Grapevine: Less discomfort, more detours

The visit by US President George W. Bush caused less discomfort to Jerusalemites this time around than it did on his previous visit.

n THE VISIT by US President George W. Bush caused less discomfort to Jerusalemites this time around than it did on his previous visit. This was partly because Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski ran interference with the security authorities and because police had been told to treat the public with kid gloves - and they certainly did. Bus drivers, however, tended to be a little less courteous and sometimes opted to take detours when it was unnecessary, much to the frustration of passengers who found themselves having to walk long distances. Residents living on the same street as the prime minister suffered fewer hassles than in the past but had to put up with rows of bright projectors along both sides of the very short street. n SOON AFTER his arrival in Israel, Bush called on President Shimon Peres, who walked him through the garden of Beit Hanassi pointing to an American Home Rose bush, which he said was rare in Israel, and to a fig and olive hybrid tree. He also showed his visitor some of the archeological treasures in the garden, such as stones from the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. Peres presented Bush with an elegantly designed Bible with a silver relief of Jerusalem on the cover. Channel 2 political reporter Rina Matzliach was determined to be photographed with Bush but wasn't sure she could get his attention at the conclusion of his meeting with Peres. Chances were he would head straight for his limousine. Consulting with colleagues, Matzliach decided that when Bush emerged, everyone would congratulate him on his daughter's wedding. As Bush came out of the doorway, he was greeted with a chorus of "Mazal tov," which made him stop in his tracks and grin. Then one of the Beit Hanassi staff asked to be photographed with him, to which he responded, "You want a picture with li'l ol' me?" Bush then invited staff and media to get into the frame while a White House photographer clicked away. When the group dispersed, Matzliach stayed put and got her solo photo with Bush - thanks to modern technology. Everyone on her TV crew photographed her with their cell phones. n BUSH, WHO is known to be an observant Christian who reads a passage from the Bible every day, had apparently told the people planning his itinerary that he wanted to get a better appreciation of biblical history while in Israel. As a result, he visited the Bible Lands Museum, where director and American expatriate Amanda Weiss took him and his wife, Laura, on a guided tour. The First Couple also went to the Israel Museum, where director James Snyder, also an American, took them on a tour of the Shrine of the Book and the Second Temple Model and gave them a preview of the Swords into Ploughshares exhibit with the Isaiah Scroll, which is on display for the first time in 40 years. At a reception for some 400 people in the museum's Billy Rose Garden, Bush said he was honored to be steps away from some of the oldest biblical texts. n USUALLY ON hand when Tel Aviv-based Yiddishpiel goes on tour, the company's PR officer, Shuli Mansfeld, was absent when Yiddishpiel staged its current production The Big Win in Jerusalem last Monday. The reason? It was her birthday and she wanted to celebrate at home. Actor Andrei Kashkar didn't have that privilege. It just so happened that it was his 50th birthday, but in the spirit of the show must go on, he was on stage at the Sherover Theater. But at the end of the show, Yiddishpiel founder and director Shmuel Atzmon came on stage and presented Russian-born Kashkar with a huge bouquet of flowers. A graduate of the Belarus Higher Institute of Drama, Kashkar acted with the Gorky Theater in Minsk. Like so many others in his profession, he could not get work in the established Hebrew theaters because he didn't know the language. The only theater that was willing to give him a chance was Yiddishpiel, which has a policy of taking in actors from the former Soviet Union. Atzmon disclosed that in the dressing room Kashkar had said to him that in coming to Israel he had twice been reborn as a Jew - first when he learned Yiddish, and again when he learned Hebrew. n ANNIVERSARIES ARE a time for reminiscing. At the 75th anniversary of the Jerusalem International YMCA, architect Arthur Spector recalled his first meeting with former mayor Teddy Kollek, who had a reputation for chewing up at least one architect a week. Clutching some plans for a project that he needed to discuss with the mayor, Spector waited nervously in the outer office while Kollek wound up a meeting with someone else. Kollek came out of his office with his arm draped around the shoulder of someone who looked vaguely familiar, but Spector couldn't quite place him. The man turned to him, smiled and asked how he was. Spector smiled back and the two began to exchange pleasantries. Spector asked about the man's family, and the man in turn asked about his, and eventually took his leave. As Spector entered Kollek's office, the mayor asked: "How do you know Kirk Douglas?" n IT'S HARD to tell which of three Jerusalem great-grandmothers Els Bendheim, Jane Klitsner or Elsa Leibler has the largest number of family celebrations. Every month there's a reason to wish at least one of them "Mazal tov" on the birth of a great-grandchild or a grandchild or the engagement or marriage of a grandchild. In the past year they've had close to 20 such celebrations between them. This month it was Klitsner's turn with a double whammy: Two of her grandchildren, Nahama Klitsner and Yisrael Klitsner, announced their engagements. It's not the first time she's had a double header this year: In January, two of her grandchildren each presented her with a new great-grandchild.