Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau speaks to The Jerusalem Post.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MANY WOULD-BE congregants of Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue stayed away on the first day of Rosh Hashana due to a fault in the air conditioning. People who had come to services on the first night found it uncomfortable, with many deciding to find other places of worship for the rest of the holiday.
Those who stayed away on the first day missed out on hearing the magnificent Torah reading by choir conductor Elli Jaffe, whose perfect enunciation and loud, clear, melodious voice could be heard in the furthest reaches of the women’s gallery. Likewise, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau – though not quite as eloquent as his father, former chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau – is good at projecting his voice and could also be heard by everyone present. Chief cantor Chaim Adler was in fine form, and the choir outdid itself.
Toward the end of the service there is a song of praise with a Hallelujah chorus, which Adler sang to the tune made famous by Leonard Cohen. Adler gave it a somewhat different interpretation, and even avid Cohen fans would have to agree that Adler’s rendition was moving.
By the second day of the holiday, the air-conditioning issue had been resolved, although some of the female congregants were psychologically compelled to wave their fans.
WHILE REGULAR health clinics are closed at night and on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, Terem emergency centers are available; in the haredi community, there is also Saad Umarpeh located in Kiryat Belz, headed by Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Fried. While it is extremely convenient for locals, many haredi tourists who are here till after Simhat Torah can also benefit from its services if necessary, and it will save them a trip to a hospital emergency clinic.
Saad Hamarpeh does more than treat physical ailments – it also helps to heal the soul. Each year during Succot, it conducts a spirited Simhat Beit Hashoeva concert in the auditorium of Shaare Zedek Medical Center to enable patients, especially children, temporarily forget their aches and pains and enjoy the festival. Rabbi Fried, who speaks Yiddish, English and Hebrew, is available to anyone in need and can be reached at 052-238-6903.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 1 will be frustrating for a lot of people because there are too many attractions to choose from. After a successful season with Sassi Keshet in a mainly Yiddish program called Tzuzammen (Together), Dudu Fisher has now teamed up with Colin Schachat and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra to present beloved Jewish music from around the world. The Misaviv La’olam concert will be held at the Jerusalem Theater.
On the same date, supporters of United Hatzalah and fans of Avraham Fried and Yaakov Shwekey will flock to the Jerusalem International Convention Center. The gala concert was initially scheduled for a smaller venue, but demand for tickets was such that it was moved there. Proceeds will be used to purchase medical equipment to support the work of United Hatzalah’s 3,000 volunteers across the country.
“This is by far the biggest concert we’ve hosted yet,” enthused founder and president Eli Beer. Shwekey and Fried are longtime United Hatzalah supporters; opening the popular musical happening will be Moetzet Hashira Hayehudit by Yishai Lapidot.
The event also will honor well-known philanthropist Leonardo Farkas of Chile, who earlier in the day will be dedicating a Torah scroll in honor of the world’s Jews with the final letters being written at the Leonardo Hotel, followed by dancing across the road to the Great Synagogue. That same week, Farkas will dedicate a wall in the Great Synagogue in honor of United Hatzalah.
Farkas was also honored last year at the organization’s 10th anniversary concert at the Jerusalem Theater. He supports not only Jewish causes but humanitarian causes in general, and following the rescue operation in 2010 of 33 trapped miners in Copiapó, Chile, he donated a $10,000 check for their families of each of the 33 rescued men.
Farkas is also a generous supporter of Chabad. In all probability, he will again be in the philanthropic forefront of efforts to aid victims of the latest Chilean earthquake disaster.