Hana Hertsman's Blog

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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.

Is Sport Becoming Elegant or is Elegant Becoming Sport? Sport Elegant – a new exhibition as part of the Holon Fashion Week

Posted on November 5, 2014

Fashion in general and fashion design in particular have always intrigued me. Gladly, the new Sport Elegant exhibition has given me the opportunity to fulfill my love of design and my knowledge in the field of curatorship. The exhibition will open at the Beit Meirov Art Gallery, as part of the 2015 Israeli Design Season in Holon.

As we all know, fashion expresses and reflects a period, a social stance, a zeitgeist. Elite fashion, “elegant clothes”, has been the masterpiece, the most expensive part of one’s wardrobe. Throughout my childhood in Israel, formal wear had been treated with a sense of awe, while everyday clothes had been basic and practical. The expensive clothes of high quality, meticulously sewn in the style of Western journals, had been reserved for special occasions.

As for myself, I have always been attracted to unique clothing items and accessories. Luckily, I was able to showcase my love of elegant clothes right at the beginning of my professional life. As a young hotelier, I had been expected to show up for work wearing meticulous – even formal – clothes: tailored skirts, suits, and jackets. I had become accustomed to it and had actually been enjoying it. Years later, I had my first interview in the Holon Municipality. True to my habit, I showed up wearing a formal outfit, only to later realize that it had caused quite a stir. The municipality’s veteran ladies had been dumbfounded by the girl who walked the City Hall corridors on her elegant high heels, wearing a red tube skirt, a matching red jacket and a white top…

Obviously, apparel has changed over the years: gradually, pants have taken the place of skirts, no-need-to-iron shirts have taken the place of tailored tops, and the elegant heels have cleared the way for much more comfortable shoes. And yet, I will always take a moment to mix in some uniquely designed accessory that cannot miss the eye… even when it is made out of inexpensive materials.

Throughout the years, along with my own personal taste, fashion has undergone changes: the boundaries between elegant clothes and everyday clothes are not clear cut. On the one hand, the elegant style does not have to adhere to strict Dos and Do Nots; on the other hand sportswear, which had been based solely on comfortable, light, and practical clothes, had been influenced by elite fashion. Nowadays, joggers at the jogging trails along the beach and trainees at the fitness center present the most cutting-edge selection of sports fashion, made out of high quality fabrics. The sporty clothing item sends a message of who I am, what I want others to think of me, what my social status is, and so on and so forth.

More of a fashion buff than a sports buff, I nevertheless find this combination stunning. I have chosen to present this combination at the Sport Elegant exhibition, which seeks to examine this mixture between Sport and Elegant while looking at their mutual influences.

A variety of Israeli designers will be displaying their interpretations while using unique technologies and materials that put sportswear functionality in question.

Everyone is invited to this special experience. Entrance is free.

For further information on the featured designers and on the items on display, click here.

For information on the 2015 Holon Design Week, click here.

Tif-Taf: A New Place that Turns Parenthood into a Rewarding Experience

Posted on October 30, 2014

“I love him so much, but he won’t stop crying, I’m not sure why and I’m trying to understand what it is that he wants. I offer different toys, I talk to him, I try to make him laugh, and eventually we both end up crying together.”

These are the words of a young mother. She waited so much for her baby to come into her life, she was excited trying to imagine how he would look like, how they would spend time together, hugging, cuddling and laughing – but something just isn’t right.

Today, there is no shame in admitting: being a parent takes learning. Those parental instincts aren’t always there to guide us; parents can hone their skills of this seemingly natural craft, and truly savor the time they spend with their children.

A new center for parents and toddlers (aged 0-3) has recently been launched in Holon. Together with educational experts, I listened to the lecture given by Prof. Pnina Klein, a renowned researcher in the field of education, at the opening ceremony. Prof. Klein’s philosophy of early childhood education constitutes the foundation of the new center.

One of the most important principles Prof. Klein mentions is treating parenthood as an enjoyable, joyful and enhancing experience for both parents and children. My own experience as a mother and others’ experience has taught me that, all good intentions aside, the reality is not always what we had in mind or what we were aiming at. Upon the birth of their firstborn, many parents enter a world of uncertainties and questions.

During her lecture, Prof. Klein highlighted some of the dilemmas and challenges young parents face, alongside the methods and solutions the center will be offering them:

How to encourage the parent and enhance his sense of capability? How to enhance the child’s sense of capability? How to set boundaries while still making the child feel loved? How to plan ahead before spending time with the child? How to tell which activities are suitable for the child? How to make the most of our time with the child? What is a Mental Menu? How to teach children new things at their own pace, without forcing them to use certain ways of action, in a way that allows them to make mistakes? How do we, as parents, act as mediators between realities or games and our child? How much time do we dedicate to focused activities with our children, barring distractions and other parallel actions? How to plan activities with our children? How does our conduct with our toddlers influence development and success in the long term? What are our ambitions with respect to our children? How to do the right thing at the right time without putting the cart before the horse in terms of the child’s needs? How to prepare the child for a competitive, high-achieving and sometimes disappointing reality, without subjecting him to a similar reality ourselves?

During the lecture we were shown several videos that follow the process of mentoring parents according to Prof. Klein’s method. The videos show clearly and visually how the behavioral patterns of both parents and children change through learning. The videos illustrated some of the principles Prof. Klein’s method is based on.

Following is a taste of Prof. Klein’s principles:

All babies need to be loved; they need to be around a person who is happy to be with them. Let your baby know and feel that you love him, hold him close to you, treasure your time together.

Give yourselves the opportunity to enrich your child and rejoice in him. See how important and special you are to him; acknowledge how much he needs you and loves you in a special way.

Positive feelings open the door to emotional, social, and mental growth, through feelings of trust and attachment to people.

Allow your children the opportunities to develop, so that they would live a better and more fulfilling life – and so would you.

In the short period the new center has operated in Holon, it has already attracted thousands of young parents who enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the innovative equipment, and benefited from the high professional level of the mentors onsite. It is my hope that these mentors will provide more and more parents with important tools and insights that would contribute to enhancing young parents and nurturing a new generation of happy and thriving toddlers.

Master Plan for Children and Youth by the Makers of the Children’s City

Posted on October 23, 2014

Innovation in Holon is at the heart of everything we do; it is only natural to implement it among children and youth, who have been our main focus over the past twenty years.

In early July, before Operation Protective Edge, I had the privilege to be part of a unique experience while I attended the first convention of the Master Plan for Holon’s Children and Youth, organized by the Welfare Department, the Division of Educational Administration, the Community and Leisure Network, and the Strategic Planning Department.

Although I attend quite a large number of work meetings, I was truly excited to witness this gathering of 150 professionals and experts from diverse institutions – the municipality, municipal subsidiaries, government offices, associations, and all relevant units – all setting as top priority the needs of Holon’s children, instead of the needs of the organizations they represent. This gathering is a harbinger of a thorough and comprehensive process, which is believed to create a major change for the better, and I will explain why.

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As we all know, for the past twenty years Holon has branded itself as the Children’s City. Holon’s longtime expertise and its commitment to the advancement of children’s education, culture and welfare places it at an advantage. Our endeavors improve the residents’ quality of life, raise the city’s reputation among its residents as well as nationwide, and attract young families who seek a good environment to raise their children in. Thanks to these efforts, Holon is famed for its initiative and drive, which is reflected in all its areas of purview. Naturally, though, this reputation also incurs an ever growing set of expectations and demands, which cannot or should not always be realized. The reality we have created is evolving and changing, raising new questions and thoughts such as: Where do we go from here? What should we put more focus on? What should we change? What should we invest more (or less) in?

What makes this master plan uniquely advantageous is the fact that it considers all aspects of children’s lives, aspiring to provide care for all age groups: from birth to eighteen years, while focusing on a variety of domains such as: health and sports; informal education; community, leisure and culture; children and youth at risk; immigrants from Ethiopia and the former USSR; physical environment and accessibility; the digital era and its implications; special needs; religious populations, parenthood and family, and more.

This comprehensive program, which outlines objectives and work plans, will allow us to enhance and regulate the current initiatives oriented at children and youth across the city. The program brings us one step closer to realizing Holon’s vision as the Children’s City. The mere existence of such a project, alongside the process of planning it and later on implementing it, is bound to leverage our children-oriented initiatives to new and exciting levels.

Gladly, we enjoy the cooperation of Joint Ashalim, which specializes in developing programs and services for children and youth at risk.

Following are the objectives of the plan:

  • Leveraging Holon’s children-oriented initiatives to even higher standards.
  • Developing a sustainable plan which does not depend on duty holders.
  • Detaching from traditional divisions of responsibility, allowing for more cooperation and flexibility with respect to the functioning of different organizations.
  • Providing a holistic and integrative viewpoint that meets the full range of all children’s needs.
  • Deepening the local children and parents’ attachment to the city.
  • Creating an educational process aimed at encouraging proactive residents.
  • Engaging Holon’s administration, its executives and subsidiaries in the city’s wide scale children-oriented initiatives, while taking all conditions and needs into account.

The writing of the plan is due to finish in the summer of 2016. Much progress is expected up until then. Stay tuned!

“Adi Polani”(Polish Jewel) – a thought provoking meeting between times and worlds

Posted on September 21, 2014

Dreams sometimes come true.  Recently, I realized a dream when, in the presence of a great many guests, residents, artists, friends and family members, with great fanfare we opened the “Adi Polani” exhibition at the “Mishkan Gallery” – Myerov House in Holon, for which I am the curator.

This exhibit is actually two exhibits combined.  One is an international jewelry exhibition that took place in Poland.  All of its displays were created in order to transmit messages of social and ideological protest, rebellion, and outcry.  The second is an exhibit of jewelry that I gathered over the years during my visits to Poland while searching for traces of my father’s family, which was murdered in the Holocaust.  The two exhibitions are presented under a single roof, bringing about an unusual encounter between different worlds and eras, because, among other things, I chose to “wrap” the walls of the gallery with authentic photographs portraying life in Poland during the 1930s.

This interplay between the displayed items and the photographs creates an inevitable association in the mind of the visitor between a world that no longer exists and our current world, and again raises the big issues concerning the ability of a single person and an entire society to perceive reality, realize its significance at the time, and rise up or protest.

On the ground floor, about 50 pieces of jewelry and items are displayed by artists from 43 countries around the world, who use their art to express protest.  The jewelry pieces are a select collection from an international exhibit and competition on the subject of “uprising”, which took place for the 22nd time this year in the city of Legnica, Poland.  625 works were sent to the competition by 319 artists dealing, each in his own way, with the social tensions fed by economic crises and rising unemployment rates, while hinting at mass protest.

The jewelry displayed is made of materials and objects that are unusual in jewelry-making, including wood, paper, glass, chipboard, plastic, and – a dead dove, a dog-fur coat, dog food, a horse hoof, fish skins, chewing gum, a dried apple, razor blades, Lego, and even coffee powder or beans.  They were all designed by young and sharp modern designers expressing their opinions on a variety of social phenomena in a penetrating way that cannot leave the viewer apathetic.

I placed the jewelry in an unusual manner, for instance on recently peeled tree bark.  The walls are covered with authentic photographs taken in Warsaw.  In the entry hall, there is a photograph of the “Polanya” luxury hotel in Warsaw, designed by Michael Paticz Borkovski, and the internal hall contains streets and buildings of Warsaw from the previous century displaying magnificent and impressive urban architecture.

I chose to dedicate the top floor to jewelry that I gathered over the years, all made of simple and inexpensive materials, some recycled, and all with a very modern look.  The jewelry is displayed against a background of photographs that have been handed down from generation to generation in my family and other families, which remain as silent witnesses to life in Poland before the war: men, women, young girls and families, handsome people clothed in the best and most up-to-date fashion, spending time at nature and leisure sites, enjoying a vibrant urban life, a life of blossoming culture and commerce, economic well-being, family celebrations and leisure activities.

The contrast between the idealized scenes of the 1930s in Poland and the modern art of protest creates a sense of discomfort and conflict, and arouses each person’s private associations together with the collective contexts.  Personally, it was not easy at all for me to go back and look at the faces and images, to wonder what of them is in me and in my children, and what might have been…

Visit Adi Polani website: www.adippolani.folyou.com