Grapevine: A change on the landscape

Crowds of Jews flocked to Hebron last week to pay homage to Sarah, the matriarch of the Jewish people.

Religious Jews praying (photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)
Religious Jews praying
(photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)
WOULD-BE MKs who are courting the English-speaking community would have done well last Friday to attend the opening of Aloma Halter’s first solo art exhibition. Better known as a talented writer, editor and translator, Halter has previously participated in group exhibitions but was hesitant, until now, to strike out on her own. But her charming watercolor paintings of Jerusalem exteriors and interiors, which at once fuse delicacy with strength, have appealed to so many people that Halter finally yielded to pressure and is showing 23 of her works at the YMCA on King David Street.
It is a matter of interest that 11 of the paintings were borrowed from private collections, with several of the owners in attendance to view some of her other paintings. The overwhelming majority of art lovers and personal friends who came to the opening were native English-speakers and people who frequently use English as a second language.
London-born Halter’s studies at Cambridge included architecture.
Although she turned her hand career-wise to literature, she suspects that the architecture studies may have influenced her unquenchable thirst for painting buildings and people’s homes. Unlike many other artists, Halter does not paint from photographs but continues to return to the site of her subject. It is extremely rare for her to finish a painting in one session, though the lightness of the brush stroke belies any changes that may have occurred on works in progress. The exhibition will remain on view until November 29.
THERE ARE three or four times a year when crowds of Jews flock to Hebron in their multitudes. Last weekend was one such time. When the weekly Torah reading is Hayei Sara, Jews from all over head for Hebron to pay homage to Sarah, the matriarch of the Jewish people, who lies buried there.
Visitors set up tents and food supply facilities and endlessly tour the Jewish neighborhoods. Many of those who regularly show up in Hebron have cultivated friendships in the biblical city and are the beneficiaries of home hospitality. There was hardly a Jewish resident of Hebron who didn’t have guests for Shabbat. It was a real happening because people from many different streams of Judaism assembled their own prayer quorums and brought with them extraordinary amounts and varieties of food, which were consumed in an intensely communal environment. Conservative estimates by locals put the number of visitors last weekend at around 20,000.
Visitors included political and religious personalities as well as people with family roots in the area, such as Moshe Goldshmidt, whose grandfather, a rabbi of the same name, was murdered in the 1929 riots. Goldshmidt has been visiting Hebron on this particular Shabbat for the past 14 years and is a regular guest at the home of veteran resident David Wilder.
Hebron residents take this sudden overcrowding in stride.
Aside from the Israelis, there were sizable representations from the United States and Europe. Well-known right-wing activist Noam Arnon, who frequently acts as a spokesman for the Hebron Jewish community and who is a neighbor of Wilder’s, was among those who conducted guided tours.
REVELATIONS IN the media about the trampling of ethics in television reality shows has prompted Prof. Avinoam Reches, the head of the Jerusalem Center for Ethics, to organize a seminar on that subject with the participation of broadcasting executives and researchers as well as experts in medical ethics. Reches, a professor of neurology whose positions include chairman of the Ethics Committee of the Israel Medical Association, is also disturbed by the legal aspects of reality shows in that he is not convinced that participants who sign agreements with production companies are fully aware of what they are signing. He also believes that physicians assigned to reality shows, while in the pay of the producers, should remember that their first duty is to whatever participant(s) in the show they happen to be treating.
Everyone participating should be tested physically and psychologically to ensure that they have the physical and mental stamina required, and they should also be tested for allergies in case any of the medications prescribed for them by the show’s physician may prove to be hazardous to their physical or mental health. Reches will raise these and other issues, as will other speakers at the conference that will be held at Mishkenot Sha’ananim on Sunday, November 18.
CHABAD HASSIDIM from all over Israel and beyond will flock to Jerusalem a week before Hanukka to celebrate the 19th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, the date of the release from prison of the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, who had been convicted on trumped-up charges of treason. This year is also the 200th anniversary year of his death and is therefore of special significance to Chabadniks.
The commemorations in Jerusalem will be held over a twoday period at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, on 18 and 19 of Kislev, with prominent Chabad rabbis including Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz) delivering addresses.
THIS IS an extraordinary anniversary year. Aside from all the countries celebrating 20, 50 and 60 years of diplomatic ties with Israel, The Jerusalem Post is celebrating its 80th anniversary and it’s also the 80th anniversary year of the Maccabiah Games. Maccabi Tel Aviv is celebrating its centenary, as is Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which has had such an extraordinary impact on health and education in Israel, and the Chamber of Land Assessors this week celebrated its 70th anniversary at its annual gathering in Eilat. In addition to more than 400 members of the organization, attendance at the gathering included Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Attias, a couple of Knesset members, several mayors, including Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy, plus lawyers, bankers and real-estate developers.
An anniversary with very somber roots is the 60th anniversary of the reparations agreement between what was then West Germany and Israel. Although funds received by Israel as an outcome of this agreement have done much to further Israel’s interests in many fields, there was great opposition to the agreement six decades ago, and there are still Holocaust survivors or their progeny who are opposed to getting German money for Jewish blood. Be that as it may, the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University, in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, is hosting a two-day conference on the subject on Sunday and Monday, November 18-19, at the Maiersdorf Club on the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus. The conference will include theater, film, photo, dance and multimedia presentations.
There are several interesting events going on at the Hebrew University this coming week. On November 21 there will be a conference in English on “Contesting Public Spaces – the Religious Factor,” in which the Konrad Adenauer Foundation is this time pairing with HU’s Truman Institute on Mount Scopus. Topics include “Christian Sanctity under Israeli Sovereignty”; “Jewish ‘Conversion’ of Muslim Saints’ Tombs in Israel”; “The Abduction of Civic Space in the Holy City”; “From Zionist to Ultra-Orthodox Street Names in Bnei Brak”; “Fighting the (Perceived) Ultra-Orthodox Penetration in Baka, Jerusalem” and more. Participants include Ahmad Natour, president of the Shari’a Court of Appeals and Netanya Academic College and Prof. Richard Hecht, University of California, Santa Barbara. The conference will be held in the Abba Eban Hall of the Truman Institute, beginning at 9 a.m.
FEMINISTS WHO don’t speak Hebrew are going to miss out on the Hebrew University’s seminar on November 22 on preventing sexual harassment in academia and the labor market and the dilemmas this poses. Speakers include Hebrew University vice president/director-general Billy Shapira and head of The Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister’s Office Vered Pear Swid. The seminar will begin at 9 a.m. in the Senate Hall, in the Sherman Administration Building on the Mount Scopus campus.