Grapevine: PM’s Residence needs sprucing up

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

A view of the house of the Israeli Prime Minister in Jerusalem. June 07, 2002. (photo credit: NATI SHOCHAT/FLASH 90)
A view of the house of the Israeli Prime Minister in Jerusalem. June 07, 2002.
(photo credit: NATI SHOCHAT/FLASH 90)

FOR THE best part of a year, residents of Rehavia-Talbiyeh have been able to move freely though Smolenskin Street and Balfour Road without being stopped by security personnel or police safety barriers. The reason: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett refrained from moving into his official residence, which sits on the intersection of these two streets.

The question now remains as to whether Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid will do the same, though in all probability he will have to demonstrate a semblance of living there during the visit next month by US President Joe Biden.

The huge security hut put up for former president Donald Trump is still in place, but the municipality will have to send gardeners to make the overgrown lawn in front of what used to be the Schocken house, adjacent to the Prime Minister’s Residence, look presentable. During the past several months, it has become home to tall weeds and dry grass. In fact, there has been general neglect, with the exception of garbage collection, about which Mayor Moshe Lion is very particular.

Incidentally, Lapid is well named for his role. The translation of his name is: He will kindle the torch.

■ LAST SATURDAY night all roads led to the First Station, the main Jerusalem venue of Hebrew Book Week. Seen among the browsers was retired Supreme Court justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who now has more time in which to read.

 SCENES FROM the Hebrew Book Week display at Jerusalem’s First Station. (credit: Sydney Maud) SCENES FROM the Hebrew Book Week display at Jerusalem’s First Station. (credit: Sydney Maud)

■ VETERAN JOURNALIST Yitzhak Hildesheimer was born and raised in Jerusalem, and although he no longer lives in the capital, he keeps his finger on the city’s pulse, and remains aware of ongoing developments.

He’s currently very excited about the 90th anniversary celebrations next week of the Ohel Rivka Synagogue on Harlap Street, Kiryat Shmuel, which was one of the first synagogues built outside the walls of the Old City.

Hildesheimer used to attend services there with his late father, from the time that he was three years old, and intends to be there to meet old friends and revive memories on Monday, June 27, at 5:30 p.m. Needless to say, there will be several prominent rabbis and other Jerusalem dignitaries at the festive prayer service.

Among people who prayed their during Hildesheimer’s youth were Ashkenazi chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Moshe Mandelbaum, who was governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Yohanan Shtasman, who was the personal physician of Sephardi chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim, publisher Reuven Mass, whose son Dani headed a Palmah platoon of 35 soldiers who went to offer assistance and ammunition to the people who were under siege in Gush Etzion, and were all killed in an attack by Arab forces. Members of the family of Dani Mass, including a grandson of Reuven Mass, who occasionally prays at Ohel Rivka, will attend the service, as will State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman.

■ THE RECENT death of Dr. Henry Hashkes, a beloved New York-born physician who immigrated to Israel with his late wife, Sally, in 1969, left a significant gap in the English-speaking community of Jerusalem.

In America he did a stint as an army surgeon, then went into private practice. In Israel, he spent two years as a Hebrew University doctor treating students, and then went into private practice, to the delight of many fellow American immigrants – especially those unable to master Hebrew. They could explain their aches and pains and other discomforts in English, and get a diagnosis, both oral and in writing – also in English.

In addition to being a good doctor, Hashkes was also a much-in-demand lecturer, who could explain in easily understandable terminology new developments in old diseases, symptoms that were often red alerts to something serious, as well as others that were not worth worrying about.

In 2009, he was named a Yakir Yerushalayim – a Distinguished Citizen of Jerusalem – in recognition and appreciation of his many years of service. One of his children, Batsheva Pomerantz, was some years ago a staff member of The Jerusalem Post, and from time to time continues to contribute articles.

Hashkes died in May this year, just two months after his 91st birthday. The unveiling of his tombstone will take place on Friday, July 1, at 10 a.m. at the Yakirei Yerushalayim plot in Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Givat Shaul.

■ PEOPLE WHO are considered to be celebrities can get away with things that are forbidden or out of reach for most others. Case in point is actor, writer and singer Shuli Rand, who was born into a religiously observant family, left religion for a time, and then returned as ultra-Orthodox, and is a member of the Breslov Hassidim in Jerusalem.

Rand and his actress wife, Michal, who is the mother of his seven children, have been at odds for quite a few years. He left her, and after a while began dating television personality Tsufit Grant, who was a long way from religion.

There’s no accounting for chemistry, and the two hit it off to the extent that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with each other. There was one problem. Michal did not want to divorce Shuli unless he paid her a very large sum of money, mainly because he hadn’t been paying alimony or child support during the period of their separation.

While scores of Jewish women are held captive by Halacha if their husbands refuse to give them a bill of divorce, it doesn’t quite work that way for men, who can take another wife while still married, providing they can get the signatures of 100 rabbis to agree to the union.

Some ordinary guy in a similar situation would get into trouble if he took a second wife while still married to the first, and probably be arrested for bigamy. Not Rand. He got his 100 signatures, where others might have failed, and last year married Tsufit.

In interviews the two say the most positive things about each other, and Rand, who gets interviewed on radio and sometimes television whenever he has a new performance coming up or has recorded a new song, gets treated with kid gloves by his interviewers. Perhaps the larger public is more interested in his celebrity status than in his personal problems, and does not really care whether he has more than one wife or not.

It’s not just the wife thing. Anyone who wants to be honest knows that Rand doesn’t really have a good singing voice. It’s an updated version of “The Emperor has no clothes” – no one wants to risk being called a musical ignoramus by drawing attention to Rand’s flawed vocal qualities. But he has a following, and his concerts are well attended, so in all probability there will be a crowd at the Jerusalem Chabad-sponsored concert at Yeshurun Central Synagogue on Sunday, July 3, with Dr. Yehiel Harari, a well-known author and lecturer adding diversity to the evening with his lecture. Tickets purchased before Tuesday, July 28, are NIS 60, and from then until June 29 or on the actual night, NIS 75. To purchase tickets go to

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