Grapevine: ANZAC Day activities soldier on

This year the annual ANZAC Day dawn service at Jerusalem's Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on Mount Scopus was packed with people.

USUALLY, THE annual ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day dawn service at Jerusalem's Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on Mount Scopus gets a fairly small attendance, given the hour of day. But this year, the cemetery was packed with people because there was a large Australian delegation that had come for the dedication of the Park of the Australian Soldier in Beersheba. Considering that most of the members of the delegation were veterans of the Australian Defense Forces or relatives of soldiers who had been part of the famous historic charge against the Turks by the Australian Fourth Light Horse Regiment in October, 1917, it was entirely appropriate that if they were already in the country, that they should commemorate ANZAC Day as they would at home. The impressive ceremony was enhanced by Australian Defense Force musician Deborah Cotton, whose beautiful voice rang out across the mountain. Following the conclusion of the official service, a much shorter service, attended inter alia by Australian Ambassador James Larsen and US Ambassador Richard Jones, was held by Rabbi Raymond Apple, former senior rabbi to the Australian Defense Forces.
  • ALTHOUGH IN past years he attended Mimouna celebrations all over the country, President Shimon Peres this year confined himself to Jerusalem, and attended the festivities conducted by the umbrella body of Sephardi organizations. The event was also attended by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who like the State of Israel, this year celebrates his 60th birthday, and by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski. Amar, in blessing both Peres and Lupolianski, wished them to remain alive and in office until the coming of the Messiah. Just to ensure that this was no parallel curse to the blessing, he added quickly "And may the Messiah come speedily in our time."
  • JERUSALEM-based MediaCentral hosted Yohanan Eshcar, co-principal and founder of Hand-in-Hand Bridge Over the Wadi School in the Arab village of Kafr Kara in the Wadi Ara region. The school was the joint initiative of Jews and Arabs, said Eshcar, but when it came to securing lodging for a Arab-Jewish school, they couldn't find suitable or affordable premises in any Jewish area. Finally the mayor of Kafr Kara offered them a school at no charge. It was a little difficult to get Jewish parents to agree to send their children to a school in an Arab village, Eshcar acknowledged, but in the end, when they saw that it was perfectly safe, the number of Jewish students was more or less equivalent to the number of Arab students. Eshcar and his co-principal Amin Khalaf make sure that the curriculum is properly balanced both in content and language. All subjects are team taught in both Hebrew and Arabic; while one teacher gives the lesson in either Hebrew or Arabic, the other helps students with their individual learning problems, and then takes over the teaching some 20 minutes later, continuing from where the other teacher left off, but not in the same language. In this way, the students absorb both Hebrew and Arabic with equal comprehension and fluency. It doesn't stop at language. Students are also taught to respect each other's culture even though they may disagree with what they learn. "They learn each other's narratives," said Eshcar. "They don't have to agree with them, but they should know them and they have to respect them."
  • SIILICON VALLEY'S leading technology bloggers - including Robert Scoble of Fast Company and Scobelizer; Sarah Lacy of BusinessWeek and Yahoo!; Craigslist founder Craig Newmark; JD Lasica, author and CNET Top 100 Media Blogger; Susan Mernit, a former VP at Yahoo!, Netscape and AOL; Cathy Brooks of Seesmic; and consultants Deborah Schultz and Renee Blodgett - were spotted meeting with Israeli counterparts at the Mish-Mish cocktail lounge in Tel Aviv at a party hosted by ISRAEL21c and the Isreality blog. Also seen milling about: ISRAEL21c staffers Nicky Blackburn, Karin Kloosterman, Benji Lovitt and new team member Rachel Neiman, along with Roi Carthy of TechCrunch, Ami Ben Bassat of Katze, Dan Brown of eJewishPhilanthropy and Ayelet Noff of Blonde 2.0. The US bloggers were in Israel on a tour organized by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and, true to their trade, posted their impressions about Israeli technology and culture on a blog created especially for the trip: