Grapevine: Filling the GAP at Mamilla

RUMORS HAVE been flooding the social, economic and fashion columns of the Israeli press that GAP, the international casual-wear icon, was about to open a store in Israel. Now it's official. The country's first GAP store opened in the capital's Alrov Mamilla Mall on August 24. The grand opening was hosted by Arik Ben-Zino, CEO of Elbit Commercial and Retail, which has the Israeli GAP franchise. Although the promotion of the new store will be in line with all its promotions abroad, it will also help to promote the capital under the slogan of "Hello Jerusalem." THE JERUSALEM Rotary Club, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary, recently hosted the Yale Whiffenpoofs, who are celebrating their 100th anniversary with a global tour in which Israel was the last stop before returning home. The Yale Whiffenpoofs are the oldest collegiate a-cappella group in the US. Best known for "The Whiffenpoof Song" ("We are poor little lambs who have lost our way...."), the group is comprised of 14 senior men who, in the spring of their junior year, compete for the right to join the prestigious choir. Aside from their wonderful voices, they're all stand-up comedians, actors and dancers, and they had the audience at the YMCA cheering like crazy at their gags and their movements as well as their singing. At one point, each of the 14 introduced themselves, adding some kind of wisecrack. Wherever they appear in the world, the Whiffs ask if there are any Whiff alumni in the audience. There was one this time - Orrin Persky, a partner in the well-known Jerusalem law firm of Shimron, Molho, Persky & Co. When asked by In Jerusalem whether he was related to President Shimon Peres, whose original name was Persky, he acknowledged that he was. When pressed further as to whether he was also related to Hollywood film star Lauren Bacall, he again replied in the affirmative, using her original name and said, "Yes, I'm related to Betty Persky, too." A former New Yorker who was born in the same year as the State of Israel, Persky joined the Whiffenpoofs on stage and sang their signature song with them. He does this whenever a Whiffenpoof group comes to Israel, he said, though it took 15 years for his first appearance with them as an alumnus. In Israel he sings with an ensemble called Tontine, which has as broad a repertoire as the Whiffenpoofs and is in high demand at Yale Club of Israel events. He is also a roaming amateur cantor, leading Shabbat services at various synagogues. Asked whether he was the only Whiff who wore a kippa, Persky said that he knew of one or two others, but there had been several Jewish Whiffs who were religiously observant but didn't cover their heads. Kern Wisman, who emceed the event, proved to be both witty and wise and outlined some of the important social welfare projects with which the Rotary Club is involved on local, national and international levels. During the intermission and afterwards, the Whiffenpoofs sold two of their CDs, the proceeds of which will be used towards their children's literacy project, as well as for projects of the Jerusalem Rotary Club. WHAT DOES AACI, the Jerusalem branch of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, have to do with the 50th anniversary of Israel's International Harp Contest? Its members have been singled out for invitations to a free 50th anniversary harp concert that will be held at the Knesset on September 8 as guests of MK Zevulun Orlev, the chairman of the Knesset Education and Culture Committee. There will also be a display of special-issue stamps by the Israel Philatelic Services honoring the harp contest's jubilee. For Esther Herlitz, who in 1983 was appointed director of the IHC and the Zimriya, the world assembly of choirs, and who chairs the IHC, this is a double whammy because she is also a former MK. The president of this year's International Harp Contest is Zubin Mehta, who on October 6 will conduct a festive concert at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv to mark both the jubilee and the city's centenary.