Grapevine October 27, 2019: Beyond The Beatles

Just as chicken soup is regarded as the Jewish penicillin, scouse, the lamb or beef stew, is endemic to the port of Liverpool.

Director Emeritus of the Israel Museum and Executive Chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation James Snyder (photo credit: DANIEL RACHAMIM)
Director Emeritus of the Israel Museum and Executive Chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation James Snyder
(photo credit: DANIEL RACHAMIM)
Mention Merseyside in Liverpool, and the immediate association that comes to mind is that’s where The Beatles started their careers. But there’s also a Jewish aspect to Merseyside, and it’s not just The Beatles’ late manager Brian Epstein, who was referred to by Paul McCartney as “the fifth Beatle.”
Epstein was a member of Liverpool’s Jewish community as was author, editor and historian Dr. Gabriel Sivan, a long-time resident of Jerusalem, whose own roots in Liverpool go back to the 1850s. A very active member of the Jerusalem branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Sivan will this coming Wednesday present the screening of a documentary film Chicken Soup and Scouse, which tells the story of the Liverpool Jewish community from 1750 to the present day.
Just as chicken soup is regarded as the Jewish penicillin, scouse, the lamb or beef stew, is endemic to the port of Liverpool and was the staple of sailors entering the port. It is also the name of an accent or dialect used by Liverpudlians.
According to Sivan, there was a time in the 1850s when the Liverpool Jewish community was second in importance in Britain only to that of London. The Merseyside community is now just a pale shadow of its former self, he says. The population has declined as young families have either moved to London or immigrated to Israel. The screening will take place in the capital’s Beit Avi Chai.
■ SINCE HIS appointment as executive chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation, former director of the Israel Museum James Snyder, has become much more familiar with the diversity of Israel’s capital than might be expected in the many years in which he lived here. Snyder, who now resides in New York, comes to Israel every month to explore the many projects in which the Jerusalem Foundation is involved, to attend the inauguration of new projects, and to discuss future projects, some of which are not yet on the drawing board.
On his most recent visit to Israel during Sukkot, Snyder attended a celebration at the YMCA Jerusalem at which curators, artists, organizers and partners came together to mark the success of the 4th Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art. Among the many dignitaries and art-lovers were Jerusalem Biennale founder Rami Ozeri, Jerusalem Foundation director Anat Tzur and Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum.
Against the colorful and eclectic backdrop of the main exhibition, Ziara: Common Moroccan Wisdom, Ozeri welcomed Jewish and non-Jewish artists and curators from Israel and around the world, and recalled how, in 2013, many people urged him to invite Snyder to the opening of the first Biennale. “I didn’t,” he said. “I thought it was presumptuous. But nevertheless, he came. It was a beginning of a great friendship. James opened many doors for me since and came to each and every Biennale.”
According to Ozeri, Snyder, in his current position as executive chairman in New York of the Jerusalem Foundation together with JF President Shai Doron and Anat Tzur in Jerusalem will “bring the foundation back to its glorious Teddy Kollek days”.
Snyder, who evidently enjoyed the art installations and exhibition, noted, “When I came with my wife, Tina, to the first Jerusalem Biennale, back in 2013, I was very impressed how with almost no budget Rami was able to bring contemporary art around the city. I am glad the Biennale is growing and expanding to include all faiths”.
The Jerusalem Biennale, with its 30 exhibitions in 14 venues across the capital, will remain open throughout November, and will include many events and gallery talks.
■ SNYDER ALSO attended the Jerusalem Foundation’s ground-breaking ceremony for a Vocational Training Center in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Hayovel, whose aim is to help special-needs youth acquire professional skills that will enable them to successfully integrate into the work force.
The new co-ed center, made possible by the significant support of the Polinsky-Rivkin family of the United States, is being built adjacent to the Polinsky School for Vocational Training.
The late Abraham B. Polinsky, who emigrated from Russia to the United States as a youth, worked in the streets and eventually became extraordinarily successful in business despite a lack of formal education. In the early 1980s, after meeting Teddy Kollek, who as mayor also initiated the Jerusalem Foundation, Polinsky formed a special bond with Kollek and promised to help him build a better future for Jerusalem’s children and youth.
Polinsky wanted to provide Jerusalem’s youth with the opportunity to complete their formal education, earn high school matriculation and gain a profession – all of which he had lacked as a teenager. Polinsky’s promise has been maintained by the Polinsky-Rivkin family, particularly his daughter and son-in-law, Jeannie and Arthur Rivkin.
The Polinsky School currently has 130 pupils with learning disabilities who benefit from vocational training through workshops in a variety of fields. The school is the flagship institution in the sphere of vocational training for special-education youth in Jerusalem. In addition to Snyder, the ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion; Jerusalem Foundation president Shai Doron; Jerusalem Foundation director Anat Tzur; the great-grandson of Abraham B. Polinsky, Adam Rivkin; and the family’s representative, Helena Galper, who specially came from America for the occasion.
While Israel prides itself on its hi-tech achievements, there’s also a need for low-tech and no-tech professions which can be filled by special-needs personnel who have been properly trained for these jobs, and whose desire to be independent contributes to their efficiency and reliability.
Recognizing the importance of vocational training for special-needs people while they are still adolescents, the Jerusalem Municipality is building an additional facility that will serve as a rehabilitation center for special-education youth and young adults ages 13-21 who have communication and emotional or psychological disabilities.
■ YOU DON’T have to be an Australian to join the annual ANZAC Bike Ride initiated by Danny Hakim and Harvey Belik, but it might be useful when it comes to understanding Australian English. Riders this year will include 14 members of the Australian contingent serving with the UN Peacekeeping Forces based in the Sinai. They’re also bringing along one of their Fijian comrades. The ride begins at 8 a.m. on Friday, November 1, at the La Medavesh bike store at the entrance to Kibbutz Be’eri and continues until 11 a.m. Following the ride there will be an Australian-style barbecue with lots of beer to wash down the meat. There will be two bike trails led by Australian guides. One bike trail is for families, and the other for advanced riders.
The event is supported by the Australian Embassy, Telfed and Budo for Peace. For further details and registration contact Hayley at hayley@budoforpeace.org.
■ FOR CHRISTIANS, especially Catholics in Israel, this is a very important year in that it marks the 800th anniversary of the pilgrimage of peace by St. Francis of Assisi to the Holy Land during his travels through the Middle East.
Among the celebrations of this anniversary is the Terra Sancta (Holy Land) Organ Festival which is being held at the churches and shrines in Israel where the Franciscan Friars and the Custos (“guards) of the Holy Land have been active for centuries. The pipe organ players are from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria as well as from other countries, and are giving a total of 45 concerts in the above mentioned countries. The festival, which is an annual event, this year comprises images as well as music.
Nearly all the concerts are being held in churches, but the music is not entirely liturgical.
The concerts kicked off in Jordan in September but are continuing in the previously mentioned countries. Coming up on November at St. Peter’s Church in Old Jaffa is a concert by Hungarian organist Levente Kuzma, who has given organ recitals in the US and all over Europe. This particular concert is in collaboration with the Embassy of Hungary.
The concerts in Israel by international organ players take place at St. Peter’s Church in Tel Aviv-Jaffa on November 6 at 7 p.m.; at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.; and at the Church of Saint Saviour in Jerusalem on November 7 at 6 p.m.
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