Grapevine: Reaching to the choir

Zaka founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav during a rescue mission in Thailand. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Zaka founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav during a rescue mission in Thailand.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
■ MANY PEOPLE with good voices limit themselves to singing in the shower because they don’t know how to promote themselves in order to sing professionally in public, and sometimes they are worried that their voices might not be good enough. For males in this category who might care to join a choir before they opt to become soloists, choirmaster Nissim Baruch is looking to increase the number of singers in the Gesher Hameytarim (Bridge of Strings) all-male choir. Anyone who is interested can come for a voice test, and if they pass they can meet with other singers for two hours every Monday night in Kiryat Moshe from 7:15 to 9:15 p.m. The weekly meetings will focus on voice development, but in the process, there will of course be a lot of singing. To learn more, go into the Meytarim website at www. or call Baruch at 052-714-4737 or Yochanan Katz at 055-667-3738
■ IT’S DIFFICULT to tell whether the upgrading of certain streets in the city is part of a long-term master plan that is gradually being implemented in different neighborhoods, or whether it’s a farewell gift from outgoing Mayor Nir Barkat as he leaves Safra Square in his bid for a seat in the Knesset. Either way, the immediate neighbors of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are extremely appreciative. For years, they’ve been complaining to City Hall representatives about the dangerous and unsightly indentations, potholes and cracks in the pavement which not only brought shame to the city, but also to the prime minister and his family. Admittedly, most of the people who are invited to dine at the prime minister’s residence usually come at night, and immediately after stepping outside the car, go inside the gate leading to the house. So it’s unlikely that few if any official guests ever noticed the disgusting pavements. For the past couple of weeks, a group of workers have diligently dug up the street and paved it with square blocks. What a joy to see and feel the difference.
■ “OUT OF Zion” takes on added meaning when Jerusalem-headquartered life-saving organizations branch out not only beyond the capital, but beyond the country. A case in point is ZAKA, which was founded in 1995 by Yehuda Meshi Zahav, a multi-generational Jerusalemite, whose initial spontaneous action to rescue victims from a bus that had fallen into a gorge as a result of a terrorist attack led to a rescue-and-recovery organization with branches throughout Israel and abroad. Not everyone has the stomach, the time or the energy to be physically part of rescue and recovery, but they are more than willing to give the organization their financial support.
Thus, New York-based Israeli businessman Boaz Bagbag and his family decided to donate to ZAKA a much-needed ATV equipped with emergency medical and search equipment. The ATV will be used in search and rescue missions in off-the-road terrain that is not easily accessible for regular emergency vehicles
Attending the ceremony, together with ZAKA volunteers and chairman Meshi Zahav, were Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Nava Boker, Rabbi Meir Abuhatzeira; commander Amnon Ziv, head of the Volunteers Department in the Israel Police; Ashdod Deputy Mayor Rabbi Avi Amsalem; ATV donor Bagbag, who flew in specially from Manhattan’s Upper East Side for the occasion, ZAKA Special Units Commander Haim Weingarten, ZAKA South Commander Asher Levy and ZAKA Lachish Commander Avi Deri.
Boker, perhaps more than anyone else present, could fully understand the value of the ATV.
“Unfortunately, I know from personal experience the sacred work of the ZAKA volunteers from when I lost my dear husband in the Carmel Forest fire. You are all dear to my heart,” she said. “I have watched your work and witnessed your dedication and professionalism at that most difficult scene. I want to thank you personally for all you do and I will continue to offer my help to the organization so that you can continue your sacred work.”
Amsalem echoed Boker’s sentiments. “I have no words to express my gratitude and esteem for the dedication of the ZAKA volunteers for the people of Israel in general and Ashdod in particular. In the name of the people of Ashdod, I thank each and every ZAKA volunteer for his holy work.”
Meshi-Zahav, in thanking Bagbag as he presented him with a certificate of appreciation, said: “I pray that we meet only on happy occasions. There is no doubt that your important donation will help many residents in Ashdod and the surrounding area.”