This piece was published on 26/01/2011 as part of my internship with Jerusalem Challenge. The interview can also be viewed here.
Forum Rechavia conducted their latest forum meeting on October 23 2011. At the meeting, discussions centred primarily towards their next event Lech La Aza: Take 2. Lech La Aza is an event held in local cafes, restaurants and shops in the Rechavia area to promote community amongst young people. Yasmin Goldschmidt is the coordinator of the event. I sat down with Yasmin and another active member, Ailon Goldstein at the aforementioned meeting to discuss what Forum Rechavia is all about and how the organisation helps to promote unity within a young community.
L: What is Forum Rechavia?
FR: Forum Rechavia is a group of young adults which formed after understanding that young adult and student areas have many problems. Right now people are drawn into them because they’re young adult neighbourhoods, but these communities don’t offer you anything. There are problems with transportation, housing and culture. There’s very little community activity. Forum Rechavia formed to surface these problems and make life easier in the neighbourhood.
L: When was it formed?
FR: About 7-8 months ago. First time around it didn’t work too well. The forum met about once every two months. Now the meetings are becoming more serious with meetings held every two weeks.
L: What is your background?
Y: I’m also the culture coordinator at Hebrew University. Before that, I was on the culture committee of Hitorerut, or “Awakening” an organization designed to keep people in Jerusalem. They deal with all kinds of problems that young people deal with. I’m just taking everything I’ve learnt from there and putting it into the forum.
L: Who can attend meeting and events?
L: How many people are currently involved?
FR: About 10-15 people attend each meeting. Most of the people who attend are also studying and working. The current forum discussions are centered on getting running tracks set up around Rechavia, having free yoga lessons in the morning, and trying to make a connection between the older and younger people in Rechavia.
L: Are the meetings always held in the one place?
FR: No. The events are held all around the neighbourhood. We’re planning to do yoga classes in the garden on Rehov Aza in the mornings. We also have Lech La Aza, which will be held on 26th October along the whole street. There are also activities that the community council organises.
L: Where can people find out about the events?
FR: We have a newsletter that comes out once a month. 10,000 people receive our newsletter. On our website we always update when the next meeting is held (http://www.ginothair.org.il/content.php?id=268). We hope to have a Forum Rechavia website up and running sometime soon. We also put posters up in Rehov Aza and bus stations and gain quite a few new members through word of mouth.
L: Are the events free to attend?
FR: Everything is free. People help us voluntarily from the bottom of their heart. Everyone in the community pitches in wherever they can.
L: How many people usually attend your events?
FR: The events of the forum are new. Last year we only held Lech Le Aza and a few Shabbat events. Lech Le Aza had a turnout of 10,000 people. About 100-300 people attended the Shabbat events.
L: Does Forum Rechavia have any sponsors?
FR: We hope to have sponsors soon, however people donate money and we self-fund. The Jerusalem Municipality helps from time-to-time. The events that happen in the shops and restaurants are also self-organised and self-funded. We are very thankful to organizations like Jerusalem Challenge for helping support our events.
L: Do you feel the community benefits from the events Forum Rechavia holds?
A: I hope so. The community will benefit because I feel it wakes up Rechavia. Rechavia is a sleepy neighborhood. One thing that woke up Rechavia is the fact that there are now plenty of restaurants and bars along Rehov Aza. The difference between what we do and what the restaurants and bars do is that we’re trying to bring people to have fun together around the neighborhood, for them to see that it’s a nice neighborhood to live in.
L: Are there any other communities that conduct events like Forum Rechavia?
FR: Yes. There’s a program called Young Neighbourhoods, which works to help different areas in Jerusalem create forums for young adults . Their coordinator is from the Jerusalem Municipality. There’s one in Gonenim (Katamonim), and another one in Talpiyot amongst other places. There are young adult forums in communities that can develop, and where life isn’t too expensive. Forum Rechavia is a thing of our own, however other coordinators help me out from time to time. They also help with sponsoring our events.
Lech La Aza will be held TONIGHT (26.10.11) from 7:00-11:00pm. There are 10 events to visit all down Aza street. Activities include: an electronic version of Fiddler on the Roof on the rooftop of 34 Aza street, an Alice in Wonderland tea party (with real teapots) at 1 Harei street, second hand clothing stalls, live performances and movie screenings.