ALTHOUGH EVERY workplace has its fair share of celebrations for birthdays,
weddings, et al, it’s rare at The Jerusalem Post for so many significant events
to take place within a single week.
It started with the birth of a new
grandson to Post columnist Barbara Sofer, followed by the wedding of Op-Ed
Editor Seth Frantzman, then the 80th birthday of photo archivist Chaim Collins,
and culminated with the wedding on the same date – February 29 – of Knesset
reporter Lahav Harkov.
■ WHILE IT is not uncommon for grandmothers to be
present at the birth of their grandchildren, it’s not every day that grandma
cuts the umbilical cord. But that’s what happened when Sofer’s daughter Hanni
Zamir gave birth to her second son, Menachem Mendel. The infant’s induction into
the faith was a merry occasion, not only because it was a Chabad affair, but
because the baby’s father, Daniel Zamir, is an internationally acclaimed
saxophonist who has a lot of friends in the music business.
Thus, some of
the entertainment came from the likes of Evyatar Banai and Yonatan Raziel. At
one stage, Zamir, who also sings, harmonized with Banai. Aside from the music,
what differed slightly from the usual circumcision ceremony was that the baby,
prior to entering into the Covenant of Abraham, was passed around among Zamir’s
friends and mentors as if to absorb all their best traits.
In a moving
speech, Zamir, who is a Chabad Hassid, said that in recent weeks he had come to
understand why in his prayers he thanked the Almighty for not having made him a
woman. In the final stages of her pregnancy, Hanni had been unwell.
had he, and so had their first-born son, Shlomo, who is still a tiny
Yet for all that, Hanni had kept up with all her household chores
and been the perfect wife and mother.
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Zamir said he was full of
admiration for her devotion and her ability to continue. Sofer and her husband
Gerald Schroeder, an internationally renowned broad-based physicist and biblical
scholar, who also has a background in nuclear disarmament, left that night for
Texas, where Schroeder received the Trotter Prize at the A&M University.
Together with Canadian scholar Dr. Hugh N. Ross, founder of the science and
faith think tank Reason to Believe, Schroeder, who works as an Aish Hatorah
lecturer, will deliver a joint public lecture on Tuesday that will explore the
crossroads of faith and science.
Schroeder is best known for his book
Genesis and the Big Bang, in which he examines both the biblical and scientific
views of creation. He has given many lectures on the subject, and this will be
the main theme of what he says in Texas. Sofer and Schroeder will return home in
time to celebrate Purim in Jerusalem.
■ CROSS-CULTURAL marriages open a
wonderful array of new horizons to both parties. When Kasaey Damoza, currently
employed at the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, came to Israel in 1985 on
Operation Moses after leaving her native Ethiopia and crossing the Sudan, it
probably did not occur to her that she would one day marry an
Likewise, it probably never occurred to Seth J. Frantzman while
he was growing up in Maine that he would marry an Ethiopian.
arrows move in many directions, and when he decided to aim his bow at the Hebrew
University where both Damoza and Frantzman were students, what counted was the
The couple met in 2004, and they got to know each other well
during the eight-year interim before their wedding at Beit Halordim near Tel
Mond. Among the guests were Father Athanasius Macora, secretary for the Status
Quo Commission of the Custody of the Holy Land, Walter Bingham, who hosts an
Arutz Sheva radio program and won a military medal at Normandy in 1944, Geoffrey
Spencer, a US diplomat in Beijing, and actress Titina Kebede
Damoza took off the week prior to the wedding to attend a
traditional henna party with her family in Kiryat Yam. Frantzman,
notwithstanding his PhD, managed to get into a small accident in his rental car
on the way to pick up his bride-to-be. On the Saturday after the event, the
bride and groom both went to Kiryat Haim for a post-nuptial event hosted by the
Ethiopian community and Damoza’s family, where the couple dressed in traditional
Ethiopian gold-embroidered robes and danced into the night.
not yet disclosed whether his new wife has learned to bake traditional American
apple pie or whether they ate turkey on Thanksgiving, but bets are on that he’s
eaten injera, the slightly sour traditional Ethiopian bread.
Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde regards Chaim Collins and his wife Yehudit as a
second set of parents. He lived across the road from them for several years, and
they treated him as if he were a member of their family. At an 80th birthday
party for Collins – who is the father of Liat Collins, the editor of the Post’s
International Edition, as well as a weekly columnist in the daily paper – Linde
said he wasn’t sure whether Chaim was celebrating his 80th or his 20th birthday,
because he was one of some 2,700 Israelis who were born on February
Yehudit told a delightful anecdote about the long arm of
In England, from where the Collins family made aliya, a
teacher in their son’s class, when he was around nine years old, asked all the
children to write the names and birth dates of their fathers. In the old
country, Chaim, like the late president Chaim Herzog, was known as Vivian. His
son duly wrote down Vivian Collins, born February 29, 1932. The boy next to him
also wrote “Vivian Collins, born February 29, 1932.”
This made the
teacher angry, because she was sure that one of the two boys was cheating. In
fact, neither was. The odds that both boys would have fathers born on February
29 with the same unusual name were astronomical, yet proof that there’s always
an exception to the rule.
It was the name Vivian that led to Chaim and
Yehudit getting married.
They had known each other for most of their
lives and were close friends. One day, when he was looking a little down in the
mouth, she asked what was wrong, and he told her that his social life had taken
a downturn. She had a steady boyfriend at the time, and the romance was quite
serious, but she felt sorry for her friend, so the next time she and her
boyfriend were going somewhere special, she asked if she could bring her friend
Vivian along. The boyfriend agreed and even brought a friend of his to make it a
The problem was that the boyfriend had not realized Vivian
was not Vivienne, and he was very cross that his girlfriend had been so
concerned for Vivian’s well being. “If you care that much about him, you can
marry him instead of me,” he told her angrily. That was the beginning of the end
of their relationship, and a few months later, she did indeed marry
Among the Post
staffers who attended the Collins birthday party
was Alexander Zvielli, the Post
archivist who will soon be celebrating his 91st
birthday but betrays no sign of his biological age. His back is straight, his
wrinkles are few and his mind is as clear as a bell, with both his long-term and
short-term memories completely on track. Zvielli, who writes a daily column
based on the newspaper’s archives, has worked at the Post for more than 65
■ NOTWITHSTANDING THE treacherous weather, guests attending the
wedding of Lahav Harkov and Natan Levine drove to Modi’in from many parts of the
country. The groom will never have an excuse for forgetting a wedding
anniversary, even though it will come around only once every four years. After
all, how could one forget a February 29 wedding? The ceremony was performed by
Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth of the Ohel Ari congregation in Ra’anana. The bride, who
was escorted to the bridal canopy by her parents, Chen and Anderson Harkov,
looked radiant in her mother’s original classic white wedding gown, trimmed with
beads and lace. She carried a pink bouquet in the same shade as the floor-length
gowns worn by her bridesmaids. The groom is the son of South African immigrants
Jennifer and Anthony Levine.
The bride’s grandfather Eliezer Kornreich, a
renowned cantor who served at the SAJ in Manhattan for nearly three decades,
then at Temple Bet Torah in Ocean New Jersey, and who currently serves at Temple
Beth El in Hackensack, New Jersey, sang the seven blessings.
The bride, a
conscientious journalist, was working almost to the last minute making sure that
what she could not do in the midst of her wedding preparations was being done by
one of her colleagues.
The invitation specified formal attire, and most
of the guests complied, weather notwithstanding.
Contrary to the usual
situation in which the musical background is so loud that people cannot converse
because they can’t hear themselves think, the clarinetist who provided the
dinner music was loud enough to be heard, but soft enough to allow for social
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