Grapevine: Herzog at the shuk

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 People some with face masks shop for grocery at the mahane Yehuda market  in Jerusalem on January 13, 2022.  (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
People some with face masks shop for grocery at the mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on January 13, 2022.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

WHEN THEY first took up residence in Jerusalem, President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal, engaged in frequent walks around the neighborhood in order to familiarize themselves with their surroundings, and to ensure that they were not living in an ivory tower.

Last Friday, they went further afield and ventured into the Mahaneh Yehuda market, where the atmosphere was somewhat different from what they usually experience. Vendors and storekeepers were pleasantly surprised because these days Herzog, as the president of the state, is apolitical, and with Knesset elections more or less around the corner, and municipal election campaigns in the pipeline, visits by politicians would have been par for the course, as Mahaneh Yehuda is an important factor in political surveys. But it’s still a little early for the politicians to come out in force, though some of those who actually live in Jerusalem might come to the market to do their shopping, regardless of whether elections are on the horizon.

Shoppers who recognized the man in the black polo shirt were also pleased to see him mingling in the crowd.

Friday is always the busiest day in the market, especially at this time of the year when tourism is beginning to peak. In addition to bona fide shoppers, the market, with its colorful reputation, is a magnet for tourists, most of whom block the passageways but seldom buy anything, except perhaps in the beverage and pastry enterprises.

The Herzogs stopped to chat with merchants and with shoppers, and got a fairly good idea of how the other half lives.

 Herzog stands beside the statue of his father, Chaim Herzog, in the gardens of Beit Hanassi.  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Herzog stands beside the statue of his father, Chaim Herzog, in the gardens of Beit Hanassi. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Birthdays

■ THERE WERE two birthday cakes on the main kiddush table at Hazvi Yisrael Synagogue last Saturday. One was for Anna Lerner, and the other for her husband, Ivan. Each was celebrating a 75th birthday. But it wasn’t the only celebration in the congregation.

Among the others was the 50th wedding anniversary of medical historian Dr. Kenneth Collins and his wife, Irene, who may be the only members of the congregation to originate from Glasgow. Kenneth is a member of the synagogue board and one of its former chairmen.

Currently chairing the board is Marsha Wachsman, the first woman to occupy that position at Hazvi Yisrael. It’s fortunate that she has a strong and well-projected voice with clear diction. When she makes her weekly announcements from the women’s gallery, she can be heard throughout the whole of the synagogue chamber.

Choir

■ RESIDENTS IN Rehavia and surrounds who have young sons with good singing voices and are interested in having them join a synagogue boys’ choir should get them auditioned for Pirhei Yeshurun, the boys’ choir at Yeshurun Central Synagogue, which is conducted by Shraga Herstik from the family that has produced generations of cantorial and operatic singers, who have sung in some of the most prestigious synagogues in the world.

The boys’ choir participates in synagogue services, which means that the young singers not only give pleasure to congregants but also enhance their Jewish studies along the way. For further information contact [email protected]

Yair Lapid

■ ALL THE hype about Prime Minister Yair Lapid moving into an apartment within the security parameter of the Prime Minister’s Residence, which is supposedly undergoing major repairs and renovation, is little more than just hype. Lapid stays in the apartment only when he has late-night meetings in Jerusalem or when he has meetings very early in the morning and wants to avoid the morning rush-hour traffic between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Former prime minister Naftali Bennett was criticized for not living in Jerusalem at all. Lapid is at least saving the taxpayer money by occasionally occupying a rented apartment that costs less per month than it would cost for him to spend the same number of nights in a luxury hotel as he does in the Jerusalem building, which incidentally, he does not enter via the so-called security parameter, but just outside it from the Aza Street entrance, so as to avoid discomfort to regular residents who would have to clear the lobby and staircases during his comings and goings. It doesn’t take much to realize that even though he is technically at 1 Balfour Road, he is actually in Aza, where a group of security guards stand at the back entrance to the apartment complex. There are no security guards in Balfour Road or Smolenskin Street.

There is plenty of time between now and the Knesset elections to upgrade the Prime Minister’s Residence, so that whoever happens to be prime minister in the foreseeable future will live where he is supposed to live. Up until the Bennett era, all presidents and prime ministers of Israel lived in Jerusalem, and went home to their private residences for the weekend – and then, not always.

How can a prime minister of Israel urge governments of other countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem, if he fails to move to Jerusalem himself? Paying lip service to the capital of Israel and the eternal capital of the Jewish people is just not good enough.

Tours

■ VISITING HISTORY is becoming increasingly fashionable in Israel, with radio and television documentaries and discussions devoted to people who left their mark on the nation’s evolution, major historical events, and stories related to historical sites.

There are also plenty of tours in these genres, with one coming up on Monday, August 15, under the auspices of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. Tour Guide Onnie Schiffmiller will lead a group visit to Mikveh Israel, the country’s first revolutionary agricultural school, which is still functioning 140 years after its establishment, and retains its original classroom.

Continue on to the Agam Museum in Rishon Lezion which is dedicated to the works of Israel’s own world-renowned kinetic artist Yaakov Agam, and complete the tour at the Rishon Lezion Museum and learn about the 140-year history of the city, founded by Russian immigrants in 1882.

The departure point, at 8:45 a.m., is the Inbal Hotel, with another pickup at the Latrun gas station at 9:10 a.m. The anticipated return time is 5:45 p.m. Lunch can be purchased along the way, or bring your own.

The cost is NIS 230 for AACI members and NIS 260 for nonmembers

Further details can be obtained from Esti Herskowitz, 050-734-1133, or contact: [email protected]

[email protected]