LOVERS OF Yiddish who would like to learn or improve their knowledge of the language can enroll in the intensive Yiddish course that is being taught from January 13-25 at the Beit Ben-Yehuda International Meeting Center in Jerusalem, in cooperation with Prof. Yechiel Sheintuchof, the Hebrew University’s Yiddish Studies branch and “Yung Yiddish” Cultural Center.The course comprises 10 days of study at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, with each class limited to 15 students. There will also be workshops, lectures, concerts and other events. Billed as “The Jerusalem Winter Course,” it is being taught by Miriam Trinh, Eliezer Niborski, Vera Szabo and Daniel Birnbaum. Participants will not only gain an understanding of the language, but will also immerse themselves in Yiddish folklore with multidisciplinary artist and folklorist Avishai Fisz; Prof. Y. Sheintuchand; and Yiddish poet Dr.Velvl Chernin, who will talk about topics in Yiddish email@example.comIn addition, there will be afternoon outings in the footsteps of Yiddish writers in Jerusalem and Yiddish singalongs with Ruth Levin. For registration and additional information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.beit-ben-yehuda.org■ THE ANNUAL Yiddish Festival by the Dead Sea will be held from January 27-30 at the Leonardo Club Hotel. Producer is Aharon Efroni, and Master of Ceremonies Mendy Cahan, the founder of Yung Yiddish and a stage personality in his own right. Other entertainers will provide Klezmer music, Yiddish stories, songs, poetry, excerpts from plays and comedy skits.■ EVERY CLOUD, so we've been taught to believe, has a silver lining. While history books and some elderly Israelis tell us that life under the British Mandate was not exactly pleasant for either Jews or Arabs, for Jews, the Mandate was, for want of a better expression, a necessary evil. Were it not for the British Mandate, Prof. Asher Susser told a joint ESRA and IBCA audience at Beit Weil in Kfar Shmaryahu, there would not be a State of Israel. Despite political change in later years, it was Great Britain’s support for partition that paved the road to statehood. The early Zionists, said Susser, had initially over- estimated the level of immigration and had wrongly assumed acceptance by the Arabs for the nascent national home for the Jewish people. However, by the late 1930s, the infrastructure had already been established, leading to the unstoppable creation of the state, which obtained greater world approval in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Many of the people in the audience were British expats, some of whom may have felt somewhat discomfited with loyalties in two camps. It was possibly even more uncomfortable for Robert Dixon, the deputy head of mission at the British Embassy, who introduced Susser. ESRA chairwoman Brenda Katten, who is also a British expat, and who proposed the vote of thanks, was more or less wearing two hats. She is also a past chairwoman of IBCA.■ Over 120 people braved the inclement weather on Wednesday night in Ra’anana to attend the third in the series of English-language election debates sponsored by The Jerusalem Post and the AACI. Representatives of seven parties from Israel’s Right, Left and Center took part, exchanging barbs and fielding questions from the audience on a range of topics. Shavei Israel Chairman and Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund served as the evening’s moderator, and by all accounts he ran a tight ship, meticulously enforcing time limits and maintaining order, even as he had the audience in stitches with his wry sense of humor. As one observer put it, “this was probably the most civil discussion of Israeli politics that I have heard in a long time. If only the people in the Knesset would be so respectful despite their disagreements.”■ SOME 300 people, including members of the diplomatic community, foreign journalists and students, braved the stormy weather on Tuesday for a foreign policy debate in English among representatives of major political parties at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Truman Hall sponsored by The Israel Project (TIP).Participating in the debate, moderated by TIP’s Israel director, Marcus Sheff, were Isaac Herzog (Labor), Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi), Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud Beyteinu) and Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid).Several speakers noted that the Iranian nuclear program will be a central theme for Israel’s next government.“We are getting closer to the red line... living under a nuclear Iran is a devastating option,” said Hanegbi.“The window of opportunity is closing,” warned Bennett.“Israel should make every effort to restore the strategic alliance with Turkey,” said Peri, a former Shin Bet director.Herzog, an MK and former cabinet minister, also said “Israel must enhance cooperation” with Turkey because this is a strategic element for its security.Sheff concluded: “This was truly a showcase of Israel’s vibrant democracy and of the quality of those thinking about foreign policy issues among Israel’s leadership.”■ REPRESENTATIVES OF several political parties will attend the Annual Conference of the Israel Public Relations Association at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Nazareth on January 10- 12. But the only Party Leader attending will be Ephraim Lapid who chairs the Pensioners Party, and who is actually a member of ISPRA and has held many important PR positions in the IDF, the Jewish Agency and elsewhere. He is recognized as a leading authority on Middle East current affairs, military matters and Jewish life, and is a former head of Army Radio. Among the other party representatives, the best known are Labor candidates Merav Michaeli and Mickey Rosenthal. Though assured of a place in the next Knesset, Michaeli is taking her role very seriously and is endlessly traveling up and down the country on the campaign trail.■ FOR MANY years, Ruth and Bruce Rappaport were among the big time contributors to a variety of causes in Israel, and were particularly generous in the spheres of medicine and the arts. Following her husband's death three years ago, Ruth Rappaport continued with her philanthropy and among the beneficiaries of her largesse is Leket which provides food for the needy and which will honor her with its True Friend Award at his annual gala fund-raiser at Kibbutz Nir Eliyahu on Saturday night, January 12. Other honorees include the Strauss Group, which regardless of the cottage cheese revolution will receive The Corporate Social Change award and Gershon Simkins, who will receive The Distinguished Volunteer Award. Entertainment will be provided by stand-up comedian Guri Alfi.■ ON FRIDAY, January 11, another famous member of the Alfi Family will introduce a new Friday morning series at the Habima Theater. Yossi Alfi, the long time presenter of the marathon Storytellers’ Festival which takes place every Succot at the Givatayim Theater, is taking audiences behind the scenes, if not exactly backstage, in Friday morning meetings at Habima. The first of these will feature friends telling stories about actress Lea Koenig, who is an Israel Prize laureate and performs in Hebrew and Yiddish.The second meeting in the series will be on February 8 in which stories will be told about veteran actor Shlomo Bar Shavit, who is also Israel Prize laureate and who first appeared with Habima in 1949. Women have not always been members of theatrical ensembles and for many years in various cultures, men took on the roles of women, and in some cultures continue to do so. Thus the theme of the March 3 meeting will be men playing women. The April 4 meeting, under the heading of “Just say my son won’t be an actor,” is devoted to multi-generational thespians, but the May 5 meeting may be more interesting in that the audience will get to hear about the eccentricities of star performers. The series will conclude in June with veterans reminiscing over Something funny happened on the way to the stage.'■ THE PUBLICATION last week of the first annual Index of Inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities that was commissioned by Akim, also contains statistics relating to attitudes to people with physical disabilities. The latter are viewed in a more positive light by the general public, but many of them, like those with intellectual disabilities, have problems in integrating in mainstream communities. Shekel, which provides community services for adults and children with special needs, including finding employment for adults, is holding its annual, gala fund-raiser on Saturday night, January 19, at ZOA House in Tel Aviv. Shekel has acquired tickets for the premiere of the Beit Lessin performance of Yosef Bar Yosef’s production of The Orchard, a romantic comedy set in the Israel of the 1950s and featuring Yona Elian-Keshet and Yitzhak Hezkiah. All proceeds from the event will go towards children and adults with special needs■ PEOPLE ARE always trying to marry off singles, but especially so in the religious community. Thus Rabbi Zvi Anshil Halevi Leshem of the Shirat Shlomo Congregation in Efrat makes a point of organizing Shabbat weekends for singles aged 26-40. The next such event on January 25, which will be the Shabbat leading into Tu Bishvat, the new year for trees, will include a Carlebach style Shabbat service, a Tu Bishvat Seder, a walking tour of Efrat, and home hospitality in the homes of local families.The all-inclusive cost for Friday and Saturday is NIS 150, which considering that one might meet one’s soul mate, is as good a bargain as one can get.■ TU BISHVAT is also the birthday of the Knesset and this year falls less than a week after the elections for the 19th Knesset. Final results should be known by then.Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres has been meeting with leaders of the various political parties, but after the elections will still have to meet with party delegations before tasking one of those leaders with forming the next government.