Grapevine: Municipal miscellany
HERE'S A question: Who can name all the mayors of Jerusalem in chronological order since 1948? If you want to know the easiest way to cheat on the answer, all you have to do is access the new Web site of the Jerusalem Municipality (www. Jerusalem.muni.il), where former mayors are listed, along with their portraits and their periods of office.
Unfortunately there are no biographical notes for Daniel Auster, Shlomo Zalman Shragai, Yitzhak Kariv, Gershon Agron, Mordechai Ish Shalom, Teddy Kollek, Ehud Olmert or Uri Lupolianski, but there is quite an extensive biography for Mayor Nir Barkat, along with his e-mail address, telephone number, fax number and postal address. There's a welcoming message from the mayor to Pope Benedict XVI, a brief biography of the pope, his itinerary during his visit to the Holy Land, as well as information about tourist sites and sites of specific interest to Christian pilgrims. Quite informative and user-friendly, the Web site even contains a transliterated dictionary.
IN BROOKLYN, regular hassidic walking tours are conducted by Chabad. In Israel, Chabad Rabbi Chaim Dalfin organizes guided tours to religious communities and holy sites in Jerusalem, Safed, Meron, Tiberias and Bat Ayin. Dalfin is the founder of the Jewish Culture Museum, which started off in the US and now exists in a tiny space in Jerusalem made available by Israel Cohen of Efrat, who opened a dairy coffee shop on Jerusalem's Rehov Aza in what used to be an electrical store. Cohen renovated the premises and created a space for people to meet and linger as long as they want over a cup of coffee. When times are really tough, he says, you have to do whatever you can to make people feel good. For people who aren't earning much or who aren't working, an outing to a coffee shop is a luxury. Cohen wants to make it an affordable luxury. Therefore, his coffee shop is called Coffee with Soul, or CafÃ© Neshama, and is symbolically located at 18 Aza. At CafÃ© Neshama there are lectures and musical events every Saturday night.
The program was launched last week with guest speaker, champion basketballer Tamir Goodman, who made history in America before coming on aliya initially to play with Maccabi Tel Aviv and currently with Maccabi Haifa. An Orthodox Jew, Goodman refused to play on Shabbat or to eat food that wasn't kosher. He received enormous publicity and respect for sticking to his religious principles. The guest speaker this Saturday is international filmmaker Ashley Lazarus, whose topic is "Between Hollywood and Heaven."
ANOTHER COFFEE shop proprietor, or rather tea room proprietor, Esther Korson of Ye Olde English Tea Room on Rehov Hillel also believes in having affordable items on the menu and doesn't care if people sit around over a single pot of tea or cup of coffee, so long as it helps to take them out of the doldrums at least temporarily. Korson, who returned to the Jerusalem cafÃ© scene after a long hiatus, says that nearly all her former clientele, plus a lot of new customers, have discovered where the tea room is located. One former customer who loved her gazpacho soup in the good old days may have trouble frequenting restaurants and coffee shops these days, now that he's back in the Prime Minister's Office; but if Binyamin Netanyahu still hankers for her gazpacho, Korson says she'll find a way to get it to him after she introduces her summer menu.
GUESTS WHO attended the annual Independence Day dinner at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue but missed out on the wonderful singing of cantor Shimon Farkas at the thanksgiving service preceding the dinner, had a chance to hear him when he and cantor Chaim Adler sang an inspiring duet during the dinner. The Great Synagogue has contracted Adler to become its regular cantor, and he will be leading the city's main Jerusalem Day services, which will be attended by Mayor Nir Barkat. Adler, who was previously the cantor in the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv, was among the beacon lighters at the start of this year's Independence Day celebrations on Mount Herzl. Adler, who has been known for years as the cantor of Tel Aviv, will presumably take on the title of the cantor of Jerusalem.
ANYONE WHO thought that socialism had become passÃ© in Israel, learned last Friday that socialist ideology is still alive and well when hundreds of members of Hashomer Hatzair, along with Ha'noar Ha'oved V'lomed and members of Hadash, Meretz and other left-wing groups bearing red flags with the hammer and sickle marched through King George and Ben-Yehuda streets in Jerusalem. The marchers protested the government's economic policies and the ever-increasing ratio of unemployment.