Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman.
(photo credit: מוישימי/WIKIMEDIA)
■ RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES throughout the Jewish world were concerned over the hospitalization of Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, head of the Ponevezh Yeshiva, who at age 103 is still regarded as one of the greatest authorities on Halacha. Shteinman spent more than a week at Ma’ayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak after being diagnosed with pneumonia. His condition began to deteriorate and a call by his followers for prayers for his recovery went viral, and all over the world Jews were praying for his recovery. Miraculously, he improved to the extent that he was discharged and sent home last week, though doctors said that he still had to undergo further treatment.
■ THE PRIME Minister’s Hebrew Language conference in conjunction with the Ministry for Culture and Sport and the Municipality of Rishon Lezion will be held January 17 to 21 in the auditorium of the Rishon Lezion Cultural Center.
The first Hebrew school in the Land of Israel in modern times was founded in Rishon Lezion in 1886, which is why the city is a natural choice for the Hebrew language conference, even though Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who is credited with reviving Hebrew as a spoken language, lived in Jerusalem.
Among the topics to be discussed are: the role of the kindergarten teacher in the renewal of the Hebrew language; Hebrew in the shtreimel – the haredi lingua franca; and the secret language of the gay community. There will also be discussions on literary Hebrew, Hebrew sign language and Hebrew poetry.
Attention will also be given to every new immigrant’s nightmare – shopping in the shuk and trying to remember what various fruits, vegetables and other products are called in Hebrew. Celebrity chef Eyal Shani and language expert Rubik Rosenthal will provide some of the answers. On Tuesday there will be a Hebrew comedy session with more than a dozen of Israel’s best comedians. The closing session will feature a solo performance by Idan Raichel.
■ NOVEMBER MARKED the 50th anniversary of the catastrophic flooding of Florence’s Arno River, which submerged the historic city under billions of gallons of muddy water and took a heavy toll in human life. Among the rescue teams that unhesitatingly flew to Italy to see who and what could be salvaged from the damage was a team from Israel, whose members will be honored this coming Saturday evening January 14, by the Italian Cultural Center in conjunction with the Italian Embassy and the Municipality of Florence, which is holding a number of events to mark the anniversary.
Florence Mayor Dario Nardella will be present, and the rescue team will be represented by Israeli artist Professor Emeritus Yoram Rosov, who will recall incidents from this universal demonstration of solidarity with the plight of the city of Florence, and of the efforts to rescue not only residents of the city but also historical documents and artifacts.
The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the Neve Schechter Center,42 Chelouche Street, Neveh Tzedek. Rosov had a personal interest in rescuing works of art, having been a student at the Florence Academy of Art 1962-64. The program for the evening will also include the screening of Florence ’66 – After the Flood, a documentary made in 2007 by Enrico Pacciani, who is also flying in from Italy for the occasion.
Because the subject is of special interest to architects, artists and people involved in preservation and restoration, Israelis engaged in these fields have also been invited.
■ NARDELLA WILL also attend a Holocaust memorial ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 15 at the Alexander Center in the Eretz Israel Museum, where the emphasis will be on how the Jews of Florence were affected by the Holocaust.
The forgotten music of that period will be recalled by Amnon Weinstein, who will speak about his “Violins of Hope” project, in which he restores violins saved from the Holocaust to ensure that even though the musicians who owned them were murdered by the Nazis, the violins will continue to be played. World-renowned violinist Hagai Shaham, accompanied by his children Michael and Noga will perform works by Handel, Fuchs and Bela Bartok.
Giulia Donati, 95, and her son Aldo Baquis, a journalist with Italian news agency Ansa will speak of how they survived the war, and noted architect David Cassuto, 79, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem and the son of Rabbi Natan Cassuto, the former Chief Rabbi of Florence who together with his wife Anna was deported to Auschwitz, will speak of how he and his siblings were saved and hidden by Christian families.
■ ONE WAY to arrange a national get-together of members of an organization is to offer them and their spouses a luxury vacation at a bargain price. Emunah has organized a three-night, four-day vacation in Eilat for NIS 1,290 per person in a double room January 23 to 26. The price includes round-trip bus transportation, half board, lectures, tours and entertainment. The two hotels in which participants will be staying are the Leonardo Plaza and the Magic Palace. The main pick-up points are in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but if there are sufficient reservations from other places in the country, pick-up from other areas will also be arranged. The key entertainment offering will be pianist and singer Shlomo Gronich who will host harmonica player Michal Adler. For those who may not be aware, Gronich and Adler are husband and wife. For reservations and further details call 1-700-700-671.