Grapevine: Dignitaries do Kol Nidre

Netanyahu addresses UN General Assembly (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu addresses UN General Assembly
(photo credit: REUTERS)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu , fresh from his return from the US, attended Kol Nidre services at the Hazvi Yisrael Congregation in Jerusalem’s Talbiyeh neighborhood, a five-minute walk from the Prime Minister’s Residence. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also attended the service at Hazvi Yisrael, but had a much longer walk from his home in Beit Hakerem.
Due to the security requirements necessitated by the presence of the two leaders, congregants were asked to arrive earlier than usual, which meant they also had to begin their fast earlier.
Netanyahu is no stranger to Hazvi Yisrael, having previously attended services there on various holidays. He also attends services at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue, which is a five-minute walk from his residence in the opposite direction, but did not do so this year.
Despite having arrived home only a few hours earlier, Netanyahu was in fine form when he delivered an address to the congregation, stating that one thing for which Israel did not have to apologize on Yom Kippur is the courage and dedication of its soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge.
IN THE past, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur sermons at the Great Synagogue have been delivered by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau , both when he was chief rabbi and in the years that followed, and over the past year by his son Rabbi David Lau , who is currently Ashkenazi chief rabbi.
This year, the brothers Lau divided the Great Synagogue between them, with Rabbi David Lau speaking on Rosh Hashana and Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau , the eldest of the eight Lau siblings, speaking on Yom Kippur.
Oratory must run in the Lau family. Not only do they have a gift for speaking eloquently, without stuttering or stammering and without notes, but they also know how to project their voices. Rabbi Moshe Lau could be heard quite clearly in the last row of the extensive women’s gallery. Anyone who has been to the Great Synagogue on a Shabbat or festival knows that speaking or reading loudly enough to enable the whole congregation to hear is quite a feat.
Aside from the spiritual aspect of Yom Kippur, thankfully there are doctors in the house at the Great Synagogue to deal with emergency situations. When a young woman sitting in the back of the synagogue fainted, former MK Dr.
Rachel Adato , who was sitting in the front row, was with her in seconds, giving her something to drink and leading her into the lounge area where she could lie down. They were barely out the door when several male doctors, including one walking with the aid of a cane, came upstairs to see if they were needed.
Only minutes after Adato had returned to her seat, another woman fainted in another part of the synagogue. The agile Adato sprinted across at a speed that belies her 67 years, revived the woman and helped her downstairs. This time, only one male doctor came to the rescue and helped Adato steer the woman in the right direction.
Adato is a former deputy director of both Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem and the city’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. She has the distinction of having been the first female gynecologist in the capital; she also holds an MBA and a law degree.
IT’S HEARTENING to see that the outpouring of appreciation for lone soldiers who served during Operation Protective Edge has not abated, and that there are many activities on their behalf. The next is tomorrow night, by way of a benefit concert at Olmaya, the impressive new events hall on the Haas Promenade where several entertainers will get together to pay tribute to lone soldiers. The event was organized by the Lone Soldiers Center in Memory of Michael Levin, an American lone soldier who conceived of the center but was killed in action in Lebanon in 2006, before he could turn his idea into a reality.
OPEN HOUSE at the President’s Residence will take place on Monday, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and will focus primarily on ecology and environmental protection. These, together with gardening, are pet subjects of the president’s wife, Nechama Rivlin , who last month established a horticultural project for children on the grounds of the residence. She is encouraging children of the neighborhood as well as from other parts of Israel to come learn about plants and flowers and how to treat them, and to cultivate plots of their own in the spacious presidential gardens.