(photo credit: Courtesy)
■ FOR ANYONE interested in seeing something of the social evolution of Ethiopian Jews, the English-language premier of Lady Titi will take place on February 18, at 7 p.m. at Congregation Kol Haneshama. The writer, the director and some of the cast will be present to talk about the experience, to sign autographs and to participate in a panel discussion. Also present will be Ethiopian-Israeli educator and social activist Shula Mula, who has been quoted as saying that the return to Zion has been painful and difficult for Ethiopian Jews. It was hard enough to trek across the desert, and many succumbed to illness along the way, but those who could kept going because they cherished a dream. However, Israel and Jerusalem were not exactly what they expected. Mula will present her cultural and political opinion of the movie.
Proceeds from ticket sales are earmarked for the Association of Ethiopian Jews, and the not-for-profit organization behind the film, which, like so much in life, will provoke both laughter and tears.
■ FOLLOWING THE shocking murder last week of Ori Ansbacher of Tekoa, her mother asked that everyone do one small thing in Ori’s memory that will help to bring light to the world. It is an Israeli characteristic that when parents lose a child – especially to war or terrorism – the family seeks to honor the memory of the deceased through good deeds on behalf of others.
This also holds true of the family of Shir Hajaj, the 22-year-old soldier killed in a terrorist attack on the Haas Promenade in January 2017. In her memory, her family distributes food baskets to the needy. For Purim, Herzl and Merav Hajaj are making a special effort to distribute mishloah manot so that many of Jerusalem’s and Ma’aleh Adumim’s least affluent residents, who might otherwise not receive Purim baskets, will be able enjoy the festival.
Like Ori, Shir wanted to make the world a better place for the less fortunate. Because she had a natural gift for teaching and was good at solving complex technological problems, she took it upon herself to regularly visit some half dozen schools in Ma’aleh Adumim to coach youngsters with learning difficulties.
■ WITHOUT THEIR combined talent and their decision for religious reasons to drop out of the Eurovision Song Contest, it’s doubtful that the Shalva Band members would attract the kind of media attention that the band is getting at home and abroad. It will be performing, if not competing, at Eurovision, so that’s a partial triumph; and this week, at the gala concert preceding the opening of the 16th annual Jerusalem Conference hosted by the B’Sheva Media Group, it was one of the recipients of the Jerusalem Prize.
Under the heading of “I am a Jerusalemite” performed by Jerusalem-born superstar Yehoram Gaon, who is also a former member of the Jerusalem City Council, the conference got off to a musical start. The other recipient of the Jerusalem Prize on Sunday night was singer and songwriter Shuli Rand. Among those present in the audience were Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, who is quite a formidable singer himself, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who asked Gaon to dedicate Naomi Shemer’s song about the honey and the sting to the memory of Ori Ansbacher. Gaon asked to participate in the awards ceremony, saying that he loves the Shalva Band and that he admires Rand.
The Shalva Band was greeted with cheers and a standing ovation, as its members mounted the stage and were warmly embraced by both Bennett and Gaon. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter who wins Eurovision. None of the contestants will be remembered outside their home countries, but Shalva will be remembered around the world.
■ ON THE opening day of the Jerusalem Conference, there were more prizes awarded. One of the recipients was Prof. Jonathan Halevy, director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, who is retiring after 31 years. When he started, he said, Shaare Zedek was a provincial hospital with 300 beds. Now it is a giant medical center, with two campuses, 1,000 beds, state-of-the-art equipment, breakthrough achievements in research and some of the best doctors in the country.
In a farewell interview that he gave to Yediot Aharonot, Halevy said that Israel’s health system is “very sick indeed,” and that a miracle cure is needed. Part of the problem is that politics has entered the health system, and as far as Halevy is concerned, that’s not healthy for anyone.
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