Grapevine: A day of love

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

‘TRUE LOVE is messy’: Celebrating Tu Be’av in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim in a previous year (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
‘TRUE LOVE is messy’: Celebrating Tu Be’av in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim in a previous year
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? wrote poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in his famous “Ode to the West Wind.” By the same token, if Tisha Be’av comes, can Tu Be’av be far behind?
Some people mistakenly refer to Tu Be’av as the Jewish Valentine’s Day, which indicates a gap in their knowledge. Though celebrated as a romantic, gift-giving holiday, Valentine’s Day has its origins in pagan and, later, Christian practices. In pagan times, young women were sold to prospective bridegrooms during a festival later adopted and changed somewhat by Christians.
Tu Be’av also deals with unmarried young women, but not as chattels to be bought and sold. In ancient times, around the period of the Second Temple, unmarried women, dressed in white, would dance in the vineyards to catch the eye of a potential bridegroom. What was particularly romantic about it was that, since they all were dressed in white gowns, there was no distinction between rich and poor. In fact, there was a custom that if girls were so poor that they could not afford a white dress, or if the dress they had revealed their economic status, the rich girls would lend a white dress to the poor girls so that they were all on an equal footing.
With the present divisiveness going on in the country, much love is needed to overcome hostility – and not just romantic love.
In this context, the Fuchsberg Center Jerusalem at the Moreshet Israel Conservative Synagogue will, on Sunday, August 2, present "A Day of Love," a study day honoring the memories of loved members of the community. People who register can submit the names of loved ones whose memories they wish to honor. The event, which will be broadcast coast-to-coast across America, begins at 5:20 p.m. Israel time, and includes a mincha service and mourner’s kaddish. Speakers will be Vered Hollander Goldfarb, whose topic is “Forty Years of Love in the Desert: Perspective of New Generation,” and Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, who will talk about “Ahava in Times of Crisis.”
For further details and registration: israel@uscj.org or (02) 625-6386.

■ ONE OF the most complaints with regard to the present crisis is that the government was unprepared. There was a lack of preparedness in every other country, but naturally Israelis were much more concerned about the home front. There is no guarantee that things would be better if run by businesspeople, but at least people in business tend to look ahead to the next season, or even to the next year.
That’s the case with Barbara Shaw, who is constantly dreaming up gifts for the home, for special occasions, for babies, children and adults and at price ranges to meet every budget. Her storefront on Emek Refaim is so narrow that people might walk past without even noticing that it exists, but anyone who buys from her comes back, because nearly every item in her varied stock is a conversation piece.
Realizing that Rosh Hashanah restrictions this year might permit only nuclear families were permitted to celebrate together, Shaw began her marketing campaign for Rosh Hashanah several weeks agoShaw went into the giftware business simply because she likes to buy things that are unique, and when shopping in Australia before her aliyah in 1986, when she couldn’t find anything that appealed, she made the gift herself.
Shaw has traveled widely around the world, and often incorporates the image of some beautiful traditional object, or some exotic example of nature into her designs, but what really speaks to her soul is Yiddish, the language in which she conversed with her late father, Karl Oser (Tenenberg), who was born in the small Polish township of Bendin near Krakow. She spoke Hungarian to her mother, Bella. Her parents, who were Holocaust survivors, migrated to Sydney after the war.
Much of what Shaw designs includes Yiddish slogans, phrases or epithets – and they’re all humorous. These are among her most popular items, because anyone raised in a Yiddish-speaking household, even if one is not fluent in the language and remembers only a few words here and there, is instantly charmed by the Yiddish text, which is sometimes just transliterated and sometimes in Yiddish plus  the transliteration. 
Shaw loves the shape of Hebrew letters, which is one of the reasons she likes to have Yiddish expressions in the original in addition to the transliteration.  But for people who don't know Yiddish, and don't have a nostalgic hankering for the language, there are other ample choices.