Grapevine: Bar-mitzva boy and bridegroom

A yeshiva was illegally built next door to his house in the Old City, nearly 20 years ago.

December 7, 2017 22:16
3 minute read.



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IT’S ALL from God, said David Amini, who was born in Jerusalem 83 years ago, but was forced to serve in the Iranian army. Amini’s parents were divorced around the time of his bar mitzva and his father returned to Iran. When Amini decided to visit his father a few years later, the Iranian authorities confiscated his passport, telling him that if his father was an Iranian and his mother was an Iranian, that made him an Iranian, and he would not be allowed to leave before completing his army service. He spent seven years in Iran, but something good came of that time – he met a beautiful young woman by the name of Soraya, whom he married.

This past Shabbat, surrounded by family members, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary as well as the 70th anniversary of his bar mitzva. It’s not certain whether the candies thrown at him from the women’s gallery at Hazvi Yisrael synagogue were for the bridegroom or the bar-mitzva “boy,” considering that they were one and the same person.

Another couple, Shulamit and Michael Friedman, who belong to the same congregation, celebrated their 50th anniversary. There are others who are on the verge of doing the same, and some who have been married even longer who are looking forward to the next milestone anniversary.

AMONG THE recipients of honorary doctorates from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on Ben-Gurion Day was internationally renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who was born in Haifa in 1938, and who at age 15 migrated with his parents and two siblings to Canada. He’s sorry that he never got to meet Ben-Gurion, but he did get to meet one of Ben-Gurion’s stalwarts, Teddy Kollek, during the latter’s early period as mayor of Jerusalem – and that meeting changed Safdie’s life.

It was 1967, and Safdie came to Israel for an international architectural conference. It was there that he met Kollek and Mordechai Ben-Tov, who was housing minister at the time. Kollek persuaded Safdie, who had already won international renown with his Habitat Project, to open an office in Jerusalem, after which Safdie commuted regularly for several years between North America and Israel. Despite his international fame and the cooperation that he receives when engaged on a project anywhere else in the world, in Israel he is forever running an obstacle course.

Despite that, he has many professional credits in this country, including involvement in the planning and rebuilding of Jerusalem’s Old City. He and his wife, Jerusalem-born photographer Michal Ronnen Safdie – who is the daughter of the late Meir Ronnen, who for many years was the highly respected art and literary critic of The Jerusalem Post – were among the first people to move into the rebuilt Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Even though he still owns a house there, Safdie is unhappy that the area, which was originally a heterogeneous, pluralistic neighborhood, has lost its character and has become almost entirely haredi and devoid of demographic diversity.

A yeshiva was illegally built next door to his house in the Old City, nearly 20 years ago. Safdie has been fighting this in court for some time, but has not succeeded in having his unwelcome neighbors removed. He has been tempted many times to sell his house, but he wants to live in it when he’s in Israel, so despite all the pressures, it’s not yet on the market.

Other projects of his include the Yad Vashem Museum, the Mamilla Mall, the David Citadel Hotel, Ben-Gurion International Airport, the City of Modi’in, and more.

EVERY MONTH for the past 20 years, women from around Israel have been traveling to celebrate Rosh Hodesh at Moshav Me’or Modi’im, the moshav founded by the late Shlomo Carlebach and his followers. The 20th anniversary celebration of the Women’s Rosh Hodesh gatherings will take place on Rosh Hodesh Tevet, Monday, December 18, when the main topic will be letting go of anger and replacing it with holy thought. As usual, the women will recite the full Hallel. There will be a potluck vegetarian lunch, and Emuna Witt Halevi will impart some of Carlebach’s teachings. There will also be some yoga and inner and outer beauty treatment, and the events of the day will conclude with a concert by Etti Ankri. For further information: 052-324-0789.

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