■ Whether one likes her or not, one has to admit that US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton has both class and courage. At her press conference in Jerusalem
on Monday night, she was asked whether she had been insulted when Egyptian
protesters began chanting “Monica” and throwing tomatoes when she left
Alexandria on Sunday following the reopening there of the US Consulate. The
reference to Monica was to Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern with whom her
husband had a highly publicized affair during his presidency. Clinton said she
wasn’t insulted. She was just glad that no one was hurt but thought it was a
waste of tomatoes.
She also had the courage to answer a question about
Jonathan Pollard. Most American dignitaries avoid the question – or at least the
answer – and if they do answer, they say that they’re not the address for the
question. Clinton was not afraid to say that Pollard was serving a life sentence
and that she had no expectations that this would change. It was bad news, but at
least she didn’t try to pass the buck.
■ IN ADDITION to the usual
Thursday night musical fare at YUNG YiDiSH this week, lovers of klezmer and
Shlomo Carlebach also got to participate in the launch of Volume 29 of the
Yiddish literary magazine Jerusalem Almanac. The editor Prof. Dov Ber Kerler was
on hand, along with several of the contributing poets, essayists and short story
Despite the fact that it has been frequently eulogized over the
years, Yiddish is still alive and well, and creative writers are using the
language as a vehicle of expression.
■ DAF YOMI students from all over
Israel will converge on the Jerusalem Great Synagogue on August 9 for the Siyum
Hashas, the completion of seven and a half years of daily Talmud study. Men and
women, separately and together, participate in Daf Yomi groups not only in
Israel but throughout the Jewish world. Not all participants are religiously
observant. Some study there because they want to enhance their knowledge of
A Siyum Hashas is always a festive occasion, and this one
will be even more so, with male and female participants from Israel and abroad,
including world-renowned Torah luminaries rabbis Adin Steinsaltz, Dovid Miller,
Shlomo Riskin, Dovid Gottlieb, Moshe Lichtenstein and Shmuel Hershler and other
great scholars. The master of ceremonies at the event will be Jeremy Gimpel, who
recently announced his intention to run for Knesset, while Chaim Adler, the
chief cantor at the Great Synagogue, will provide the musical
Taking into account the influence and membership of sponsors,
which include the International Young Israel Movement (IYIM) – Israel Region,
Yeshiva University Israel Alumni, the Jerusalem Great Synagogue, Kollel, Torah
Mitzion, RCA – Israel and the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel, the
siyum has all the makings of a mega event. Admission is free of charge and,
according to Daniel M. Meyer, executive director, IYIM-Israel and coordinator of
the evening’s activities, everyone is welcome.
■ IT HAS taken the
powers-that-be in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry for Public
Diplomacy more than half a year to find a replacement for Oren Helman as
director of the Government Press Office. In the interim, the GPO has moved from
its longtime headquarters in Beit Agron to new premises in Malha, and many
foreign news bureaus whose offices were previously located in and around Beit
Agron have followed suit.
In November last year, the Israel Electric
Corporation announced that it had appointed Helman as senior vice president of
regulation. The job may not be as interesting as that of director of the GPO,
but the salary was certainly more enticing.
When tenders for Helman’s
successor at the GPO were initially published, the intention was to find someone
from within the organization, but none of the applicants was considered
suitable, so a further search was conducted beyond the GPO.
The result is
that the new director is veteran television personality Nitzan Chen, 48, who
most recently chaired the Cable Television Council after spending 20 years
working for Channel 1 in a variety of positions.
Although his career has
been largely marked by success, he has never been able to live down his most
embarrassing moment when, as a political reporter who is religious and Sephardi,
he was ordered out of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s home following the conviction of
Aryeh Deri. Yosef believed that the media was largely responsible for turning
public opinion against Deri. It would have been bad enough if Yosef had issued
the order without any of Chen’s media colleagues as witnesses. But the scene was
captured for posterity by television crews and aired on Channel
Together with fellow journalist Anshel Pfeffer, Chen has since written
a comprehensive biography of Yosef, which reviewers have concurred is well
■ PARKING HAS always been a problem in Jerusalem, and
frustrated drivers frequently leave their vehicles in no-parking areas,
Sometimes vehicles parked on the sidewalk are so
close to the fence, that pedestrians are forced to walk out into the
This is particularly annoying to people who live in old buildings
on small streets in which there are no parking facilities in the buildings
themselves and very limited space on the street. This becomes a source of
constant irritation to find a parking spot, especially when the few spots have
been taken by non-residents, who think nothing of backing into a one-way street
and parking on the sidewalk when they can’t find a legal spot.
Jerusalem resident who was sick of drivers breaking every rule in the book when
parking on her street has taken matters into her own hands.
resident Rachel Gewirtz has found a nonviolent way of dealing with the
situation. She has not resorted to slashing tires, scratching surfaces or
breaking windows and mirrors. Instead, according to Yediot Aharonot, she
photographs the offenders in action or their illegally parked vehicles, making
sure that the license plate is in sharp focus. She then fills out a complaint
form, which she downloads from the Internet, and sends it to the
Some of her neighbors have joined her in this project and have
mounted a neighborhood watch.
The police take these complaints very
seriously and go after the offenders, who are subsequently fined.
cases, the drivers have their license suspended or confiscated.
Street, where Gewirtz lives, is a one-way street that leads to the exit to Tel
Aviv. Many drivers ignore the legal direction of the traffic and use the street
as a shortcut to the highway. Residents have asked the municipality to turn the
street into a pedestrian mall but have met with refusal, even though there have
been traffic accidents, some of them fatal. Meanwhile, Gewirtz and her neighbors
are making sure that some offenders are paying through the nose.