WHILE THE guest list for the bar mitzva of Avraham Shmuel Zvi Rokeach, the grandson of the Belzer Rebbe, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, was composed largely of haredim, there were several guests who were not religiously observant, such as several bankers and Mayor Nir Barkat. Among them was Tal Catran, the CEO of Optimum, who heads the Non-Religious Friends of the Belzer Hassidim.

Optimum produces catalogs, instruction manuals and training programs for Israel’s aerospace, defense and homeland security and semiconductor industries. Catran founded the Non-Religious Friends of the Belzer Hassidim two years ago in a bid to bridge some of the differences between the secular and haredi communities, to eradicate stigmas on both sides, to enhance the knowledge of the secular community about what goes on in the haredi world and to enable haredim to find employment in the general job market. The organization also helps those haredim who want to serve in the IDF.

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The bar mitzva boy was called to the Torah at the Belz World Center, which stands out on the horizon at the approach to the city.

ALTHOUGH THEY didn’t make a big song and dance about it, the followers of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the Jerusalem-based mentor and authoritative voice of the Lithuanian haredi community, celebrated his 100th birthday on the first day of Nisan, which according to Jewish tradition is the New Year for Kings.

TANGO LOVERS should circle May 27 on their calendars. That’s the date on which Tango Nuevo, performed by the famous Argentine dance ensemble Tango Kinesis, will appear at the Gerard Behar Center at a benefit night for the Israel Friends of the Hebrew University in the presence of Atilio Molteni, the ambassador of Argentina. The event is being held in coordination with the Israel Festival.

CULTURE OF another kind has become part and parcel of the Alrov Mamilla Mall, which during the spring/summer months holds frequent musical events, as well as outdoor exhibitions of paintings and sculptures. The most recent exhibition opened on Tuesday with a lot of whimsy in the works with birds, ballet dancers and children’s stories such as Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella and Pinocchio as the most popular themes. Some of the exhibitors took artistic license, among them Danny Katz whose Cinderella slipper near the entrance to the mall is not quite in keeping with that of the famed fairy tale. Whereas Cinderella found her Prince Charming because her dainty foot fit into the glass slipper, the footwear produced by Katz is a gold slipper that is far from dainty.

Although there are signs throughout the exhibition requesting the public not to touch the artwork, children could not resist scrambling over the larger exhibits, and one little boy could not stop himself from using another Danny Katz sculpture, the life-size Tin Man standing two-thirds of the way up the steps, as a target for his football. Other sources of fascination were Ricky Levy’s ballet dancers, which wore genuine tulle tutus in a shade of old gold.

AND THEN there’s pop culture in the form of the reality TV show A Star Is Born, the finals of which will be held in the Sultan’s Pool this year and will fall in line with the Mayor Nir Barkat’s plan to bring increasing numbers of visitors from all over the country to the capital. In announcing that the eighth season finals of the popular talent show will be held in Jerusalem, Barkat said that over the past year, Jerusalem has evolved into the country’s cultural capital. Some Tel Avivians might argue with that, and Haifa might also contest such a contention, but there’s no denying that there are many more cultural events taking place in Jerusalem than in past years. One only has to look at poster boards around the city to see the volume and variety of cultural activities.

The Jerusalem Municipality has invested a million shekels in upgrading the Sultan’s Pool, which can now seat 7,000 people – twice as many as the amphitheater in Caesarea. Among the entertainers who have performed at the Sultan’s Pool in the past year were Rita, Ivri Lider, Moshe Peretz, Kobi Peretz, Sarit Hadad, Harel Skaat, Idan Raichel, Yehudit Ravitz and Aviv Gefen.

ALTHOUGH THERE may not seem to be anything special about a 32nd birthday, for people who dabble in numerology it has great significance because the Hebrew letter equivalent for 32 is lamed bet, which spells lev, meaning “heart.” Thus when Jerusalemite Pnina Weiss celebrated her 32nd birthday, she decided to make it an all heart affair by hosting a blood drive last Friday at her home in Katamon. Weiss arranged for Magen David Adom to send a bloodmobile to her home, with the result that MDA received more blood donations in one morning in Katamon than it usually does from its regular downtown donor station in the plaza alongside Hamashbir.

At Weiss’s home, guests and donors munched on heart-shaped delicacies prepared by the birthday lady and received heart-shaped goody bags. To round off the heart-warming occasion, all the music selected for the event was heart-themed.
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