The Jerusalem Municipality is currently preparing for the month of Ramadan which begins on Friday, June 19th. Jerusalem City Hall report that as every year, all of the Municipal departments have put in a widespread organized effort with a variety of services: transportation, infrastructure, culture and welfare – especially for the Muslim residents of Jerusalem and those who will make a pilgrimage to the city.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told the media “This year has shown a pronounced increase in preparations by the municipality for the month of Ramadan. This is evident in the significant financial outlay and in the large work force employed for this important task. The welfare of all the pilgrims to Jerusalem is a major priority for us. I wish the Muslim residents of eastern Jerusalem a Ramadan Kareem”.
As part of the general preparations taking place, the municipality is also taking care of: benches, shade and water fountains for the use of those praying and going up to Har Habayis. Additionally, festive lights have been strung across the central sites in the city, including: Damascus Gate, Sultan Road and Rabaa al Adawiya Street. The Urban Landscape Department has performed repairs on the roads and worked toward closing street holes on the main routes including: Salah-A-Din Road and Ras Himis Road. The municipality has also improved the large parking lot in Wadi Joz where there will be free parking in order to ascend to Har Habayis by foot.
The Transportation Department will ensure cleaning of the large parks including removing trash from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods. There will be daily cleaning of the sidewalks and routes leading towards the entrance to Har Habayis, in addition to the larger cleaning projects being carried out by the community councils.
In addition to the preparations in the fields of sanitation and infrastructure, the municipality’s Culture Department is organizing festivities at Damascus Gate and on HaGai Street. Community councils are organizing joint neighborhood Iftar meals and festivities in public spaces. In the evenings, the sports department is organizing football league games for youth and sports fields at schools will be open for the public to use.
During the month of Ramadan, street vendors in Jerusalem’s Old City will be allowed to display their wares at the Palm Market next to Damascus Gate. The Merchants Committees will receive help and support from the Department for Business Promotion at the Municipality. In addition, the Social Services will hand out food coupons for those in need.
On Tuesday, June 23, 2015, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will fire the historic Ramadan cannon together with Haj Yahya Sandouk to mark the evening’s end of the daily fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The event will take place at the ancient cemetery on Salah a-Din Street, next to the police station.
Every day during Ramadan, two cannon shots are fired, one at sunrise and one at sunset. These ceremonial cannon shots represent the beginning and end of each fast day. The Haj Yahya Sandouk family is responsible for the firing of the cannon during the month of the Ramadan and during Eid al-Fitr, a tradition they have held for 120 years since the Ottoman period.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)