Grapevine: A reunion of army buddies

Mayor Nir Barkat, a reserves major in the Paratroopers, opened his home on a recent Saturday night, to 50 soldiers who served under his command.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
HIS BUSY schedule, which includes putting in brief appearances at one event then moving on to the next, does not leave Mayor Nir Barkat with much time to do his own thing, other than in the very early morning when he may be running or cycling from his home to his office. But there are exceptions to everything, especially when it comes to getting together with his old army buddies. Barkat, a reserves major in the Paratroopers, likes to keep in touch with the men who were under his command, and on a recent Saturday night he opened his home to some 50 of them and their wives.
The guest of honor was former chief of general staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya’alon, who is strategic affairs minister, and who in his army days was their battalion commander. Some of the men in Barkat’s unit now live abroad and came to Jerusalem especially for the reunion. The others came from all over the country.
As is common in Israel, they have maintained contact, regardless of how scattered they are.
They came together for the first time as rookies in 1981 and formed friendships that have survived geographic distance, as well as political, academic and economic differences. Barkat is not the only one in the group who became a mayor. Another of the former paratroopers, Shimon Suissa, is the mayor of Hatzor Haglilit.
THE PRIMA hotel chain, owned by the Moskowitz family, is expanding and now includes the Park Hotel at the entrance to the city, which was purchased last week for $80 million. The transfer of property will be finalized at the beginning of 2013. This is the company’s fourth hotel in Jerusalem and the ninth in Israel. Previous acquisitions in Jerusalem include the Windmill, which is now the Prima Royale; the Central, which is now the Prima Palace; and the Kings, which is now the Prima Kings. The company intends to invest an additional $20 million in renovations and expansion.
Prima’s CEO Avi Dor says that the company is interested in buying additional hotels in Israel. Only a few weeks earlier, the adjacent Leonardo Inn, previously known as the Knesset Towers, was purchased by Australian technology innovator and real-estate investor Kevin Bermeister, whose future investment plans for the capital include an underground traffic system and lots of urban greenery punctuated by walkways, which will make life a lot more pleasant for pedestrians.
ON THE subject of hotels, Moti Verses, the public relations manager of the Israel Hiltons, which will manage the Waldorf Astoria, says that the prestigious hotel opposite the David Citadel, which was originally managed by the Hilton management chain, is due to open this summer. The nearby King David Residence comprising large luxury apartments is finally showing signs of life after years of being under construction, during which time the narrow sidewalks at its front and sides were fenced off, forcing pedestrians to walk in the street.
Ditto the Waldorf Astoria. Now both sides of Agron Street are fenced off, and pedestrians trying to get from King George Avenue to King David Street literally risk their lives.
The current barriers have nothing to do with the Waldorf Astoria but are related to roadworks. The King David Residence is geared to French buyers.
Most of its advertising is in French, and some of the apartments are already occupied. The escalation of anti-Semitic incidents in France has resulted in major real-estate transactions here.
INCORPORATING ALL or part of King David’s title in hotels and restaurants is creating a little confusion among patrons. Thus last week, when the Trump Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of teaching maths and science in Israel, held a cocktail reception at the King David Galleries, several of the invitees were walking up and down the street looking for an art gallery. Proprietor Ezra Astruc, who used to be the PR manager of several hotels in Jerusalem, calls his enterprise the King David Galleries, even though it functions as a restaurant and reception hall. Former patrons of Rosemary restaurant would not recognize their old stomping ground. Astruc has given it a total face-lift, and now all that remains of the former rustic café are the two large indoors trees that add to the charm of the now sophisticated premises.
Welcoming the guest at the Trump Foundation event were chairman Prof. Lee Shulman and executive director Eli Hurvitz, who is well known in Israel’s education-oriented philanthropic circles.
Hurvitz is a nephew of Dan Meridor, intelligence agencies minister. The Meridor family has been based in Jerusalem for more than 70 years. Dan Meridor’s father, Eliyahu Meridor, was an MK from 1959 until his death in 1966. A street in Pisgat Ze’ev is named in his memory. Hurvitz was Eliyahu Meridor’s first grandchild and is named for him. His grandmother, Ra’anana Meridor, was a professor of classics at the Hebrew University.
YOU DON’T have to be human to have a bar mitzva.
Wheels of Love, Alyn’s annual fund-raising crosscountry bicycle ride, attracts people from all walks of life, including celebrities. This is the bar mitzva year of the event, which was held last week with some 700 cyclists participating, including singer Ivri Lider. To make participants feel good and to put a sweet taste in their mouths, chef Moti Buhbut, executive chef at the Inbal Hotel, prepared a bar mitzva cake, the frosting of which conveyed what Wheels of Love is all about. Cyclists rode from Arad to Jerusalem.
THE SPECIAL guest at the Second Anthropological Film Festival at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on November 27-29 will be author and cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, the daughter of world-renowned American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. The festival provides a platform for documentary films with an ethnographic orientation. Each of the films screened will be accompanied by audience and panel discussions.
The festival is jointly hosted by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University and the Jerusalem Film Center.
The films represent an international kaleidoscope of the complexities and unique expressions of individuals and communities in society, culture and politics.
The films from around the world include Field of Magic (Lithuania, Russia); Pink Struggle (Germany); Where Heaven Meets Hell (US); Town of Runners (Ethiopia, UK); Children of the Tsunami (UK); The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song (Canada, Denmark); and a collection of short films by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson.