Hana Hertsman's Blog

Posts from the “holon” Category

Holon’s Digital Vision

Posted on March 19, 2017

Video:Holon’s Digital City Square – Concept

It is over two decades now that both our city and municipal practices are a reflection of a unique vision which sets our long and short run policies and goals. The vision, which was continuously updated over the past few years using a wide public-participation process, is divided to several main chapters relating different aspects of the city life and municipal responsibilities. Among them you can find community, education, industry and trade, culture and leisure and of course – Holon, The Children’s City, our city’s DNA and identity which reflects in each and every one of the city practices.

An entire chapter of the city’s vision refers to the municipality vision, stating: “The municipality encourages innovation, follows the principles of the multidisciplinary management and promotes cooperation, knowledge based decision making and the use of technological means”  This Mission Statement should lay the foundations for our Digital Vision – a necessary organizational tool which will adjust our city’s strategic plans to the era where technology evolvement has a crucial influence on both reality and consciousness, privately and publicly.

Our obligation as the policymakers is to incorporate our citizen’s perspective into the decision-making process, keeping in mind that we are not only providing them with service but also with the best costumer experience possible.

This adjustment of the system, the strategic plans and strategic assets to the digital age will be implemented using our new work method “Collective Impact”, launched earlier this year, which sets the goal of creating a horizontal collaborative platform, promoting a synchronized execution of our municipal goals while considering long-term implications, adjusting our citizens needs and measuring and analyzing results further along. This method allows us to self-reflect by asking a line of questions – what made us choose these specific assets to begin with? What our aspirations are? What are the significant changes we ask to create in our citizens’ lives? What our desired outcomes are? For example – while evaluating our unique assets, identified with the city – The Children Museum, The Mediatheque, The Design Museum and The Story Gardens we must reflect on how these assets benefit our citizens, particularly our children. How can we use them in order to empower our children and transform them into curious skilled citizens of the new world – aware, involved, cultured and enlightened human beings?  One of the first steps towards meeting this goal is training the municipality and the subsidiary companies employees with digital skills being the transformation agents.

 I have no doubt in my mind that the right strategic plan derived from a solid digital vision has the power to maximize these assets value and to march The Children’s City to the next level.

The digital vision is a significant opportunity to take our next big leap forward. In order to maximize its execution level we must define our desire outcomes and to put our joint efforts into an empowering collaboration process while all functions aims towards meeting our shared municipal goals.

What Makes an Outstanding Employee and Why Women are No Longer Afraid to Excel?

Posted on February 7, 2017

Recently we held our annual Outstanding Employee of the Year Awards here in Holon Municipality in which we honored 6 of our outstanding employees in addition to one outstanding staff.

While the average organization usually provides one specific service, the municipality provides a wide range of different services – education, culture, eldercare, family life and private and public physical environment are all just a part of the responsibilities being held by the municipality. Therefore, the city’s both directors and employees represent a wide variety of professions and expertise, despite the diversity we can find a common ground and joint characteristics between those who outstand.

The outstanding employee will be the one you can always relay on, the one doing his tasks to the fullest, a team-player focusing both on the micro and macro. This employee will not break under pressure, he will be an initiative leader for his co-workers and patient and empathic service giver. He will be an inspiration to his colleagues and a good influence to the entire workplace.

These virtues among others were part of the criteria for choosing our outstanding employees. I take pride in the fact that here in Holon Municipality, a lean-management organization with a relatively low number of employees, we are able to find each and every year a large group of employees meeting these criteria. Not only we find these employees to be praiseworthy, It is important for us to honor them since they are a significant part of our success with following the city’s policies and meeting the city’s goals.

This year, accidently or not, all of our Outstanding Employees of the Year were women from across the municipality administrations. Is it a coincident that recently we witness an increasing presence of women getting their appreciation on their work publicly?

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, in her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” writes: “Many women prefer to stay put and be safe in their career, which is another effect of gender stereotype. They avoid new challenges because they are unsure that they have the right skills. That can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. A study has shown that men apply for jobs when they feel they meet 60% of the skills requirements, whereas women only apply if they meet 100% of the requirements”

Sandberg calls for a perception change: “Women should not be afraid to take risks, pursue growth and challenges and ask for promotions” I feel as if these changes are already taking place, we can see more young women taking a different approach. They are no longer afraid to celebrate and publicly speak about their performances and their contribution to the system and to take risks and challenges they would not take before.

Congratulations, our Outstanding Employees and thank you for your significant contribution to the Municipality and the City.

Thinking, Planning, and Carrying Out. The Children’s City Has All Ages in Mind

Posted on December 20, 2015

Age Friendly City presentation, held at the 2015 Akko Convention on Urbanism 

Holon has been age-oriented for over two decades now. The Children’s City vision statement is based on the understanding that the residents are the city’s pillar of strength; thus, master plans and work plans have been devised focusing on the younger generation and their families. These programs allow for long and short term planning of the services and physical environment intended for children, adolescents, young adults, and senior citizens, all while constantly seeking the optimal urban mix.

A model of get-together areas for senior citizens at public spaces. Design: Erez Mulay, social designer. The model allows seating arrangements for large groups (up to 10 people), in a semi-hidden spot. On the opposite side, comfortable seating areas for individuals who prefer to overlook the hustle of the street.


Over the past two decades, we have realized that devising programs tailored to a specific age group can be useful when doing the same for other age groups as well: for example, the master plan for children and youth has elements in common with the master plan for senior citizens. The endeavors associated with devising master plans for these two age groups, seemingly belonging to one of two extremes, are rooted in the inherent perception that sees residents as customers and partners to the process of city development. Both programs seek to create a friendly environment, which takes into consideration the relatively high dependence of these two populations on municipal services and environment.

The master plan for senior citizens was devised through a process of public participation and in collaboration with the Ministry for Senior Citizens. According to the master plan for Holon senior citizens vision statement, “Holon is thankful for its senior citizens’ past and present engagements with urban development. Holon is committed to act in the favor of its senior citizens and provide them with comfortable surroundings during their years of retirement”.

This vision outlines four strategic guidelines on which the master plan is based: offering senior citizens the ability to live in their own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably (Aging in Place); promoting an intergenerational and interdisciplinary overview; implementing a Pro-Active Senior Citizen approach; developing an innovative array of services tailored to the needs of senior citizens.

One example would be the existing project aimed at adapting Holon’s public open spaces to the needs of senior citizens. The project is led by Dr. Rinat Ben Nun from Holon’s Department of Senior Citizens, along with designer Erez Mulay from the social design studio, who mapped relevant needs after touring senior citizens centers across Holon, interviewing senior citizens, and methodically gathering information. Apparently, small groups of senior citizens of homogeneous ethnicity gather in semi-hidden spots, in the vicinity of commercial centers, public toilets, and drinking fountains. It appeared as if they were adapting the public spaces to their own needs.

For example, placing cartons on top of stone benches in order to insulate against cold, and adding extra chairs in seating areas for bigger crowds. The research identified the senior citizens’ need of intimacy, combined with the need to feel close to the heart of the city. Furthermore, at different hours of the day the very same public space serves groups of adolescents, so obviously it should meet the needs of both age groups. Following the observation phase, senior citizens attended the Design Museum Holon exhibition on shading of public spaces, and participated in a design workshop dedicated to get-together areas and shading for the benefit of senior citizens. This way, benches were designed to meet the needs of senior citizens and guarantee shading, comfort, and intimacy.

The master plan for children and youth, which is my brainchild, is led by representatives from the Division of Welfare, Department of Education, Community and Recreation Network, supported by the Strategic Planning Department, all of whom spearhead the program. The master plan for senior citizens seeks to further leverage the city’s investment in the younger generation, so as to implement a comprehensive and inclusive approach which encompasses all aspects of the child’s life. The program addresses all areas of children’s lives (apart from education): health, recreation, and more.

We are currently in the final stages of data collection through:

  • Implementation of a public participation program, with around 3,300 participants, for children and youth ranging from kindergarteners to high schoolers, which reveals their needs and passions.
  • Mapping programs and services, allowing for a more thorough examination of the existing programs and services across Holon.
  • Data collection focusing on children and youth (as documented in city records and in additional records), aimed at forming the average child’s profile.
  • Collecting experts’ information on the important aspects of children’s development (on a global level).

As mentioned above, the master plan for children and youth is underway, and we are currently carrying out several projects. For example, the public participation program has identified the need of residents to use public spaces in their vicinity as venues for children’s entertainment activities. This was the idea behind the Children’s Park Theater project that operates during the summer holiday, offering children’s plays at nine parks across Holon.

An additional matter that was identified during the process of public participation is the children’s desire to expand their knowledge outside of school. In Holon, we seek to implement the City As School approach, allowing children to broaden their horizons at a variety of local facilities and institutions, surrounded by a more enticing environment. This is also a way to make the children feel more connected to the local community, which further enhances their educational experiences. This project is still in its infancy.


In brief, the Children’s City serves as a social anchor for different social groups; its uniqueness guarantees that it provides the utmost services for the various age groups, each according to its unique set of needs.

A Bond of Hearts: A heartwarming encounter with Jews and Israelis in New York

Posted on May 7, 2015

With Tsipi and Zigi Ben-Haim and Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York

With Tsipi and Zigi Ben-Haim and Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York

The hardships, dangers, and fears involved in living in Israel often make us feel isolated. In recent years, it seems, this feeling of isolation is getting even more intense.

During an exciting encounter held recently in the United States, I was happy to realize an entire community is thinking of us from across the sea, feeling connected to us, empathizing, showing interest, and even willing to pull their weight.

As part of our efforts to bring about an innovative educational initiative in Holon – the Digital Kindergarten Digitaf – I had the privilege to attend an especially heartwarming event and share the latest news of Israel and Holon with members of the New York Jewish community. I felt that I succeeded in laying the foundations for a new perception, a new attitude that places the younger generation in the center, seeking to provide the younger generation with targeted tools and skills required for personal development and success, while creating a powerful values-driven community.

Tsipi and Zigi Ben-Haim, former Israelis, have been living in the United States for many years. Like many of their compatriots, they immigrated to the United States in order to pursue their professional career. Zigi Ben-Haim, a valued artist, has won multiple prestigious awards for his art. His pieces are displayed in prominent museums such as: the Guggenheim and Brooklyn Museum in New York; the Israel Museum and Tel Aviv Museum. The couple had been so kind as to volunteer their house for a special Holon-oriented gala, in the presence of tens of participants from the Jewish and Israeli community in New York.

In addition to Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, the event attracted a large number of visitors, who expressed a great interest in Israel, who were eager to hear about every piece of information related to contemporary life in Israeli society, and were willing to delve into issues such as Israeli education, culture, zeitgeist, and perceptions among the younger generation in Israel. I was surprised by the young age of many of the visitors, who shared information about themselves and wanted to better understand the meaning of Holon as the Children’s City.

Those young visitors were thrilled to hear about Holon’s unique initiatives, and about our efforts to foster the younger Israeli generation through exposure to culture, which equips them with knowledge and skills that will eventually make them into knowledgeable, curious, moral, creative, and productive citizens. I told them about the special activities held in Design Museum Holon, about the unique workshops for the entire family, about the synergy between our formal educational system and our cultural institutions, and more. Appreciation, fascination, and curiosity permeated the discussion; the participants expressed their willingness to tighten the bond with Holon and Israel, as well as invest in mutual learning.

Acknowledging the importance of sustainability for the sake of leaving a clean and healthy environment for the next generations, they were naturally impressed with the ideas I laid before them: investing in children, instilling values of tolerance, social engagement, and community involvement.

Without doubt, this evening was nothing short of exhilarating. I hereby wish to thank our hosts and all who participated in the event and helped organize it.

Better Days Will Come – The Children’s City Remembers the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and the Victims of Terrorism

Posted on April 21, 2015

 This week is always a highly emotional one: starting on Holocaust Remembrance Day, followed by the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism, and ending with a somewhat unnatural surge of happiness in the celebrations of Independence Day.

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These days make each and every person who grew up in Israel look into their souls and their memories. Born in the year of the Suez Crisis War, I reminisce upon those who have been taken from us, those lives that were cut short. First, my close family members come to mind, then my circle of friends, and then all my acquaintances. Those memories take us back to the stories of all those people we know only from TV screens or newspaper cuttings; we are overwhelmed by our thoughts of those who can never be forgotten…

Unfortunately, last summer brought upon us yet another cycle of grief, bringing us back to the harsh reality of our nation. Three sons of our city were killed during the Protective Edge Operation. On this Day of Remembrance, three more families joined the family no one wishes to be a part of: the family of bereavement.

For the past two decades, I have been engaged all year round in developing the Children’s City and creating a better world for our children, providing them with the intellectual food and the cultural and educational infrastructure that will allow them to thrive. On this day, my thoughts are: what are we, as humans, need more than peace, quiet, and the joy of creation?

Is there anything we – especially the parents among us, and I believe among our hostile neighbors as well – want more than to see our children and grandchildren grow up to become confident and happy?! What could be more natural than that? I have always believed peace is within reach.

These days, my thoughts fluctuate from sadness, despair, and frustration to the strong and basic belief that we cannot give up hope, we can never stop believing and acting on our hope, simply because there is no choice. We will keep investing in our children, exposing them to a world of thinking, curiosity, awe-inspiring creation. We will allow them to become better people, we will do our best to contribute our small part to their big future, and we will keep on hoping for better, peaceful days.

Choosing Good over Evil, Light over Darkness – Holocaust Remembrance Day in Holon

Posted on April 19, 2015

Holon teenagers at the memorial service by the Six Million Lights monument, sculpted by Rachel Caspi

Holon teenagers at the memorial service by the Six Million Lights monument, sculpted by Rachel Caspi

Holon’s Holocaust Remembrance Day started with a memorial service held by teenagers who lit the memorial torch at the Six Million Lights monument. Later that day the municipal ceremony took place, in a hall full of Holocaust survivors, members of the second and third generations, soldiers, teenagers, and residents.

In addition, open house events were held in over 30 private houses, including Beit Lehiyot – the Center for Holocaust Awareness, and in additional community centers across Holon, where people of all ages, particularly young adults and teenagers, met with Holocaust survivors or second generation members, who told them their life stories and engaged in intergenerational discussions as well as joint cultural activities.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is an emotional time of year for many of us, a day where personal and national stories find expression through mixed feelings of both grief and joy of living in the revived State of Israel.

I would like to share the address I gave by the monument, directed mainly at the younger generation:

As of every year, Holocaust Remembrance Day brings us together with the young generations of Holon, in order to light the six torches of the monument, created by sculptor Rachel Caspi, symbolizing six million lights forever extinguished.

The theme of this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day is the anguish of liberation and return to life, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Throughout the entire history of the State of Israel, a large number of Holocaust survivors have sought to create a better world for themselves, for their children, and for the next generations, those who are not directly familiar with the terrors of the Holocaust. In the words of one of the survivors, who had lost dozens of her family members in the Łódź Ghetto and in Auschwitz, “If my Passover Seder includes more than 20 people, second and third generation members, I know I’ve done my part.”

At the memorial service, with Holocaust survivors, Holon residents and winners of the Holon annual citizenship prize Bat Sheva Dagan and Malka Rosental

At the memorial service, with Holocaust survivors, Holon residents and winners of the Holon annual citizenship prize Bat Sheva Dagan and Malka Rosental

In Holon, we feel it is our obligation – as well as our privilege – to commemorate the dead, to remember them and to retell their stories and the story of our people, to honor the survivors who live among us who are living a life of incessant activity, always eager to contribute to the State of Israel and to Israeli society.

The message we wish to send across to you, the younger generation, is the following: we should always remember the past, know our history and learn from it.

Each and every one of us must understand, learn, and assimilate the lessons learned by the greatest Holocaust known to mankind, and create a different and better society: a society that is humane and enlightened, that respects all people for who they are and is compassionate toward foreigners, underprivileged people and people in need.

My thanks go to each and every one of you for being here tonight, and on behalf of you I wish to address the Holocaust survivors who live among us and say: you are forever in our hearts.

I thank you all, and my wish to you is that you always know how to choose good over evil, light over darkness.

Holon Municipality has launched a public participation website, calling upon its young residents to log in and speak their minds

Posted on December 30, 2014

Over twenty years ago, when we first set upon formulating the vision of the Children’s City in Holon, one of our most prominent purposes was to keep young population inside the city, as well as to attract young population into the city. A large population of young residents is a source of new energies; it breathes new life into the commercial and professional activities, the community experience, the physical cityscape, and the human fabric across the city.

Together. Think. Young – the facebook cover of the campaign

Throughout the years, as the positive image of Holon grew stronger, the number of children in the city has increased. These children have turned into young adults, forming a new generation that faces a wide array of possibilities and opportunities. I can personally attest that as chairwoman of the municipality’s tender board, I often come across these young adults, many of whom have an impressive educational and personal potential. Despite the lack of work experience and personal experience characterizing their age group, they are capable of absorbing large amounts of diverse information, thoroughly understanding matters from different perspectives. They are highly cooperative, and naturally they are highly motivated, eager to prove themselves and do well.

However, notwithstanding the great promises and the open horizons, these young adults are facing rather complex issues. On the one hand, there is a wide range of educational and occupational possibilities in this era of globalized markets; on the other hand, the labor market is constantly changing: new occupations arise while others vanish, and there cannot be any promise of economic security. This amounts to confusion, fear, and uncertainty. As a municipality, we have the ability to help this population, which is normally less reliant on municipal services. For this reason, over a year ago we established the Department of Young Adults, whose purpose is to promote the interests of this crucial segment of population.

Among other initiatives, we settled upon adjusting the public space for the needs of young adults: we designated a special area of the central library as a study space for students, we provide a free counseling service for young adults who are undecided about study paths or career options, we hold discounted cultural events and leisure activities which are oriented at young adults, allowing them to spend time around their peers, we operate special gymborees during the burning hot summer days, we hold discussion meetings with young adults at local bars. In addition, a designated center for young adults is currently under construction. Hopefully, this center will become an attractive hub for this age group as of the summer of 2015.

At the end of December 2014, the first phase of an online public participation procedure was concluded. Young residents were called upon to log in to a designated website and post their ideas, needs, and expectations from the municipality and from the city, all pertaining to the lifestyle of young adults in Holon. This way, we can lay the foundations for our future plans based on a genuine understanding of the needs and desires of this population.

The online discussion was open to the public for three weeks, during which 350 users were registered to the website, 212 new ideas were raised, and 483 comments were posted in the different discussions. Nine users who posted the most “liked” ideas were awarded valuable prizes. The next phase is collecting all the ideas and comments, analyzing them and drawing conclusions for the future projects of the Department of Young Adults, always seeking to maintain a constant dialog with the public.