LAST WEEK marked the end of the 30-day morning period for David Ehrlich, the co-owner of the iconic Tmol Shilshom restaurant in Nahalat Shiva ,where writers, artists, musicians and other creative people used to gather to appreciate each other's work and to glean inspiration from the general environment.
One of Ehrlich's many great friends was radio man Yaron Enosh, who more than quarter of a century earlier had been introduced by Ehrlich to the beauty of Greece, its landscape, culture and people. Ever since, Enosh has been one of Israel's leading Grecophiles, on a permanent commute between Israel and Greece, and an ardent lover of Greek music and song, which he plays every week on his radio program on Reshet Bet.
The program has been going for a little more than 25 years. In celebration, Enosh hosted a series of concerts in different parts of Israel with the grand finale at Tmol Shilshom on March 10 of this year.
It was the last time that he and many of the 100 guests saw Ehrlich. No one knew at the time that Ehrlich would die in his sleep on March 22.
Among those present was Jerusalem-born Shai Doron, a fourth-generation Jerusalemite and current president of the Jerusalem Foundation. Doron was previously the first director of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, a position he took up in 1993 after having served from 1988 to 1993 as bureau chief to legendary mayor Teddy Kollek.
Doron is a natural raconteur, with a fund of stories about Jerusalem. He has frequently shared some of these anecdotes on Enosh's radio show. It was therefore a given that Enosh would call on him to tell a story at his event at Tmol Shilshom. Fortunately, the whole 90-minute program was recorded and Enosh broadcast it last Friday.
Doron spoke of when the Biblical Zoo was still located in Romema, in premises much smaller than those at Malcha. At the time, one of the zoo's prize possessions was an elephant. The problem was that the zoo in Romema was simply unable to accommodate an elephant and cater to its needs.
So a deal was made with the Safari in Ramat Gan to look after the elephant, with the stipulation that if its relationship with the Safari's own elephant resulted in offspring, the baby elephant would belong to the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. The reasoning was that by that time, the zoo would have moved to its new home.
The baby arrived sooner than the move, and the director of the Safari - who was disinclined to take care of it - called Doron and reminded him of the clause in their agreement. The baby elephant belonged to Jerusalem.
The youngster was duly transferred from Ramat Gan when only one day old. As there was no mother elephant around to feed the infant, Doron and his family were rostered on a 24/7 basis to ensure the baby's nourishment. They didn't hold out much hope for its survival, but the elephant surprised them and thrived.
Eventually, the junior elephant outgrew its habitat, and Doron looked around to see where it could be sent. The chosen destination was Thailand.
"Sending an elephant to Thailand is like selling ice to an Eskimo," said Doron. For the elephant, it was definitely a rise in status. It became the mascot of the Royal Thai Orchestra.
Enosh said at the conclusion of the broadcast that it was the most fitting memorial he could think of for a dear friend.
Aware that Ehrlich's partner, Dan Goldberg, and the staff of the restaurant were crowdfunding with the aim of reopening after the coronavirus crisis is over, Enosh was confident that "better days will come" and that Tmol Shilshom will be operating again. A lot of people have already contributed to the project simply because Ehrlich put so much of his heart into it. His friends and his staff, whom he treated like family, could not allow his dream to become history
AT HAZVI Yisrael congregation, they are very proud of one of their founders and former chairmen of the congregation, Reuven Asch. Asch is among this year's recipients of the Nefesh B'Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize, which is awarded annually to Anglo immigrants who have made significant contributions to Israel, and who embody the spirit of modern-day Zionism.
Asch, who has been living in Jerusalem since 1970, is originally from New York. As chief psychologist with the Education Ministry, Asch initiated and helped to direct psychoeducational clinics in the school systems of every municipality throughout the country, including secular, religious, ultra-Orthodox and Arab schools.
He has also helped hundreds of immigrant psychologists find their places in Israel's education network. In addition, Asch was instrumental in helping to found and direct a home for children at risk, as well as a hostel for homeless youth. He was also active in trying to facilitate foreign adoptions for childless Israeli couples.
ALTHOUGH THE few incidents of members of the ultra-Orthodox communities defying or rather ignoring the guidelines of the Health Ministry have been publicized out of all proportion, and have cast an undeserved stain on ultra-Orthodox society as a whole, the truth is that the vast majority have observed the rules. That is one of the reasons that the funeral of Belz Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Shmuel Rosengarten, who collapsed and died in his home on Saturday night, was so sparsely attended.
In ordinary times, the rabbi would have been accompanied on his final journey by at least 1,000 people. But this week he was escorted from the Great Synagogue in Kiryat Belz to Har Hamenuhot by only a small number of mourners.
Although he was in his late eighties and suffering for several years from heart trouble, Rabbi Rosengarten's death came as a great shock to the Belzer community. He had been an outstanding Torah scholar and had been a leading member of several religious tribunals, including Badatz and Machzikei Hadat. He was widely recognized beyond Belz as a great rabbinic judge and as a significant interpreter of Jewish Law.