■ BIBLE LANDS Museum director Amanda Weiss is excited about the "Highway Through History" exhibition opening on March 19 that features selected finds discovered during the expansion of Route 38 at Tel Beit Shemesh. These finds, says Weiss, “have changed our understanding of the First Temple period of history irrevocably.” The exhibition will be the first to be shown in the museum’s new Focus Gallery. On hand, in addition to Weiss, will be Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch and Jerusalem District archaeologist Yuval Baruch. A lecture in Hebrew on “New Insights from Tel Beit Shemesh-The Rescue Excavations of Route 38” will be given by archaeologist Dr. Yehuda Govrin who is director of excavations, followed by remarks from Rabbi Naama Kelman-Ezrachi, the dean of Hebrew Union College.
■ AFTER 36 years of meeting in city center venues, the Sam Orbaum Scrabble Club has moved to suburbia. For those who may not remember, or who never knew him, Sam Orbaum was the founder of the Jerusalem Scrabble Club, which took on his name following his death from lymphoma at age 46 in 2002. Before his passing, he celebrated the bat mitzvah of his identical triplet daughters, Odelia, Nomi and Donna, who six years afterward served in the Israel Air Force.
Sam was also a talented writer who occasionally featured his girls in his writings. He was also the features editor of The Jerusalem Post. The triplets’ mother, Wendy Elliman, is also an avid Scrabble player and a journalist, who inter alia is the long-time medical correspondent for Hadassah Magazine. For the past 17 years, the Scrabble Club was located at Beit Ha’am. Other previous venues were the YMCA, Beit Shmuel, ICCY and the Windmill Hotel.
From a small group of enthusiasts, the Jerusalem Scrabble Club developed into one of the largest in the world, gaining more than 2,000 players over the course of time. Some of the original members are still playing. It has now moved to the easily accessible Himmelfarb High School in Bayit Vegan, where players of all levels and ages meet on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. In addition to trying to come up with seven-letter words, Elliman currently has something more important on her mind – an upcoming wedding. Odelia is the first of the triplets to take the plunge into matrimony and is engaged to Rotem Harel of Moshav Ramot Meir.
■ SOMETHING SIMILAR to Birthright is conducted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which via its various social media outlets is calling on young adults aged 17 to 32 to participate in Arise, an epic 10-day tour “exploring the land where it all began, in Israel.” The young men and women are invited to “deepen your faith and understanding of God, His people and the Bible, while making friends with tour participants across the world.” The essential difference between Arise and Birthright is that Birthright participants get the whole experience gratis, whereas Arise participants have to pay $1,399 for half board and accommodation, not counting air fare.
■ INCIDENTALLY, THE International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is moving from its Rachel Imenu premises to Talpiot. According to David Parsons, vice president and senior international spokesman for the ICEJ, the move to Talpiot is temporary until the organization can secure permanent premises that are large enough for all of its activities, including an education center for the training of pastors.
■ DEPUTY HEALTH Minister Ya’acov Litzman, using his clout, was able to get the best possible medical treatment for the wife of the rabbi of Gur. Unlike ordinary citizens, she did not have to wait for months until a specialist could examine her. Nor was she confined to a bed in a hospital corridor. Litzman also blocked the extradition of Malka Leifer, the ultra-Orthodox school teacher wanted in Melbourne, Australia on 74 counts of sexual abuse of students. Equally repugnant was Litzman’s refusal to condemn ultra-Orthodox men and boys who last Friday verbally and physically assaulted Women of the Wall.
On the previous evening, police had been involved in a scuffle with hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men and boys who staged a demonstration on the Jaffa Road-Sarei Israel intersection to protest the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox draft-dodger. Hundreds – if not thousands – of people who were returning home from work, or from shopping for Shabbat, were stranded for hours in the cold wind because Jaffa Road was closed to public transportation – no buses, no light rail, no taxis.