Yisrael Porush, a grandson of Menachem Porush, is the mayor of Elad.

Pedestrians on wheels abuse Ben-Yehuda Street

■ UP UNTIL almost half a century ago, Ben-Yehuda Street was a somewhat dreary thoroughfare for motorized traffic. Teddy Kollek decided to turn it into a pedestrian mall, and it developed a whole new character. It has continued in this vein, with the addition of hotels, bookshops, ice  cream parlors, eateries, and shops selling gifts, clothing, accessories, etc. What mars its beauty is that the mall, like sidewalks throughout the city, is being abused by motorcyclists, bikers, riders of electric scooters, and delivery trucks.

There was a time when delivery trucks came in the very early morning to deposit merchandise. Now they come at all times of the day. Riders of bicycles, motorbikes, and scooters use Ben-Yehuda Street as a shortcut between Jaffa Road and King George Street, endangering the safety of pedestrians, especially small children. Last Friday was one of the worst examples, when a group of more than a dozen bikers entered the mall together, and rode the whole distance.

There are countries in which two, three, and four-wheeled vehicles are not permitted on sidewalks or in malls. In Israel, it seems to be the opposite, as the public is encouraged to use these means of transportation in lieu of cars. 

Whereas cars are bound by traffic regulations, motorcycles, bikes, and scooters, which opt for the sidewalk rather than the road, do not follow any rules. Too often, when they are traversing a narrow sidewalk, it is the pedestrian who has to step into the road to avoid being hit by an oncoming rider. Pedestrians also have to step into the road when their paths are obstructed by cars and vans parked on the sidewalk.

Unfortunately, there is a serious deficit of human resources in the police force, and police officers are used more to control protest demonstrations than to deal with traffic violations. The situation will probably get worse before it gets better, and it’s doubtful that National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir will do anything to change the status quo.

Should Amiram Ben Uliel go from solitary to Torah study?

■ MORE THAN 30 rabbis’ wives, as well as female academics, lawyers, physicians, educators, and others, have signed a petition calling for Amiram Ben Uliel to be transferred from solitary confinement to the Torah study sector of the prison. Ben Uliel was convicted of the arson attack on a Palestinian family in 2015 in which three members of the Dawabsha family from Duma – Rihaam, Saad, and their 18-month-old-son, Ali – lost their lives. 

Ben Uliel has consistently asked to be transferred to the Torah study sector. The only time his request was granted was for Seder night last Passover. The petition is being led by three well-known women: Rabbanit Kati Mendelevitch, Rivka Donin-Pollard, and Avital Sharansky, who claim that by being kept in solitary confinement, Ben Uliel is being denied his basic religious right to join a minyan (prayer quorum). 

The three women are married to men who, for many years, were imprisoned in solitary confinement – Yosef Mendelevitch, Jonathan Pollard, and Natan Sharansky. This is not the first time that attempts have been made to lighten Ben Uliel’s sentence, and there have even been calls for his release. Ben Uliel is serving three life sentences. 

Happy New Year!

■ LET US hope that the New Year brings about a cooling of tensions and the realization that the people of Israel, despite their differences, have a common destiny, and should strive together to overcome hostilities and restore national unity. A happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year to all.