Grapevine: Bernie to the rescue

Bernie is quite a familiar sight in Jerusalem, accompanying Hess almost everywhere he goes, including to synagogue.

Chabad Rehavia sign (photo credit: WWW.JERUSALEMCHABAD.ORG)
Chabad Rehavia sign
■ HOT ON the heels of Jerusalem Day, which will be celebrated on June 1 in synagogues throughout the city, comes the annual Jerusalem gay pride parade, which this year takes place on June 6. Ever since the stabbing in the 2015 parade of six marchers, one of whom, Shira Banki, died as a result of her wounds, the police have been much more vigilant in protecting the marchers from physical assault.
Toward this end, they have enlisted the assistance of restaurateur Marcel Hess, who is the owner of Bernie, who, as far as is known, is the only trained Bernese mountain dog for rescue and service in Israel. Bernie is quite a familiar sight in Jerusalem, accompanying Hess almost everywhere he goes, including to synagogue.
Hess is also a first responder to emergency situations, working as a volunteer with MDA. Together, Hess and Bernie make a great team. Hess was also a first responder in the Swiss Army and in civilian life in his native Switzerland as well.
The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance has become one of the largest and most significant civil rights movements in the capital. Although it still inflames members of the haredi community who line its route and insult the marchers, it also attracts non-LGBT civil rights activists who believe that, all humans are entitled to equal rights, liberty, personal security and protection.

■ MATI JERUSALEM, the business development center, an NGO established in 1991 to help strengthen the economy of Jerusalem, has announced the availability of loans up to NIS 250,000 from the Aliyah and Integration Ministry for new immigrants and returning Israelis. Such loans will be distributed via MATI Jerusalem, which also provides mentoring and business guidance from some of the best people in Israel’s business world.
Yaniv Ben Yosef, the head of MATI’s mentoring division, notes that new immigrants are increasingly opening independent business ventures in Jerusalem. This can be challenging not only language-wise, but due to norms different from those of the immigrants’ places of origin, and to the bureaucracy . It is therefore essential for such people to be in touch with MATI to  receive proper guidance.
MATI Jerusalem CEO Golan Tobi emphasized MATI’s interest in encouraging entrepreneurship and providing new immigrants and returning Israelis with the tools for successful business. He noted that, to be eligible for such aid, loan applicants must meet criteria set down by the ministry. But even if they don’t meet these requirements, they can still benefit from other services provided by MATI.

■ AMONG THE more enterprising rabbis in Jerusalem is Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, the director of Chabad of Rehavia, who is forever dreaming up new routes for religious outreach.
Aside from being very personable, and personally carrying the Torah scroll into the women’s section of the synagogue during Sabbath services, and taking their requests for special prayers for the restoration of health to loved ones, Goldberg long ago realized that the synagogue and the Chabad Center are not the only places where Jews should congregate for religious purposes. Some, especially those who have minimal experience with religious observance, might feel uncomfortable in either of the above premises.
So Goldberg, for Purim a few years back, organized megillah readings at various eateries within easy walking distance of the Chabad of Rehavia Center. The project, called Aza Zaza, proved to be an enormous success, with added venues from year to year, not only as a sign of goodwill on the part of proprietors, but also because people who might otherwise have never been to their establishments were coming to them for a religious-cum-social happening.
Such gatherings have been revived by Goldberg for the summer months, where interested people can meet on Fridays at 10:30 a.m. at Shosh Café, on the corner of Keren Kayemet and Ibn Ezra streets, to discuss the weekly Torah portion from a kabbalistic perspective. Goldberg says that there is no need for participants to have a background knowledge Kabbalah. He will simplify the explanations to ensure that everyone present understands. The sessions last for approximately 45 minutes, which still gives people ample time for Shabbat shopping.
While the Great Synagogue is undergoing renovations, Chabad of Rehavia will have Friday night and Shabbat afternoon services at the Chabad Center at 52 King George St. and on Shabbat mornings at 10 a.m. in the basement of the Great Synagogue at 56 King George St.