Something to celebrate

MOST SYNAGOGUES have a kiddush on Shabbat Mevarchim, the Shabbat that ushers in the new month on the Hebrew calendar. Sometimes, because various congregants have family celebrations that they want to share with the rest of the congregation, the kiddush is co-hosted. At the Hatzvi Yisrael Congregation in Talbiyeh last Saturday, Rabbi Avigdor Burstein confessed that when he had received the Hebrew notice about the kiddush, he thought there had been a misprint. It stated that the kiddush was being co-hosted by the Levine and Ben-Nachum families to honor the marriage of Dror Levine and Dana Ben-Nachum; Blossom and Shlomo Reutlinger in honor of his 83rd birthday; and Mutzi and Michael Wreschner in honor of their 40th wedding anniversary. It also said that the synagogue board was co-sponsoring a Kristallnacht Kiddush. Burstein couldn't believe his eyes. Kristallnacht is associated with Kaddish, not with kiddush, he told the congregation on Saturday. But when he gave it a second thought and associated it with the Torah portion Hayei Sarah, which refers to the life and death of Sarah the Matriarch, he realized how appropriate it was. Sarah, the mother of the Jewish people, had died but the Jewish people had continued to procreate regardless of all the attempts made over the centuries to annihilate them. Therefore, there was good reason for a kiddush celebration. This was especially meaningful, as Shlomo Reutlinger had missed out on his bar mitzva because the synagogue in which he was to be called to the Torah was destroyed in the Kristallnacht rampage. Ultimately, he had his bar mitzva at home with barely a minyan in attendance. Seventy years later, he celebrated his bar mitzva at a synagogue in Jerusalem, where there was a minyan many times over. Reutlinger had been sent to Palestine, where he became one of the founders of Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv. He later went to the United States, where he was reunited with his family whom he had not seen for 11 years. Eventually he returned to Israel and lives in Jerusalem. ASIDE FROM the formal changing of the guard at Kikar Safra between Uri Lupolianski and Nir Barkat, the two will appear at the gala launch on November 30 of the annual cultural freebie season Hamshushalayim. The free and discounted events, which take place for three weeks on Thursday nights, Fridays and Saturday mornings and nights, include museum tours, concerts, fairs and synagogue tours. The kick-off of this array of weekend activities will take place at the Underground Prisoners Museum, which has recently become an extremely popular venue for social events. MORE THAN 40 years ago when Barbara Goldstein, deputy director of Hadassah Offices in Israel, came to Israel as a member of Young Judaea, the idealism was very high and the standard of restaurant food was very low - certainly by American standards. A lot has changed since then and Goldstein, who now lives in Jerusalem, delights in trying out the many fine restaurants all over the city. Because she is an excellent cook herself and because her late husband, cantor Mordechai Goldstein, was known far and wide for his culinary skills, Goldstein, together with Tali Friedman, executive chef at the Mahaneh Yehuda market Canyon Cooking School, and Moshe Mizrahi, who heads the school, were the judges at a Young Judea Culinary Cook-Off at CCS. Rebecca Sterling, 19, of Palmetto Bay, Florida, together with other Hadassah Young Judaeans who have been studying under Friedman on the culinary track, worked with teammate Nathan Pankowsky, 18, of Nashville, Tennessee, to prepare a meal that included lentil and vegetable soup, roasted eggplant foccacia, sea bass and fried banana in filo dough with vanilla ice cream and chocolate. Her sea bass won accolades from all three judges. Friedman's praise was a balm to the ego: "If I opened a restaurant, I would take your fish recipe with me," she told Sterling, whose team won the Iron Chef competition. AUSTRIAN BOYS' choirs have excited attention all over the world, and this past week the St. Florian Boys' Choir of 45 young singers came to Israel for its first tour of the country. The tour was the contribution of the province of Upper Austria to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the State of Israel. The choir, which performed in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem singing to very large audiences, was extremely well received. The youngsters subsequently sang for Holocaust survivors from Upper Austria in the presence of an official delegation of the Province of Upper Austria, headed by Vice Governor Franz Hiesl. This was followed by another concert, at Kibbutz Dorot, initiated and supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum Tel Aviv, as a special gesture to the kibbutz, which is located near the Gaza Strip at the northern edge of the Negev Desert. Kibbutz Dorot was founded by German and Austrian immigrants in 1940. Austrian Ambassador to Israel Michael Rendi and Sha'ar Hanegev officials also gathered at the kibbutz for what proved to be an emotional event - not only because the boys sang so beautifully but because their presence signified a different Austria from the one the founders of Dorot had left behind. OFTEN ACCUSED of arrogance, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai proved that he can occasionally be humble. "You did a much better job than I did," the former chairman of Beth Hatefutsoth told the museum's administrators at the institution's 30th anniversary celebrations last week. At the event Edith Teomim, who chairs the Israeli Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth, Harvey Krueger, past president of the American Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth, and Ruth Shamir Popkin, vice president of the American Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth, were presented with honorary fellowships. Many of the museum's supporters and friends of the fellowship recipients flew in from abroad for the occasion. This week, Beth Hatefutsoth opened a new exhibition entitled "Never Looked Better: Artists Respond to the Leni and Herbert Sonnenfeld Photo Collection." The exhibit presents contemporary interpretations by young Israeli media artists of the work of husband and wife photographers Herbert and Leni Sonnenfeld. The Sonnenfelds documented life in the Yishuv, the State of Israel and in Jewish communities around the world from the 1930s to the 1980s. The artists use various media to present new perspectives on their timeless photographs. The Sonnenfelds' original photographs are available for viewing in the museum's digital archive as well. The exhibit will be on display in Beth Hatefutsoth's new floor on the entrance level through July 2009. Artists featured in the exhibit include Michael Bloom, Yossi Atia and Itamar Rose, Yael Bartana, Yochai Avrahami and Ilya Rabinovich. The Leni and Herbert Sonnenfeld Photo Collection, which contains an archive of 100,000 negatives, slides, transparencies and prints, is considered one of the most important photo collections in the world at large and in the Jewish world in particular.