Grapevine: Of dissonance and harmony

Jerusalem Opera Festival, at which members of Israel Opera were scheduled to perform at Sultan’s Pool, canceled.

Verdi outdoors 521 (photo credit: courtesy)
Verdi outdoors 521
(photo credit: courtesy)
■ The Jerusalem Opera Festival, at which members of the Israel Opera had been scheduled to perform at the Sultan’s Pool this summer under the aegis of the Jerusalem Development Authority, has been canceled without explanation. An announcement was made last week by JDA spokesman Yehoshua Mor Yosef, who clarified that the cancellation was not instigated by the Israel Opera. Rumor has it that disputes between the organizers and the Prime Minister’s Office over the budget for the festival are at the crux of the cancellation. The Prime Minister’s Office was to have contributed a substantial part of the costs of the festival. The cancellation leaves Jerusalem, and the Foreign Ministry, which has been marketing the Opera Festival abroad, with egg on their faces. Unless a quick solution is found, Israel is going to be greatly embarrassed, especially in view of recent efforts to upgrade Jerusalem as a destination for cultural tourism. Jerusalem is among the few world capitals that still lack an opera house and an opera company, although attempts are being made to remedy that lacuna.
■ SEVERAL JERUSALEM facilities have benefited from the generosity of Fred Worms and his wife, Della. The most notable is the Israel Museum. Others include the Hebrew University’s Scopus student Village, the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and the Hartman Institute. The couple’s interest is currently focused on the Botanical Gardens, where on Sunday they are launching the Living Water Section. Notwithstanding the fact that he’s past 90 and she’s past 80, the two lead a very busy social life with hands-on involvement in many of the projects they support.
■ SUPERMARKET MAGNATE and Jerusalem City Council member Rami Levy came in for a large dose of criticism from Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, who, ignoring the fact that Levy charges discount prices on the vast majority of products in his stores and is also a well-known philanthropist, lashed out against him when speaking at Netanya Academic College. Yacimovich declared that Levy saw himself in the guise of Robin Hood, who famously stole from the rich to give to the poor. But he could hardly be a Robin Hood, she said, if he and his wife, Adina, made NIS 8 million last year. Yacimovich did not say whether she shopped in any of his 20- plus supermarkets, but if she has ever shopped in any branch of his Hashikma chain, simple arithmetic would tell her that the enormous sales turnover resulting from competitive prices is proof of the old adage that what you lose on the swings you make on the roundabout.
■ ON THE subject of supermarkets, after stepping down from his position as CEO of the Co-Op Supermarket chain four months ago, Rami Mandel has also quit the presidency of the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce and just before Passover notified the chamber’s director-general, Uri Halfon, of his decision. Although there have been rumors that the two resignations are related, there are no concrete facts to substantiate such suspicions.
■ THIS HAS been the season for remembering women in the Bible – not only because of the role of Miriam in the Passover saga, but also to demonstrate to those who are trying to prevent women from taking an equal role in society that even in biblical times, women had significant roles in charting the course of Jewish destiny. Among the groups engaged in going back to Jewish roots to prove that women were meant to be seen and heard was The Israel Association of University Women, which convened at Yad Ben-Zvi to listen to Prof. Rachel Elior speak about who is remembered and who is forgotten; and Prof. Yair Zakovitch, who wondered aloud where women in the Bible are now. In more modern times, Jewish women distinguished themselves in resistance movements that fought the Nazis. Among the heroines of the Holocaust were Chaike Grossman, Zvia Lubetkin, Rozka Korczak, Haviva Reik, Vitka Kempner-Kovner, Hannah Szenes and others whose memories should be honored next week on Holocaust Remembrance Day.