Grapevine: Rivlin sworn in

Israel's new president, prayers at the Great Synagogue and a cinematic journey on Tisha Be'av.

Pm Netanyahu and Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Pm Netanyahu and Reuven Rivlin
•Israel's 10th president, Reuven Rivlin, was sworn in yesterday at an inauguration ceremony at the Knesset. He is the third Sabra president and the second to be born in Jerusalem; the first was the fifth president, Yitzhak Navon.
More than any other public figure, Rivlin is identified with Jerusalem, and makes a point of mentioning the Holy City in his greetings when interviewed on radio. The other Sabra was the seventh president, Ezer Weizman. An avid fan of Beitar Jerusalem, Rivlin will find that as president he will not be able to attend matches as frequently as he used to because of security considerations.
•Many movie theaters, restaurants and hotels in Jerusalem were empty this past week, and buses and the light rail were less crowded. But while attendance was down in commercial areas, it was up in houses of worship.
Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue in particular had a Shabbat attendance equal to that of the High Holy Days. On Friday night there was standing room only, and though the situation eased somewhat on Saturday, the synagogue was nonetheless much fuller than usual. Certainly there were congregants whose spiritual needs rose to the fore in the time of crisis, but the general attendance was bolstered by the fact that worldrenowned cantor Yaakov Motzen was leading the service – together with the famous Kolot Israel choir of 60 cantors from Netanya, Modi’in and Kfar Saba, conducted by Yaakov Rotner.
The spouses and some other family members of the cantor’s choir also came to Jerusalem for the occasion. Members of Chabad of Rehavia, who usually pray in the Great Synagogue’s basement because their own premises around the corner are too small, on this occasion – at the invitation of synagogue chairman Asher Schapiro – joined worshipers upstairs, so they could also enjoy the singing of Motzen and the choir. In addition, there was a large (mostly non-Jewish) trade delegation from Australia that was officially welcomed by Great Synagogue vice president Zalli Jaffe, who thanked them for their solidarity.
Aside from that, Motzen has a lot of fans in the capital.
The Great Synagogue is quite likely to be full tonight as well, as IDF lone soldiers attend services prior to partaking of the monthly Friday night dinner the synagogue hosts for them.
Usually the atmosphere is full of fun, with a guest speaker who is a well-known Israeli personality, but tonight’s event will be overshadowed by the knowledge that lone soldiers have been among those in the IDF who have made the supreme sacrifice in the current hostilities with Gaza; they are also among the dead.
•As happens every year at Beit Avi Chai, the Tisha Be’av fast is made easier by people sitting together in the theater-style auditorium to watch thought-provoking films about conflict, hatred and self-examination.
This year on Tuesday, August 5, beginning at 1 p.m. until the conclusion of the fast, Beit Avi Chai will take its guests on a cinematic journey through great conflicts and hatreds and their influence on ordinary Israelis. As always, discussion will follow the screening of each film. What panelists will seek to explore together with the audience is the extent of the pervasiveness of hatred; the fate of those who live and breathe hatred; and whether hatred can be averted, or whether it will always seep from within and eventually erupt.
Facilitators and discussants will include Army Radio journalist Liad Mudrick, clinical psychologist Avner Hacohen, journalist Nadav Eyal, former MK and Black Panther leader Charlie Biton, sociologist and anthropologist Dr. Nissim Leon, writer, producer and director Ron Ofer, film critic Yuval Rivlin and scriptwriter Havvah Deevon.
Though each of the films chosen are vastly different from one other, what they have in common is the thread of unjustified hatred and prejudice which poisons relations between individuals, movements, races and nations. Admission is free of charge.