THE SON and daughter of two of the best known Jewish families in Singapore
decided that they wanted to get married in Jerusalem. If it had been a whim of
just the bride or the groom, the wedding plans might have gone differently. But
they both wanted to be married in the city, so no one raised any
“If you look at the invitation,” said Michelle Sassoon, the
mother of the bride, “you’ll see the most prominent word is
The pre-wedding henna ceremony for Claire Sassoon, daughter
of Michelle and Victor Sassoon, and Ben Benjamin, son of Mavis and Frank
Benjamin, was also held in Jerusalem at Kohinoor, the kosher Indian restaurant
inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel that belongs to Reena and Vinod Pushkarna. The
henna ceremony and all it entails was their gift to the Sassoon family for the
warm friendship that they accorded to the Pushkarnas’ daughter Sarina when she
went to live in Singapore.
“We’re all of Iraqi background via India, and
we like to do things for each other,” said Reena, explaining the generosity of
her gift. Sarina who now works in public relations and is the assistant manager
for global media at the Marina Bay Sands resort and casino complex which is
currently the jewel in the crown of Sheldon Adelson’s business ventures, was
back here with her husband Raj Sundarson, not only to visit her parents and her
brother Kunal, but to attend the wedding. They were among the 100 plus
Singaporeans, who were part of 280 member contingent of people who came from all
over the world.
The wedding ceremony, at which Singapore’s Rabbi
Mordechai Abergel officiated, took place on Sunday at the Western Wall, where
four generations of the bride’s family, including her sisters, her mother, her
grandmother and her greatgrandmother, stood under the bridal canopy, a large
tallit mounted on four olive trees.
There were also eight bridesmaids and
a page boy who carried the ring. All the female guests were given pale peach
shawls and the men were given red kippot. The celebrations were held at the
David Citadel Hotel,.
■ IT’S SOMETIMES difficult to separate a person
from the various positions that he or she may hold. Case in point is Leonid
Nevzlin, who chairs the International Board of Governors of the Diaspora Museum.
Nevzlin, together with his partners Vladimor Dubov and Mikhail Brudno,
established the Nadav Foundation of which the president is his daughter Irina
When the Nadav Foundation chose to give to give the Jewish
Peoplehood award to the satirical video skit “We Con the World” produced by the
Latma team headed by Jerusalem Post senior contributing editor Caroline Glick,
there was an outcry in some left-wing quarters, although others saw nothing in
the citation that should arouse wrath. It reads: “A remarkable video, produced
by the creative team of Latma, which made many Jews feel proud in a time of
conflict and tension for our people. The personal initiative, sincere effort and
brilliant use of modern media, reaching a mass audience, gave rise to the
pluralistic dialogue among Jews the world over.”
While there was broad
national and Diaspora Jewry consensus about the cleverness and wit of the item
in its exposure of some peace activists as anything but, several left-wing
groups and individuals attacked Nevzlin and Nadav for using the meeting of the
museum’s International Board of Governors as a vehicle for the award
presentation. Because Glick is known for her right-wing views, some of those who
came out with their guns blazing, accusing her and Latma of racism, apparently
ignored the fact that there were armed and violent people on the Mavi Marmara
which had been touted as a peace ship.
■ “OY VEY!” exclaimed Mendy Cahan,
founder and director of Yung Yiddish. Nothing tragic had occurred. On the
contrary, the soon-to-begin klezmer concert interspersed with Yiddish songs was
just too successful, and all the seats were taken well in advance of starting
time. People who came even 10 minutes early were hard-pressed to find a seat,
but most did not go away. They crowded at the back of the room and in the
Cahan, a Belgian-born lapsed hassid who still remembers
everything he learned in his youth, recited the Havdala prayer, putting far more
drama into it than is usually experienced. And then the concert started, led by
klezmer luminary Avraham Burstein, still dressed in his Sabbath finery, a pale
gold brocade kapota.
The audience ranged from haredi to secular, and
although most members were way past middle age, there was a good representation
of people under 30. The heat and the close proximity of so many bodies caused
some people to leave early. Cahan apologized, saying that Yung Yiddish was
looking for a donor to put in air conditioning. The truth is that the Jerusalem
premises have long been far too small to accommodate the large number of people
who show up, but if Cahan moved to something larger and more modern, he would
lose the marvelous shtetl ambience that he has created.
He does have
larger premises and more facilities in the Tel Aviv branch, located at the
Central Bus Terminal, but the atmosphere is quite different. The multilingual
Cahan, who is both emcee and performer, was switching from Yiddish to English to
Hebrew and back again when he spoke, but all the songs he sang were in Yiddish
and the audience lapped up his performance.
■ IT’S PAR for the course
that performers such as Yehuda Katz, Chaim Dovid and Benzion Solomon and his
sons, who performed frequently with Shlomo Carlebach here and abroad, appear on
the playbill for the annual Carlebach memorial concerts.
But each year
there are a few additional names of singers who have been caught up in the ever
broader sweep of Carlebach melodies. Among more than a dozen singers scheduled
to sing at this year’s Carlebach memorial concert, at the Jerusalem
International Conference Center on October 30, is Golan Azulai who plays
Carlebach in the Yiddishpiel Production Carlebach Lives. Azulai will be the
emcee at the “It’s all about love” memorial concert for Carlebach to mark the
16th anniversary of his death.
Known as The Singing Rabbi, Carlebach,
through his melodies and his nonjudgmental, unconditional love for humanity,
brought thousands of young Jews back from the brink of assimilation to some form
of Jewish identity – and in a large number of cases to Orthodoxy.
addition to singing, he told countless Jewish stories, all of them with a
positive message designed to give listeners a good feeling. He was not a fire
and brimstone rabbi; he believed that love was a far more powerful and positive
emotion than fear. Today, 16 years after his passing from a heart attack on a
plane bound for Canada, his influence is even stronger than when he was alive,
and his compositions are sung in synagogues throughout the world.
ISRAELI cantors who now live in the US and two immigrant cantors, one from
London and the other from Johannesburg, delighted an Emunah Jerusalem audience
at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center last Sunday night. Simon Cohen, Ya’acov
Motzen, Azi Schwartz and Colin Schahat with the Kol Rina choir conducted by Roi
Azulai, whose body language is that of a graceful ballet dancer, had the
audience roaring with delight. Tel Aviv-born Motzen is a fifth-generation cantor
who, while serving in the IDF, performed for soldiers wounded in the Yom Kippur
War. He later spent 18 years as a cantor in Montreal, after which he moved to
Toronto to become cantor of the Shaarei Shomayim Congregation, the largest
Orthodox congregation there.
He is currently the cantor at The Shul in
Bel Harbor, Florida. His repertoire includes an extensive Carlebach medley which
he presented in Poland this past June at the annual Krakow Jewish
Carlebach was one of the early performers at the Krakow
festival, and Motzen performed a tribute concert in his memory, singing from the
outer balcony of the Isak Synagogue to an enormous crowd that blocked the street
on three sides. Carlebach’s daughter Neshama, an accomplished singer in her own
right, made her Krakow debut in January 2009, but has yet to sing at the
Schwartz, who is the cantor at the Park Avenue Synagogue in New
York, was a soloist with the IDF Rabbinical Troupe and served as cantor at
Heichal Meir Synagogue in Tel Aviv and assistant cantor at the Jerusalem Great
Synagogue before going to America. Both he and Motzen frequently return as guest
cantors and concert performers.
All four cantors have performed with
major orchestras around the world. They have also made several CDs in which they
sing solo and with other cantors.
There was also a brief but much
appreciated appearance by Schahat’s son Micha, a boy
Accompanists were the multitalented pianist, composer and
arranger Raymond Goldstein and violinist Jenny Huenigen, concert master with the
Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Goldstein was responsible for the arrangement of
several of the melodies. The very personable Cohen was also the emcee, darting
from one end of the stage to the other in his separate roles. He was also
responsible for arranging the event, and received much deserved kudos from
Jerusalem Emunah chair Renee Becker and director Racheli Brooks.
WOULD imagine that 50th anniversary celebrations of a country’s independence
would be hosted by the ambassador, but the Federal Republic of Nigeria hasn’t
had an ambassador for several months since the departure of Dada Olissa, who is
unlikely to be replaced until after the Nigerian elections which are due in
Thus it fell to Charge d’Affaires Friday Ogacheko Okai to host
the reception – but he had been summoned home due to some crisis situation, and
thus the next in line as host at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv was
Folorunso Olukayode, the embassy’s minister for political affairs. Minister
without Portfolio Yossi Peled represented the government.
the point that this is a very special place for Nigerian pilgrims, who each year
come here in the thousands, and Peled noted that Nigeria, like Israel, wages a
constant battle against terrorism. Curiously, the background talking stopped
when Nigerian dancers, dressed in the national colors of green and white, took
to the stage.
As yet, the identity of the next Nigerian ambassador is
unknown, but her many friends here are hoping the it will be Janet Olissa, the
wife of the former ambassador, who has been a diplomat in her own right for
almost 18 years, and is currently chief foreign affairs officer at the Nigerian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During her husband’s term here, she made it known
that she would love to come back.
■ EUROPEAN UNION Ambassador Andrew
Standley and his wife Judith will this evening host a Beduin weaving and arts
evening at their residence in Herzliya. The event will include an example of the
way Beduin receive guests, a demonstration of the Beduin weaving process and a
presentation of the Lakiya Negev weaving project coupled with an opportunity to
purchase Lakiya’s products.
Established in 1991 in the village of Lakiya
as an income-generating and empowerment project for Beduin women, the project
enables them to preserve their traditions while learning and benefitting from
new business skills.
ARMY RADIO this week celebrated its 60th anniversary
by bringing back some of the people who had done their army service at the
station. Some of country’s bestknown journalists launched their careers as
18-year-old reporters there. Some of the former staffers, such as MK Shelly
Yacimovich, came back on Sunday to host some of the station’s
She took over from Rafi Barka’i to present What’s Burning.
Ironically, it was because Yacimovich had taken over his show on Israel Radio –
long before she entered politics – that Barka’i switched gears and went to work
as a civilian anchor at Army Radio.
One of the more veteran broadcasters
who returned was Rivka Michaeli who did her compulsory army service from 1956 to
Other familiar names who started out in Army Radio include Gideon
Levy, Dori Ben-Ze’ev, Rafi Ginat, Dan Kaner, Geula Even, Erez Tal, Ivri Gilad,
Merav Michaeli, Rafi Reshef, Guy Pines and Tal Berman.
■ HIS CLOSE
associates are predicting a political comeback for Eli Moyal, the charismatic
former mayor of Sderot, who for the past four years has been under police
investigation on suspicion of breach of trust and accepting bribes. Last week,
Moyal was sitting in his car on the Ayalon Freeway, trapped in a traffic jam,
when he received a telephone call from Southern District prosecutor Mumi
Lemberger informing him that his case had been closed.
Whether he’ll go
back into local politics or aim for a seat in the Knesset remains to be seen,
but it’s unlikely that he’ll slip back into anonymity.
■ TODAY THE
National Council of Young Israel and the International Young Israel
Movement-Israel Region will, for the 187th time, donate a Torah scroll to the
The project, which has been in operation for 12 years, is
spearheaded by NCYI vice president Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Yedidya Atlas
of the IDF Chaplaincy Corps.
The project has been renamed in memory of
recently deceased Ruby Davidman, a tireless volunteer for numerous causes here,
especially those related to members of the IDF. He and his wife Phyllis came
from the US well over 30 years ago. The 187th Torah Scroll will be placed in the
synagogue of the main IDF base in Gush Etzion region in a ceremony that will be
attended by members of the Davidman family.
All the Torah scrolls that
are part of the project have been brought to Israel from synagogues throughout
North America. Usually they are worn or damaged and donors are found to repair
them and rededicate them in memory of loved ones. The scroll in today’s ceremony
will be rededicated by Joe and Rozanne Polansky (formerly of North Bellmore, NY,
now Jerusalem) and Gershon and Braina Tryfus (North Bellmore, NY).
STATE DINNERS hosted by President Shimon Peres often end before the coffee is
served, because the guest of honor usually gets up to leave after two hours or
even less. Not so Finnish President Tarja Halonen, who has known Peres for many
years and is extremely well disposed toward him and Israel. Another interesting
factor about this dinner was the presence at the head table of Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman, who seldom attends state dinners at Beit Hanassi. Ambassador
to Finland Avi Granot was also seated at the presidential