Gravepine: painful progress

In their desire for progress and modernity, they tore down historic buildings before anyone could step in to stop them

Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely
■ Jerusalem-born author Haim Beer, who was raised in Geula in an Orthodox environment both inside and outside his home, has relatives all over Geula and Mea She’arim, including members of the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit who live in Batei Ungarn. Although he has not lived in Jerusalem for many years, Beer frequently returns, not only to participate in festivals and conferences or to put in an appearance at a family celebration but also to conduct guided tours through the Jerusalem of his youth. It pains him, he told Liat Regev in an interview on Reshet Bet last Friday, that none of the mayors of Jerusalem from Teddy Kollek to Nir Barkat, had sufficient respect for the history and character of the city.
In their desire for progress and modernity, they tore down historic buildings before anyone could step in to stop them, and very few places in the Jerusalem of today, resemble the Jerusalem that Beer knew in his younger years. In essence, Beer was talking to Regev about his new book, which contains vignettes about Jerusalem, including a meeting a decade ago with a cousin to whom he had no inkling that he was related. The cousin’s father had gone to America, opened a kosher butcher shop and did quite well for himself. The father’s surname in Jerusalem was Vallis. The family has lived in the capital since the early 1830s. In America, the immigrant from Jerusalem changed his name to Wallace. His son Jack Wallace became a senior figure in the CIA, and later was sent to Jerusalem as US consul-general. He had heard about a writer called Haim Beer who conducted tours, and thought it would be more interesting to go with him, because he would know how to weave a story.
In the course of the tour, the consul-general told the writer that his father had been born in Mea She’arim and that he was interested in finding the house where he had lived. He also revealed details about his father’s family, and it transpired that they were first cousins whose parents had lost contact with each other. As they kept walking, Beer spied one of the locals in a striped zebra coat and said to Wallace, “Here comes another cousin.” He approached the man, explained to him in Yiddish that the man with the burly bodyguard was a relative from America. Then the three began a lively conversation.
“Here we were,” said Beer, “one man who is always in a suit and tie and a patriotic American who was a big shot in the CIA, one who wears jeans, speaks modern Hebrew and writes books, and another in a striped coat who is an anti-Zionist – and the three of us share a grandfather and great-grandfather who is buried on the Mount of Olives.”
■ The legendary Smadar Cinema in the German Colony, which so often during the past eight decades has been under threat of closure, is introducing a Monday morning lecture series throughout November and December, beginning this coming Monday, November 6 at 10 a.m. with songs and stories about Jerusalem presented by Jackie Levy and Merav Siman Tov. The series, under the heading of “Eclectic Jerusalem,” will focus on the diversity of the city in lectures, and song. The events, with the possible exception of the first one, will include Israeli documentary and feature films.
■ Preserving fertility is the title of a conference to be held at Shaare Zedek Medical Center on Tuesday, November 14, with several surprise participants, including Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.
Prompting the conference is the fact that with so many career options that are open to them today, many career-oriented women put childbearing on hold. Meanwhile, the biological clock is ticking away.
The best known means of preserving fertility in such cases is the freezing of ova which can be fertilized years later.
Whether this the best idea, and whether there are alternatives will be discussed from halachic, medical and personal perspectives by Hotovely, MK Shuli Mualem, Dr. Ovadia Shemesh, Dr. Hannah Katan, Dr.
Hananel Holtzer, Dr. Avi Tsafrir, Ruti Katzenberg Kadosh, who works in the IVF Fertility Department, Tzvia Mimoniu, who is a nurse in the department and Rabbanit Yemima Mizrahi, who is one of the most popular and influential woman speakers in the Orthodox community.
An attorney by training, and a Rabbinical Court advocate, she also gives regular Torah classes and has a weekly radio program. She speaks on a wide range of subjects not only to Orthodox audiences, but to high-school students, at academic seminars, to career women, and even to women in Neveh Tirza prison. Her audiences can range from a dozen women in her home to thousands in a stadium.