GRAPEVINE: Beyond the bonfires

Movers and shakers, how Israeli people shape the places of this country.

US Ambassador David Friedman [C] Rabbi Israel Meir Lau [L] and Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog [R].    (photo credit: US EMBASSY)
US Ambassador David Friedman [C] Rabbi Israel Meir Lau [L] and Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog [R].
(photo credit: US EMBASSY)
■ LAG BA’OMER centers around the story of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who died on that date. He was one of the students of Rabbi Akiva and one of his lifelong disciples. When the Romans shut down the yeshivot, Bar Yochai continued to teach Talmud publicly, even though the study of Talmud was forbidden on pain of death. There are many stories about the courage and ingenuity of Bar Yochai, but stop people at random in the street and ask what they know about him, and few will even have heard of him. As far as most Israelis are concerned, Lag Ba’omer symbolizes bonfires, marshmallows and roast potatoes.
Aware of the general ignorance about Bar Yochai, the Herzog Academy has organized a conference in his memory to be held on the day after Lag Ba’omer, Thursday, May 25 at Heichal Shlomo 58 King George Street, Jerusalem from 6 p.m. The event will include lectures, workshops and a panel discussion. Among those presenting their view on Bar Yochai will be rabbis, academic scholars and poets: Dr. Sivan Har-Shefi, Dr. Amram Kleiman, Rabbi Prof. Yehudah Brandes and several others.
■ This week marked the first anniversary of the US Embassy move to Jerusalem, though US Ambassador David Friedman has yet to make the move complete. The ambassador still resides in Herzliya Pituah, although unconfirmed rumor has it that he is looking for suitable residential premises in Jerusalem, where the US owns substantial property in more than one area. One option floated is the former US Consular building on Agron Street where, even though the consul general has left, the security detail has been neither dismissed nor reduced. The only difference is that whereas security guards previously spoke to each other mainly in Arabic, current security guards also speak to each other in Hebrew.
■ DUE TO renovations being carried out at the Great Synagogue, Chabad of Rehavia will not be able to conduct its Sabbath services there for the foreseeable future. Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg advises that until further notice, services will be held at the Chabad Rechavia Center, 52 King George St. The reason that services originally moved to the basement of the Great Synagogue was that the Chabad congregation kept growing and the previous Chabad Center Chabad Center in the small windmill became overcrowded. It’s likely to be more so as of this Friday night. Meanwhile, Goldberg has expressed appreciation to Great Synagogue President Zali Jaffe and Chairman Asher Schapiro for their understanding and their hospitality.
■ THE JERUSALEM-based Hebrew Language Academy wants to open Israel’s first museum of the Hebrew language. Mayor Moshe Lion was updated on the Academy’s intentions when he visited earlier this month for a working meeting and was greeted by Prof. Moshe Bar Asher, who told him that a museum would make the beauty and the intricacies of the Hebrew language more accessible to the general public. Last week, Lion was among the guests at the President’s Residence for the Israel Independence Day Celebrations, and before the ceremony, he was approached by several other invitees who wanted to be photographed with him. Lion good-naturedly posed for quite a lot of selfies before taking his seat.
■ FEW WOMEN speakers are as much in demand as Rabbanit Yemima Mizrahi, who in addition to her weekly radio program on Reshet Bet, lectures regularly at Nishmat, writes a column in a women’s magazine, authors books, counsels individuals and couples and is a frequent keynote speaker at mega-events such as the upcoming 19th annual Puah Conference on the best in medicine and Halacha, which will take place at Binyanei Hauma (the Jerusalem International Convention Center) on June 4.
The conference, which is intended for women only, will also be addressed by top-tier physicians and rabbis. A major facet of Puah’s important work is to prevent abortions by explaining to women undergoing unwanted pregnancies how important it is to bring life into the world.
A lawyer and rabbinical advocate, Mizrahi, a mother of eight, always tries to empower the people she speaks to and make them feel good about themselves.
As a mother who has lost a child, she is a most suitable person to speak on what it means to give life and to lose life. Her sixth child, Yosef Chai was born with a rare heart defect. Although his family took great care of him, he died long before his bar mitzvah.