CELEBRATING A bar mitzva at a graveside, and reciting Kaddish, the prayer for the dead, is not the usual way in which a Jewish boy makes the transition to maturity and responsibility for his own deeds, but then Ofri Singer's bar mitzva was not your usual bar mitzva ceremony. For the occasion, Ofri's grandfather, Herzliya Pituah financier Ossi Singer, airlifted 62 direct descendants of Ofri's great-grandfather Moshe Singer and took them from different parts of the world to Bratislava in Slovakia to Moshe Singer's graveside. The group ranged from haredi to totally unaffiliated. Moshe Singer, who was a prominent ritual slaughterer and a noted scholar, was brutally beaten by the Nazis and died as a result of his injuries. (Coincidentally, his death occurred 62 years ago, so there was a numerical linkage with his 62 direct descendants.)
One of Ossi's very good friends is television and radio personality Avshalom Kor, a widely recognized expert on Hebrew language, linguistics in general and Jewish tradition and genealogy. Singer asked him to join his family on the two-day pilgrimage. Also invited was Meir Shilo, an expert on Slovakian Jewry, who was thoroughly familiar with the Singer family's history which was integral to that of the Jews of Bratislava. Yet another invitee was Maestro Dr. Mordechai Sobel, conductor of the Yuval liturgical choir, who officiated at the religious ceremonies.
Many of Moshe Singer's descendants bear his name. To Ossi Singer the fact that he could bring these people to his father's grave, especially in celebration of Ofri's bar mitzva, was the realization of a long-cherished dream. Speaking of his father, Ossi said: "I wanted to show him that even though he died in such desperate circumstances his family survived to become successful doctors, rabbis, lawyers, diplomats, businesspeople - and more." The Singer clan all proceeded to Israel from Bratislava to have yet another emotional gathering at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
THERE WAS no doubt that the catering at the wedding of Yael Lipschitz and Luciano Becht at the Vaqueiro Restaurant in Jerusalem was going to be top notch. The reason: Stanley Lipschitz, the father of the bride, is a partner in the restaurant, which is known for its generous servings of its palatable and varied cuisine at any time, but which on this occasion, understandably outdid itself. Linda Lipshitz, the mother of the bride, is the editorial secretary and news coordinator at The Jerusalem Post and previously worked in a similar capacity at The Jerusalem Report, which explained the large number of journalists who broke away from national news events to attend the celebration. The bridal couple was joined in matrimony by Rabbi Nady Green of the Portal of Jewish Secular Rites, and for some of the guests, this was their first experience of a secular wedding in Israel. The bride and groom met in Germany when she was an exchange student, and will return there to live in the groom's home in Wiesbaden.
EVERY AUGUST 15, be it in London or in Tel Aviv, international socialite Alice Krieger hosts a party. Usually it's a birthday party, but this year she also combined it with a housewarming. Krieger, whose circle of friends and acquaintances reads like a tri-continental who's who in the army, politics, the arts, philanthropy, et al., held what she calls "a small party" for some 130 of her nearest and dearest. There would have been a larger attendance but for "the situation": Several military figures whom she invited were otherwise engaged in matters of national security.
Krieger, who hails from the UK, returned to the old country in 1996 for what she thought would be a three-year stint as emissary for the Jewish National Fund. At the end of her term with the JNF, her mother passed away, and Krieger opted to stay in London to take care of her father. Around that time, the then Defense Attache at the Israel Embassy, Brig. Gen. Itzchaki Chen, proposed that she form a British branch of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers. During her years with the association, Shaul Mofaz and Dan Halutz were among the guests of honor at major fundraising events that she organized. All such events included musical performances donated by celebrity artists such as Maxim Vengerov and Yefim Bronfman. The major project for which Krieger raised funds was Atidim which provides scholarships for higher education for youngsters from economically deprived backgrounds.
Following her father's death, she continued to serve the interests of the association, but was itching to return to Israel permanently and finally took the step earlier this year.
GUESTS WHO thronged the newly renovated branch of the Mercantile Bank in the capital's Rehov Agron last week waited expectantly for the ceremony to begin so that they could start on the tempting buffet laid out. Guests of honor were Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, who excused himself at the last moment, and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger. When the latter also failed to turn up after everyone had waited for the best part of half an hour, the powers-that-be decided that there would be no further delay and the bank's district manager volunteered to affix the mezuzah in Metzger's stead. The chief rabbi arrived just as the final speech was being delivered, and said that it was not a case of rabbis always being late. The instructions given to his office were that he should show up some time between 3:30 and 4 p.m. - which is exactly what he did.