GRAPEVINE: Zion’s guardians

Nir Barkat (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Nir Barkat
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
At the 21st annual Guardian of Zion Awards ceremony funded by Ira and Ingeborg Rennert of New York, Mayor Nir Barkat said that they are the true guardians of Zion because whenever they are asked to do anything for the benefit of Jerusalem, they never refuse. The Rennerts also have a home in Jerusalem and, well over a decade ago, donated the synagogue in the grounds of the President’s Residence.
Despite the fact that Shavuot learning sessions were plentiful within a 15-minute walking radius of Beit Avi Chai, all roads nonetheless led to the popular multidisciplinary facility, which throughout the year deals with a multitude of Jewish- and Jerusalem-related topics. Executive director David Rozenson, mindful of the number of frustrated people who couldn’t get into lectures last year, put up a huge marquee in the plaza of the adjacent Jewish Agency compound – and it, too, was full. Rozenson was actually delighted that there was so much competition close by, because it relieved the pressure on Beit Avi Chai.
Jerusalemites are much more tolerant than is generally believed.
Although the majority of people attending the first session in the Beit Avi Chai auditorium was to various degrees religiously observant, there were secular people present who were using their cellphones and no one sought to rebuke them. At another lecture in a smaller hall, someone was actually taking notes, and here again, there was no word of reproach. The whole atmosphere was one of live and let live.
June is going to be one of the busiest months of the year – and not just because it’s the Gregorian calendar month of the jubilee of the reunification of Jerusalem. It’s also the month of the Israel Festival and the Jerusalem International Book Fair, which this year will be held in conjunction with Hebrew Book Week with exhibits and events in five different locations – The First Station, The Terminal, the Justice club, the Jerusalem Cinematheque and Mishkenot Sha’ananim, which are all within easy walking distance of each other.
The good news for large families is that entrance to everything is free, and there are to be special activities for children, which means that parents will be able to browse through books that interest them or attend lectures and panel discussions.
This year’s winner of the Jerusalem Prize, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgard, is the first Scandinavian writer to be honored.
Previous winners have come from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Italy, Argentina, Romania, Mexico, Russia, Trinidad, Czechoslovakia, South Africa/Australia, Poland, Germany, Peru, Spain, United States, Portugal, Japan and Albania, with the largest number coming from the UK.
For those bookworms who enjoy attending book launches, there will be another at Beit Alliance, 5 Ki’ach Street, adjacent to Mahaneh Yehuda market, on Sunday, June 25, when Gefen Publishing House hosts the launch of Larry M. Goldstein’s book A Table Against Mine Enemies: Israel on the Lawfare Front.
Guest speaker will be international lawyer Nitsana Darshan- Leitner, founder and head of Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center.
Leitner has an impressive record as the legal representative of victims of terrorism and their families. For additional information call (02) 538-0247.
Russia's return  to a significant role in Middle East affairs adds importance to the book by husband and wife team Gideon Remez and Isabella Ginor, whose book The Soviet-Israeli War 1967-73 will be launched at the Truman Institute on the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus on Wednesday, June 21.
Speakers at the event will include Truman Institute chairman Dr. Roni Shaked, the authors, who say that Russian strategy and intervention does not differ much from that of the Soviet Union half a century ago, and Zvi Magen, a former ambassador to Russia and a former head of Nativ, the Israeli liaison bureau that maintained contact with Jews living in Soviet bloc countries. Magen is currently head of the research programs on Russia and the Middle East and Russia and the former Soviet Union at the Institute for National Security Studies.
For further details call the Truman Institute, (02) 588-2329.