Hana Hertsman's Blog

Posts tagged “HOLON

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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

Female Executives in Local Authorities

Posted on November 12, 2015

There seems to be a prevalent lack of accurate data and information regarding the actual numbers of female executives in local authorities, probably due to the fact that no regulation exists that requires the publication of such data.

Thus, we have neither a basis for comparison nor an index for improvement.

Nevertheless, based on the unofficial data we have collected, although the rate of women holding positions in local authorities is relatively high, the rate of female executives is rather low.

Data received from the Knesset Research and Information Center in 2011 suggest that in 55 local authorities, the rate of female executives stands at 0% (!), in 8 local authorities the rate stands at 1-9%, and in 48 local authorities the rate stands at 10-19%.

A 2014 study conducted by Adalya Consulting & Management and Dr. Itay Beeri presented the rate of women holding a series of senior positions: the rate of women serving as mayors stands at 3%; the rate of women serving as CEOs stands at 10%; the rate of women serving as municipal engineers stands at 13%; the rate of women serving as legal advisors stands at 24%; the rate of women serving as treasurers stands at around 11%. In the Education Department, the rate of female executives stands at 36% – which stands to reason, since education is perceived to be a more ‘feminine’ field.

In Holon Municipality we get a completely different picture: the rate of female employees stands at 70%, and the rate of female executives is just over 52%, making the majority of executives within Holon Municipality.

The researchers who conducted the afore-mentioned study were seeking to identify the factors that contribute to the exclusion of women from senior positions and from local government decision making processes, and to provide recommendations as to how this situation can be turned around.

Among their recommendations: advertising current data on the rate of female executives in order to raise awareness and turn the situation around, raising salaries of female executives who reside in peripheral areas so as to advance women of lower socio-economic status, implementing a policy of reserved slots while overcoming cultural prejudices, providing incentives to local authorities whose annual reports show a high rate of female executives, integrating women in tender committees, and assigning a dedicated consultant for the advancement of women within each local authority.

Without a doubt, women are just as capable of holding senior positions as men are, and we should find ways to fulfill the great potential that lies among our female employees, while motivating them to pursue successful careers and providing them with all the necessary managerial tools and leadership skills, for the benefit of all parties.

Organizational as well as personal incentives can make a change and allow women to pursue their dreams. As nature has it, all changes begin with one single seed, which sets the stage for all others to come. Once the model puts down its roots, women all over Israel will know that no goal is beyond their reach.

Social Responsibility: It is our responsibility! Thoughts on winning the Ministry of Interior Prize for Social Responsibility

Posted on July 30, 2015

prizeSocial responsibility is based on the moral principle whereby organizations and bodies, even if they were established for profit, have an obligation to improve the society and environment in which they operate. In recent years, we have encountered this concept in the context of commercial companies, which take it upon themselves, in addition to their business activities, to devote part of their efforts to contributing both to society and the environment.

In the case of public bodies, it might be thought that there is no reason to talk about social responsibility, since their very existence and activity derive from the strength of their social responsibility and commitment.

Those of us who work for the benefit of the public in the framework of public service see importance and value in the intent and awareness of our social responsibility, even though, apparently, it is taken for granted as the reason for our existence.

The local authorities are at the forefront of public service and maintain direct and daily contact with their customers in a variety of fields. The quality of this connection, its nature, the variety of fields that it includes, its sensitivity to unique populations and needs, and more, affects the daily lives of millions of residents – men, women and children.

Such, for example, is the service charter, which we implemented 17 years ago in Holon, and which, at the time, was considered innovative. Via this charter, all residents can learn which services they are entitled to receive, at which level of service, and within which time frame. This information is transparent, is published on the municipal website, and is regularly checked by me, with the goal always being: where can we do better, and what should and can be improved? This is also the reason why we have published a booklet, in printed and digital versions, entitled, “There is someone here to serve you,” and why we update the booklet every few years, and republish it. In addition, we publish on the municipal website information about all the Municipality’s spheres of activity and the names of its office holders, and we are opening additional channels of communication with the public, such as on the social network. All these activities, which seem trivial today, were not taken for granted in the past, and, to our regret, even today they are not carried out by every public authority in Israel. The goal is, of course, to make it easier for those in need of the Municipality’s services to receive them, and to improve the technological means, so that, when reporting a problem, they will learn when it is expected to be handled, in accordance with the service charter.

However, we as a Municipality are not satisfied with this, because, for us, the residents are not merely our customers; we regard the residents of Holon as our partners. This is the reason why, since I first assumed the position of Director General, we have been conducting a series of processes for including the public in the work of the Municipality, starting from formulation of the initial vision, during which the public expressed its opinion on a variety of issues, such as: a new outline plan that we were working on, renewing and refreshing the municipal vision, promotion of young people, and a master plan for children and adolescents. Out of a sense of social responsibility, we have attempted to reach as wide a public as possible; all residents are invited to enter a special Internet site that we have set up, and to participate, and to present themselves and their ideas. We also carried out activity to reach special population sectors, such as, parents of children with special needs, as well as the children themselves, on whom we focus our efforts. The feelings, thoughts and suggestions of the participants are taken into account, and have an impact on municipal policy.

The special population sectors are close to our hearts, and we regard as a national mission the need to create awareness of those who are different, through understanding their world and their needs. Our Children’s Museum presents the world of the blind, the deaf and the elderly, by means of a series of activities and empirical presentations, and for this purpose it employs people who are members of these sectors. Blind guides lead the ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ track, deaf guides lead the ‘Invitation to Silence’ track, and elderly people are the wonderful guides at ‘Dialogue with Time.’

Within the municipal framework, we also employ people with special needs, who aren’t accepted by most places of employment, in order to give them a work experience like everyone else’s.

The subject of volunteering keeps me very busy, and it is clear to me that the Municipality’s job is to encourage and guide people in general, and teenagers and children in particular, to take part in volunteer missions in the community – such as: making a connection with isolated people, undertaking maintenance work and gardening at elderly people’s homes, providing assistance through “Shil” (Advisory Services for Residents) for people who have difficulty dealing with bureaucracy, activity by municipal employees as part of ‘Good Deeds Day,’ and more.

As stated, as part of our social responsibility, we are continuously seeking ways to improve our services and to improve ourselves, to streamline processes, and to check which issues can be changed in order to provide optimal internal and external services.

The Ministry of the Interior acted wisely, when it decided to award a prize to the local authorities, in appreciation of the social responsibility that these bodies exhibit throughout their ongoing activities.

I am proud that we have earned such appreciation for a series of activities and processes conducted by the Municipality, among them: Advanced implementation of the Accessibility Law throughout the city, holding cultural events for all residents, promotion of residents’ security and preparation for times of emergency, inclusion of the public in municipal affairs, encouragement of volunteerism, and more.

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.

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.