Grapevine: Jerusalem nightlife highlights

If the nightlife in the market is closed down, the exodus from Jerusalem by young people will become irreversible, and it won’t be limited to secular young people.

May 2, 2019 12:28
3 minute read.
Ofer Berkovitch campaigns with Olim.

Ofer Berkovitch campaigns with Olim.. (photo credit: YANNIK LISSON)

■ BOOK LAUNCHES are in vogue and if the author can get a dignitary to participate in the proceedings – so much the better. Of course, it helps if the author happens to be an intellectual, as is the case with regular Jerusalem Post and Jerusalem Report columnist Amotz Asa-El, whose book (written in Hebrew) has a title that loosely translates as The Jewish March of Folly. Speakers will include former justice minister and current president of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations Dan Meridor; author Yossi Klein Halevi, whose works include the best-selling Letters to a Palestinian Neighbor; Hannah Pinchasi of the Hartman Institute; and Yair Sheleg of the Israel Democracy Institute.

The launch is scheduled for Monday, May 6 at 7.30 p.m. at the Hartman Institute, 11 Gedaliah Alon Street, Jerusalem.

■ WILL THE Orthodox majority in the Jerusalem City Council succeed in spoiling things for the secular population? Not if Hitorerut leader Ofer Berkovitch has his way. Berkovitch, who narrowly lost the mayoral race, is now leading an emergency campaign to save Jerusalem’s nightlife.

It’s bad enough for secular Jerusalem residents that several of the minimarkets they used to frequent on Shabbat as well as the restaurants at which they dined on Shabbat have either been forced to close on Friday nights and Saturdays, or have simply gone out of business, but efforts are now being made to also close down the nightlife. As it is, music is not allowed to be played in residential areas after 11 p.m. This would be well and good if residential and commercial areas were separate, but they’re not.

There have always been apartments in and near the center of town, but never as many as during the administration of Nir Barkat, who encouraged the construction of town houses, thereby putting a bit of a damper on any kind of audio entertainment after the witching hour. In warm weather, the restaurants in the center get a lot of late-night clientele. Up till 11 p.m., the diners delight in keyboard, string and vocal performances – and then comes 11 o’clock and it’s all over.

At the Mahaneh Yehuda market, one of the hubs for late night drinking, dining and musical performances, it’s a lot worse; it’s not only noise that the City Council seeks to eliminate, it’s the nightlife in general, which in some quarters is believed to have a negative influence on boys attending nearby yeshivot. On the other hand, why are the rabbis in these yeshivot so ineffective in controlling the boys in their care?

If the nightlife in the market is closed down, the exodus from Jerusalem by young people will become irreversible, and it won’t be limited to secular young people. Berkovitch says that Jerusalem is in a crisis insofar as nightlife is concerned. Two downtown nightclubs that were well patronized by young people recently closed down. He is worried that if this trend continues, young people will have few outlets for leisure activities.

He thinks that the municipality should make substantial funds available to encourage and assist entrepreneurs in opening new outlets for nighttime entertainment. The municipality must come up with out-of-the box incentives to persuade investors and entrepreneurs to contribute to the city’s nightlife by opening new facilities.

■ MOST OF the synagogues in the Rehavia, Talbiya, Yemin Moshe areas have the occasional VIP attend their services, but Hazvi Yisrael hit the jackpot on the last day of Passover when congregants included President Reuven Rivlin, former US senator Joe Lieberman and Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of New York, the rabbi who converted Ivanka Trump to Judaism.

The emeritus principal of the Ramaz School and the longstanding rabbi of Kehilat Jeshurun, Lookstein comes to Israel at least once a year. In the past he has led Ramaz student groups or adults from his congregation, but this time it was just family – and plenty of them. Lookstein and his wife will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in June, and in advance of that, brought their children and grandchildren to Israel so that the family could be together on what is essentially a pilgrim festival.

They came at exactly the right time to hear one of Israel’s best Torah readers, Prof. Jonathan Halevy, the outgoing director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Halevy reads the Torah as if he were telling a story; many people within earshot put their Bibles aside and just sit back and listen.

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