Grapevine: So many sites

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 UNRAVELING ENIGMAS at the Tower of David. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
UNRAVELING ENIGMAS at the Tower of David.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

WHILE SOME synagogues have a professional cantor leading the High Holy Day services, there are many synagogues without a regular cantor, and services are led by members of the congregation. Many synagogues held special services in honor of Jerusalem Day last Shabbat, and in some cases those without a regular cantor brought one in for the occasion. One such synagogue was Hazvi Israel, where cantor Meir Dorfman, dressed in full cantorial regalia, delighted a large sector of the congregation with melodies, some of which were familiar and some new to the ear.

Dorfman has an incredible vocal range – a high register that is almost like that of a boy soprano, to the lowest bass. He also has a fine sense of drama which, together with his two sons, he displayed to the full. Toward the end of the service, instead of facing the ark, he turned around to face the congregation and led a stirring rendition of “Adon Olam.” It was tempting to applaud, but this was a synagogue, after all, not a concert hall.

The opportunity to applaud came later in the day at the seuda shlishit, which was held in honor of Jerusalem Day. Dorfman and his family were there again, but this time minus the regalia. Like a wandering troubadour, he moved with ease among the tables, singing liturgical items and songs about Jerusalem to a large crowd who sang along with him.

Archaeology in Jerusalem

■ AT THE same event, archaeologist Israel Zelinger, a member of the Israel Antiquities Authority, asked people to guess how many archaeological sites there are in Israel. No one came anywhere close to the figure of 30,000. Zelinger, who works in the Jerusalem region, presented a fascinating in-depth lecture on how Jerusalem is a multi-layered city, with evidence of successive civilizations discovered in the course of excavations.

There is a law that prohibits anyone from building – including Tama 38 – before the area has been checked by experts from the Antiquities Authority to ensure that there are no archaeological treasures on or near the site. Zelinger said that when the infrastructure was created for the light rail system, ancient coins were found in one of the areas. Over the years, excavations have brought to light not only coins and household utensils that were in use in ancient times but also heavier items such as oil and wine presses.

 The “Royal Building” in the Ophel Park, identified by the researchers as the Royal Treasury (credit: YOSSEF LELLOUCHE) The “Royal Building” in the Ophel Park, identified by the researchers as the Royal Treasury (credit: YOSSEF LELLOUCHE)

Tower of David's reopening

■ TECHNICALLY, THE revamped Tower of David Museum has been open for a couple of months now. It opened its doors even before the gala opening in mid-March in honor of its key donor Dame Vivien Duffield, who has been supporting it financially for more than half a century. But continuing celebrations are par for the course in Israel, so there’s another gala coming up on Thursday, June 1. In the early evening, the event will be open only to invitees, but after 8.30 p.m. it will be open to the public. People who used to frequent the Tower of David in the past will be pleasantly surprised by the changes.

The great figures of Jerusalem

■ YOU CAN take the man out of Jerusalem, but you can’t take Jerusalem out of the man. The late Yossi Banai, who was born in Jerusalem but lived most of his adult life in Tel Aviv, included memories of the Jerusalem of his youth in the vicinity of Mahaneh Yehuda market in his songs and skits. One of the best known of these is “Ani v’Simon v’Mois Hakatan” (“Me and Simon and little Mois”), which was played over and over again on radio stations last week, even though Banai passed away in May 2006.

A Jerusalemite who no longer lives in the capital but often returns and sings many songs about Jerusalem and has also made a documentary film about Jerusalem is Yehoram Gaon. Last week, he sang about Jerusalem in the capital, around the country, and on the airwaves.

A Jerusalemite who was lured to the city that never stops is Moshe Lahav, whose one-man show HaTish Hagadol (“The big table”) is still wowing crowds wherever he goes. Lahav resisted moving out of the capital for a long time, but 11 years ago, at age 47, he finally took the plunge, although he still regards himself as a Jerusalemite.

Even people who were not born in the capital but who grew up here and now live abroad make a point of coming back at frequent intervals. One case in point is property developer Yehuda Kabillo, who was born in Morocco but whose family moved to Jerusalem when he was a child. Kabillo, who has lived in Australia for many years, makes a point of visiting Dubai on his way to and from Israel and delights in chatting in Arabic with some of the local citizens. When asked if he speaks to them in Moroccan Arabic, Kabillo who is currently in Israel, replied: “No, in Palestinian Arabic.” Over coffee on Ben-Yehuda Street last week, he explained that when he lived in Israel and worked as a construction laborer, he worked with Palestinians who spoke to each other in Arabic, and he picked up Palestinian Arabic from them.

Seam Line documentary

■ A FIVE-PART docuseries The Seam Line, which will provide new insights into the centuries-old conflict over Jerusalem, has been released by Jerusalem-born Avi Melamed, the former head of Arab Affairs in the Jerusalem Municipality. The program was launched last week on the streaming platform IZZY:

“This is an important story which is being told as tensions in Jerusalem are currently on the rise,” said Melamed. “The ordinary people who live here yearn for peaceful coexistence and do not identify with the values often propagated by their political leaders and various journalists.”

 Each episode in the series highlights a unique part of the city’s delicate fabric, where Melamed worked to cool tensions and introduces viewers to the people living there who share their perspectives.

Today, Melamed is the founder and chief education officer of Inside the Middle East, an independent not-for-profit organization devoted to providing professional knowledge about the Middle East and empowering critical thinking by way of non-partisan and innovative education. To learn more, visit:

Real estate conference comes to the Inbal

■ “NADLAN” is an Aramaic acronym for nikshe d’la nay’de, which translates as “non-movable assets,” namely real estate property. The acronym is used almost invariably instead of the complete expression. Hundreds of developers, contractors, lawyers, engineers, architects, mayors and more will be flooding into Jerusalem on May 30 to June 1 for what has been dubbed the Nadlan City Conference.

The venue is the Inbal Hotel, and among the council heads who will be greeted by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, are the mayors of Netanya, Lod, Kiryat Ono, Hadera, Nof Hagalil, Kfar Saba, Givatayim, Yeruham, Herzliya, Yehud-Monosson, Ashkelon, Ramat Hasharon, Eilat, Ramle, Givat Shmuel, Be’er Ya’acov, Sderot, Ra’anana, and Or Yehuda. In addition to Construction and Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Miri Regev will also be in attendance.