n IS NUMBER 8 Rehov Harav Kook becoming the new communications center in Jerusalem? It would seem so, judging by the number of communications-oriented organizations that have moved into the building complex. First was The Media Line presided over by Felice and Michael Friedson. Then there was Media Central headed by Aryeh Green. This was followed by Lone Star Public Relations and Communications founded by Charley Levine. And there's also the recently formed Hadar Council for Civic Action, which to a large extent is a communications enterprise whose founders include Dore Gold, Daniel Gordis, Yehiel Leiter, Uzi Dayan, Bobby Brown and Shalom Helman.
n EVEN THOUGH her husband was abroad and her kitchen is so small that you can't swing a cat in it, Hadassah Zionist Women's Organization of America public relations director Barbara Sofer managed to turn out a great feast for the pidyon haben - the redeeming of the firstborn - of her newest grandchild Shlomo Gad, born to her daughter Chani and son-in-law Daniel Zamir, an internationally known jazz saxophonist who is also a Chabadnik. Some 50 people crowded into the apartment for the festivities, which included covering the baby with money and jewels and surrounding him with garlic and sugar.
The jewels were in memory of the fact that the ancient Israelite women refused to surrender their jewels for the creation of the golden calf; and the garlic and sugar symbolize a wish for a sharp mind and a sweet life. The father had purchased five silver shekels with which to redeem the infant from a Cohen (priest). Although religious ceremonies in Judaism are usually male dominated, Sofer, who is somewhat of a feminist, made sure that the guests were aware that a pidyon haben is solely dependent on the mother. Unless the boy is the first child that she has conceived and is delivered via natural birth, there can be no pidyon haben.Zamir, who composed a tribute to Gilad Schalit which he has released on a CD, did not forget the hapless soldier at the height of his own joy and recited a special prayer for him with the hope that he comes home soon.
n APROPOS Hadassah, the Nechama Chapter of Hadassah-Israel, whose members include a large sprinkling of women who were members of Hadassah in the old country, is offering one of the most affordable of Hanukka treats: a performance by cantorial students of the Jewish Theological Seminary who will sing Broadway, pops, classics and folk music in "A Burst of Song" at the Ramot Zion congregation, 62 Rehov Bar-Kochva in French Hill. The event, on Tuesday, December 8, begins at 7:30 p.m. Entrance fee is at the discretion of the audience, with a minimum fee of NIS 18. Proceeds from the evening will go to The Interdisciplinary Center for Research and Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer at Hadassah Hospital. Everyone who pays the entrance fee will receive a free raffle ticket, which makes the occasion a win-win situation.
n THE ANNUAL Begin Prize ceremony will be held this year on December 15 at the Begin Heritage Center in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Koby Kahlon. Meridor is the son of Eliyahu Meridor, who worked with Menachem Begin in Etzel and Herut. During Begin's last two years as prime minister, the younger Meridor served as his cabinet secretary.
n ANYONE WHO ever visited the penthouse apartment in the Wolfson complex of the late Lily Silver could not help but be impressed by her wonderful art collection, especially her collection of ancient glass. Silver was a great lady, who laughed easily and made people feel comfortable regardless of their station in life. She and her late husband Nathan were also very generous philanthropists who contributed to a large and varied range of causes and projects in Canada and in Israel. Their luxury apartment, which they often made available to various charitable organizations, overlooked the Knesset. On one occasion when they were entertaining guests from abroad, one of them turned to Lily and thanked her profusely for allowing them to see how typical Israelis live. It was one of Lily's favorite stories.
The Silvers' children have followed in their parents' footsteps in many ways. Joey Silver, who added his mother's art collection to his own admirable collection, last week opened his gracious home in Yemin Moshe to the Hai Society of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. The combined collections give the house a certain museum-like ambience. Joey Silver has expert knowledge of every item and explained the pieces in the collection with the aplomb of an experienced curator. His involvement with AACI is a continuation of his mother's long-term commitment toward supporting the AACI community. Toronto-born Lily Silver launched her collection in 1952 when Josh Simon, a dealer in antiquities, gave her a few Roman glass tear bottles. She fell in love with them and became hooked on Roman glass, constantly adding to her collection. At the time of her death in 2004, she had collected some 1,200 pieces, some of which dated back to the 8th century BCE.
The evening at Joey Silver's home was exclusively for AACI's Hai Society whose members annually give large donations to AACI. Generally speaking the Hai Society events are held in private homes around the country, but the next one will be held at AACI's new Jerusalem premises. A date has yet to be announced. Among those who attended last week's event were Riva Freedman Rotenberg, past president of AACI; Moshe and Libby Werthan; and Paula and Don Edelstein, who is the chairperson of AACI Jerusalem.
WHEN THE chairperson of the Jerusalem Hotels Association and the special Middle East envoy of the Quartet get together, the subject of conversation is, naturally enough, the stalled peace process. At least that was the subject of discussion between Ariela Shmida-Doron, who is also general manager of the Jerusalem Gold Hotel, and former British prime minister Tony Blair, who though he missed out on being the first permanent president of the European Union, remains the special envoy of the Quartet. The two met at a cocktail reception at the American Colony Hotel. While the global economic crisis certainly affected hotel occupancy rates, the lack of progress in the peace process was no less significant a factor. Shmida-Doron is convinced that if the peace process is successfully concluded, tourism to both Israel and the new Palestinian state will soar.
BICYCLING FOR any number of causes has become an international passion. There are several such annual fundraising events in Israel and Aura Wolfe, director of development for the Herzog-Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, has just announced another bike-a-thon to be held over a three-day period from April 13-15 under the title Cycle for Hope. The ride will begin in Jerusalem on the first day and will conclude at Kibbutz Sde Yoav. On the second day the ride will begin in Sderot, will progress through Beduin villages and will conclude with a barbecue with soldiers from the IDF at Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh. On the third day, riders will set out for Sde Boker to Mitzpe Ramon. There will also be a one-day option that includes off-road biking. Following the concluding ceremony, return transportation will be provided for the bikers.