Grapevine: All’s fair at the book fair

Not withstanding the heavy downpour, hundreds of people crowded into the International Convention Center for the opening of the 25th Jerusalem International Book Fair.

ian mcewan jersualem book fair 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
ian mcewan jersualem book fair 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
■ NOT WITHSTANDING THE heavy downpour, hundreds of people crowded into the International Convention Center (Binyenei Ha’uma) for the opening last Sunday of the 25th Jerusalem International Book Fair. It is somewhat sad that none of the four Israeli speakers – President Shimon Peres, Minister for Culture and Sport Limor Livnat, Mayor Nir Barkat and Hebrew University president Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, who headed the jury that awarded the Jerusalem Prize to British author Ian McEwan – recalled the name of the late and long-serving legendary mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek at whose initiative the book fair developed from an idea to a biennial reality, bringing people from 30 and more countries to Jerusalem every two years.
It was left to German publisher Dr. Stefan von Holtzbrinck, whose beautifully crafted speech earned him a spontaneous roar of applause, to mention that it was Kollek who founded the fair in 1963 and remained a constant presence behind the scenes and at fair openings long after he had ceased being mayor. Kollek served as mayor from 1965 to 1993, during which time Jerusalem underwent enormous change, particularly in cultural spheres.
Kollek died in January 2007.
Various organizations and institutions that he founded will mark the 100th anniversary of his birth in May. At least two people who served on the city council in Kollek’s time were present at the opening. Tamar Eshel and Amos Mar Haim obviously took delight in renewing their acquaintance and spent a long time talking to each other. Both served as deputy mayors of the city.
Holding up four fingers of one hand, Barkat said that he was four years old when the book fair was inaugurated in 1963.
Holtzbrinck has the distinction of having been born in the same year as the fair but pointed out that when the book fair celebrates its 50th birthday, he will already be 100.
■ AMONG THE highlights of this year’s Jerusalem International Book Fair was a series of events sponsored by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, the Frankfurt Book Fair, the German Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Goethe Institute. Prizewinning Israeli author David Grossman, who appeared as a panelist at the first of these events on the opening night, said it took a great deal of effort to fashion the characters in his books.
When asked what he was writing about now, Grossman politely declined to answer.
■ THE OWNER of Afikim Advertising Agency, which caters to the needs and strictures of the haredi community, is Rabbi Yigal Revah. He and his wife, Lizzie, have just married off their daughter Na’ama to Gavriel Cohen, the son of Rabbi Dan Cohen, the head of the Rechasim Council. The happy event was attended by prominent rabbis including Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and heads of yeshivot, as well as many public figures and people in the haredi communications business. •