Grapevine: Remembering the destruction of the Temple

The friction between extremists in the haredi community and their less-observant neighbors has been simmering for years.

By
December 27, 2011 22:51
NAVA BARAK and Shalom Zinger

NAVA BARAK and Shalom Zinger. (photo credit: Avigail Kuperman)

■ ENTERTAINERS ARE always warned that if they don’t want to be upstaged, they should not include children or dogs in their shows. The same applies to almost anything.

The friction between extremists in the haredi community and their less-observant neighbors has been simmering for years. Attacks against women by haredi radicals have always been headline news that flared up and died down almost as quickly. But an attack on an eight-year-old girl named Na’ama Margolis has fueled the ire of large segments of the population, including non-extreme haredim. The upshot is that unity, which is so important to our survival as a nation and a people, is giving way to ever greater divisiveness. While several rabbis from the ultra-Orthodox camp have condemned the violence, some of the more important leaders of haredi sects have encouraged the renegades to continue their battle, apparently forgetting the reason for the destruction of the Temple - baseless hatred. Perhaps this lapse of memory is due to the fact that the riots took place on Hanukka and not on Tisha Be’av.

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■ AS PART of the Hanukka celebration more than 80 volunteers from ZAKA emergency search and rescue organization’s jeep unit together with the Home Front Command’s rescue unit and Mishan Lamarpe, which supports disabled children, gave disabled children a treat, taking them out on a special fun day aboard ZAKA’s ATVs, which are normally used in search and rescue missions. The children enjoyed a two-hour trek into Maccabee country in the area of Modi’in, followed by a festive dinner in the countryside and a sing-along with Haim Israeli. Following the dinner and in keeping with tradition, the volunteers and children lit the Hanukka menorah together.

“For the second year in a row, we at ZAKA are delighted to bring light and laughter into the lives of these special children, who wait for these activities with great anticipation,” said ZAKA founder Yehuda Meshi Zahav. “This community outreach gives us strength for the entire year.”

Currently Israel’s dominant non-governmental lifesaving, rescue and recovery organization, with over 1,500 volunteers deployed around the country, ZAKA is on call 24/7. Volunteers are ready to instantly respond to any terror attack, disaster or accident with professional calm and know-how and with the necessary equipment. With specialist units spread throughout the country, ZAKA volunteers are prepared for any emergency and can reach people needing help in the shortest possible time. Recognized by the United Nations as an international rescue unit, ZAKA has assisted at natural disasters, plane crashes and terror attacks in different parts of the world.

■ IT MAY not be commonly known that among European Jews of the 19th and pre- Holocaust twentieth century there were great composers of classical works and of operas. Much of this beautiful music was lost or deliberately destroyed, snuffed out together with the lives of those who created it.

But there were Holocaust survivors who retained the melodies in their minds and passed them on to their children and grandchildren. Now Israel Radio, in a unique joint project with the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, hopes to revive these lost melodies, some of which were found by composer Prof. Michael Wolpe, a teacher at the academy, when he undertook a project at Thereisienstadt.

Some of this lost music was played at a special concert on Tuesday, December 27 at the YMCA auditorium in Jerusalem and was broadcast on the Voice of Music program.

But it is not only the Voice of Music that represents the Israel Radio side of the partnership. Reshet Bet is also involved. Yaron Enosh, in his daily afternoon program in which listeners search for lost relatives and friends, introduced the project and will devote time to the stories of some of these compositions and their composers. Early this week, he interviewed Wolpe on the subject.

In addition, on Tuesday, Yitzhak Noy, who presents international news features, anchored a program called “Fiddler on the Reichstadt Roof” in which he focused on Jewish composers in Germany during the Holocaust years. Israel Radio director Michael Miro said that it was a privilege for state radio to be associated with a venture of this kind which will impact on future generations. Prof. Ilan Schul, the president of the Jerusalem Academy of Music, said that the project in partnership with Israel Radio was the first of its kind in the world of music, and one which he personally found exciting. He was confident that the joint effort would produce many wonderful musical discoveries.

Both the academy and Israel Radio are anxious to accumulate as many as possible of the lost compositions by Jewish composers whose creativity was cut short by the Nazis.

In other news related to the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz was interviewed on Monday on Reshet Bet with regard to the future of the IBA. Steinitz spoke of the importance of public broadcasting and said that the IBA as a state institution had to be helped, and would be helped, but first it had to help itself by selling off some of its assets, which include valuable pieces of real estate. When that happens, Steinitz pledged, the Finance Ministry will play its role in the implementation of the broadcasting authority reforms.

■ BUSINESSPEOPLE TEND to spend a lot of time in their cars and often miss the inner beauty of the neighborhoods through which they drive because they get only a fleeting glimpse as they pass by. Yad Ben-Zvi, which conducts educational tours throughout the country, sought to remedy the situation to some extent and organized a Friday morning walking tour for some of the leading businesspeople who live in the area of the Coastal Plain. Three actresses guided participants through the enchanting and historic Tel Aviv neighborhood of Neveh Zedek, each of them taking a different route.

Among the participants were Nava Barak and Shalom Zinger, Alfred Akirov, Haim Heitner, Doron Sapir, Janice and Danny Gillerman, Yigal Breitman, Gad Propper, Amos Shapira, Yossi Lev, Ilan Birenfeld, Yossi Gross and several other prominent figures from Israeli business and social circles.

Participants met for coffee, networking and small talk in the Suzanne Dellal Center before setting out to explore the neighborhood. Later as they set out on their walk, passing the homes of some of the former residents of the city who had been famous writers and artists, one of the guides took on the persona of artist Nahum Gutman and provoked a lot of laughter as they approached the Nahum Gutman Museum, where well-known researcher of Tel Aviv Shula Vidrich, who is also a member of the museum board, introduced them to Gutman’s work and his background. Participants also took a peek at a house in which Israel’s first Nobel Prize laureate, SY Agnon, had once lived and listened to a reading of excerpts from his classic novel Tmol Shilshom (Yesteryear). Of course, no visit to Neveh Zedek is complete without a tour of the old Jaffa railway station, which has been converted into a unique shopping mall, with the railroad tracks still in place.

The tour was in part designed to impress the need to preserve historic sites and to show how they can be converted to serve other purposes while retaining the aura of the past.

■ AS PRESIDENT of the World Jewish Congress and as a former US ambassador, Ronald Lauder is used to rubbing shoulders with diplomats. In addition, he is often at the disposal of Israel’s diplomatic representatives in the US in general and in his home town of New York in particular. Together with Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor, Lauder, who is also a well-known art collector, hosted 53 UN ambassadors at a Hanukka reception in his Neue Galerie private museum on the corner of 86th Street and Fifth Avenue. In addition to the candle-lighting ceremony there were the traditional doughnuts and potato pancakes, which had been ordered from an up-market Jewish caterer and which were served fresh and hot. Lauder, being Lauder, added a touch of class not usually associated with Hanukka celebrations. The doughnuts and pancakes were washed down with champagne.

Among the guests strolling through the three-story building and admiring Lauder's taste in art were the ambassadors of the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, Spain and the Czech Republic as well as the head of the delegation of the European Union. Israel’s consul in New York, Ido Aharoni, was also there, as was Izzy Tapoohi, the new Israel Bonds President and CEO.

Aside from the art and the food, the focus of attention was Cecilia Attias Sarkozy, the former wife of French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who is currently married to public relations executive Richard Attias. The couple absolutely loved the doughnuts and ignored the calories as they reached for seconds. This was one of those rare occasions when everyone present was pro-Israel. Prosor said that it was heart warming to see such a large turnout given the cold of the New York air.

■ THERE IS definitely life after the IBA – even when one retires at 60. Dalia Mazor, who was a radio and television broadcaster for around 40 years, has had quite an exciting time since her voluntary retirement. She didn’t wait for the axe to fall and instead went off to appear on Channel Two’s Dancing with the Stars. She’s also been a moderator for various events and now has joined the executive board of the Tel Aviv-based Israel Conservatorium. She was appointed to the board after she was heard to remark, “I enjoy good music at its best.”

Among the icons of the Conservatorium are Yoni Rechter and Shlomi Shaban, who appeared played a duet at a concert recital at the Conservatorium, each playing separately on a grand piano. Mazor made a point of meeting each of them

■ CHICAGO PHILANTHROPIST Larry Goodman has received Beersheba’s highest honor – a Lifetime Achievement Award. Goodman has supported Beersheba in many different ways for more than half a century, and the only way that the city’s powers-that-be could express appreciation was to give him this award at a special ceremony on December 25. Shortly after World War II, during which he served as a US Air Force Navigator, Goodman founded the Community Discount Store. His initial store grew into a chain that even today serves as the model for the popular selfservice discount stores around the world. In 1965 Goodman expanded into real estate, establishing a commercial real estate firm that owns and operates office buildings and shopping centers in seven states.

Goodman and his wife Lillian first came to Israel in 1958, joining David Ben-Gurion in his efforts to settle and revitalize the Negev. Throughout the city of Beersheba, the Goodmans’ generosity is apparent: the Ben-Gurion University Railway Station, the Larry Goodman Family Administration Building for Engineering Sciences at BGU and the L & L Goodman Theater and Acting School of the Negev are all the result of their contributions. Children and families have been of particular interest to them. The Goodman Bat Dor Dance School, the Kamea Dance Company and the Dorot Dance Studio benefited from their financial assistance, while several brightly colored playgrounds throughout the city welcome both children and adults.

Other Goodman Foundation projects include the Welfare Center for Families and Children and the INBAL Ilyse Lopatin Center, which offers assistance to sexually abused children. Soroka Hospital received much-needed cardiology equipment from the Goodmans, while the Schneider Children’s Medical Center received a critical care bed station. Last year, the Lillian Goodman Garden, a half-dunam haven of trees, flowers, walking paths and benches, was dedicated at BGU in memory of Lillian, who passed away in November of 2009. Believe it or not this is only a short list of Goodman’s generosity.

At the awards ceremony presided over by Mayor Ruvik Danilovich, seven Beersheba residents were conferred with the title of Distinguished Citizen in recognition of what they have done for their city. The honorees included Aryeh Bodenheimer, Yohi Bitton, Arie Bar, Cohava Dannon, Prof. Moshe Michael Feuchtwanger, Efraim (Fima) Finebloom and Judge Yosef Rabi.

■ RESIDENTS OF Ramat Hasharon are used to hearing their Mayor Itzik Rochberger sing at almost any occasion. But this past week they also heard him sing the Hanukka blessings on Radio FM 102. Hizzoner did not have to go to the studio; the studio sent a technician to his office to record him.

■ FIFTEEN CHILDREN from New York, accompanied by their parents, visited the Mevaseret Zion Absorption Center where they met up with 20 Ethiopian immigrant children and played Hanukka games with them. The New Yorkers were in Israel as part of UJA-Federation of New York’s Winter Family Mission to Israel. The group comprised seven families, including children, parents and grandparents, totaling 28 participants altogether.

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity to meet Ethiopian Jewish children. I learned a lot from them and now I truly understand how important Israel is for the Jewish people,” said Allana Margulies, 11, from New York.

Branu, an 11-year-old Ethiopian boy, was excited to celebrate Hanukka with peers from New York. “It was lots of fun making dreidels with the kids from America,” he said.

■ CLOSE TO a million dollars was raised for the Sheba Medical Center by the American friends of Sheba at their annual gala dinner in New York City. Sheba’s central leadership, Professors Zeev Rotstein and Mordechai Shani, were joined by 600 guests at a black tie affair in New York’s Plaza Hotel. Leading businessman and philanthropist Yitzhak Tshuva was honored with the Sheba Humanitarian Award. Tshuva also happens to be the owner of the Plaza Hotel. Peter Yarrow (of the legendary Peter, Paul and Mary musical trio) and Bill Austin (founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation) were declared Sheba Global Special Ambassadors.

Among the prominent figures in attendance were world-acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind (who is designing two new buildings at the Sheba Medical Center), Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor. US Senator John Kerry sent a video greeting in which he congratulated Tshuva and the hospital. Harvey Kreuger, vice chairman of Barclay’s Capital, introduced Tshuva as a true hero of Israel, reflecting on his rise from humble beginnings to a global success story.

Eyal Naifeld and Ron Weinreich who, as injured IDF soldiers, were nursed to health at Sheba’s Rehabilitation Hospital, addressed the audience and were received with an outpouring of love and applause.

Proceeds from the elegant event, which was hosted by Sheba Friends chairperson Helene Feldman and president Mira Bar-Mashiah, are ear-marked for Sheba’s Burn Treatment Center. The American Friends confirmed their commitment to support the construction of two Libeskind-designed buildings for the Center for Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and for an International Pediatric Neurosciences Institute.

■ ONLY A few days after hosting President Shimon Peres at Cinema City for a special screening of the prize-winning Israeli film Footnotes, one of Cinema City’s owner, Moshe Edry, hosted bereaved parents who are members of the non-profit organization Light for the Families. He gave them more than a free private screening: He also provided breakfast and an emotional meeting with filmmaker Joseph Cedar and actors Shlomo Baraba and Lior Ashkenazi, who played the lead roles in the film. The event was organized in conjunction with Irit Oren Gondras, who chairs Light for the Families.

■ FRIDAY FUNDRAISERS are becoming increasingly popular. Initially they consisted of fashion shows on behalf of various causes, then art exhibitions and sales and now they also include theater matinees that enable more people to socialize in the daylight hours for the benefit of the less fortunate. The annual gala for Alut, the Israel Society for Autistic Children, will be held next Friday, January 6, at 10:30 a.m. at the Cameri Theater, Tel Aviv, with a Hebrew performance of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Tickets are priced at NIS 300, NIS 500 or NIS 1,000 each. Hosting the event will be Meir Shani, the chairman of the Friends of Alut.

■ IT’S THAT time of year again. The annual Herzliya Conference, which tends to influence Israel’s national agenda and even its security, economic and foreign policies, is just around the corner. The 12th annual Herzliya Conference, which will be held from January 31 through February 2, opens in the shadow of a world at a crossroads. The Middle East’s most important security gathering will be looking at the region as a focal point for change with this year’s conference entitled “In the Eye of the Storms: Israel & the Middle East.”

Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan will participate via video conference. Participants in the flesh, barring any last-minute change, will include Canadian Foreign Minister John Russell Baird, deputy managing-director of the International Monetary Fund Zhu Min, US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, former prime minister of Greece George Papandreou, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi (who is a former Italian ambassador to Israel), German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and president of the World Bank Robert Zoellick.

Local personalities who are scheduled to address the conference include President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, opposition leader Tzipi Livni, Nobel Prize laureate Dan Shechtman and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, who’s becoming like the Scarlet Pimpernel – you see him here, you see him there, you see him everywhere!

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