Grapevine: Busy city

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 TRAFFIC SLOWS on Begin Road. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
TRAFFIC SLOWS on Begin Road.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Coping with traffic in Jerusalem is bad enough at any time, but it’s going to be a lot more difficult during July with American Independence Day, the Jerusalem Jazz Festival, the opening of the 21st Maccabiah Games, the Jerusalem Film Festival, hotel incentives and more.

Among the hotel incentives is a three-day weekend at the Dan Jerusalem, where guests will enjoy songs from the Jerusalem-based musical Spanish Orchard performed by Uri Kariv, Aharon Ferera and Dorit Reuveni; a Jerusalem tribute concert with Gil Shochat, Keren Hadar, Roni Nadler and Nati Cohen; a Jewish music and humor treat with Shlomi Goldberg, Ilan Leibowitz, and Gil Caftan; and lectures by Prof. Moti Melni on the British Mandate, author Haim Be’er on the bird of the stone, Bilha Ben Eliahu on praise, Prof. Yair Zakowitz who claims there is no David without Jerusalem, and David Ivgi who will discuss Jerusalem in art. These and other events are going to bring tens of thousands of non-Jerusalemites to the capital, creating traffic chaos such as we have never seen before, given that continued light rail and other construction projects are also impeding the smooth flow of traffic.

Anyone planning to be anywhere that entails driving or bus travel should allow themselves an extra hour to get there.

■ APROPOS THE Maccabiah Games, last week Mayor Moshe Lion, Deputy Mayor Elisha Peleg, who holds the sports portfolio, Hebrew University president Prof. Asher Cohen and several other dignitaries attended the unveiling of the upgraded athletics stadium at Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus. The stadium, long neglected, has been modernized, with seating capacity for 3,600. Prior to the Games, it will host the European under 18 athletics championships, from July 4-7.

 GYMNASTICS ARE a permanent fixture of the Maccabiah Games. (credit: ITAMAR GRINBERG) GYMNASTICS ARE a permanent fixture of the Maccabiah Games. (credit: ITAMAR GRINBERG)

■ AT THE Hazvi Israel congregation, last Saturday, more congratulatory announcements than usual on life-cycle events were made, with congregants saying mazal tov after each. But the loudest mazal tov followed the announcement of the 60th wedding anniversary of Toby and Reuven Asch, formerly of New York, who have been closely involved with the congregation since their 1970 arrival in Jerusalem.

Reuven is a former president of the congregation and continues to sit on its board. A psychologist by profession, he is the former chief psychologist for the Education Ministry, and has trained generations of immigrant educational psychologists, including several from Ukraine, who are proving invaluable in dealing with the problems of Ukrainian refugee and immigrant children. In 2020, he was among the recipients of the Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize.

■ THE FUCHSBERG Jerusalem Center (FJC) has welcomed two new rabbis: both female. The Rabbinic Selection Committee headed by Rabbi Jerome Epstein and assisted by partners from the Masorti Movement in Israel, has chosen Rabba Nava B. Meiersdorf and Rabba Dikla Druckman-Sherzer to lead and inspire the Fuchsberg Center community.

Meiersdorf has spent nearly 10 years involved in Jewish education her and abroad. She has experience working with young children, as well as adults, from Hebrew school to bar/bat mitzvah training to musical, theatrical and spiritual workshops. She received her rabbinic ordination from the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, along with her MA in Talmud, Halacha and Community, in January 2022. She and her partner, Rabbi Yerach Meiersdorf, have established and built a thriving Masorti community in Ein Karem from the ground up. She also teaches in the IDF’s Nativ conversion program and is passionate about interfaith work. She begins her tenure at FJC on July 1.

Druckman-Sherzer earned her rabbinic ordination from the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in 2016, with particular focuses on pastoral care, Talmud, Halacha and liturgy. She spent several years working with at-risk youth, children with special needs, and bar/bat mitzvah students, as well as providing pastoral support for older community members and cancer patients. Since her ordination, she has worked in communities in North America and Israel, including serving as the Rabba in the Masorti community of Omer, handling life-cycle events, participating in study programs and teaching in interfaith settings. She enjoys music, singing and salsa dancing. After returning from a year in Berkeley, California, Druckman-Sherzer will begin her tenure at FJC on August 1.

■ THE RECEPTION, last week at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, was relatively small and intimate but great in enthusiasm, as The Jerusalem Strategic Tribune (JST) celebrated its first anniversary and the publication of its fourth print issue.

The far-reaching and courageous vision of JST publisher Ahmed Charai, highlighting the US–Israel alliance through a forum for joint discussion and debate of foreign policy issues, was the main subject of remarks by both editor-in-chief Eran Lerman and managing editor Bob Silverman.

In his comments, Lerman also offered condolences to Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, who had been scheduled to congratulate JST on behalf of City Hall, but had to absent herself due to the passing in Gibraltar of her mother, Lady Marcelle Hassan. He also eulogized one of JST’s first contributors, the late Prof. Aharon Klieman (one of whose daughters attended the event). In an important essay written shortly before he passed away last year, Klieman urged a return to realism in the understanding of world affairs. This call has since been borne out by events, said Lerman.

In this context, regular JST columnist and former Knesset member Ksenia Svetlova spoke on the ramifications of the ongoing Ukraine war (a central theme of the fourth print issue) for the world, the West, the Middle East and for Israeli policy, even amid the political crisis that unfolded that same evening, as Israel is yet again heading to new elections.

■ SOMETIMES PEOPLE are too young to fully engage in creativity, but they’re never too old according to Gladys Young, a 91-year-old artist living in Jerusalem, where her work is displayed in her studio. Young believes in encouraging people of all ages to seek their creative potential in nature.

Her own artwork uses various parts of the palm tree to create figures from what she sees in nature.

She is interested in reaching out to the public so that more seniors and people of any age, including children, can be inspired, as she is, to open up their creativity and be aware of the possibilities in the environment around them.

Young is not alone in encouraging creativity. Many seniors have discovered their creative streak after retirement, when attending events for seniors at their local community centers or moving to a retirement complex for seniors and joining occupational therapy classes. Some are totally amazed by the beautiful paintings, drawings and sculptures they produce, and wonder why it took them so long to discover something in themselves that brings so much pleasure to so many people.

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