For a while it looked as if Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat might skate with ease
into a second term, with only a symbolic show of competition. But now there are
rumors that former Shas leader Eli Yishai will throw his hat in the ring,
provided that former mayor Uri Lupolianski – who is on trial in the Holyland
corruption case – announces that he’s not running.
Even then, Yishai has
to be sure that Ashkenazi haredim will stand behind him, and form a formidable
block with Sephardi haredim. A lot of secular Sephardim would also vote for
Yishai, but it’s highly doubtful that secular Ashkenazim would vote for
It’s an interesting game of musical chairs that is being played in
the Shas party. When Arye Deri, the original and current Shas leader, was
contemplating a return to politics, it was widely rumored that he would be
running for mayor of Jerusalem – but in Shas, man proposes and spiritual leader
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef disposes.
Things have not been going well for Yishai
lately. Aside from losing his leadership position, he now faces criticism for
legal violations and corruption in the Shas education network under his watch.
It is not yet known whether he will be held responsible, and what this could do
to his political career.
Meanwhile, according to Yediot Aharonot, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman have
nominated Moshe Leon to run on their joint ticket against Barkat. Currently the
chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority, Leon, an accountant by
profession, served for two years as Netanyahu’s bureau chief during the latter’s
initial term as prime minister.
He was also a member of the Likud Beytenu
negotiating team following the last elections.
■ ONE CURRENT and one
former journalist – both with Knesset connections – entered into the institution
of matrimony last month. Television current affairs anchorwoman Geula Even
married Interior Minister and Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, and Deputy Transportation
Minister and Likud MKTzipi Hotovely married lawyer Or Alon.
For Even and
Sa’ar, it was the second time around for both, and they had a relatively small
wedding with fewer than 100 guests. The venue was a private home. For Hotovely
and Alon, it was their first time under the bridal canopy – with Hotovely, at
age 34, on her way to being an old maid by the standards of the Orthodox
community. Her wedding was held at Ronit Farm in Rishpon and there were more
than 2,500 guests, including most of the Knesset plenum.
At Even and
Sa’ar’s wedding, paparazzi were not permitted to enter the house. At Hotovely
and Alon’s wedding, photographers were invited to join all the other
merrymakers. If there were leftovers from the Even- Sa’ar festivities, what
happened to them has not been made public.
Hatovely and Alon made sure
that all the leftovers from their reception were forwarded to the Rabbi Aryeh
Levin Foundation, which distributes food to the poor. Even though Even and Sa’ar
were married by the Western Wall rabbi, it’s doubtful that they had a Shabbat
Hatan or that Even went to the mikve (ritual bath) before her marriage. Hotovely
not only went to the mikve – she also went to the Temple Mount.
Ashkenazi circles, the Shabbat Hatan – the Shabbat on which the bridegroom is
called to the Torah – is usually on the Shabbat before the wedding. In
non-Ashkenazi circles, it is on the Shabbat after the wedding.
and Alon chose to do so at the Ein Gev Resort Village – long a favorite vacation
spot for the Hotovely family, who are well-know to the staff and regulars. In
fact, general manager Haim Statiahu, who welcomed them with open arms, had been
a guest at the wedding. The main hall at Ein Gev was transformed into a
synagogue for the occasion.
■ TIES BETWEEN Britain and Israel run deep,
and there are still many reminders of the British presence in the Holy Land
during the Mandate period. Not the least of these are the Commonwealth War
Graves cemeteries, as well as other cemeteries dating back to the World War I
under the aegis of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but separate from the
regular Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries. Haifa, for instance, has a British
cemetery in Bat Galim and also has an Indian cemetery, where memorial services
are conducted yearly under the auspices of the Indian Embassy.
Systems, the Haifa-headquartered international defense electronics company, has
specific ties with the Royal Regiment of Artillery, generally with regard to the
soldiers’ day-to-day combat operations in Afghanistan and their ongoing work on
the “Watchkeeper” unmanned aerial vehicle program.
The Royal Artillery
troops are the actual operators of the UAVs provided by Elbit Systems, with the
mission of advance observation to enable the supply of visual real-time
intelligence to UK forces. This week, at a British cemetery in Bat-Galim, Elbit
Systems closed a circle that was opened close to a century ago.
with representatives of the British Embassy and Israel Police, it participated
in a ceremony honoring nine Royal Artillery soldiers who were posted in the Holy
Land after World War I and lost their lives attempting to ford the Jordan River.
Elbit contributed to the restoration and renovation of the monument erected in
memory of these soldiers.
■ LAST WEEK, British Ambassador Matthew Gould,
a staunch supporter of Holocaust survivors, opened the fifth Café Briannia
Holocaust Survivors’ Club. Gould has personally worked to raise money for these
clubs. The newest is located in Migdal Ha’emek and serves a community of 80
survivors, who attend twice a week. The club has actually been operating since
October 2012, and is part of a nationwide network that will eventually include
18 such facilities.
Eighteen is an important figure in gematria (the
traditional Jewish system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase), and
is equal to chai or life, and the whole purpose of the Café Britannia Clubs –
which are funded by the Jewish community of the UK – is to improve the quality
of life for survivors. The club is located in a Russian-speaking neighborhood
and the majority of its members are refugees from the former Soviet Union, who
either suffered oppression under the Nazis or who fought in the Red Army. The
club offers its members a variety of activities, including lectures and day
trips – all conducted in Russian.
Addressing the members in Hebrew, Gould
said the project was extremely important to him, because “Holocaust survivors
have the right to live in comfort and dignity.” When he and his wife, Celia,
came to Israel, they wanted to do something for survivors, he said, and the
clubs are the result of that wish. Also present were Avi Dichter, a former
minister and chairman of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Survivors,
which operates the clubs, and Migdal Ha’emek Mayor Eli Barda.
■ WHEN HE
travels to Poland next week, Netanyahu will be accompanied not only by five
government ministers and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, but also by a
delegation from Yad Vashem that will include the chairman of its directorate,
Avner Shalev, and the chairman of its council, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. They will
join the prime minister and government members at the opening of the new
permanent exhibition “Shoah,” in Block 27 at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State
Museum. Among the others attending will be Polish Minister of Culture and
National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski; museum director Piotr Cywinski; Israeli and
Polish officials; and Holocaust survivors. The new permanent exhibition was
curated, designed and built by Yad Vashem, in coordination with the
The previous exhibition, dating to the 1960s Communist era, had
become outdated in both its content and display, and most visitors to the camp
chose not to view it. In 2005, Yad Vashem was mandated by the State of Israel to
undertake the renewal of the exhibition, including the preservation of the
The new exhibition, which is funded by the state with
assistance from the Claims Conference, combines powerful visual displays with
short texts, which will provide a profound experience for the some 1.5 million
annual visitors to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Curators, historians, philosophers,
artists and designers, including Chanan de Lange, Michal Rovner, David Grossman,
Niv Ben-David, Noemi Schory and Hagit Shimoni, contributed to the exhibition
■ FAMOUS ENTERTAINERS who lend their names to organizations,
institutions and projects often take a hands-on interest in what they are doing
– especially when children are involved. Thus, Chaim Topol, chairman of the
Jordan River Village, and Gila Almagor, who is a member of its board of
directors, decided to spend time interacting with some of the youngsters with
life-threatening illnesses who come to the village in the Galilee to have
Some of the youngsters stay for a few days, some stay
for a whole week – but all feel a lot better for the experience.
RECIPIENTS THIS week of the inaugural Champion of Jewish Values International
Awards at a gala dinner at New York’s Marriott Marquis were Sheldon and Miriam
Elie Wiesel and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who were recognized for
their exemplary dedication to the worldwide promotion of universal Jewish
values. The dinner, in support of the Jewish Values Network and Haifa’s Rambam
Medical Center, was hosted by Kevin Bermeister, founder of the Jerusalem
Development Fund and governor of This World: The Jewish Values Network, as well
as David Sterling, chairman of Sterling & Sterling, Inc. and treasurer of
American Friends of Rambam.
The event opened with a Jewish Values Network
Torah dedicated by Matthew Bronfman, in honor of his father, Edgar Miles
Bronfman, and his grandparents. During the presentation to Oz, it was revealed
that he had performed circumcisions for the Turkish military to complete his
Prior to the conclusion of the gala evening, Rabbi Shmuley
Boteach, who is executive director of the The Jewish Values Network, presented
Miriam Adelson with a special award in recognition of the fact that no matter
where she is in the world, she never forgets to light Shabbat
While they give generously to many causes, the Adelsons are
among the world’s leading funders of medical research, with specific focus on
addiction and rehabilitation – the particular field of expertise of Miriam
Adelson, who is a doctor.
■ IT’S A pity that so few people showed up at
the Jerusalem Press Club to listen to the riveting address and Q&A exchange
between prizewinning reporter Judith Miller, formerly of The New York Times and
currently with Fox News, and senior Bloomberg News in Israel correspondent Calev
Ben-David, who is a former senior editor at The Jerusalem Post, was arts editor
of The Jerusalem Report and was the founding director of the Jerusalem office of
the Israel Project. Highly critical of the Obama administration’s infringement
on civil liberties, especially the right of journalists to protect their
sources, Miller charged the administration with being hypocritical – in that at
press briefings, it often insists that correspondents’ reports omit the names of
speakers, and merely describe them as senior White House sources, even when the
issue is not one of national security.
Miller is also angry with her
former employers at The New York Times, who after cooperating with WikiLeaks
publisher Julian Assange and publishing his disclosures, left him in the lurch
and even attacked him. That’s not all that she has against the Times, and more
about that will appear in her forthcoming book. Although she prefers to name her
sources wherever possible, Miller declared: “You can’t do investigative work
without anonymous sources, who are the heart of investigative