VENDORS OF Mahaneh Yehuda market mourned the passing this week of Haim Banai, a member of the famed Banai family of entertainers. Not quite as famous as his brothers Yossi, who died two years ago, or Gavri, who was a member of the Gashash Hahiver comedy troupe, Haim was a talented actor and storyteller who appeared annually at Yossi Alfi's storytelling festival in Givatayim to tell tales of Jerusalem.
Born and raised in Mahaneh Yehuda, Haim Banai remained a familiar figure there. Everyone knew him not only through personal association but because of the role with which he was most identified - Albert Perot (Albert the fruit man), a commercial that he did for the Israel Fruit Growers Association.
Banai was buried in the Sephardi section of the Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Givat Shaul. In eulogizing Banai, Alfi said that he was a man who didn't pussy foot around, that he was straight as an arrow and said whatever was on his mind without couching it in diplomatic terminology.
DESPITE THE high entry fee and the number of roads closed in and around Yemin Moshe, there was quite a large turnout at the opening of the annual International Arts and Crafts Fair (Hutzot Hayotzer) at the Sultan's Pool, and no one seemed to object to the posters in the large Arab tent which invited passersby to "Visit Palestine."
Compared to previous years, the international booths were largely disappointing and in some instances far too expensive, although here and there were a few delightful bargains. At one of the Chinese stalls, the attendant spoke neither English nor Hebrew and could not understand the questions of potential buyers.
Merchandise produced by Israeli crafts people, though very creative, was also more expensive than similar products cost in the shops. What was extremely affordable was the food. An entrecote steak sandwich for NIS 25 is pretty good.
Traditional Middle Eastern fare gave way to Asian cuisine with lots of Thai noodles and sushi, interspersed with hamburgers and sausages. There were one or two Italian and Yemenite offerings as well, but Asia definitely dominated the menu.
Arts and crafts collector Toby Shuster, who can usually be seen selling various merchandise, was seen exploring the international stalls, this time as a buyer instead of a seller. While almost everyone came in casual attire, broadcaster Yigal Ravid was seen in a suit.
ON THE following morning, Ravid, hosting the early morning current affairs program on Reshet Bet, interviewed Meir Porush of the United Torah Judaism party, the haredi candidate who will replace Mayor Uri Lupolianski in the race for mayor in the November elections.
Though polite, Ravid could barely hide his disapproval of Porush and noted that Lupolianski was popular among both religious and secular Jerusalemites, and expressed doubt that Porush could achieve the same popularity.
Porush quoted his record as a Knesset member, deputy minister and former deputy mayor, and indicated that he stood a pretty good chance. He also noted that Lupolianski, the city's first haredi mayor, had achieved things that none of his secular predecessors had, and had almost eradicated the hostilities that had existed between religious and secular sectors of the community.
Ravid was doubtful that this was so, but didn't launch into an argument. Porush said that it didn't much matter whether a mayoral candidate was religious or secular as long as he was professional in his approach and could get things done.
THE JEWISH community of Hebron has put out an e-mail asking people to pray for the health of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, one of the leading figures in the settlement movement, who in 1968 led Jewish settlement back to Hebron.
The Jews of Hebron fled mostly to Jerusalem after the 1929 riots. Jerusalem-born Levinger, 73, took them back nearly 40 years later, and Jewish settlement in Hebron has remained a controversial issue ever since. Levinger has been unwell in recent years, and has undergone surgery on more than one occasion.