WHEN HE was last in Israel five years ago, Arnold Schwartzenegger, governor of the State of California, came to Jerusalem for the ground-breaking ceremony of the Museum of Tolerance, which is now finally being built after years of legal wrangling. Schwartzenegger is due to be in Jerusalem again next month, though this time around it won't be on that particular issue of tolerance. He will participate together with former US president Bill Clinton in the annual Saban Forum, which brings together senior government ministers, defense establishment bigwigs, academics and business leaders from Israel and the US to discuss potent issues in the Middle East. Among the prominent Israelis who are scheduled to address the forum are President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni. Saban was a generous donor to the election campaigns of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
STUDENTS FROM different schools go to Beit Hanassi each year to decorate the presidential succa. This year it was the turn of 11th grade students from the Thelma Yellin School in Jerusalem. The main thrust of their decorations was paintings of pomegranates and streamer chains of clasped hands. However, they were not free to decide on the positioning. Artist Yuval Caspi, who together with Ami Levy and Hagit Kahan guided the students in their creative efforts, had to defer to Dalit Kool, the events coordinator at Beit Hanassi when deciding on the placement of the decorations.
THERE WERE some half dozen dance groups from different parts of the country performing ethnic dances at the Open House Succot reception at Beit Hanassi this week. In addition to the Mehola Dance Group from Jerusalem, which performed a spirited Kurdish dance, tango experts Eli and Osnat Mizrahi, who are also Jerusalemites and run a dance studio in the city, showed some very fancy footwork when they danced a sensuous tango.
THERE WAS no shortage of yekkes in the highly appreciative audience at the premiere at the Jerusalem Cinematheque of Saviors in the Night, based on the true story of Marga Spiegel, whose family was saved during World War II by simple German farmers, who had business dealings with her husband, who was a horse trader and who had served with him in World War I, after which he had been awarded the Iron Cross. Spiegel, now 97, and the cast came to Israel for the occasion as did Anni Richter-Aschoff, whose family hid Spiegel and her daughter and also cared for her husband. Other families in the village were also part of the plan to protect the Spiegels and were honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations.
Among the yekkes present at the screening were retired Supreme Court justice Gabriel Bach, former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post Ari Rath and celebrated filmmaker Micha Shagrir. Bach was not the only representative of the legal profession. Others included Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein and Hebrew University law professor Yehuda Blum. On the day following the premiere, Spiegel, Richter-Aschoff, Veronica Ferres, who portrays Spiegel in the film, along with other members of the cast and the production crew visited Yad Vashem's Garden of the Righteous, where the courage and humanity of the German farmers has been commemorated in perpetuity.
THE BUDAPEST Klezmer Band, which was touring Israel over Succot, electrified the audience at the Jerusalem Theater with a near-authentic lilt of pre-World War II Jewish Eastern and Central Europe. The seven versatile musicians, who look and sound as if they've walked out of a Jewish history book, were brought together by master pianist and composer Ferenc Javori ,whose surname was originally Jakobovics. Born in Munkacs, which once had an illustrious Jewish community and where much klezmer music was created and played, Javori has spent much of his life collecting tunes and songs from the last remnants of Munkacs Jewry and revitalizing the almost forgotten melodies with the help of his band. Two Israeli guest artists who appeared with the Budapest Klezmer Band were 11-year-old child prodigy Ohad Katz, who has loads of personality and self-assurance; and Tzudik Greenwald, the balladeer-turned-cantor who is about to make his operatic debut. There were a lot Hungarian expats in the audience but also quite a large number of people who were simply klezmer fans. Among them were conductor Elie Jaffe and his wife, Jacqueline; Larry and Marsha Wachsman; Rabbi Avigdor Burstein and his wife, Dina; and Nitza Raz-Silbiger, director of the Protocol Department at the Foreign Ministry and her husband, Tzvika.
IN A certain front garden on the seam of Rehavia-Talbiyeh, there are two succot. One belongs to people who visit the premises once, perhaps twice a year, never talk to the neighbors, never invite anyone to their succa, never ask if someone who lives there permanently minds if the succa is placed where they put it, and keep it firmly zipped up when they're not occupying it. The other belongs to Hallel and Hanan Rubin, who moved into the building less than a year ago. The Rubins put up a large notice near the mail boxes advising other residents of the building that they were welcome to use their succa whenever they so desired. Hallel Rubin is the granddaughter of Dr. Avraham Avi Hai, author, historian and former world chairman of Keren Hayesod, and Hanan is the son of Jerusalem City Comptroller Shlomit Rubin and her husband, Ya'acov Rubin, a former head of the Jerusalem Bar Association. Another case of apples not falling far from their trees.
WELL KNOWN for their dedication and hospitality to soldiers serving in the IDF, Aba and Pamela Claman held their annual Succot feast for and with soldiers at their multi-story home in the Old City, but on the night before provided the refreshments at a similar event hosted in the succa of Israel and Yehudit Preminger, whose home overlooks the Knesset and the Israel Museum, although guests didn't get that view because the succa was in back of the apartment complex. Still, they were having so much fun that the view didn't matter. The Clamans have recruited many of their relatives and friends in Israel and abroad to show their appreciation for soldiers in the IDF by hosting them to meals on weekends and holidays, preparing care packages for them, organizing concerts and other events for them and raising money to provide for their comforts in other ways.
KNESSET SPEAKER Reuven Rivlin, who makes a point when being interviewed on the electronic media to responding to greetings by saying 'Hello' or 'Good morning from Jerusalem,' spent the pilgrim festival of Succot not in Jerusalem but in Rome.
ATTENDING SONG festivals is par for the course for President Shimon Peres. He goes to at least one every year and has done so since long before he assumed the presidency. This week he attended the opening of tenth annual Tamar Festival on the Dead Sea. Prior to the start of the festival, Peres declared the Dead Sea to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. One of the key performers at the opening night of the festival was Rita (who has reverted to her maiden name and is no longer Mrs. Kleinstein). Embracing the singer, Peres told her, "I've just declared the Dead Sea to be the Seventh Wonder of the World - and you're the eighth."