Grapevine: Canadian content

Weather forecasts for Thursday of last week had predicted rain, but no one really expected it to come down in buckets.

nir barkat, ruthy feingold, erel margalit_521 (photo credit: Eliran Avital)
nir barkat, ruthy feingold, erel margalit_521
(photo credit: Eliran Avital)
■ STORIES ABOUND about pioneers who went from Russia, Poland, Germany and elsewhere to the Goldene Medina, namely the United States. Less is known about those who went to neighboring Canada, though presumably such stories are familiar to Canadian Jews. Now the rest of us have an opportunity to learn something about the history of Canadian Jewry on Tuesday when Isa Milman of the University of Victoria (British Columbia) will deliver an illustrated lecture on “Jewish Pioneers on the Canadian Prairies” and will focus specifically on the making of a Prairie Kaddish. The lecture is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in room 403 of the Maiersdorf Faculty Club of the Hebrew University Mount Scopus.
There were numerous attempts from the 1880s onwards to establish Jewish agricultural colonies not unlike moshavim or kibbutzim on Canada’s Western Prairies. Many of the early pioneers were escapees from pogroms, while others were frustrated by living lives of poverty and hoped that as farmers they could improve their lot. Milman promises to shed a lot of light on the subject.
■ WEATHER FORECASTS for Thursday of last week had predicted rain, but no one really expected it to come down in buckets. For a couple of hundred people gathered at The Lab in the JVP complex for the official launch of Zappa Jerusalem, it was quite a shock to see such a torrent when they came out. There were puddles everywhere, and JVP employees were trying in vain to sweep the water out of the huge marquee that had been set up as a reception area in front of The Lab. Fortunately, many of the women attending had worn boots in honor of the change of season, and given the fact that mini dresses and tunics are now part of a revived fashion trend, few of them got their hems wet.
The warm-up for the night’s entertainment had been provided by the Eliav family of multi-talented Bukharan musicians, whose spirited playing and singing put an end to conversation as people looked up into the gallery where the group performed and clapped their hands in time to the rhythm.
Neither the environment nor the guest list seemed to conform with someone who has a PhD in philosophy, but then businessman Erel Margalit and his wife, Debbie, who founded The Lab as a contribution to Jerusalem’s cultural scene and as a platform for budding singers, dancers, actors and musicians, are always full of surprises and enjoy entering into new projects.
In mentioning some of the guests, Margalit paid special tribute to Yona, Ruthy and Noam Feingold, who are his partners in the Zappa venture, and to octogenarian and Cinematheque founder Lia Van Leer, who does not allow her biological age to get in the way of her traipsing all over the country as well as overseas for a wide variety of cultural happenings.
Others present included lawyer and television personality Hilik Gutman; Labor Party Secretary General and holder of the tourism portfolio on the Jerusalem City Council Hilik Bar; Pepe Allalu, who holds the culture portfolio on the Jerusalem City Council; social justice activist Itai Gotler; and Mayor Nir Barkat, who was welcomed by Margalit as “someone who speaks our language and has our vision for the city.”
The Margalits became acquainted with the Zappa live music club that operates in Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Binyamina about a half a year ago and decided to enter into a partnership with the Zappa people so that Jerusalemites and visitors to Jerusalem could have greater access to live music by top Israeli performers.
Barkat, who had come from the opening of the Venetian-flavored Jerusalem Knights in the Old City, declared that Jerusalem was undergoing a cultural revolution and that many talented people in the city were now being given the opportunity to live up to their creative potential. That section of the old railway station that has been closed for years will soon reopen with many cultural activities, Barkat promised.
He also said he looked forward to the renovation of the Khan Theater complex and to the opening of the bank of 16 cinemas on the Sherover estate which, despite objections by residents of Abu Tor, will add to the cultural mosaic of Jerusalem.