THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: Mysterious cancellation

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs

SEPHARDIC CHIEF Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar: Time to go? (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
SEPHARDIC CHIEF Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar: Time to go?
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Mysterious cancellation
Two performances scheduled last Shabbat at the Baroque Orchestra’s Vocal Fantasy Festival were canceled at the last minute without explanation. The performances were to take place in Jerusalem at the YMCA and at St. Andrew’s Scottish Church. In the absence of any official declaration from the orchestra, rumors circulated suggesting the decision was made to satisfy haredi members of the City Council. However, none of the 17 religious council members of the council requested the cancellations.
The mystery was finally solved when sources inside Mayor Moshe Lion’s office said a high-ranking official at Safra Square – fearing that some haredi council members would object to concerts on Shabbat by an orchestra that benefits from taxpayer money – requested an immediate cancellation, and asked the orchestra’s administration to refrain from any public explanation.  “We were given three hours to cancel the concerts with no option to discuss the decision. It was a do-or-die situation; we had no choice,” they noted.
According to the source, the official has been notified that because her action was not coordinated with the mayor, the order to cancel the concerts was inappropriate.
Collective out
Chalk up one more victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The Collective Movement theater company from Slovenia has canceled its participation in the upcoming International Puppet Festival that is produced annually by the Train Theater. Following a series of elusive statements from the Slovenian company, the group finally announced their decision to cancel. The reason they gave was that since they decided to sign a petition in support of BDS, they couldn’t participate in a festival organized and run in Israel. The Train Theater’s Puppet Festival will run in Jerusalem August 18 to 28. Some 12,000 spectators are expected to attend.
Enough is enough
The two representatives of the pluralist-secular sector at the Jerusalem City Council have decided that enough is enough. Yossi Havilio and Dr. Laura Wharton sent a letter to the Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate requesting the dismissal of Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, following his declaration last week during a meeting in Ashdod that religious members of the LGBT community should remove their kippot and renounce Shabbat because of their homosexual activities. A copy of the letter was also sent to Mayor Moshe Lion. It is not known what, if anything, Lion will do, considering that representatives of the Shas Party, the main supporters of Rabbi Amar, are in his coalition.
Beware of the new rules
There is concern in the haredi sector over new instructions published by the of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry about preventing the exclusion of women from certain gatherings. Haredi sources expressed concern over a rule forbidding gender separation at any conference, meeting or official public gathering. The ministry has presented the rules to replace obsolete practices utilized at such gatherings. The rules forbid placing any signs that give separate instructions for men and women at any public gathering. Moreover, the ministry stresses that no official public gathering should be held without the participation of women and in no case should the participation of women at such gatherings or conferences be dependent on their dressing modestly. A committee of rabbis is still trying to find a way to cancel the rules or at least avoid them without harming the sector’s interests at the ministry.
Park place
The lack of places to park on the streets around the Jerusalem Theater, and the fear of getting a ticket, are well-known to theater-goers. That problem is reaching an end, as some 600 parking places will soon be available nearby. (Remember the little wooded area that was there until a few years ago?) A construction project that is almost finished in the area will include a large parking lot that should ease access to the Jerusalem Theater for car owners. The new parking lot has scheduled an official opening date by the end of September.
Annual memorial
Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky, the Zionist leader and head of the Betar youth movement, was one of the most productive, active and original thinkers of Zionism. The novelist, poet, translator, soldier, journalist and playwright died in 1940, leaving behind thousands of articles, essays, stories, poems, lectures, speeches, plays and letters. Among many other accomplishments, he is known for his beautiful translations of Edgar Allan Poe’s poems into Hebrew.
Since 2013, a new edition of Jabotinsky’s writings has been appearing in Hebrew, with seven volumes already published. Now the Jabotinsky Institute in Israel, in cooperation with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, is publishing a critical and annotated edition of his ideological writings, including new translations into English. Volumes include Liberal Nationalism I, Eretz Yisrael I and II, The Jews and the War, The State of the Jewish Nation I and II and Hebrew Language and others.
Jabotinsky’s Military Zionism I is currently in an advanced stage of preparation. Altogether, some 30 volumes will be published, several of them in English. On the occasion of Jabotinsky’s annual memorial ceremony on Thursday, August 1, a new website – – will be inaugurated to enable the public to become acquainted with the project and to purchase the books. The site will include a description of the project, an up-to-date presentation of the contents of the volumes already published, a gallery of photographs and films related to events connected to the volumes.