Grapevine: Lotsa learning

A roundup of culture events around Jerusalem.

(From left to right) Prof. Joshua Schwartz, director, Ingeborg Rennert and Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, president of the university, bestow the Guardian of Zion Award upon Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. (photo credit: YONI REIF)
(From left to right) Prof. Joshua Schwartz, director, Ingeborg Rennert and Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, president of the university, bestow the Guardian of Zion Award upon Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
(photo credit: YONI REIF)
■ HOSHANA RABA, the night before Simhat Torah, is spent in learning, and for those who have the mental and physical stamina, continues for nine hours or more until the morning prayers. The learning consists of both lectures and Torah study. There are several outlets in which the lectures are in English, among them the OU, Ohr Somayach, Aish HaTorah and others. For people fluent in Hebrew, an extremely meaningful experience can be had on the Mount of Olives following a series of lectures at the Seven Arches Hotel, beginning at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night, September 29. Speakers will include Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, CEO of Jerusalem Cemeteries; Rabbi Zvi Lau of the Kfar Ganim congregation in Petah Tikva, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Kowalski, who is noted for his daf yomi teachings; Rabbi Arye Stern, chief rabbi of Jerusalem; Rabbi Menachem Burstein, head of the Puah Institute; Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau; and several other noted rabbinical figures. A round trip shuttle service will operate free of charge from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. from the parking areas at Ammunition Hill and the Seven Arches. Light refreshments will be served in the sukkah and entertainment will be provided by singer Avi Miller and his band.
Morning prayers will be held at 6 a.m. at the Rehavam Ze’evi observation point.
■ SEVERAL CONGREGATIONS will be holding second hakafot on Monday night, October 1. Congregants of synagogues in the German Colony, Baka and Katamon will join forces with the Ginot Ha’ir administration for a joyful get-together with singing and dancing at Beit Yehudit, 12 Emek Refaim. The ever popular Solomon Brothers will lead the merry-making and people who don’t live in the area will also be made welcome. On Simhat Torah itself, Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, the director of Chabad Rechavia invites anyone within walking distance of Heichal Shlomo to join in the Chabad celebrations, while women and girls will be able to join in an egalitarian celebration of the second hakafot on Monday night at the First Station hosted by Rabbi Tamir Nir of Ahava Bakerem and Cantor Evan Cohen of the Harel Reform congregations. There will also be a klezmer band.
■ AMERICAN PHILANTHROPISTS Ingeborg and Ira Rennert, who have a home in Jerusalem and who have contributed generously to many projects in the city, as well as to Jerusalem studies at Bar-Ilan University, are also famous for donating scrolls wherever they are needed. Together with their children and grandchildren they donated a Torah scroll in memory of broadcaster and Israel activist Ari Fuld, who this month was killed by a terrorist. The scroll was donated to the Netiv Arye Yeshiva which is headed by Rabbi Aharon Bina. Fuld was a regular weekly student of Rabbi Bina’s. He was also a teacher. The final letters of the scroll were completed last Saturday night. It was one of 23 Torah scrolls which the Rennert family has donated to the yeshiva.
■ SEVEN YEARS is a long time to be away from home, but that’s the amount of time that Torbjorn C. Pederson, the goodwill ambassador of the Red Cross of Denmark, will have been away by the time that he returns to his country. Pederson left on October 10, 2013, with the intention of visiting every Red Cross affiliate in the world, including the Red Crescent and Magen David Adom. All in all he will visit 203 countries, and expects to complete his journey in 2020. Moreover, he’s on wheels. He doesn’t fly anywhere. Israel was the 155th country he visited since starting out, and he was very impressed with the number of volunteers he met at MDA headquarters in Jerusalem where he was briefed on the organization’s life-saving activities.
Pederson made it clear that his ride around the world is not a vacation jaunt. It’s a mission to promote humanitarian compassion, greater tolerance and respect and genuine interest in the other as a foundation for coexistence regardless of religious, political, ethnic and language differences.
He’s had some very interesting adventures, and has met an extraordinary number of people from many walks of life.
When it’s all over, he plans to write a book about where he’s been and what he’s experienced. In all probability, he’s not the only person to visit more than 200 countries, but it would be interesting to know how many world travelers there are on such a scale.