Grapevine: Knesset celebrations

The Knesset traditionally celebrates its birthday on Tu Bishvat, the new year for trees, which falls next Thursday, although the celebration vis-à-vis the general public will be a little later.

Yuli Edelstein 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yuli Edelstein 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
JERUSALEM DOES not yet have an opera house like Tel Aviv, but it does have several theaters, a world-class sports stadium, a soon to be opened Cinema City and two of the most important buildings in the country – the Knesset and the Supreme Court.
The Knesset traditionally celebrates its birthday on Tu Bishvat, the new year for trees, which falls next Thursday, although the celebration vis-à-vis the general public will be a little later.
The architect associated with both the Knesset and the Supreme Court was Israel Prize laureate Prof. Ram Karmi, who died in April 2013. He was one of Israel’s most influential architects. Following the controversy over the result of a competition for the design of the Knesset, Karmi was appointed to act as an adviser to Joseph Klarwein, who had submitted the winning design. In later years, Karmi, working with his sister Ada Karmi-Melamede, designed the Supreme Court building. More recently, during the administration of Ehud Olmert, he was commissioned to design the prime minister’s residential and working complex, but the project was put on the back burner by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has invited the public to celebrate the Knesset’s 65th birthday on Tuesday, January 14, when the Knesset will hold an open house, with Knesset members and youth organizations engaging in lectures, debates and workshops. In addition, there will be tours of the Knesset, including the Knesset Channel 99 television studio, an exhibition of gifts received by the Knesset, a demonstration by Knesset sniffer dogs, dancing and musical performances and more. Entrance is from 9 a.m., but visitors must register in advance at or call (02) 675-3337.
PRIME MINISTER Binyamin Netanyahu can barely move without his bodyguards, but that doesn’t stop him from doing the things that regular people do, except that he has to miss the beginning and the end of movies because he and his wife, Sara, enter the cinema in the dark and leave in the dark.
But it was broad daylight on Tuesday when the prime minister, complete with bodyguards, visited the First Station, toured the area, and took a keen interest in the display of organic fruits and vegetables.
He even took some time out for a cup of coffee and some cookies. He was shown around by the site’s developer, Avi Murdoch, and chatted with him about Murdoch’s future plans for the project, which has become a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike.
THE FIRST Station is the venue for the next Highlight Foundation event on January 19, which is an Israel launch of the book Like Dreamers by author and journalist Yossi Klein Halevi. It is the story of the 1967 war and the role of Israeli paratroopers who reunited Jerusalem and divided a nation. Klein Halevi will be interviewed by Saul Singer, the co-author of the international best-seller Start-Up Nation. Tickets include a choice of one of four hot soups. Proceeds will go to the Jerusalem Village, a project aimed at familiarizing new residents in the capital in their 20s and 30s with some of the many cultural and social outlets that Jerusalem has to offer people in their age group, as well as helping them feel at home and make new friends. Key activists in the Highlight Foundation are Lisa Barkan, founder and director; Emily Ziedman, assistant director; Hadas Glazer, community life coordinator; and Yonatan Maliah, community building coordinator. The Jerusalem Village is located at the Jerusalem Center for Young Adults at 20 Shivtei Yisrael Street, Musrara.
SERVICES IN most synagogues this Shabbat will be more meaningful than usual because it is Shabbat Shira, which celebrates the transition of the Children of Israel from slavery to freedom with the crossing of the Red Sea as Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, led the women in song. The Hazvi Yisrael congregation in Talbiyeh will celebrate the occasion in song, but not with women’s voices, as it is a Modern Orthodox congregation.
On Friday night and Saturday, the synagogue will host the Ramatayim Men’s Choir under the direction of Richard Shavei Tzion, who will lead the prayers with a Carlebach-style service.
Several members of the choir are members of Hazvi Yisrael. Two of the tenors, Michael Wreschner and Auri Spigelman, frequently lead the services. Another chorister who is not a member of the congregation but whose in-laws used to be before they moved to a retirement home is bass Paul Staszewski, who for many years was the chief accountant at The Jerusalem Post.
A voluntary choir that started out with four people who enjoyed liturgical music and liked to sing the familiar melodies that they had sung in their synagogues in their countries of origin, the choir now numbers more than 40 singers. It has toured abroad, appeared on television and in concert halls around the country and has sung together with such famous soloists as Haim Adler, Yitzhak Meir Helfgott, Naftali Herstik, Yosef Malovany, Ya’acov Motzen and Colin Shachat.