GUESTS OF the Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza Hotel, which is now the Leonardo Jerusalem Plaza, managed by Fattal Hotels, were entertained by klezmer musicians at the Hanukka candle lighting ceremony. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger lit the candles on the third night. Presiding over the event was Danny Alkalai, Jerusalem area manager for Fattal and Leonardo hotels and general manager of the Plaza, where he had worked more than 25 years ago. Alkalai, who was then a department manager, left the Plaza 26 years ago to manage a hotel in Tiberias, and recently returned to the Plaza to the hotel's most senior post. For him this symbolized the closing of a circle. It was also a reunion: Of the hotel's staff, 49 people had been there during his previous stint. In addition to hotel guests and owners of apartments in the hotel, those attending the candle lighting and reception included travel agents, Leonardo Jerusalem CEO Omri Krongold and Leonardo Inn Jerusalem general manager Yossi Paritzky.
METZGER'S PREDECESSOR in office, former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who is now chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, was in the capital on Tuesday in his capacity as chairman of the Yad Vashem Council. One of Israel's most widely known Holocaust survivors, Lau joined 250 other survivors at Beit Hanassi for a Hanukka candle-lighting ceremony in the presence of President Shimon Peres. Also present were Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem directorate; and Noah Flug, chairman of the umbrella Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel and president of the International Auschwitz Committee.
MEMBERS OF the business community put their hands in their pockets to enable children from low socio-economic backgrounds to attend at least one of the many performances staged during Hanukka. Sheli Hoshen, founding president of Yad Beyad, which provides children from needy families with warm meals and places to do their homework after school, says the organization tries to arrange for tickets to shows all year round as well. This year the Friends of Yad Beyad, under the chairmanship of Dudi Gilat, raised NIS 100,000 for the purchase of 550 tickets to Zorro and Hercules.
JERUSALEM'S GREAT Synagogue is beginning to attract a younger population. It started with the sumptuous monthly kiddush. Then it moved on to lone soldiers who have come to Israel from countries around the world to serve in the IDF. Once a month some 200 soldiers meet there for Friday-night dinner. A special guest at last Friday's dinner was Odessa-born Jewish welterweight boxing champion Dmitri Salita, who lives in New York and is affiliated with Chabad. Salita, who was on his first visit to Israel, told the soldiers how thrilled he was to be in Jerusalem and how much he appreciated that they have come to Israel to help defend the Jewish people. Salita's career as a boxer was mapped out in the schoolyard where the nine-year-old immigrant with broken English and funny clothes had to fight off bullies. To learn how to defend himself, he joined a karate club and later a boxing club.
Last Sunday, the Great Synagogue, in conjunction with Shalshelet, launched its singles club for Hebrew speakers. Organizers will stage other events to bring younger people into the synagogue's orbit and provide a platform for them to meet.