Grapevine: Stating the obvious

Sometimes the person leading one part of the service is inspirational, while another one can be annoying for any number of reasons.

Natan Sharansky (photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
Natan Sharansky
(photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
PRESIDENTS, PRIME ministers and foreign ministers whose countries voted in the United Nations against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, will be reminded in meetings with President Reuven Rivlin that just as Israel recognizes their capitals, they have to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. First in line for this admonition was Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who met with Rivlin on Monday and was told that just as Tokyo is the capital of Japan, Jerusalem, which houses the President’s Residence, the parliament, and the government, is Israel’s capital. As he is fond of saying lately, Rivlin declared: “Sometimes you have to state the obvious.”
A HUGE representation from the haredi world attended the wedding in Beit Shemesh and the sheva brachot in Jerusalem of Yonatan, the son of Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus. Among the guests at one or both events were Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch; the head of Kol Torah Yeshiva, Rabbi Abraham Schlesinger; the head of the Hebron Yeshiva, Rabbi Yosef Hebroni; head of the Nir Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel; joint heads of the Netivot Yeshiva, rabbis Daniel Wolfson and Baruch Neubert; plus many others. The celebrations were also attended by several mayors from cities around the country and a few members of Knesset who are religiously observant.
IN HIS army days, Moshe Lion, a former – as well as potential future – candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, was a member of the IDF rabbinical choir. Lion, who comes from a family of cantors, is also an excellent Torah reader and since taking up residence in the capital during the last municipal elections has read the Torah in various synagogues within walking distance of his home. He does not confine himself to Sephardi synagogues, but also goes to Ashkenazi places of worship, as he did last Saturday, when he read the Torah at Congregation Hazvi Israel in Talbiyeh – an eclectic Modern Orthodox synagogue in which congregants rotate to lead different parts of the services and to read the Torah.
Sometimes the person leading one part of the service is inspirational, while another one can be annoying for any number of reasons. Sometimes the reader of the Torah portion speed-reads while the person who reads the Haftara goes at a snail’s pace, or vice versa. Sometimes the person conducting the service sings unfamiliar melodies and sometimes he doesn’t sing at all. But last Saturday, perhaps thanks to Lion, there was consensus that the service was perfect in every way.
The reason may also have been the number of celebrations. Noam Tokayer, the son of Reva and Aaron Tokayer, was called to the Torah prior to his marriage this week to Yael, the daughter of Barbara and Elisha Citroen of Meitar. Former synagogue chairman Kenneth Collins was celebrating his 70th birthday as was regular congregant Raymond (Yechezkel) Reich. In congratulating the bridegroom and the new septuagenarians, Rabbi Avigdor Burstein noted that both Collins and Reich are medical men who have also written books on non-medical subjects. Burstein, who was also feted at the Kiddush after the service, said that congratulations for him were premature as his 70th birthday is not till next month.
Also turning 70 in January is outgoing Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, the most famous of all former Prisoners of Zion. Sharansky was born in Donetsk, Ukraine, just a few months before the declaration of Israel’s independence. At that time, no one could have predicted that this infant born in the Soviet Union would one day become a minister in the government of Israel and later head of the flagship Zionist organization.
Presumably, there will be a kiddush to celebrate his milestone at the Shtiblach in Katamon, which is the synagogue that he usually frequents. Coincidentally, his Gregorian calendar birthday, January 20, is on a Saturday and coincides with the Torah portion of Bo, which deals with the story of the Ten Plagues and the exodus of the children of Israel. Considering the many years in which Sharansky was imprisoned under the harshest of conditions, the Torah reading on his 70th birthday is entirely appropriate.
CONSPICUOUS BY their absence from the long list of speakers at the Torah World Convention taking place at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel on Sunday, December 31, are chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef. Also missing are the names of the chief rabbis of Jerusalem Arieh Stern and Shlomo Moshe Amar. Two of the key organizers of the convention, which is within the framework of Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations, are the Union of Synagogues and Communities in Israel and the World Organization of Orthodox Communities and Synagogues. It’s not as if there are no rabbis among the speakers. Eyal Karim, the chief rabbi of the IDF, is listed, as are several heads of yeshivot and rabbis of various towns. Lau is listed as being present during the second half of the convention when citations of distinction will be presented to some half-dozen rabbis, but he is not listed as a speaker.