Grapevine: Fine-tune frequency

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

The first direct train between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (December 21, 2019). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The first direct train between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (December 21, 2019).

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, together with the Jerusalem Municipality and various bus companies, is adding routes, changing routes and has also reintroduced the all-night train, which travels, at one hour intervals, from Jerusalem via Ben-Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv and back again. 

It’s good news about the train, but not so good news about the bus routes, which include express buses that don’t stop along the way.

Adding to the number of routes is fine. Adding to the frequency would be even better. But changing a route or canceling a route leads to needless confusion and frustration, especially when there is insufficient notice about the changes.

Full-page advertisements were taken out in some of the local Jerusalem publications advising readers of the changes, but they weren’t in every publication, and some changes were advertised in one publication but not in another.

This negatively affects not only local residents but also tourists who, whenever they came to Israel, took a particular bus to wherever they were going, and now it suddenly isn’t going there anymore or has a different route. How is the frequent-flier tourist to know?

 Eitan Elbaum (second in from right) poses with other members of the Israeli delegation who participated in the International Olympiad in Informatics earlier this year. (credit: Courtesy) Eitan Elbaum (second in from right) poses with other members of the Israeli delegation who participated in the International Olympiad in Informatics earlier this year. (credit: Courtesy)

If the Transportation Ministry and municipality really want to be efficient, they will publish routes of all the buses in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Amharic and Russian on an easily accessible and understood website. That would be a real service to the public.

A new politically correct term for people over the age of 70

■ EXPRESSIONS CONSIDERED to be politically correct keep entering our conversations. For instance, there is a vast difference between saying that someone is disabled and that someone has a disability. But even before that, words like “handicapped,” “invalid” and “crippled” were used – and with hindsight they were used inappropriately because they create impressions that are often far from true.

“Handicapped,” for instance, comes from the period before the introduction of social welfare programs that provided for the state to give people with disabilities some kind of monthly financial grant. Thus, in order to put food on the table, people with disabilities stood or sat, cap in hand, to receive the coins of charitable passersby. Thus the word “handicapped” was coined.

The word “old” in relation to a person’s age was considered pejorative, suggesting that people of a certain age were no longer useful and should be shunted aside. Then came expressions such as “retirees,” “senior citizens,” “golden age” and “third age.”

Now there’s yet another term, which may have been conceived by James Snyder, executive chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation, Inc., or which he may have brought with him from New York, which is one of the evolutionary hubs of the English language. Whichever, Snyder refers to those who are aged 70 plus as “people of an earlier generation.” It sounds much more genteel and is more in the nature of continuity than finality.

Snyder, who was in Jerusalem twice within the period of a month, came the second time because donors in America are getting ready to approve grant applications, and he realized from previous experience that most of the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian applicants do not know how to properly present a grant application. As a result, deserving organizations and institutions might miss out. So he came to conduct grant application workshops and discovered how excited adults can get about learning something new from which they can benefit and help to benefit others.

In his current role, Snyder is discovering the enormity and diversity of Jerusalem’s creative talents. When he was the director of the Israel Museum, it had programs for creative coexistence between Jews and Arabs, but it did not afford him the opportunities he has today.

He is excited every time he returns to the city to meet new people and learn about new projects for promoting the creativity of the individual and the community. He is forever rushing from meeting to meeting and is so impressed with the innovative and dynamic leadership role of one of the Arab cultural activists that he is thinking of taking him to New York so that he can personally tell donors what he is doing and what his community is doing.

Snyder plans to be back in Jerusalem in November for the official opening of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Campus of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, which will mark Bezalel’s return to the heart of Jerusalem. Snyder was among those who attended the groundbreaking ceremony in October 2015. In February 2019, Bezalel sold its building on the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University for NIS 100 million.

How Israelis reacted to the death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth

THE DEATH last week of Queen Elizabeth II of England was noted around the world, including in Israel. In fact, some Israeli newspapers, for several consecutive days, gave so much coverage to the queen’s death and to the history and future of the British royal family that one Israeli broadcaster quipped that it indicated that nothing newsworthy was happening in Israel.

In several synagogues congregants related to the queen’s death. In one such synagogue, Hazvi Yisrael, where many of the congregants are British expats, there was visible sadness – so much so that Marsha Wachsman, an American expat who chairs the congregation, publicly offered her condolences to the British congregants on the loss of their queen.

Mourning the death of Reuven Prager

■ CLOSER TO home, his family and friends mourn the death of Reuven Prager, the founder in 1983 of Beged Ivri, which was dedicated to the artistic restoration of handwoven biblical-style garments that served as a foundation for an educational project aimed at reviving biblical customs and traditions. It was not a gimmick. It was something in which Prager fervently believed, and persuaded others to believe with him.

He himself was a walking advertisement for Beged Ivri, and disdained Western-style attire. He was critical of the “uniform” of ultra-Orthodox males, whose dress, he said, was inspired by that of Polish nobility.

Some of his friends gathered last Monday at the Haas Promenade to celebrate his life and his contribution to the revival of biblical Judaism.

Winning silver for Israel in Indonesia

■ BRINGING PRIDE to his family, his school and Jerusalem, Eitan Elbaum, a student at the Jerusalem College of Technology’s Torah U’Mada Yeshiva High School, won a silver medal at the prestigious International Olympiad of Informatics, which was held in Indonesia last month. 

A total of 346 students from 90 countries participated in what is considered to be the world’s most prestigious computer science competition for high school students. The two-day competition is one of five international science olympiads held annually.

Elbaum, who has competed in computer science competitions since he was in seventh grade, was one of four Israelis participating in the competition in Indonesia. The olympiad also represented the fourth time that Elbaum, 17, has represented Israel on a global stage.

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