Numerous organizations and institutions are getting in on the papal act and are organizing conferences and symposia related to the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The Institute for Jerusalem Studies is hosting a symposium on Monday with a distinguished panel of speakers that includes Rabbi David Rosen, who arguably has the best relations that any Jew has with the Catholic Church. Rosen, who has frequently visited the Vatican and is on excellent terms with Vatican representatives in Israel, will talk about relations between the Catholic Church, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Other speakers include Father Pierre Batista Pizzaballa, the head of the Franciscan Custody in the Holy Land, who will discuss the papal visit from the Catholic perspective. The symposium will take place at the IJS headquarters at Rehov Radak 20 at 5 p.m.
LAST WEEK President Shimon Peres was made an Honorary Resident of Jerusalem. Peres received his resident's card from Mayor Nir Barkat at a special session of the municipality in advance of the Earth Day-Earth Hour celebration in which the two symbolically turned off the lights illuminating the walls of the Old City. During the hour in which the lights were off, there was a stunning non-energy pyrotechnics display, in which some of the dancers were scantily attired, bringing to mind the launch of the Calatrava Bridge when, at the behest of haredi community leaders, members of the Mehola dance ensemble were forced to don long, shapeless robes to hide their feminine forms. At last week's event there were quite a lot of haredim gathered on the Alrov promenade in Mamilla, watching the pyrotechnic show, and at one point some of the dancers came down and wove their way through the audience. However, it didn't elicit any protest; and the haredim, many of whom had brought their children, were still there when the show was over. As the huge crowd began to disperse, groups of merry-makers joined hands and began to dance in small circles on the promenade to music that emanated from a loudspeaker system.
BEIT AVI Chai is advertising a series of workshops that is due to begin this month. One of them is called "Radio Days" and is based on the book The Voice of Israel from Jerusalem: A state behind the microphone by Izzy Mann. The photograph in the advertisement is that of Ruth Belkin, the first English radio announcer on The Voice of Jerusalem which, after the creation of the state, became the Voice of Israel. Ruth Belkin became Ruth Connell Robertson and, after spending several years in England, returned to Israel and was employed as a copy editor at The Jerusalem Post, where she worked for some 20 years. When she wanted to criticize, she was almost painfully polite, prefacing whatever she was about to say with "May I tell you somethingâ€¦?" And tell you she did! Mann will host the workshop series, which begins on Tuesday. He will recount anecdotes and interview radio personalities past and present.
WHEN HE rose to address the guests who had come from various parts of the country to the picturesque town of Hashmonaim to celebrate the brit mila of his son, Tal Aharon, Simon Veeder apologized for speaking in English. The apology drew a laugh because the majority of the guests were native English speakers with Australian, British, American and South African accents. The baby was called Tal because he was born around Pessah when Jews recite the prayer for dew, aside from which dew has many positive attributes, some of which the proud father listed. The infant's middle name is in memory of his paternal uncle who died 11 years ago. Simon and his wife, Nechama, the editor of In Jerusalem, already have a daughter, Eden. Warren Zauer, the maternal grandfather of the new baby, noted that though born and raised in different countries, Simon and Nechama came from staunch Zionist families in which parents had followed their children to Israel.
ON THE subject of newborns, Yehuda Avner and his wife, Mimi, have had their family expanded by the birth of a great-granddaughter, Yahel Weiss. Avner, who was one of the founders of Kibbutz Lavi, frequently writes in the Post about his experiences as a diplomat and as a member of staff to five prime ministers.
PUBLIC SPEAKERS know that when thanking people, it's much safer to generalize than to list names because there's always the chance that someone will be left out. Advertising in the Hebrew media, the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel gave thanks to well over a dozen dentists for services rendered to Holocaust survivors who are treated "willingly, with love, warmth and dedication." Missing from the list of names is that of Dr. Shmuel (Sheldon) Abramson, who devotes much of his time to Holocaust survivors in the Jerusalem area. Presumably there are other caring dentists who have also been omitted.
THE BETAR Jerusalem soccer team is somewhere between a rock and a hard place. Rumor has it that owner Arkadi Gaydamak has notified chairman Itzik Kornfein that he no longer wishes to be associated with the team, which means that the cash flow from his direction has dried up and the team is in danger of being put into receivership. Kornfein has neither confirmed nor denied these rumors, but it is known that Gaydamak, who poured so much money into a variety of Jerusalem projects including the Bikur Holim hospital, became totally disillusioned with the city that showed so little reciprocity in last November's municipal elections. He returned to Russia, where both his fortunes and his health deteriorated. Some Betar fans have suggested selling NIS 1,000 shares in Betar to keep the team going, but this is unfeasible in the current economic climate, especially when Betar has lost so much of its luster. Although Betar has been on the market for some time, there are no buyers. If this situation doesn't change, the team will be in real trouble.
EVEN THOUGH his office is just across the street from the Jerusalem Central Post Office, Mayor Nir Barkat was late in arriving for the launch of the first retail store operated by the Israel Postal Company. His duties as mayor take him all over the city, so it's difficult for punctuality to predominate. Thus Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, making his first public appearance in his ministerial capacity, arrived some 15 to 20 minutes ahead of Barkat, but there were so many people who wanted to shake his hand, that his time was put to good use.
WHILE HE was in the opposition, Barkat focused a lot of his attention on education, and it's still a major priority as far as he's concerned. It bothers him that there are so many Israelis who have never been to Jerusalem. So he's come up with an initiative, which he presented to Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar. The idea is to expose all Israelis to the capital in terms of spirituality, culture, heritage and/or nature. Barkat wants all Israeli students to come to Jerusalem at least twice to tour the city. The Municipality and the Education Ministry will form a joint steering committee to work out and implement the plan for student visits.