Dozens of citywide events marked the 47th annual Jerusalem Day, Tuesday night and Wednesday, as data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) showed 92 percent of Jerusalemites say they are happy with their lives.
According to the CBS, young people are moving to Jerusalem, the largest city in Israel, in growing numbers, while the number of young people leaving the city has seen a significant decline. Housing construction has also risen, and with matriculation rates growing, more and more children are enrolling in state-funded schools.
The data revealed that half of those moving to Jerusalem are young people between the ages of 20 and 34, and that 30,000 youths, among them 959 olim, relocated to the city between 2010 and 2014. Meanwhile, the number of young people leaving the capital has declined by approximately 70 percent since 2010 — perhaps due to the influx of cultural events and festivals held in the city, which drew about 7 million people last year.
A large number of new building projects also began in Jerusalem in 2013, breaking a 20-year record. The city’s municipality approved 15,651 new housing units between 2011 and 2014 and is advancing plans for the construction of a 4 million square meter business district, which is expected to generate 100,000 new jobs. The city’s hi-tech industry has also grown, generating nearly NIS 12 billion in revenue — nearly double that of Haifa and Tel Aviv.
The city also continues to be a leader in tourism, drawing nearly 4 million people in the past year.
“The residents of Jerusalem feel the youthful energy coursing through the city, and are enjoying the great wave of development enveloping Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a modern, attractive and leading city, which attracts young people who enjoy the culture, sport, leisure, excellent education and quality of life that exists only in Jerusalem,” Mayor Nir Barkat said.
However, not all the figures were rosy. Many young people are still leaving the city, most of them to Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh, Modi’in Illit, Bnei Brak and Beitar Illit — data that indicates Orthodox families are also leaving the capital for other cities.
The 92 percent of Jerusalemites who say they are happy with their lives compares with 86 percent in Tel Aviv, 81 percent in Haifa and 88 percent nationwide. Jerusalemites are also more optimistic than their compatriots in other cities, with 63 percent of them, compared to 57 percent in Tel Aviv and 54 percent in Haifa, saying they believe their lives will be better in the future.
Jerusalem Day marks the capture of the Old City and eastern half of the city in the 1967 war, and its annexation by Israel, which is not recognized internationally. In an interview with The Times of Israel this week, presidential frontrunner Reuven Rivlin (Likud) lamented that the annual holiday “has become characterized by celebrations by kippa-wearers only. In 1967, when the city was reunited, the joy was everyone’s. In 1983, mayor Teddy Kollek had 15,000 Arabs who voted for him. Even though we were the opposition, I congratulated him for unifying Jerusalem.” But since then, what was once consensus — extending far enough into the left of the political spectrum to include Meretz until 1979, he said — had collapsed.
Concerts marking the occasion will be held in many of the capital’s neighborhoods, headlined by Israel’s top pop and rock acts.
The main Tuesday night event, the annual all-night White Night music festival, drew thousands of students, high schoolers and others to Sacher Park, Safra Square and the city center, with performances by Shalom Chanoch, Shlomi Shabat, Hadag Nachash and Berry Sakharoff, as well as alternative acts The Collective, Geva Alon, and the nine-member, trilingual, Yemeni-inspired Bint el Funk.
At dawn, from 4.30 a.m. onward, a sold-out concert by eclectic Klezmer- and gypsy-inspired band Balkan Beat Box was set to rock the city’s Safra Square.
A statement released by the Jerusalem Municipality Tuesday said that this year, special emphasis would be put on celebrating Jerusalem Day in the city’s neighborhoods. Throughout the day, parades, events for families, tours, workshops, exhibitions, open-air movie screenings and performances will be held around the city. A performance by singer songwriter Harel Ska’at, of Kokhav Nolad fame, will be held at the Armon Hanatziv promenade, overlooking the Old City.
Memorials for fallen soldiers will also be held on Mount Herzl.