■ NUMEROUS CHARITABLE causes are taken up by the management of supermarkets, and customers are asked at the checkout counters if they want to contribute. Most are too embarrassed to refuse. The Hamashbir chain of department stores has decided to help WIZO in providing for women and children at risk, and all stores in the chain are now selling a Golden Heart bracelet specially created by international jewelry designer Aya Azrielant, who several years ago returned to Israel after a long and successful sojourn in New York, where she was recognized as a leading business entrepreneur.

The bracelet, which includes Azrielant’s signature symbol of a starfish, retails for only NIS 25, with all the proceeds going to WIZO. At a supermarket, you don’t get anything beyond a sense of satisfaction for making a contribution. At Hamashbir, you go home with a designer bracelet.

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■ AFTER THE mass demonstration of solidarity with the Schalit family in the march from their home in the Galilee to Jerusalem, there was somewhat of an emotional letdown in the tent set up around the corner from the prime minister’s residence, where there were not too many visitors at any one time.

All this changed dramatically on Tisha Be’av when Israel’s social mosaic showed up in its multitudes to express its concern for abducted soldier Gilad Schalit and for the anguish of his family. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger drew a parallel between the destruction of the Temple and the destruction of the Schalit family’s lives when Gilad was kidnapped. He also noted that while the destruction of the Temple was attributed to baseless hatred, what he saw around him was exactly the opposite. It was an outpouring of love by people who could identify with the pain of the Schalits.

And indeed, the huge crowd included people of every age group from tiny tots to octogenarians, religious and secular, left- and right-wing political activists, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, new immigrants, veterans and sabras. They had all come together to offer a prayer for Gilad Schalit.

Metzger said that every day when he talks to his 94-year-old mother in Haifa, she asks about Gilad and says that if she lived to see her son become chief rabbi of Israel, she had one more wish and that was that he should take her to meet Gilad Schalit when he comes home.

■ HARDLY A month goes by without Elsa and Nat Leibler being congratulated on the wedding of a grandchild or the birth of a great-grandchild. For Elsa Leibler, a Holocaust survivor, each new child in the family is yet another symbol of victory against the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jewish people. Congratulated last week on the birth of a 32nd great-grandchild, Leibler announced that there are three more on the way – “and those are only the ones that I know of.”

■ AFTER BEING pushed around by police while joining demonstrators in a weekly Friday protest in Sheikh Jarrah, celebrated author David Grossman had at least two reasons to smile last week. One was that Intimate Grammar, the film based on his novel, won a prestigious prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival, and the other was the wedding this week of his son Jonathan.
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