Among 21 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis is Monsignor Pierbatista Pitzzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who sits in the ancient Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.
One of the younger new cardinals, Pizzaballa, 58, was previously apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and before that Custos of the Holy Land. He speaks Hebrew fluently and has a reputation for integrity and modesty. He also has close ties to several Israeli public figures, but at the same time does not hesitate to speak out on behalf of the Palestinians – especially those of the Catholic faith.
The installation ceremony for the new cardinals will be held at the Vatican on September 30.
In March of this year, the pope, who visited Jerusalem in 2014, underscored the value of the city when addressing a meeting of a Vatican-Palestinian interfaith dialogue group.
“How many men and women, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, have wept and in our day continue to weep for Jerusalem?” he said. “We too are moved to tears when we think of the Holy City, for she is like a mother whose heart cannot be at peace due to the sufferings of her children.”
The pope had scheduled another visit to Jerusalem in order to speak to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who is an outspoken ally of President Vladimir Putin and supports the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but in the final analysis the planned visit was canceled.
Remembering the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza
■ THIS YEAR marks the 18th anniversary of the uprooting of Gush Katif and the painful evacuation of its residents within the context of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.
Stories of people who, with their families, made their homes in Gush Katif will be told in film and in person on Tuesday, July 18 at 8 p.m. at the National Religious Synagogue, 22 Hai Taib Street, Har Nof. The film, made by Yoav Elitzur, features Yael Ben Yaakov, who grew up as a leftist but crossed the political divide to become one of the leading figures in the settlement movement.
Following the screening, Ben Yaakov will appear live to speak about Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and what it meant to the many Jews – who had built their homes there, raised children, and created industries – to have all their hopes and dreams shattered and be forced to start anew.
The admission charge to the event is a minimum of NIS 50. All proceeds will help to support brides from Gush Katif families. Most of these brides have minimal financial resources, and the money helps purchase kitchen utensils and bathroom and bedroom accessories.
Acquiring a wedding dress is no problem because there are numerous gemachim (charitable organizations) at all levels of Orthodox society which specialize in lending bridal wear at minimal or no cost. Often, the only fee charged is the cost of cleaning the bridal gown after it has been worn.
Nostalgia wafts over Baka
■ THERE’S BOUND to be a strong sense of nostalgia wafting through the Yael Synagogue in Baka on Monday, July 24, when former residents of Letchworth First Garden City in England come together for the Jerusalem launch of the book on Jewish Letchworth.
Ireland-based historian Yanky Fachler will be interviewed by his brother, Meir. Their parents, Eli and Chava, were born in Germany and went to England on Kindertransports. Eli was born in Berlin, and Chava in Frankfurt. They met and married in Letchworth and lived there from 1944 to 1971.
Their two sons will discuss the creation of a WW II pop-up community of Jews who fled from London to find refuge from German air raids. The Fachler brothers were born in Letchworth. Also sharing memories will be Miriam Litke, who went to England with the last Kindertransport from Nazi Germany; Louise Lader; and well-known author and lecturer Avivah Zornberg. Most of the Jewish residents were Orthodox, and they created an infrastructure that is usually associated with larger Jewish communities. Although the community as such began to disintegrate after the war and today no longer exists, it did survive for 25 years beyond the anticipated date of the sale of the last Jewish properties. It ceased to exist in 1971.
Perhaps a particularly interesting subject that will be among the foci of the conversation will be the 1,100-year-old Codex Sassoon Hebrew Bible that was kept in Letchworth for 30 years and was recently acquired on behalf of the ANU Museum. The book launch will begin at 8:15 p.m. Some of the people arriving before then will engage in mini-reunions.
Mourning the loss of Rabbi Dr. Sholom Gold
■ THERE WAS much sadness at the Orthodox Union this week as rabbis and students mourned the passing of Rabbi Dr. Sholom Gold, who was laid to rest last Sunday.
A passionate lover of Israel and a gifted and dedicated educator, Rabbi Gold was a pioneer and a visionary, whose imprint on Jewish communities in the Diaspora and Israel will remain an enduring legacy. Born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, he received his rabbinical ordination from Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Halevi Herzog and Rabbi Yaacov Yitzchok Halevi Ruderman, who was the founder and head of Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore, one of the yeshivot at which Gold was a student. Gold also studied at Ponovez and Hebron yeshivot in Israel.
As a young man, he moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1959. It was there that he founded the Ner Israel Yeshiva and where he also built and developed the Bnei Torah Congregation in Toronto’s Willowdale suburb. In 1971, he returned to New York to take up the position of rabbi of Young Israel of West Hempstead, where he created a vibrant religious infrastructure that included models that are used by observant Jewish communities around the world.
The success that he enjoyed as a religious leader in North America was not enough to keep him there. He always felt the pull of Israel. So in 1982, he and his late wife, Batya, made their permanent home in Jerusalem, where he served as the spiritual leader of Kehilat Zichron Yoseph in Har Nof.
In 1984, only two years after his arrival, Rabbi Gold founded the Avrom Silver Jerusalem College for Adults at the OU Israel Center. The college is named in memory of Toronto philanthropist Avrom Silver, who gave generously to many religious causes. It is the OU Israel Center’s adult educational flagship that has provided numerous core programs and has made Torah education accessible to people with little or no background knowledge. Throughout the week, the center offers dozens of inspirational Torah classes for the English-speaking community.
In the twilight of his life, Rabbi Gold was a resident of Beit Tovei Ha’Ir, a retirement residence in a religious neighborhood near the entrance to Jerusalem, which was about as close as he could get to the Williamsburg of his youth.