Grapevine: An unsung entertainer

n THIS WEEK marked the third anniversary of the passing of Yossi Banai, one of Israel's most beloved entertainers. Although he spent the larger part of his life in Tel Aviv, Banai's heart and soul remained in Jerusalem's Mahaneh Yehuda market, where his family had lived and where he was raised. Everyone in the market knew him because he made a practice of returning to breathe its air at least once a week. Many of the songs he wrote are filled with the nostalgia of Jerusalem, and many of the skits he wrote for the comedy team Hagashash Ha'hiver, of which his younger brother Gavri was a member, have Jerusalem connotations. In 1998 Yossi Banai was awarded the Israel Prize in recognition of his contribution to theater in Israel. Toward the end of last week, Banai was honored by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai at a ceremony attended by his family and veterans of the entertainment community, at which a plaque was affixed to the front of the building at 29 Sderot Chen, which was Banai's home. It is a practice in Tel Aviv to commemorate cultural icons by affixing informative plaques to the buildings in which they resided. Jerusalem has held concerts in tribute to Banai but has not yet done anything of a permanent nature, such as naming a street after him. Shai Doron, in a passionate article about Banai in last Friday's Zman Yerushalayim, the local supplement of Maariv, lashed out at the Jerusalem municipality for failing to appropriately honor Banai and his brother Haim, a well-known actor who remained in Jerusalem and died last year. n IT'S GOING to be a very expensive day next Thursday for a number of the attendees at the sixth annual Jerusalem Day dinner of OU Israel, many of whom earlier on the same date will be attending the annual Jerusalem Day luncheon of the Hanassi Synagogue. Honorees at the OU dinner will be Rabbi Sholom Gold and Rabbanit Bayla Gold and public relations and communications expert Charley Levine and his wife, Shelly Levine. Rabbi Gold, a highly respected scholar, will receive the Keter Torah award, while his wife will be given the Eshet Hayil (Woman of Valor) award. Charley Levine will get the Shem Tov award, which is quite appropriate for a professional image builder, while Shelly Levine, who is a very successful real estate agent, will receive the Boneh Israel award. A propos the Hanassi synagogue, admirers of Daniel Gordis who expected to be inspired by him at the Jerusalem Day luncheon, will have another source of inspiration in the person of Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Jacob in Atlanta, Georgia. Gordis, who was scheduled to speak at the luncheon, will instead be on a lecture tour to promote his new book, Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End. n LIGHTHOUSES WILL symbolically come to Jerusalem next Tuesday, when Croatia's National Day will be celebrated a month ahead of time with the opening of an exhibition entitled "Croatian Lighthouses." The exhibition, which will remain on view in the gallery of the Jerusalem Municipality until the end of the month, will be opened by Croatian Ambassador Matica Matkovic and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Pepe Allalu, who holds the city's cultural portfolio. n THE JERUSALEM College of Technology has a new president. Prof. Noah (Thierry) Dana-Picard succeeds Prof. Joseph Bodenheimer, who held the post for 16 years. Dana-Picard, 55, is the fifth president of JCT. Prior to his appointment by the college's board of trustees, he was head of the applied mathematics department and also of the senate. In 1984, long before the large-scale aliya from France, he decided to make his home in Jerusalem. Dana-Picard, who is an expert in the area of linear algebra and infinitesimal calculus and has published numerous academic papers in this field, joined JCT in 1991. After having earned a PhD in France, he studied for another at Bar-Ilan University and continued his post-doctoral studies at Ben-Gurion University. His expertise has been widely recognized, and he is on the teaching staff and advisory boards of several academic institutions, including the Weizmann Institute and the University of Haifa. In addition, he regularly gives Torah classes in various parts of Jerusalem. He is scheduled to take over from Bodenheimer, a world recognized expert in electro-optics, on October 1.