THE FORMER Foreign Ministry compound at the entrance to Jerusalem has been renamed Mishkenot Ha'uma and will eventually comprise a new prestigious neighborhood with 1,000 residential units, a shopping promenade, synagogue, spa and other facilities. It's also within walking distance of a five-star hotel, the National Precinct, that houses most government ministries and the Bank of Israel, the Central Bus Station and the future Jerusalem express rail service to Tel Aviv. But it's not easy to sell real estate during an economic crisis, and although the model of the complex is eye-catching and self-explanatory, getting a crowd of people together to look at it is quite a challenge. Veteran Tel Aviv model Hani Perry came to the rescue last week by staging an onsite fashion show along the paved walkway leading to the sales office and showroom. The Cafe Hillel franchise set up a coffee bar to accommodate the guests, most of whom were well-known Jerusalem socialites such as Tammy Raveh, Kitty Shenkar, Sarah Davidovich and eighth-generation Jerusalemite filmmaker Vered Kollek. Perry's daughters Daniella and Ilona, who are following in their mother's footsteps down the runway, were among the models who showed off the creations of Sasson Kedem and Alma.
IT WAS to be expected that people who grew up in Jerusalem's Mamilla Quarter in an era in which Mamilla suffered from a low socioeconomic image and was the frequent target of Jordanian snipers on the other side of the No Man's Land divide would dominate the audience watching a documentary on Mamilla then and now - where else but in the Alrov Mamilla Mall. They eagerly followed the on-screen tour of the district by two of their own - soccer star Uri Malmilian and singer Jackie Mekaiten, sharing their pain and their nostalgia and concurring that as much as Mamilla has been restored to its pre-state glory, they liked it better when it was rundown and everyone was poor but equal. Architectural historian David Kroyanker rounded out the story of Mamilla, which has undergone enormous change. All that remained constant was the impressive St. Vincent de Paul hospice. Filmmaker Micha Shagrir introduced this and other archival footage. After having completed his spiel and at a temporary loss for words while waiting for the video to begin, he turned to the audience and quipped, "What do you expect me to do, sing?"
YIDDISH AFICIONADOS meet every week at the Na'amat premises in Talbiye to chat in mama loshen, but there were other forms of Yiddish expression in the capital over the past two weeks. One was the premiere screening last Friday of Bar Mitzvah, a restored 1935 Yiddish production starring Boris Thomashefsky, one of the greatest stars of Yiddish theater in America and the film's co-producer. The film was rescued and restored by The National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University - and the result was amazing. NCJF director Sharon Pucker Rivo, in explaining the plot to the audience, described the film as "shund," which she said was beyond melodrama. Indeed it was, but the audience lapped it up. On Monday at Beit Avi Chai, singer Orit Perlman, accompanied by pianist Itai Alter, presented a wonderful potpourri of Yiddish songs, including works by Gebirtig and Warszawski.
AUSTRALIANS GALORE flocked to Jerusalem last week. Members of the Werdiger family and its manifold extensions from Melbourne flew in for the wedding of Sari Nossbaum, daughter of Debbie and Robbie Nossbaum and granddaughter of Nechama and Nathan Werdiger to eighth-generation Israeli Yair Givati. The bride's uncle Shlomo Werdiger is president of the United Israel Appeal of Victoria, and coincidentally there was a large Australian UIA delegation staying at the David Citadel Hotel, where the wedding was held. On Saturday, there were a lot of Australians mainly from Sydney - but some from Melbourne too - who came to the Great Synagogue to honor the memory of chazzan Tuvia Winkler, who for many years had been a cantor in Sydney. His daughters Charmaine Roth and Janine Lowy, together with their husbands Stanley and Peter , dedicated a room bearing his name at the Great Synagogue and hosted the Shabbat kiddush. The Roths and the Lowys were enormously impressed with chazzan Chaim Adler's singing of the service and were delighted to be reunited with Joan and Sam Fisher, who were great activists in the Sydney Jewish community before settling in Jerusalem several years ago.