Grapevine: An in-house Purim party

Purim festivities for the senior citizens at Nofei Yerushalayim were devised and executed by the residents themselves.

Zvi Mazel (photo credit: Courtesy)
Zvi Mazel
(photo credit: Courtesy)
- AGE NOT withstanding, senior citizens at Nofei Yerushalayim maintain quite an active lifestyle. Like much younger people, they brought Purim in early and held their festivities on Thursday of last week. As opposed to their previous Purim celebrations, this year’s was devised and executed by the residents themselves, with no outside paid entertainment. The program was conceived, written, directed and produced by the talented Sonia Cohen, who infused her fellow entertainers with her enthusiasm. Her meticulous attention to every detail resulted in a near professional performance. Cohen herself was mistress of ceremonies and, one by one, she introduced the audience to a wide variety of Purim personalities, though not necessarily those included in Megilat Esther.
Cohen’s Purim list included Theodor Herzl, Napoleon, Alice in Wonderland, Queen Elizabeth II, Mozart, Golda Meir, Obama’s chef, Peter Pan and Shakespeare, each of whom read a humorous text. Each of the personalities mounted the stage to the accompaniment of appropriate music played by lively resident Roz Grossman, who is a brilliant Scrabble player, as is another of the very active residents, Pamela Loval. All the costumes were put together with the help of residents skilled in dressmaking and makeup, with much imagination and flair.
The residents were joined by members of the administrative, nursing and maintenance staff, as well as the managers of the Nofei Yerushalayim minimarket, all of whom were in costume and contributed to the festive atmosphere. The average age of the merrymakers is in the 80s, and quite a few are even older, but chronology did not get in the way of the fun. After the performance, there was dance music, and many got up to strut their stuff.
On the previous evening, they had gathered to listen to Michelle Mazel speak about her recently published book Dancing with the Ambassador, which tells the inside story of her being married to ambassador Zvi Mazel and raising three children on the diplomatic circuit. Michelle Mazel loves to tell jokes and has a huge collection of them, so her lecture was spiced with a lot of humor and was highly appreciated by her audience.
- MANY PEOPLE in the 60-to- 80-plus age group never knew their grandparents because they were murdered by the Nazis. Some child Holocaust survivors cannot remember their parents, let alone their grandparents, because they were too young when they were separated from them. But many of those child Holocaust survivors, as well as people born in places other than Europe and North Africa, have the most meaningful revenge on those who planned the final solution for the Jewish People. Not only have the potential victims survived, but many of them are now great-grandparents.
In his sermon to the Hazvi Israel congregation last Saturday, Rabbi Avigdor Burstein noted that the celebration of Purim is yet another proof of the invincibility of the Jewish People. Throughout the ages, he said, there have been many who tried to wipe Jews off the face of the Earth but have consistently failed. The most recent example was the rocket barrage from Gaza last week, and only a few days before that, the interception of a boat bearing armaments that had been sent from Iran to Gaza. Burstein tied these two incidents to the Purim story.
In his congregation by the way, congratulations were expressed to Sylvia and Ben Lerner, Toby and Robert Asch, Nina and Paul Freedman, Phyllis and Moshe Pollack, Hindy and Bernard Greenbaum and Daphne Kaufman, who were all celebrating the birth of great-grandchildren.
- IT IS only natural that Mayor Nir Barkat participates in the Jerusalem Conference on Education, which opens this Sunday, March 23, at the Jerusalem Theater. But Barkat will not be the only mayor in front of the microphone. Others include Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar and Acre Mayor Shimon Lancry. Also among the speakers will be several representatives of the Education Ministry headed by Education Minister Shai Piron.
- ONE WONDERS how frequently Nir Barkat changed T-shirts on Good Deeds Day last week. When he joined President Shimon Peres in painting a fence in Talpiot, he wore a white T-shirt with the same logo as the one worn by the president. But Barkat spent much of the day visiting Good Deeds projects around the city, and one of the local weekend papers had a photograph of him working at another project wearing a bright yellow T-shirt, identical to those of the volunteers working on that project.
While Good Deeds Day certainly helps to increase the number of good deeds performed in the city and across the country, there are many people who are performing good deeds daily. All the soup kitchens around the city are run on a voluntary basis by good-hearted people and organizations. So are the gemachs – the charitable bodies large and small that supply food, clothing, furniture and, in some cases, financial assistance to the needy. Then there are other organizations dedicated to children with life-threatening illnesses, taking care not only of their needs but also creating activities and situations that will bring joy into their lives.
Another voluntary organization that functions on behalf of children is Dental Volunteers for Israel, which provides free dental treatment for children from low-income families. Prior to Good Deeds Day, Barkat visited the clinic near Talpiot, founded by Holocaust survivor Trudi Birger in 1980, and met with its chairman Avraham Asheri and director Roy Petel and some of the volunteer dentists.
Barkat was particularly pleased to meet DVI’s most loyal local volunteer, Palestinian dentist Dr. Nedal Alayyan, who has been treating DVI patients since 2006. Alayyan first arrived at DVI in 1984, at seven years of age. Like many of DVI’s patients, young Nedal was in pain with a puffy, swollen face. By the time Jerusalem’s Welfare Department sent him to DVI’s clinic, he’d been missing classes in school due to dental pain. Volunteer dentists sorted him out, and he left the clinic in relief. From that day on, he and his siblings returned to DVI every six months, until they reached the age of 18. The kindness of the dentists who treated him and his siblings inspired his decision to study dentistry and give to others what he had received. He often treats youngsters with Down syndrome who have been rejected by other clinics.
Volunteer dentists come from all over the world for periods of one or two weeks to provide state-of-the-art dental care for those of the city’s children who come from economically deprived backgrounds. Since its inauguration, the clinic has been serviced by 4,500 dentists from more than 20 countries.