Grapevine: Great Synagogue goes for Gold

n THE GREAT Synagogue's monthly lecture series is extremely popular, although it will not take place on December 8 because of Hanukka. The most recent one, featuring Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, attracted an audience of 1,200 people who came to hear her views on the Annapolis conference. Annapolis will still be in the news on January 5 when the speaker will be Dore Gold, a former Israel ambassador to the United Nations and current president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who will be in a much better position to analyze the repercussions of Annapolis after the dust has settled. Aside from its monthly lecture series, which is held only in winter, the Great Synagogue also has a Challenging of the Mind series which it has deliberately limited to 75 participants. Exclusivity is an almost certain guarantee for popularity, and some 60 people had to be turned away from the last lecture by Rabbi Shubert Spero, whose topic was "Is Modern Orthodoxy Losing out to Haredism on the Right and Secularism on the Left?"
  • WHILE ON the subject of Hanukka, the multi-talented, multi-lingual Mendy Cahan, the founder of Yung Yiddish, will host the organization's annual Hanukka party. This year there will be two parties, due to Cahan's expanded activities. Toward the end of last year, he acquired space in what is known as the artists' sector on the fifth floor of Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station, where he has much more room than at the Yung Yiddish Jerusalem premises in Romema. A lapsed Vishnitz Hassid, Cahan - who is a great raconteur, singer and dancer - maintains strong ties to Jewish tradition even though he is no longer observant. His Jerusalem party with candle lighting and singing is scheduled for Thursday, December 6, and the one in Tel Aviv for Saturday, December 8. The latter event features the modern klezmer Oy-Division. Cahan has done tremendous work among immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are interested in exploring their Jewish heritage. Cahan teaches them Yiddish songs in community sing-alongs, has Yiddish classes for the ever-growing numbers of people who want to learn the mamaloshen, and hosts Yiddish literature readings.
  • JERUSALEM DEPUTY Mayor Yigal Amedi is a salaried night owl who represents City Hall, occasionally in the company of other council members, at all kinds of social, cultural and promotional events in Jerusalem. This means that he gets to dine in the finest restaurants, goes to the best concerts and theater productions, attends openings of art exhibitions, and meets nearly all the dignitaries and celebrities who visit the capital - at the taxpayer's expense. Admittedly, it was not his fault that he had to hang around at the Inbal Hotel this week for some three hours while the judging of a contest between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv chefs was in progress - but during that time, he wasn't doing anything for the city or its residents, other than persuading Jackie, the bored City Hall photographer, to stay till the end to photograph the winners. This was not an isolated episode in Amedi's meanderings, and in all probability, he would like to move on from such events as quickly as possible. Okay, he had a legitimate reason for representing City Hall, but what about all the other Jerusalem Municipality employees who came to taste and mingle? What was their reason for being there, and how much did their absence from their regular jobs cost the taxpayer? "I'D DO anything for Reuth," said well-known television personality Yaron London at the organization's gala 70th anniversary celebrations at The Avenue in Airport City. It wasn't the kind of statement that one usually hears from a professional emcee. "I'm here because of a very personal debt," London continued. "Three-and-a-half years ago my wife had a stroke and was hospitalized at Reuth Medical Center in Tel Aviv. As I came to visit every day for five months, I witnessed and experienced the very rare spirit of this place and its amazing staff. When my wife was sent home, I said to them: I'm yours till the day I die. You just have to ask, and I'll do it. Unfortunately, they don't ask me enough..." Over the years, thousands of people, some of them relatives of the 900 supporters of Reuth who attended the event, have benefited from the vision, strength and capability of one of Israel's most veteran and successful non-profit organizations, which in addition to its medical center maintains residential complexes with self contained apartments for senior citizens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The impressive 70th anniversary bash attracted well-known figures from many sectors of Israeli society, who demonstrated their commitment to Reuth not only through their attendance but by pledging their support for its continued activities: Financial and business leaders dined alongside artists and heads of foreign diplomatic missions, Knesset members and former ministers mingled with retired Israeli diplomats and senior IDF officers. The Israeli business community came to honor Bank Discount Chairman Shlomo Zohar, the new president of Friends of Reuth Medical Center. Happily taking on his new responsibility, Zohar launched the capital campaign for building the medical center's new campus, announcing that the gala raised close to NIS 2.5 million. Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri congratulated Reuth on behalf of the Israeli government, and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, chief rabbi of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and chairman of Reuth's Jubilee Committee, told the audience about decades of commitment to Reuth. The evening's program included a performance by singer/entertainer Gidi Gov and his band, who generously agreed to support the evening's goals. AT THE gala dinner celebrating World Emunah's 30th anniversary, current President Naomi Leibler observed that when she started her term, she was more or less a new immigrant who had few friends and many acquaintances. Through her work with Emunah, she said, she had made many close and lasting friendships. Aside from the good work that Emunah does in education and in rescuing children from dysfunctional families and providing them with a warm, loving and supportive environment, it obviously encourages its members not only to give of themselves but to be vocally appreciative of others who do the same. Each person in the long list of speakers heaped praise on a number of other individuals. It was one of those rare Jewish occasions in which everyone was positively upbeat about everyone else instead of strewing criticism.