Jerusalem’s Jaffe family is well-known for its connections with the Great Synagogue. It is also known as a musical family as well as a family that is deeply committed to United Hatzalah, which provides prompt medical services for the sick and injured. That would explain the presence of a fleet of Hatzalah ambucycles in the plaza of the Great Synagogue last week as members of the Jaffes’ extended family of United Hatzalah volunteers came to celebrate the end of bachelorhood for Arie Jaffe and to provide a motorcycle escort for him and his bride, Michal Greenberg, from the synagogue to Teddy Hall where the wedding feast was held.

Arie Jaffe, a United Hatzalah paramedic, is so dedicated to saving lives and alleviating pain that on the Saturday prior to his wedding when just after he was called to the Torah he was alerted to an emergency situation in the street outside the synagogue, he rushed outside without hesitation. An elderly man had been hit by a car and was seriously injured. Jaffe’s brothers and cousins, who are all medics, brought lifesaving equipment from the synagogue and did what they could to assist the man until the arrival of a Magen David Adom mobile intensive care unit. So it was small wonder that there was a large United Hatzalah representation at the wedding, from founder and president Eli Beer and chairman Zev Kashash to younger paramedics in their late teens and 20s. The groom’s father, Elli Jaffe, is an acclaimed international conductor in addition to his work as choir master at the Great Synagogue, so it was par for the course that this particular wedding would be exceptionally musical – and indeed it was.

The choir was in excellent form, as were cantors Moshe Stern and Yaakov Motzen and singers Avremi Roth and Yonatan Razel, who individually serenaded the bridal couple. The happiness of the bride and groom was reflected in the way they smiled at each other throughout the ceremony, which was much more extensive than is generally the case.

This was almost like a royal wedding, with grandparents of the bridal couple being escorted down the aisle to the accompaniment of a group of musicians. Accompanied by her own mother and the mother of the groom, who each carried twinkling candles, the bride was led to the dais in the center of the synagogue, where she sat on a sofa as she awaited the groom, who had been led to the bridal canopy by the two fathers. The groom then donned a white kittel (ceremonial robe) with a little help from his mother, Jacqueline Jaffe, who by that time had moved to join those members of the wedding party who were standing beneath and around the canopy in front of the ark. The groom was led by the two fathers to veiled the bride’s face and was led back to the bridal canopy by his parents, after which the bride was led to the canopy by her parents, Aryeh and Orit Greenberg of Givat Shmuel. The mother of the bride looked so youthful that many people mistook her for one of the matrons of honor, especially because her stunning black gown fitted in with the purple-and-white color scheme of the matrons of honor and flower girls.

The ceremony was conducted by Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who knows both families well and was able to speak about them with familiarity. He noted that the groom’s late grandfather, Major Maurice Jaffe, who had initiated and supervised the construction of the Great Synagogue, would have been very proud to see his grandson married there. He said he was delighted to see the groom’s grandmother, Ella Jaffe, who has remained an influential force at the synagogue.

All of the groom’s uncles and brothers, each sporting a lilac tie, participated in the official ceremony. Toward the end of the ceremony, as the groom was about to break the glass in memory of the destruction of the Temple, the whole congregation sang, “If I should forget thee O Jerusalem.” At the conclusion of the ceremony the ark was opened and the bride and groom turned toward the Torah scrolls in a moment of private contemplation, after which they were ushered out by a group of singing and dancing relatives and friends, made up mostly of members of United Hatzalah. Guests included many religious figures, such as Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar; United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler, who is also an emissary and spokesman for the Belzer Rebbe; Science and Technology Minister Prof. Rabbi Daniel Hershkowitz; former justice minister Moshe Nissim and his wife Ruth; director-general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center Prof. Jonathan Halevy; former cabinet secretary Aryeh Naor and his wife, Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor; Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra director-general and former prime ministerial advisor Yair Stern; and retired diplomat and bestselling author Yehuda Avner and his wife Mimi, who will soon be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Later, at the elegant wedding feast, wandering violinists walked around the tables playing to the guests.

■ THEIR FAMILIES knew each other in Zimbabwe when it was still Rhodesia. Jerusalemite Audrey Alhadeff Shimron, executive director of Hadassah’s Offices in Israel, and Sol Chadowitz, a New Jersey-based Judaica artist, met at the dedication of the ner tamid (“eternal light”) that Chadowitz created and donated to the Moshe Saba Masri Synagogue in Hadassah’s new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower. Chadowitz expressed his delight not only at the reunion, but also for where the permanent home of one of his creations would be. “I am grateful that I could accept this commission and that my work would be here in Jerusalem,” he said. The eternal light, in copper and three colors of blown glass, resembles an oil lamp and flame.

■ FOR AUSTRALIANS and New Zealanders, the most significant day in the calendar is Anzac Day, commemorated in Australia on April 25. Anzac Day ceremonies were initially held in memory of members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fell in the Gallipoli Campaign during the World War I, but later included Anzacs who paid the supreme sacrifice in any battle. The date was chosen in respect to the huge number of casualties suffered during the pre-dawn-landing by the Anzacs in Gallipoli on April 25, 1915. Altogether 8,709 Australians and and 2,721 New Zealanders died in the Gallipoli campaign.

Gallipoli has become an annual place of pilgrimage for Australians and New Zealanders, especially those descended from the original Anzacs who fought there, but also for Australian and New Zealand political leaders. Yet according to Barry Rodgers, one of the directors of the Australian Light Horse Association (ALHA), “there’s more Anzac history in Israel than there is in Turkey.” In fact, Rodgers intends to make sure that Israel receives a permanent place on the map of ALHA delegations traveling to areas in which Anzacs have been involved in conflict.

He made the declaration on Sunday at the dedication of a monument that is temporarily housed on the lawns of Kinneret College, where a tribute ceremony was held this week in memory of the 14 soldiers killed in the battle for the Semakh Train Station adjacent to the college, which is located on the banks of the Sea of Galilee.

It was quite a sight to see 15 of the grandchildren of the Australian forces who fought there 94 years ago come riding on horseback across the lawn, dressed in WWI army uniforms.

The battle was one of the last cavalry charges in Western warfare and is a fascinating story that captures the nostalgia of another era, said Dr. Giora Goodman, a historian and professor of the Department of Land of Israel Studies at Kinneret College. Other speakers included college president Prof.

Shlomo Gepstein; Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser; head of the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites Omri Shalmon; chairman of the Society for the Preservation of the History of World War I Avi Navon; and Australian Ambassador Andrea Faulkner, who said that she was impressed by the care shown by Kinneret College and various societies to this aspect of history, which is such a significant sign of friendship between Australia and Israel.

Most of the speakers spoke about the importance of the battle in liberating the north of the country from Ottoman rule and the role of the victory in shaping the future of the world. Kinneret College, the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites, the Jordan Valley Regional Council, the Rashi Foundation, the Prime Minister’s Office and Israel Railways have joined forces to restore the historic train station at Semakh and to maintain the history of the heroism that took place on the site by transferring Kinneret College’s Center for Land of Israel Studies to the restored building. For Edward and James, the grandson and great-grandson of Howard Hedley Taylor of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, who was killed in action on September 25, 1918, this was a great moment of closure. Grandson Edward has been researching Australia’s role in the Palestine Campaign for years and was finally able to stand in the very place where his grandfather died a heroic death.

The event was a mix of sadness and joy. The sad part was when Rodgers asked people to remember the horrors of the battle and the fear of the horses against the sound of bullets and artillery. But the joy was the rousing rendition of “Waltzing Matilda” led by folk singer/guitarist Kent Paisley, who lives on nearby Kibbutz Hamadiya in the Beit She’an Valley with his Israeli wife Ilanit and their two children, Eitan and Sinai. Paisley’s grandfather served in the 10th Light Horse Regiment in the Sinai Desert.

Standing out in the crowd among the 40 or so visiting Australians was Elizabeth Dillon Hensley, dressed in the red-caped uniform that was worn by nurses during the WWI.

Her grandmother, Elsie May Marsh, had been a nurse in the region and her grandfather, Dr. Horace Downing had tended to wounded soldiers. Her grandparents met in Dartmouth, Kent where both had been sent to look after wounded soldiers during their rehabilitation, and later went back to Australia to get married. Many Australians living in Israel or on a special course, such as a group of students from Melbourne’s Mount Scopus College, were also present, as was another visiting Melbournian, Richmond Football Club CEO Brendon Gale, who was on his first visit to Israel but promised it wouldn’t be his last. Several of the ALHA people also pledged to return.

■ UNLIKE THE situation in the employment sector, there is no cut-off age for people who want to run for the Knesset. It’s not certain whether former MK and former Israel Ambassador to the United States Zalman Shoval is the oldest person with a finger in the political pie in the current Knesset election contest, but perhaps if he gets in, Shoval, who according to Calcalist, the economic tabloid published by Yediot Aharonot, is running on a Likud ticket, may propose legislation that enables all capable people regardless of age to remain on the job for as long as they are able to do it properly, without being forced to go out on pension.

Shoval is 82 and is a successful banker and a partner in an upscale real estate development company. While it’s doubtful that President Shimon Peres will yield to pressures to return to the political arena as head of a left-leaning coalition, the fact that people are looking to the 89-year-old for leadership is yet another proof that clichés, while holding a grain of truth, do not represent the whole truth. In other words, the world does not belong exclusively to the young.

■ IN OTHER quasi-political news, the fact that he’s ranked high on the Yisrael Beytenu Knesset list did not interfere with Yair Shamir’s other business at hand. Shamir, 67, who is the son of late prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, who died this year, is the chairman and managing partner of Catalyst Investments, which, together with Cukierman Investment House Ltd., runs the prestigious annual Go4Europe Conference. The 10th such conference opened this week at the Tel Aviv Hilton. The aim of the conference was to address current fundraising issues and to establish strategic alliances in Europe with a major focus on the hi-tech, biotech and green-tech industries.

The conference hosted key decision-makers, business representatives and parliamentarians from Israel, Europe and Russia. The long list of senior speakers included: Israel’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence Dan Meridor; OTTO Group general manager Luc Muller; Agricapital Corporation chairman Rurik Halaby; Skolkovo Foundation Chief Investment Officer Alexandre Lupachev; Rainbow Medical chairman Yossi Gross; Linde Healthcare head of innovation and development Bob Lieberman; former Edmund de Rothschild Group CEO, director of Cukierman & Co. and vice president of the World Jewish Congress Roger Cukierman; Novartis Venture Funds managing director Dr. Florent Gros; and technology guru Yossi Vardi. In the course of conference, Michael Federmann, who heads the boards of Elbit and the Dan Hotel Chain, was given a Life Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution to Israeli industry and the strengthening of relations between Israel and Europe.

The presentation was made by Shamir, who said that he and Federmann had known each other for some 25 years, since the time when Shamir retired from the IDF and went on to head Scitex, from where he proceeded on to the Elite chocolate company.

Soon after, Shamir had received an angry phone call from Federmann’s father, the late Yekutiel Federmann, who had yelled at him: “What do you think you’re doing? Don’t you know that Israel’s future lies in technology?” Shamir had been somewhat embarrassed, but he knew that the senior Federmann was right, and after two years returned to his natural technological habitat as the chairman of Israel Aerospace Industries.

■ THE EUROPEAN Union has an important peacemaking role in the Middle East, not just for the sake of Israel but for all the peoples of the region, President Shimon Peres told High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union Baroness Catherine Ashton when the two met at his official residence last week.

Ashton, who was an hour late, came to the meeting directly from an earlier meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who had kept her waiting. When Ashton arrived, Peres congratulated her on the European Union joining the list of Nobel Peace Prize laureates and said that contrary to some opinions, he firmly believes that the EU was deserving of the award. Everyone was criticizing Europe for the economic crisis, he said, but for the first time in 1,000 years, there is no war in Europe. It is better to have no war and a budgetary crisis than the other way around; “People don’t understand the value of peace,” he said. He also commended the EU for trying to prevent war in the Middle East and noted that there is a lot of bloodshed in the region. The fact the Europe, the United States and the United Nations took sanctions against Iran is much better than bloodshed, he said. By continuing in this vein, the EU will not only avoid bloodshed in the Middle East, he added, but will save Iran from itself.

He was confident that the sanctions are beginning to have effect and that Iran is becoming convinced that it must bow to international pressure. “If we can bring Iran to peace and responsibility, let’s do it economically without belligerence,” he said. What the EU and the US have done against great odds, declared Peres, “is a concert for peace.” Acknowledging that Europe has a long history of fighting but a short history of cooperation and collaboration, Ashton said that coming together to solve problems was a far better option. The EU which is currently made up of 27 member countries will soon have once more, which is very significant, she said, by way of proving that cooperation is contagious.

She was hopeful that the EU would find a way to overcome the tragedies and challenges confronting the world because “bloodshed is the worst alternative.”

■ VETERAN JOURNALIST Izhak Hildesheimer, who currently works for Makor Rishon, who was among the journalists who went to Ethiopia to write about the last of the Ethiopian Jews who will be brought to Israel, accompanied the planeload of Falash Mura who arrived in Israel from Ethiopia this week. For Hildesheimer it was more than just a journalistic assignment. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

His great-great grandfather, Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer of Eisenstadt, Germany, who was a noted halachic authority, in 1864 accepted the Ethiopian Jewish community as true Jews and called for them to be recognized as such. By 1908, his ruling had been endorsed by chief rabbis of 45 countries.

Hildesheimer was of course not the first leading rabbi to issue such a ruling. Records show that Egypt’s Chief Rabbi, David ben Solomon ibn Avi Zimra (Radbaz), recognized the Ethiopian Jewish community some 500 years ago.

■ IT IS amazing what people will do to raise money for a good cause. Many take part in marathon races in which they are sponsored for distance ridden, run or swam. Others may do more dangerous things, such as climbing high mountains. A case in point is Dr. Godwin Godfrey, a surgeon from Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza, Tanzania, who spent four-and-ahalf years training in pediatric cardiac surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center (WMC) through Save a Child’s Heart. His training was funded by the Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Foundation.

Godfrey decided to join the Climb your Heart Out group on Mount Kilamanjaro in an attempt to reach SACH’s fundraising goal of a million dollars. The climb, organized by the Friends of Save a Child’s Heart in Melbourne, Australia, also included Americans, Brits, Israelis and Tanzanians. Although the climb was tough and the weather vicious, all the participants responded to the challenge and reached the summit, albeit without quite completing the million dollar goal. The sum raised so far is $904,000.

■ BRITISH AMBASSADOR Matthew Gould and wife Celia scored a hat trick in that this week they launched the third Holocaust survivors’ club in Bnei Brak. The Café Britannia club for the ultra-Orthodox community actually opened its doors in May 2012 for a running in period and is now fully functional with a variety of activities. Some 100 Holocaust survivors attend the club. Programs focus on health issues, exercise classes, lectures on healthy ways of living and other activities, as well as enrichment programs and lectures related to the life style of the haredi community.

At the opening ceremony Gould said, “We believe very firmly that you deserve respect. And you deserve to be happy. And you deserve our thanks because after everything you’ve been through, you came here and built this country. Therefore Café Britannia is our way to say thank you. It’s our way, the way of the Jewish community in the UK, to say thank you. This is why we are setting up these clubs throughout Israel.”

Four more clubs will be established by the end of 2014. This will be done with the assistance of Israel’s Ministry for Welfare Services and the Foundation for the Benefit of the Holocaust Victims in Israel.

One of the community’s primary issues is loneliness, and the clubs’ objective is to help the community to cope with this problem..

■ CONVENTIONAL WISDOM says that in Israel, everything is politics. But it’s amazing how many politicians who are standing for Knesset election take time out for sport. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert is known for being an avid sports fan who can reel off local and international statistics with computer-like speed and accuracy.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is also a sports fan, and on Tuesday when interviewed in the early morning by Israel Radio’s Yaakov Ahimeir, who wanted to know about the essence of the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu agreement, Liberman, before turning to the subject at hand, congratulated Beitar Jerusalem on its dramatic victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv which had been witnessed the previous evening by some 18,000 spectators, and commented that he hoped that this was indicative that Beitar is returning to its former glory.

greerfc@gmail.com

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