• ALMOST AS famous as her brother, the Rentgen (X-Ray), Bruria Ifergen Zvuluni and her husband Rabbi Binyamin Zvuluni celebrated the marriage of their daughter Sari to Ilan Barazani, the son of Hanna and Ephraim Barazani, at the Pavilion in Talpiot.

Guests came in from overseas and around the country. The Ifergens are a well-known rabbinical family. Several of the clan are said to have extraordinary psychic powers and are frequently consulted by politicians, leading businesspeople and celebrities, as well as people whose names never make the headlines.

The Barazani family is among Jerusalem’s leading building contractors, and is also active outside the city. Among the hundreds of guests were Mayor Nir Barkat and his wife Beverly, fashion designer Michal Azoulai, Brig.-Gen. Mike Herzog, Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, Abu Ghosh council head Salim Jaber, lawyers Yehuda and Tammy Raveh, Kochi Mordechai and of course the bride’s uncle, Rabbi Ya’acov Ifergen from Netivot.

  • IN RELIGIOUS circles, it is customary for bar and bat mitzva boys and girls to deliver a discourse on the Torah portion that they read, on a biblical hero or heroine, on a talmudic passage or on a particular aspect of Halacha. Naamah Apelbaum, the daughter of Dr. Aviyam and Dana Apelbaum, decided that she would do something a little more entertaining by employing modern technology to present a realistic dramatization of the duties of a young woman who, in accordance with Jewish tradition, reaches the age of maturity and responsibility.

A video screen showed Naamah dressed as Yocheved, the second of Rashi’s three daughters. The two had a “conversation” about women’s duties in Jewish law – what is permissible, what isn’t permissible and the reasons why, and what Yocheved had been taught by her father, and Naamah by her father.

Guests gathered at Beit Tzarfat on the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus were spellbound, not only by the polished performance in which Naamah didn’t miss a beat, but also by the fact that she pulled it off without a script in hand.

  • AT THE Beit Yisrael Synagogue in Yemin Moshe last Saturday, the lesson after the service was delivered by Rabbi Yehuda Leib Porush who often shares congregational duties with Rabbi Chanoch Yeres. The essential difference is that Rabbi Porush, with his bobbing corkscrew sidelocks, wears the gold striped caftan and the fur shtreimel more commonly seen in Mea She’arim and surrounding areas than in other parts of the city.

There were more women in attendance than men, although more men had been present at the service. One woman wanted to know more about how various sections of the Temple had been planned. Porush got up on a stool to reach for a book on an upper shelf of one of the bookcases, opened the book to a detailed diagram, and explained it to her, step by step, while standing alongside her. But what was more riveting was his thorough familiarity with the terrain in Temple times, enabling him refer to current structures such as the Rockefeller Museum and the area of Yemin Moshe to explain what existed then.

Apparently Yemin Moshe was occupied by Jews long before Sir Moses Montefiore chose to build the first Jewish neighborhood outside the walls of the Old City. According to Porush, Yemin Moshe was a tent city where pilgrims lodged on their way to and from the Temple.

  • LONG-SERVING director of the Jerusalem Friends of the Hebrew University, the strikingly aristocratic looking Efrat Toussia-Cohen has resigned. In her letter of resignation she writes, “The Hebrew University is not only my alma mater but also my family. It has been both an honor and a pleasure these many long years to serve this magnificent institution within whose walls I matured and grew.”

During the course of her work Toussia-Cohen initiated numerous projects and activities that helped to promote and enhance the image of the university, and launched many events, the proceeds of which went to scholarships to enable needy students and to support scholarly research. Totally dedicated, and exuding an innate sense of commitment to complement her appearance, she has established a precedent that will be difficult to emulate.

  • JERUSALEM’S BINYENEI Ha’uma was a sea of black last week as Vizhnitz Hassidim from all over the country gathered to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Israeli branch of the dynasty founded in Ukraine in 1854. Members of other sects were also present, which was not surprising, considering that three of the four daughters of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, the fifth rebbe in the Vizhnitz dynasty, are married to grand rabbis of other dynasties. One is married to Rabbi David Swersky, the Skverer Rebbe of New York; another is married to the Belzer Rebbe, Yissachar Dov Rokeach of Jerusalem; another is married to Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe in New York, and only the youngest wed within the clan and is married to Rabbi Menahem Ernster, who heads the Vizhnitz Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.

The frail and aging Rabbi Hager, now in his 90s, has two sons, Yisroel and Menahem Mendel. The latter is named after the founding rebbe of the dynasty.

For many years, it was assumed that Yisroel would automatically inherit his father’s mantle, a fact that did not sit well with the much more religiously stringent Menahem Mendel, who broke away and gathered his own followers.

But Yisroel fell into disfavor due to his mismanagement of Vizhnitz finances, and 25 years ago was ousted from his father’s court. It was only after 18 years of exile, during which time he had no financial resources and was forced to rely on charity, that Yisroel was reinstated following the intervention of Rabbi Chaim Moshe Feldman of London, who brokered a reunion between father and son.

This estranged Menahem Mendel even more, although he remains a Vizhnitz hassid and heads the Vizhnitz Rabbinical Court in Bnei Brak.

As his father became increasingly frail, Yisroel began to take over his duties, proving much better at managing religious affairs than managing finances – so much so that in Jerusalem last week, he was unofficially crowned his father’s heir.

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