AMONG THE people stranded in Europe when planes were grounded last month was Jerusalem Cinematheque founder and director Lia Van Leer, who was stuck in Amsterdam for three days. Van Leer was among several Jerusalemites who showed up last week at the Jaffa residence of French Ambassador Christophe Bigot to applaud fellow Jerusalemites James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum, and Yossi Tal Gan, director of the Israel Festival, who were two of the four recipients of French honors in recognition of their contribution to the promotion of French culture in Israel. Van Leer received a similar honor some years back. Like many heads of cultural organizations and institutions, she lamented the fact that, unlike the situation in France, a series of governments of Israel have cut back on financially supporting and encouraging the expression and appreciation of Israeli culture.

 “I AM the longest-lasting birthday present my mother ever had,” said Rolinda Schonwald, the Jerusalem-based firstborn of the four daughters of Irma Rochlin, a former politician from Miami. Sixty years ago, Schonwald was the gift her mother received on her 26th birthday. “It was the greatest gift to have, a wonderful daughter like Rolinda,” said Rochlin. The two women were born on April 28, which was close enough for a Lag Ba’omer birthday party in the spacious Baka garden of Schonwald’s sister Tamara Gottstein.

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It turned out to be a four-generation affair in that one of Schonwald’s daughters, Eliana, who recently became a mother herself, attended with her three-month-old daughter Ta’ir and acknowledged that it was not until she became a mother herself that she could fully appreciate the constant support, encouragement and unconditional love that she had received from her mother. Schonwald radiated as she listened but pointed to her mother to indicate that it was hereditary.


Schonwald’s husband, Rabbi Joe Schonwald, recalled the first time that he met his wife-to-be 35 years ago in California at one of the Beit Chabad facilities. “The memory still moves me,” he said, his voice choked with emotion.

Rochlin said that she learns something new every time she comes to Israel, and this time she’s been studying gematria and she discovered that the alphabetical composition of 86 works out to “hallelujah.” “This is my hallelujah year,” she said, whereupon Yehuda Katz and his band Reva Le’sheva, who are close friends of the Schonwald family, immediately began playing the Gali Atari version of the song, followed by that of Leonard Cohen. Katz’s wife, Michelle, was a torch singer before they married but, except for rare occasions, has remained in the musical background ever since, even though she loves to sing. The birthday party was one of the exceptional cases in which she was prepared to sing in public, and she put such energy into her performance that nearly everyone, including Rochlin, got up to dance. Michelle Katz received so many compliments for her singing that she’s seriously thinking of putting out a joint CD with her husband, who already has several CDs to his credit. Judging by the expression of approval on his face as she sang, she’ll have his full cooperation.

MANY PEOPLE who don’t actually speak Yiddish but remember parents or grandparents singing Yiddish songs, the tunes of which are still etched in their minds, can learn to sing the lyrics thanks to professional singer Ruth Levin, a fluent Yiddish speaker whose multilingual musical repertoire includes Yiddish melodies. Under the auspices of YungYidish, Levin is giving a workshop in Yiddish song for professionals and amateurs..

GOSSIP COLUMNISTS in the Hebrew press are almost obsessive about the men in the life of Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), especially because she is religiously observant, over 30 and unmarried. Her name has been linked with those of several young men, but none of the relationships have lasted for more than a few weeks. Her current beau is Bentzi Feigelson, the former chairman of the Students Association at Bar-Ilan University.

n MANY PEOPLE who don’t actually speak Yiddish but remember parents or grandparents singing Yiddish songs, the tunes of which are still etched in their minds, can learn to sing the lyrics thanks to professional singer Ruth Levin, a fluent Yiddish speaker whose multilingual musical repertoire includes Yiddish melodies. Under the auspices of YungYidish, Levin is giving a workshop in Yiddish song for professionals and amateurs..

n GOSSIP COLUMNISTS in the Hebrew press are almost obsessive about the men in the life of Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), especially because she is religiously observant, over 30 and unmarried. Her name has been linked with those of several young men, but none of the relationships have lasted for more than a few weeks. Her current beau is Bentzi Feigelson, the former chairman of the Students Association at Bar-Ilan University.
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