CONNECTIONS ISRAEL, together with the Bible Lands Museum and support from EIC Energy, last Sunday hosted a large-scale Sderot Bat Mitzva Jerusalem Experience. Thirty-one girls, many of whom have been partnered with American girls celebrating their bat mitzva, came to Jerusalem to experience their very special birthdays in the holy city. The day began with a tour of Moreshet Hadorot near the Western Wall, some meaningful moments of prayer at the Wall, where in addition to reciting their own prayers and making their own wishes, they acted as emissaries for their American counterparts who had sent notes to be inserted into the crevices of the Wall.

The group continued to the Bible Lands Museum, where after lunch they toured the exhibit with a focus on “Character Traits of Female Ancestors from the Tanach Period” and participated in a jewelry-making workshop.

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Before returning to Sderot, the group went to the Inbal Hotel, where they were greeted by the Joel Braverman Yeshiva of Flatbush High School Chesed Mission and participated in a ceremony in which each girl received a prayer book and a piece of jewelry with the compliments of the Yeshiva of Flatbush Bat Mitzvah Girls, as well as a pair of candlesticks from Connections Israel. To round things off, the Israeli and American girls danced to the music of Rika Razel, Efrat Razel and Sharon Helfenbaum.


THE ANNUAL Jerusalem Conference grows in importance from year to year as evidenced by its list of speakers. The closing address at this year’s conference will be delivered by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was there last year in his capacity as leader of the opposition. The conference, which is traditionally held at the Regency Hotel on Mount Scopus, will be opened on Monday, February 15, by Mayor Nir Barkat. Other speakers during the three-day event will include government ministers Silvan Shalom, Ya’acov Neeman, Yuli Edelstein and Benny Begin; Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky; eminent historian and Orientalist Prof. Bernard Lewis; past and present senior army officers; and Israeli and American politicians, economists, diplomats, rabbis and journalists. Panelists in a plenary session on communicating Israel’s message will include Daniel Seaman, director of the Government Press Office; David Horovitz, editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post; Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post senior contributing editor; Judy Lash Balint, freelance journalist and new media coordinator at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; and Aryeh Green, the director of Media Central. Journalists participating in other sessions include Dan Diker, Saul Singer, Itamar Marcus, Ehud Ya’ari, Ayala Hasson, MK Uri Orbach (who came to politics from journalism), Shalom Yerushalmi, Hagai Segal and Emanuel Shilo. Among the topics for discussion will be Israel-US relations, the Iranian threat, “Lawfare” and the two-state solution.

STAND-UP comedian Nadav Abukasis was commissioned to star in a new commercial for Mister Zol, part of the Co-op Israel chain of supermarkets. It was decided to use a store in Modi’in as the setting, but videotaping could not take place during regular store hours, so everyone involved had to wait until after the store had closed and there were no customers to interfere with the production. It’s amazing how much work goes into even the briefest of video clips, especially when there are several takes to ensure that the final product is as good as it can get. During one of the time-outs between shots, Co-op CEO Rami Mendel suggested to Abukasis that he take advantage of the situation and do his grocery shopping. Mendel even advised him on which were the best fruit and vegetables. They both had a lot of fun, and along the way Abukasis learned what to look for and what to avoid when selecting fruits and vegetables.

HELL HATH no fury like a woman scorned or, one can add, like a former political ally turned opponent. Thus Meir Turgeman, the one-man opposition in the Jerusalem Municipality, last week published a full-page advertisement in the Hebrew media warning residents of Jerusalem that the municipality is after their money and that they will be forced to pay fines if they park at night in places where they cannot park in the daytime. Municipal parking inspectors will be working overtime to catch anyone who breaks the rules and will tow away illegally parked cars.

Alluding to Mayor Nir Barkat’s election campaign in which he promised transparency on spending and on the decision-making process, Turgeman wrote that the municipality’s added income from fines for illegal parking will go to pay for the remodeling of the mayor’s office and the offices of his advisers, the salaries of his cronies and the salaries of the deputy mayors.

An attempt to add two more deputy mayors would have cost taxpayers an additional NIS 2 million per year, wrote Turgeman, who has been trying for a year to find out how much the office renovations cost, but no one will tell him. The current annual budget is NIS 3.6 billion, the larger part of which comes from taxes.
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