Trump and Masada.
(photo credit: REUTERS,ANDREW SHIVA / WIKIPEDIA)
■ NOW THAT it appears to be definite that US President Donald Trump will be in Israel – specifically in Jerusalem – on May 22, what should be a festive period for Jerusalemites will evolve into a nightmare.
As always, major arteries on routes that the president will travel will be closed to regular traffic. But that’s not all.
The opening celebration of festivities marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem is to take place on May 21, with a sound-and-light production on the walls of the Old City in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Zev Elkin and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. On this day too, major arteries including Hebron Road, King David, Shlomo Hamelech and Hatzanhanim streets and others will be closed to traffic.
Because Trump will be staying overnight in Jerusalem, the roads will not re-open to traffic on May 23, until after his departure. For many Jerusalemites this three-day period will not be a celebration of liberation but a commemoration of siege.
■ AMERICA’S NEW ambassador to Israel David Friedman is expected to arrive in the country just over a week ahead of his president, and one of his first stops will be at the Western Wall, a sign that regardless of his national loyalties, allegiance to his faith comes first.
Although Friedman hopes and would prefer to spend a lot of time in Jerusalem, this will ultimately depend on whether or not President Trump decides to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital. If he does, other embassies will presumably follow, heeding the call issued on Israel Independence Day by Rivlin and Netanyahu.
If real estate prices in Jerusalem are already sky high, they will be even more so if embassies relocate to Israel’s capital. Aside from embassy buildings per se, such a move would also incur residences for ambassadors and lower-ranking diplomats. This could well entail the need to construct a whole new neighborhood.
■ ALTHOUGH LAG Ba’omer has been postponed for a day to avoid Shabbat desecration, there are those who nonetheless will be making merry on the actual date, which falls on Saturday night, May 13. Wellknown singer guitarist Yehuda Katz, together with the Full Circle band comprising percussionist Yoni Sharon, string bass player Ophir Shneider, and flutist Niv Klil Hachoresh, will be appearing at the Gula Club at the First Station with a mix of New World music together with familiar spiritual favorites. The doors open at 9.30 p.m.
■ THE POLISH Institute, together with the Eden-Tamir Music Center in Ein Karem and Yung Yidish, is sponsoring a concert under the heading of “Jewish Tango,” featuring the most popular tangos that were played in Warsaw’s Jewish cabarets before and even during World War II.
The tangos will all be performed in Yiddish by Olga Avigail, accompanied by musicians Hadrian Tabecki, Piotr Malicki, Grzegorz Bozewicz and Alexander Fisz. A singer and accordionist, Olga Avigail was born in Warsaw and graduated from Warsaw’s Frederic Chopin School of Music. She has performed in concerts and Jewish Music Festivals throughout Europe, the US, Canada, Scandinavia and Israel.
“Jewish Tango” will be performed on Tuesday, May 16 at 9 p.m. at the Eden-Tamir Music Center, 29 Hama’ayan Street, Ein Kerem. Tickets are NIS 60 each.
■ “WE DEFINE ourselves by negating the other,” Rabbi Moshe Silberschein told a packed congregation at the Conservative Moreshet Yisrael Synagogue last Saturday. Referring to the biblical injunction to love the stranger (or the convert) as oneself, Silberschein regretted that there was insufficient evidence of that in Israel, and referred to the various streams within Judaism that do not tolerate each other.
It’s actually a shame that in certain Orthodox, or more accurately ultra-Orthodox quarters, the prohibition on listening to a woman’s voice singing, plus opposition to egalitarian seating, prevents them from attending Conservative and Reform services, which would certainly be an eye-opener for them. In Jerusalem at least, almost everyone in the congregation knows the service off by heart, and the expressions of pure joy on women’s faces when they are called to the Torah imply somewhat more piety than is obvious among men in Orthodox congregations.