Danish Crown Prince Frederik, who was in Israel this week for the 70th
anniversary commemoration of the rescue of Danish Jews during the Holocaust, may
have paved the way for other Scandinavian royals to also pay a visit to the Holy
When meeting with President Shimon Peres, the prince – who is not
only the first Danish royal, but the first Scandinavian royal to come to Israel
– brought greetings from his mother, Queen Margrethe II, and his father, Prince
Commenting that nowadays parents are inclined to follow their
children, Peres said he hoped Her Majesty would follow the prince’s example and
also come to Israel.
Earlier in the day, Crown Prince Frederik attended a
memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem and toured the Holocaust History Museum. He said
it was “fantastic to be in Israel,” and to witness the positive story of World
War II and the rescue of Danish Jews on small boats that took them to Sweden’s
shores, which was something he would remember his entire life. “It was a
courageous act of Danish citizens from all walks of life, who did not hesitate
to act when it was necessary,” he said.
In addition to the president’s
staff, the prince was warmly greeted in Danish by fellow countryman and former
minister Rabbi Michael Melchior, who is descended from seven generations of
Danish rabbis and whose son is in Denmark working as a rabbi. Though living in
Jerusalem, Melchior himself continues to serve as chief rabbi of
Peres started to tell the prince about the Melchior family’s
history, and the prince, though he had never met Melchior before, was familiar
with his father, Rabbi Bent Melchior, the former chief rabbi of Denmark, who was
one of the keynote speakers at the 70th anniversary commemorations in
The prince later attended a special 70th anniversary
commemorative concert at the Jerusalem Theater.
■ DUPLICATION OF effort
is often the result of need or even geography, or simply because the cause
speaks to people’s hearts. That may explain why there are so many organizations
in Israel dedicated to bringing joy to the lives of children with cancer and
other life-threatening illnesses.
One such organization is Lehoshit Yad
(literally to stretch out a hand), which this week brought a small group of
children to meet with Peres at the President’s Residence. The six children, all
cancer patients, were Simi, five; Omer, eight; Gal, 11; Liran and Shaul, both
13; and Tal, 18.
All six had expressed a strong desire to meet the
president, and Peres, who has a particularly soft spot for and a wonderful
rapport with children and young people in general, readily agreed to receive
With hugs, kisses and words of encouragement, Peres chatted with
the youngsters about their respective conditions and dreams, saying that each of
them was the best physician for his or herself.
“Tell yourselves that you
are going to recover, don’t give in and don’t become dispirited, even when
things are really tough.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Simi, a
leukemia patient, told Peres she was nearing the end of her treatment and was
looking forward to not having any more therapy. She wished the president good
health and long life. Peres’s eight-yearold namesake, Shimon, also wished him
well, telling him he hoped that whatever age Peres may reach, he will never need
to be hospitalized.
Like similar organizations throughout the country,
Lehoshit Yad cares for hundreds of sick children and their families, working
primarily in cooperation with the oncology department at Sheba Medical Center in
Tel Hashomer, providing moral support, celebrating birthdays and searching for
suitable bone marrow donors.
■ THE COMMEMORATIVE series of concerts and
special synagogue services celebrating the life of Shlomo Carlebach, who was
known as the Singing Rabbi, are not yet over – even though the anniversary of
his passing was nearly two weeks ago.
This coming Saturday evening,
November 2, the most recent and arguably most comprehensive book on Carlebach’s
life, mission and legacy will be officially launched at the Israel Center in
Jerusalem. Written by Natan Ophirwith a foreword by Neshama Carlebach, the
singing rabbi’s daughter who has followed in his footsteps, the 503- page book
delves into Carlebach’s life and career though the prism of the historical and
cultural developments of his era.
It includes the Holocaust, the Six Day
War, the hippie phenomenon, the neo-hassidic renaissance and the need of many
Jews to have a non-judgmental spiritual mentor who would embrace them, but
demand nothing in return by way of commitment.
indefinable charisma won hearts and souls not only throughout the Jewish world,
but way beyond. He treated all human beings as creations of the Supreme Creator
– and therefore equals.
Ophir, a native of Philadelphia, first met
Carlebach in 1969 when his family moved to Manhattan, two blocks away from the
Carlebach Synagogue. After graduating from Yeshiva University, Ophir moved to
Israel and began studying at Mercaz Harav Kook, where he received rabbinical
He subsequently completed his MA and PhD in Jewish philosophy
at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he served as campus rabbi from
Currently, he directs the Jewish Meditation Institute
Jerusalem, and teaches at the Jerusalem College of Technology and Ono Academic
Review copies of the book that were sent to academics in the
United States received critical acclaim.
■ ALBEIT ONE of several
Polishborn prime ministers of Israel, Menachem Begin is revered in Poland more
than any of the others – so much so that visitors to the Polish capital are
often shown the Warsaw University residence hall that was built in 1925 to house
Jewish students; it was there Begin lived during the period he studied law. (Yet
when perusing the university’s list on its website of alumni who were awarded
Nobel Prizes, it appears Begin was not the only Jewish graduate to become a
laureate.) In keeping with this trend, this week, the city of Brest where Begin
was born released a centennial stamp in his memory.
When late president
Lech Kaczynski visited Israel, he gave an inspiring lecture at Jerusalem’s Begin
Heritage Center about Jews who fought in the Polish army. In 2010, when he was
killed in an airplane crash, the Polish Embassy, including thenambassador
Agnieszka Magdziak- Miszewska, relocated temporarily to the Begin Center to
receive condolence notices. The center was also chosen by Magdziak-Miszewska for
her farewell on completion of her tenure in Israel.
Next week, current
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, during his visit to Israel, will also
spend time at the center, at an exhibition that includes photographs of Anders’
Army and of the Polish Jewish orphans who passed through Tehran on their way to
the Land of Israel in 1943.
Begin was a soldier in Anders’ Army, which
was the Polish army in exile during the Holocaust.
figure who was in Anders’ Army was Canadian mega-architect, real estate
developer and philanthropist David Azrieli.
One of the great non-Jewish
Poles whose memory will be honored during Komorowski’s visit will be Jan Karski,
whose heroic deeds on behalf of Jews caught in the web of Nazi atrocities earned
him not only the title of Righteous Among the Nations, but also honorary Israeli
Komorowski will attend the opening of the exhibition “Jan
Karski – Humanity’s Hero,” at the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv next week.
ON THE same date as the opening of the exhibition, an international
multidisciplinary conference on “Jan Karski – Witness, Emissary, Man” will open
at the Synagogue Center in Zamosc, Poland, under the joint auspices of the
Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, the Polish-Jewish
Literature Studies Center at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, and
the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland.
Karski, an emissary
of the Polish Secret State, was the first to inform the Western world of the
tragedy of European Jews, after having personally entered the Warsaw Ghetto and
witnessed the deportation of Jews to the death camps. The conference, which is
under Komorowski’s patronage, will be transmitted live online with
■ ON A somewhat lighter note, Polish
Culinary Week, which starts this Saturday and will actually continue for more
than a week, is designed to bring Israel’s culinary heritage back to the Jewish
state in general and Tel Aviv in particular.
It should not be forgotten
that in the immediate aftermath of World War II, Polish Jews were the dominant
demographic factor in Tel Aviv, bringing with them not only the numbers on their
arms, but also their prewar culture – including the cuisine that was traditional
to Eastern Europe, and had to be adapted to the austerity conditions of the
Over the years, East European cuisine has begun to take a
backseat in the melting pot of the Israeli kitchen – which exasperates Polish
Ambassador Jacek Chodorowicz. He cannot understand why Polish cuisine,
especially its deli, flourishes in Brooklyn and Manhattan, yet has all but
disappeared in Israel, where Mediterranean and Asian cuisine have taken over. As
far as Chodorowicz is concerned, it’s comeback time – allowing Israelis of
Polish background to reclaim their culinary legacy, and those of other
backgrounds to discover what Polish cuisine is all about.
■ WHILE ON the
subject of Poland, the English-speaking Nechama group of Hadassah will on
Wednesday, November 13, host a fund-raiser for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. They will screen
an inspiring film, Orchestra of Exile, which tells the story of the founding of
the Israel Philharmonic by internationally acclaimed Polish violinist Bronislaw
Huberman, who rescued some of the world’s great musicians from Nazi tyranny and
brought them to Tel Aviv – a four-year odyssey.
Huberman was born in
Czestochowa, Poland, arguably the most Catholic city in the world after Rome.
Just over a year ago, the Czestochowa Municipality decided to honor the city’s
native son in perpetuity, by renaming its philharmonic the Bronislaw Huberman
Philharmonic Orchestra, and also gracing the philharmonic hall with his name.
The latter could not be more appropriate, given that the hall, at the outbreak
of World War II, was the grandest synagogue in Czestochowa.
which features Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Zubin Mehta and Pinchas Zuckerman,
will be introduced by Prof.
Veronika Cohen, former chairwoman of the
Department of Music Education and dean of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and
Dance, who will also lead a discussion after the screening. The venue is Kehilat
Moreshet Avraham, 22 Adam Street, Jerusalem.
■ IT’S FAIRLY common
knowledge that many of the negative perceptions of Israel are based either on
ignorance or misinformation.
Israelis talking to relatives, friends and
business associates from abroad are often appalled at how little they know about
this part of the world, considering the frequency with which Israel appears in
international news reports.
It’s another version of that old story of
leading a horse to water, but not being able to make it drink. There’s no
guarantee that people are reading, watching or listening to media
But when organizations and institutions these people belong to
have meetings with Israeli experts in different fields, they may attend such
meetings, perhaps not so much out of a sense of curiosity as a herd
But whatever the reason, the Israelis have a platform – and
not just among Jewish audiences.
Such platforms have been made available
in Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago, for a multidisciplinary delegation of Israelis
led by Prof. Eytan Gilboa, who heads Bar-Ilan University’s School of
Communication. Members of the group include MK Aliza Lavie, who chairs the
Knesset Committee on the Status of Women; Prof.
Sam Lehman-Wilzig, deputy
director of the School of Communication and an expert on political communication
and new media; Hillel Schuster, principal head of corporate finance at KPMG in
Israel and an adjunct lecturer in business administration at Bar-Ilan
University; and Sharon Evans, director for international project development at
the School of Communication.
Speaking under the rubric of Israel Up-Close
2014, they will be talking to lawyers, businesspeople, church groups, high
school students and other audiences about different Middle East issues, with the
aim of presenting a more comprehensive and objective picture of the region, and
its challenges and achievements, then generally presented in the mass
■ ASHKENAZI CHIEF Rabbi David Lau, who is also president of the
Rabbinical Council of the Chief Rabbinate, is in an unenviable position. One of
the 14 council members is his father, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, and another is his
father-in-law, Rabbi Yitzhak Ralbag.
If the chief rabbi finds himself in
disagreement with either his father or his father-in-law, he will be
hard-pressed to voice his opinion during a council meeting, because it will
immediately be blown out of proportion in juicy media items about pending family
feuds. Aside from that, in haredi society, sons usually demonstrate the greatest
deference towards their fathers.
■ ALTHOUGH SHE is being given the red
carpet treatment by the Tourism Ministry, singer, dancer, choreographer, actress
and television personality Paula Abdul has no qualms about spending her own
money. Wandering through Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall, Abdul, who is on her first
visit to Israel, fell in love with an expensive gold-plated hanukkia she saw in
one of the jewelry and Judaica stores. There was no bargaining on her
She paid the price that was asked without haggling, and now has her
own little piece of Jerusalem of Gold to take back to