Too much of a good thing

In Jewish tradition, Tuesday is the luckiest day of the week – but sometimes one can have too much of a good thing.

Shakira and Peres_311 (photo credit: GPO)
Shakira and Peres_311
(photo credit: GPO)
■ IN JEWISH tradition, Tuesday is the luckiest day of the week – but sometimes one can have too much of a good thing. The number of events taking place in Jerusalem this past Tuesday night was mind boggling and extremely frustrating for those people who would have been interested in attending at least two or three of them had each been held on a different date.
Here are a few samples of the causes of frustration: the opening at the Jerusalem International Convention Center of the third Facing Tomorrow Israeli Presidential conference, which was conceived by President Shimon Peres to bring some of the world’s top movers and shakers in different fields to Israel; best-selling author A.B. Yehoshua discussing Jewish peoplehood and the origin of anti-Semitism at the Shalom Hartman Institute; the Festival of Light in Jerusalem; the showcasing of four major American Jewish composers at the Jerusalem Theater; the launch at the Shazar Institute of Avner Holzman’s book on Jewish iconoclast Micha Josef Berdychewski; a conference at the Van Leer Institute based on Yagil Levy’s book Who Rules the Army?; the opening at the Israel Museum of the “Sands of Time” exhibition of the works of Micha Ullman; and a community singing evening at the Begin Heritage Center with famed songwriter Nahum Heiman, all of which together represented roughly one-third of the events in the capital that night.
■ WHILE NOBEL prize laureate Ada Yonath came to Jerusalem this week to receive an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University, fellow Nobel laureate Prof. Yisrael Auman went from Jerusalem to Netanya to receive an honorary doctorate from Netanya Academic College. Of Israel’s nine Nobel Prize laureates, six are still living. The first person to bring this particular glory to Israel and to Jerusalem was Shai Agnon, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1966. Two of Israel’s Nobel Prize laureates, Yitzhak Rabin and Ada Yonath, were born in Jerusalem.
■ IN THE absence last Shabbat of the Great Synagogue’s choir and chief cantor Chaim Adler, guest cantors Moshe Goldberg and Yossi Schwartz did an admirable job in leading the service separately and together. Their duets were wonderful music to the ears. There was also no prominent rabbi to deliver the sermon, but there was a bar mitzva boy in the person of David Belaich, who deserved to be addressed from the pulpit in the same manner as any other bar mitzva boy. Zalli Jaffe, one of the congregation’s vice presidents, took the task upon himself and delivered an excellent sermon, which included the definition of a wise man who, according to Jaffe, is a person who keeps his own counsel when he knows that no one will heed his words.
Adler and the synagogue choir conducted by Elli Jaffe will be back this week, but lovers of cantorial music should mark July 29-30 on their calendars when Adler and the choir will be joined by cantor Yitzhak Meir Helfgot in a special Shabbat tribute to the late Richard Tucker, who was both a cantor and a renowned opera singer. Tucker sang in Israel many times, often gratis, especially in 1967 when he arrived in Israel straight after entertaining US troops in Vietnam. During that visit, he made a point of going to see soldiers who had been wounded in the Six Day War and singing to them individually in their hospital beds.
■ WHILE THERE is a tendency among secular Jews to leave the Old City of Jerusalem, there is an increase in the haredi population in the area in terms of the birth rate and new people moving in. There are not many free-standing houses in the Jewish Quarter, but of the few that do exist, there is one opposite the Western Wall that is 400 years old and has been put on the market because its owner, Shlomo Leder, a native son of the Old City who fought and was wounded in the War of Independence, is planning to move into a retirement home.
The view from Leder’s house is spectacular. Anyone looking out from there can see not only the plaza in front of the Western Wall but also the Dome of the Rock and the panorama behind it. Compared to prices being charged for certain new properties in Jerusalem, the asking price for the Leder house is relatively reasonable – NIS 10 million. The house occupies an area of 220 sq.m. and has 10 rooms.