Grapevine: A Shabbat to remember

It’s a long walk from East Talpiot to Rehavia on a hot summer’s day.

Jewish woman lights the Shabbat candles 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
Jewish woman lights the Shabbat candles 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
Photographer and editorial secretary at The Jerusalem Post Sarah Levin joined the writer of this column in walking back toward Talbiyeh and Rehavia last Saturday, after attending synagogue services in celebration of a Shabbat Hatan V’Kalla at the Moreshet Avrahvam Congregation in East Talpiot. They had been invited by Post Managing Editor David Brinn, whose daughter Adina was married yesterday to Yoray Shoshani. It’s a long walk from East Talpiot to Rehavia on a hot summer’s day, and a woman who lives on Hebron Road had thoughtfully put out a bottle of water and plastic cups on a small table outside her home and had taped two messages on the fence. One was “Shabbat Shalom,” and another was an invitation to passersby to feel free to drink. There was very little water left in the bottle by the time we got there, and we each wanted the other to partake of it. When our benefactor arrived home and saw the diminished contents of the bottle, she went inside and immediately brought out another, which served to settle our goodwill argument. The woman said she was happy to do so, because she herself had often walked long distances without any water to quench her thirst and keep up her strength, so she could appreciate that others would also welcome a drink.
The service at Moreshet Avraham was beautiful, and a lesson that all of us should occasionally go to services at a variety of synagogues to experience the way our fellow Jews do things the same, yet differently. What was amazingly impressive was the kiddush. Designated congregants stood with huge trays bearing cups of wine, so that everyone entering the kiddush area immediately received wine for the benediction – and then no one touched the food until Shelley Brinn, the mother of the bride, sang the blessing with everyone joining in. The sense of community was palpable. In addition, regular congregants went around offering words of welcome to visitors to ensure that no one felt like a stranger.
TWENTY YEARS ago, singer, actor, director, producer, author, and TV and radio host Yehoram Gaon made a failed bid to be elected mayor of Jerusalem, but won a seat on the Jerusalem City Council. Gaon, who comments on current affairs on his weekly radio show on Reshet Bet, might get a considerable share of the haredi vote if he decides to run again in this year’s municipal elections – following the manner in which he lambasted Yesh Atid leader and Finance Minister Yair Lapid last Friday. Gaon admitted that before he heard Lapid’s virulent attack on the ultra-Orthodox community, he went along with those who insisted that haredim must bear their share of the burden. He still believes that haredim should introduce more secular subjects into their education system, to equip their community members for the workforce. But after hearing the words Lapid heaped on haredim as a whole, Gaon said that he now identified as a haredi.
Without the haredim, he raged, who kept the Jewish religion and values alive during centuries of exile from Jerusalem, there would be no Knesset with a platform from which Lapid could attack them – because Jews would have lost their collective identity. Moreover, he charged, Lapid, once the poster boy of TV and of advertising campaigns, had revealed his true self in doing so.Gaon was particularly incensed by the implied meaning behind Lapid’s declaration that if haredim wanted to have children, they had to provide for them themselves and not depend on the government. To Gaon, this smacked of birth control, and the whole idea was repulsive to him.
Several secular journalists also took Lapid to task in last weekend’s newspapers.