This Week in Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs.

Nir Barkat 521 (photo credit: Flash 90)
Nir Barkat 521
(photo credit: Flash 90)
This year’s Distinguished Citizens
If you’re over 70 years of age and you have done something to benefit Jerusalem, you may become one of the many who, since 1967, have been honored with the title of Distinguished Citizens of Jerusalem, the highest distinction awarded in the city. In a traditional annual ceremony, the mayor gives the title as part of the events marking Jerusalem Day to celebrate the city’s reunification following the Six Day war. Since he became mayor in 2008, Nir Barkat has decided to hand over the procedure to an independent committee headed by Justice Jacob Terkel and including Prof. Nava Ben-Zvi, Adina Bar-Shalom and Rabbi Benjamin Lau.
This year, 12 residents will be honored with the distinction. Rivka Avichail, who was born in 1932 in France and was hidden during World War II by a French family, created Alumim, an organization that helps Holocaust survivors to find lost family members. Her husband, Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Avichail, will be awarded the title for his efforts to retrieve lost tribes of Jews across the most remote places in the world.
Also honored will be landscape architect Shlomo Aronson, leading builder of the city’s parks and gardens; Prof. Shlomo Hillel Blondheim, originally from the US, a researcher who has participated in numerous conferences on obesity; Dr. Meron Benvenisti, former deputy mayor to Teddy Kollek, in charge of the Old City and east Jerusalem after 1967.
Malka Brick, born in 1937, was a teacher at the Evelina de Rothschild school for girls for 30 years, and is a volunteer at Meshulash, an association that helps the needy (especially the elderly and Holocaust survivors) to receive appropriate dental care.
Prof. Yigal Ginat, born in 1936, a doctor in the Paratroopers in 1966 and 1967, and an authority in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, developed the field of therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, and established the Reut organization to help people with mental illnesses to live in the community.
Miriam Griver, born in 1941 in Hungary, is the local president of Hadassah and initiated the awareness campaign for early detection of breast cancer. Uziel Wexler, born in 1938 and once editor-in-chief of the Hebrew University’s student newspaper Pi Ha’aton, was treasurer of the Jerusalem Municipality during Kollek’s time and the founder and first director-general of the Jerusalem Development Authority. Prof. Eliezer David Jaffe, born in the US in 1933, practiced social work in 1956 in the most underprivileged neighborhoods of Jerusalem. He made aliya in 1960, was a special consultant to the Welfare Administration of the Jerusalem municipality and was one of the founders of Zehavi – the Israeli association for the rights of large families. He established the Giving Wisely website, which contains information on 30,000 non-profit associations in the country as a service for residents in need of specific help, and the Israel Free Loan Association.
Kurt Rothschild, who was born in 1920 in Germany and fled to England before World War II, helped local associations and organizations promoting arts and culture to obtain grants and support. He was among the establishers of Yeshivat Hakotel, active in Yad Sarah and a member of the board of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
Yehudit Steiner-Freud, born in 1919 in Czechoslovakia, directed the Hadassah Hospital School of Nursing for many years.
The Israel Festival is back
The 51st Israel Festival begins next Thursday. While there have been many festivals covering many kinds of art in Jerusalem over the years, the Israel Festival is still the largest and the most prominent, and therefore also the most scrutinized. Once a stronghold of the elite, with high tickets prices, the festival has for approximately the last two decades, under the baton of former mayoral candidate Yossi Tal-Gan, become much more accessible.
This year, Japan – celebrating 60 years of diplomatic ties with Israel – and the Czech Republic are the major contributors, and the festival will also include performances from France, Canada, China, the UK and the US. There will also be locally performed musical programs and some family-friendly events.
Among the major events, one that stands out is the “Defiant Requiem” a reconstitution of Verdi’s Requiem as it was played by Jews in Theresienstadt. The performance will include testimonies of survivors who participated in the original concert.
The festival’s opening concert will feature the Japanese drummers of Gamushara in the thrilling “Yamato” program. Two large and prestigious choirs will also take part: the Kuhn Choir of Prague in an a-cappella performance of Czech and Romantic repertoire and the Cluj Philharmonic Choir of Romania in a varied program that will range from Purcell and Gluck to Mendelssohn and Rachmaninov as well as Romanian music to Naomi Shemer’s “Jerusalem of Gold.”
There will also be a ”Bach and more” program at the Eden-Tamir Music Center in Ein Kerem, which will also include works of Vivaldi, Brahms and Rachmaninov as well as Israeli music.
There are also free events: the Rubin Academy Music School orchestra and soloists, a fairy tale on stage with music by Steven Sondheim, Israeli classical music and a program of wind instruments followed by a workshop. As for jazz, Sheila Jordan & Friends comes highly recommended and the John Scofield Quartet is not to be missed.
Details and tickets at:
Jerusalem Days
A wide range of activities is taking place to mark the 45th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem and its reunification into one city. The events kicked off on Thursday with a students’ music program hosting such performers as Aviv Geffen and Berry Sakharof. On Saturday and Sunday, food and music are on tap in various spots in the city, as well as many art events by and for art students. Also available are guided tours of Jerusalem, some of which include theatrical scenes reenacting historical events, a food fair at Mahaneh Yehuda, an exhibition of artifacts near Yad Ben-Zvi in the Kuzari Garden, and a farmers’ market on Ben-Maimon Street in Rehavia. An all-night program of dancing in Safra Square will bring the roster to a close. All events are free.
Details can be obtained at the community centers of the various neighborhoods or by calling 106.
Commemorating 45 years
An exhibition of posters to mark the 45 years of the reunification of Jerusalem is on display at the Ammunition Hill Museum. The posters, created by students of the Holon Technological College, will first be presented to the public in the presence of family members of the soldiers who fought there in 1967. The exhibition contains works inspired by poet Natan Yonatan, whose son Giora fell during the Six Day War. In one of his poems, Yonatan stated, “To everyone there is one Jerusalem.”
Hoffman goes to Amanpour
Women’s exclusion in the haredi neighborhoods and in the city in general was the focus of a recent CNN International program presented by Christiane Amanpour. On the show, Amanpour interviewed Anat Hoffman, head of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) – the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel – about the situation and how IRAC and Jerusalem residents are dealing with it.
IRAC recently published a report on the issue entitled ”Excluded for God’s Sake,” which provides detailed information about all the cases of gender segregation and exclusion, from segregated bus lines to separate lines for stores and health clinics, as well as the exclusion of women at the Western Wall.
Following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that compared the situation in Israel to Iran, Hoffman said she wanted to denounce the exclusion. At the same time, she expressed her appreciation for the large number of residents who have been fighting back, such as the many volunteers who ride the buses and prevent gender segregation and the hotlines to which many haredi women address their complaints.