Incoming mayor, Moshe Lion (left), meets his predecessor, Nir Barkat (right)
Incoming mayor, Moshe Lion (left), meets his predecessor, Nir Barkat (right) Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Moshe Lion was sworn in as Jerusalem’s newest mayor Tuesday morning, at an inauguration at city hall at Safra Square.

During the ceremony, Lion met with his predecessor, the outgoing Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat.

“My journey here is generations-long,” said Lion during his inauguration speech.

“It really begins 83 years ago in 1935, when my grandfather, Moshe, disembarked at Jaffa Port from a ship which had brought him there from Thessaloniki. He had in his arms a one-and-a-half-year-old son, my father, Shalom Lion. The first thing he did was make his way quickly to Jerusalem.

“Events during my grandfather’s life later brought him – and us – for parts of his life to Tel Aviv and Givatayim. But the journey to Jerusalem never ceased, and was always a part of our home in prayer, in song, in our hearts, and in every moment of joy and sorrow.

“Dear father, look – the journey is over. Our feet are standing in the gate of Jerusalem.”

Lion, 57, became the 10th mayor of Israel’s capital since the establishment of the state in 1948, and the city’s first mayor of Sephardic descent, along with the capital’s first mayor from the National-Religious sector.

A former accountant who later joined the Likud party, Lion ran for mayor at the helm of the ‘Yerushalayim Shelanu’ (Our Jerusalem) list, narrowly defeating Hitorerut Yerushalayim (Wakeup, Jerusalem!) party chief Ofer Berkovitch in a run-off vote last month.

Lion won the second round of voting by a three-point margin, 51.5% to 48.5%. Lion won 33% of the vote in the first round in October, giving him a four-point margin over Berkovitch’s 29%. As neither candidate received the required 40% minimum to avoid a run-off, the two faced off in a second round of voting in November.

Former Mayor Nir Barkat defeated Lion in 2013, winning a second five-year term in city hall.