This Week in Jerusalem: Sounds better in Yiddish

Comedy program at Beit Avi Chai; Yiddish at the National Library.

Portuguese Fado Music 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Portuguese Fado Music 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sounds better in Yiddish Call it the renaissance of Yiddish, call it trendy – projects and events relating to the old Jewish language and its place in contemporary Israeli culture are becoming very popular. For example, at the National Library on the Givat Ram campus, there will be an evening entitled “Especially in the 21st Century.” There, rare books in Yiddish will be presented, such as the famous Worms Prayer Book, the oldest printed siddur.
Literature, theater, poetry, newspapers – Yiddish was the language of millions of Jews not only in Europe but also in North America and Israel. Today it is being rediscovered by many young people and is clearly on its way to becoming the next trend. A new joint project by the Israeli National Library and the National Center for Yiddish Books in the US, called Outwitting History – the Last-Minute Rescue of a Million Yiddish Books, will enable highquality scanning of all the books ever printed in that language.
“Especially in the 21st Century” will take place on Tuesday, and participants will have the opportunity to hear whether Yiddish still has a chance of maintaining itself in this century and beyond.
Proud Jerusalemites 1 Ever wonder what it is that makes a Jerusalemite special? Whether it has occurred to you or not, we might get an answer soon. Beit Avi Chai is launching a series of comedy programs called Midrahov, which will include songs, sketches and special guests, all aimed at giving us an understanding of the issue. The programs will be in Hebrew but will have enough hints and examples of our daily lifestyle here, that even those who have difficulty with the language may still get the point. This is a humorous attempt to clarify the mystery of being a Jerusalemite, “the Jerusalem genome” they call it.
Who knows? We might learn something good about ourselves. The series begins on Thursday.
Proud Jerusalemites 2 New Spirit, the youth organization established 10 years ago with the support of Nir Barkat, who was the head of the opposition on the city council, seems to be making a comeback. Not that it had vanished from the scene – on the contrary.
But it is considering revamping itself as a student organization once again. Adding another student organization is not unusual, but rumors on the Mount Scopus campus and at Safra Square suggest that this is just the first step toward the “real thing” – i.e., participation in the next municipal elections.
But it seems that the reason behind the decision is much more prosaic. Most new students don’t know about New Spirit, as it is no longer represented among the student organizations, and that is precisely what needs to be remedied, say sources at New Spirit. One thing is certain: Vying for the attention of the voter – be it on the national level or for better conditions on campus – seems to be de rigueur.
Proud Jerusalemite 3 Pride of place this time goes to right-wing activist Aryeh King, who last week managed to obtain a demolition order from the municipality for two illegally constructed mosques. King, who is the founder of the Israel Land Fund – an organization that deals with retrieving and buying land and property for Jews in the Old City and east Jerusalem – has been warning for years against illegal construction in the Arab sector. In most instances, King complained about mosques constructed without permits on very sensitive plots, such as the southeast corner below the walls of the Old City, facing the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
At the end of last week, the construction permit department at Safra Square submitted an order to demolish two structures for mosques built in Ras el-Amud (where there is a large Jewish neighborhood ) and on the Mount of Olives, close to some of the graves that are undergoing extensive restoration after being desecrated over the years. To lessen harsh reactions from the Arab residents as much as possible, the demolition order was issued through the local affairs court, so that the builders will have a chance to submit their petition to the court before the demolition.
From Eilat with anger A group of merchants from Eilat came to Jerusalem to protest outside Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s house. No, they were not protesting against Shas, of which Yosef is the spiritual leader, but against his protégé – Minister Eli Yishai. In his capacity as interior minister, Yishai has banned the vendors from selling their merchandise on Eilat’s central promenade. The merchants say he has ruined their business and decided to protest against his decision under the venerable rabbi’s windows, contending that if he is the spiritual leader, he should warn Yishai about causing them harm.
Since the death of one of their colleagues, whose sudden demise remains unclear – there are indications that he may have committed suicide – the protest has become much more intense. Only a few of the merchants came here on Sunday afternoon, and so far no changes have been made in the new ruling imposed by the Interior Ministry.
Security fences The plans for building a new neighborhood in the old village of Lifta (Mitzpe Neftoah), located at the entrance to the city from Route 1, have not yet been approved, but one step has already been taken. The supervisors of the Israel Lands Authority, which owns the plot, have fenced in seven of the oldest – and superb – houses to prevent further vandalism or squatting. These buildings are classified as dangerous and are to be preserved. Until the plans – which include a lot of preservation and restoration – is approved (if at all), there is an urgent need to protect them and to protect the public from their hazardous condition. The seven buildings are located near the Lifta spring, which attracts many visitors, some of whom have stayed there overnight and caused damage to the buildings.
Fado for us In the framework of this season’s Music of the World mini-festival at Confederation House, aficionados of fado, the national music of Portugal, will be pleased. This time, the fado (Portuguese for “fate”), rather melancholy music based mainly on fishermen’s longings and fate, will be from Portugal and Brazil.
The Victoria Seroya Ensemble will perform the program on Thursday at Confederation House at 8.30 p.m.
For more information: or 624-5206.