The Jerusalem of their youth

Isaac Molho and author Amos Oz were among the recipients of Honorary Fellowships of the Israel Museum on Monday.

amos oz 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
amos oz 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
TWO NATIVE Jerusalemites – prominent lawyer Isaac Molho and prize winning internationally acclaimed author Amos Oz – were among the recipients of Honorary Fellowships of the Israel Museum at a wind-blown event on Monday night that had all the guests shivering with cold. The ceremony was held outdoors in a section of the museum campus that is still high enough to overlook the city without having any towering structure eliminatethat obstructs the view. The scene reminded both men of their youth when the area was a barren hill with an oak tree around which youth groups used to gather and where, according to Oz, many of the young people of Jerusalem experienced their first romantic moments.
Molho, a fifth-generation Jerusalemite whose great-grandfather, grandfather and father were all involved in the development of the city and made honorary citizens, is currently chairman of the board of the museum. He is also a special envoy for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Oz, who is an Israel laureate and the recipient of a string of honorary doctorates from universities in Israel and abroad, observed that the museum, like Israel, was born out of a dream. Relating specifically to Israel, he noted that dreams are sweetest when still unrealized. Once they come true, they are often accompanied by a little disappointment. “The moment a dream is fulfilled,” he said, “it is destined to be slightly disappointing.” But he hastened to point out that disappointment does not obviate love. “I love Israel when there are times that I do not like it, and even at times when I cannot stand it.”
LATER IN the week, at the Bible Lands Museum veteran sportscaster Danny Neuman was among the recipients of the My Jerusalem award in recognition of the enormous contribution he has made to sports in the capital. Born in Jerusalem in 1955, he began to play soccer with the Betar youth team when he was 13, and after a little over two years joined the main team and played for many years. When he stopped playing he became a sportscaster and commentator on Israel Radio, with his intimate knowledge of soccer adding color to his reports of matches, and subsequently became a sportscaster and commentator on Channel One. He is now preparing to go to South Africa to report on the World Cup.
CELEBRITIES FROM stage, screen, academia and philanthropy are currently contributing to the occupancy rates of the capital’s major hotels and will keep on doing so for some months to come, despite the new global economic downturn.
Among the rich and the famous who were guests at the Inbal hotel over the past week or two was Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbe, whose screen successes include inter alia The Fugitive, Living Daylights and The Prince of Tides. Krabbe brought his family to Jerusalem for a four-day vacation. Also staying at the hotel was Dutch filmmaker Willy Lindwer, who hosted a cocktail reception to which Krabbe was naturally invited.
JERUSALEM IS this month placing special emphasis on education this month. In this context, it’s a happy coincidence that the Hebrew University’s World Center for Jewish Studies in the Faculty of Humanities is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Revivim program. The festivities are scheduled for Thursday, May 20, with the participation of Mayor Nir Barkat, who is an alumnuh educators for the 21st century to introduce Israeli youth to their Jewish heritage through Jewish historys of the Hebrew University, and the university’s rector Prof. Sarah Stroumsa. The Revivim program, supported by The Jesselson Family, the Trustees of the Avi Chai Foundation, The Leo and Julia Forchheimer Foundation, The Simon Flegg Fund,The Zvi Hirsch Nissalowitz Fund,The Leon Kulikovsky Family Scholarship Fund, The Hirsch Nissalowitz Fund,Philip Garoonand other donors  is dedicated to training outstanding Jewis and culture and thereby strengthen their Jewish identities.
SINCE HIS acquisition of New Pharm two years ago Rami Shavit, the owner of Hamashbir, has been developing both chains and occasionally merging them. He did so in Bnei Brak last year and did so again this week in the Hamashbir flagship store in Jerusalem. Hamashbir, which is undergoing major changes in its décor and its merchandise, has always stocked cosmetics, toiletries and perfumes but did not have as large a range of products in these categories as a pharmacy. Now it does. The new branch of New Pharm was officially opened on Tuesday at Hamashbir’s King George StreetAvenue store at an investment of NIS 5 million. Shavit was naturally on hand as was New Pharm CEO Yiftah Serry. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger was also there to give the project his blessing. Shavit is a very traditional Jew who always makes sure that a rabbi is present when he starts a new project.
FILLING MOST of the empty seats at theATTENDING HATZVI Yisrael Synagogue last week were students of the Ramaz Jewish Day School in New York. Among the male students were several members of the priestly tribe who added their voices to the blessings bestowed on the congregation. The Ramaz School, which is affiliated with the Kehilat Jeshurun Congregation on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, was founded by the late Rabbi Joseph Lookstein and is the oldest Jewish co-ed day school in New York and the second oldest in the US.
The first was the highly reputed Maimonides School in Boston founded in 1937 by the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and his wife, Tonya. When Lookstein saw the success of Maimonides, he saw no reason why this should not be emulated in New York, especially when a man of Soloveitchik’s great scholarship and piety saw nothing amiss aboutwrong with teaching boys and girls together. Lookstein founded Ramaz in the same year as Maimonides, naming it in honor of his father-in-law Rabbi Moses Zevulun Margolies, whose initials form its acronymic title. Lookstein’s son, Rabbi Haskiel Lookstein, the currentprincipal of Ramaz, was in the school’s first class, which in its initial year had only six students. In November 2007, The Wall Street Journal listed Ramaz as one of the top schools for graduates entering the eight leading universities in the country. Lookstein usually accompanies his students to Israel. This year he didn’t, because he brought a KJ family delegation to Israel for Pessah. Prominent Israelis who were students at the Ramaz School include Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog and singer Ahinoam Nini., who is arguably the only graduate of Ramaz to sing solo for the Pope.
HE’S NOT the only big player in the business world who likes to have a rabbi around. It’s rumored that IDB’s Nochi Dankner doesn’t make any major decisions without consulting Rabbi Ya'acov Ifergan of Netivot. Similarly, when Amir Biram, CEO of British Israel, and Eli Lahav, head of the Lahav Group which is building the Beersheba Grand Canyon shopping mall, met in Jerusalem last Friday to sign a contract, they chose to do so in the plaza facing the Western Wall, and had as a witness to their transaction Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Rabbi of the Western Wall. Although Lahav does not usually bring members of his immediate family to his business meetings, given the location on this occasion, he brought his wife Hagit and their three offspring Ziv, Amir and Shir.
IT WAS almost a dress rehearsal for Shavuot. Last Thursday night, Beit Avi Chai, on Thursday night of last week hosted a marathon of talks and vignettes related to Jerusalem, with the first beginning at 10 p.m. and the last at midnight. It wasn’t a full house, but it was far from empty and an interesting experiment to test whether secular night owls were only interested in bars, pubs and nightclubs or whether they could be attracted to something of a more cultural nature. Among the speakers was Prof. Uriel Simon, a native son of Rehavia, who commented on the uniqueness of Jerusalem as a holy city, pointing out that Rome is holy to Catholics and Mecca to Muslims, but Jerusalem is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
IT’S JUNK and food day on the first Friday of every month at Hamahatma,the vegetarian restaurant operated by the Jerusalem Vegetarian Society,which happens to be located on Rehov Balfour Road. As it’s not a verylong street, it would suffice to merely list the number of the house onflyers and posters. But no, the people at the Vegetarian Societydecided to make capital on their well-known neighbor, so in addition tolisting the address as 8 Balfour, wrote in brackets “Opposite Bibi.”Was it affection, disrespect or simply a space-saving gimmick? Afterall, writing “Bibi” takes up less space than writing “the PrimeMinister’s residence.”  The purpose of the exercise, by the way,eventis not only to encourage vegetarianism by serving meals for as littleas NIS 14 but also to let people get rid of their junk – clothing,jewelry, books art, etc. – and to pick up other people’s junk if it hasappeal forappeals to them. There is no charge for trading the junk.It’s all free and covers a vast range of personal belongings. Justanother instance of one man’s meat (no offence intended) being anotherman’s poison.