Grapevine: Diverting blame

Construction workers violate Shabbat rules in the largely haredi city of Bnei Brak, upsetting residents.

Praying (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
■ Congregants attending Shabbat afternoon services at the Oreita Synagogue in Bnei Brak were shocked to discover that work was being carried out at a nearby municipal kindergarten. According to a report on the Kikar Hashabbat website, this was not the first time that workers have violated the Sabbath in the largely haredi city. Bnei Brak Mayor Hanoch Zeibart has come in for severe criticism over this and other public violations of Shabbat and festivals and has attempted to divert the blame elsewhere.
■ Almost 70 years since the establishment of the state, many ethnic differences remain unresolved. Certain Ashkenazi schools refuse to accept Sephardi pupils, and the media continue to make a big deal out of major achievements by members of Sephardi communities, focusing on their Sephardi rather than their Israeli identities, as if they had succeeded despite their backgrounds. This is a form of inverted racism that provokes separatism.
Thus, despite efforts by the Chief Rabbinate and the Religious Affairs Ministry to have only one chief rabbi in each town, city or region, there are parts of the country in which this is unacceptable to many. Rishon Lezion comes within this category. It has been without a Sephardi chief rabbi for seven years since the death of Rabbi Yosef Azran.
But Rishon Lezion’s Sephardi population does not want the somewhat controversial Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yehuda Wolpe to be their religious arbiter and spiritual leader. They want a Sephardi chief rabbi. So far, more than 400 people ranging from religious through traditional to secular, have signed a petition calling for the appointment of a Sephardi chief rabbi. At the same time, there are very vocal secular opponents to such a move.
There is similar opposition in Rehovot to the appointment of a Sephardi chief rabbi. However the reason in both cases boils down to money. The chief rabbi is entitled to a salary equal to that of the mayor, and there simply isn’t enough money in the municipal kitty to meet this additional expenditure.
■ As part of its Independence Day celebrations, the Embassy of Colombia is hosting Colombian tenor Alejandro Escobar at an open-air concert at the Jaffa Nights Festival in Kedumim Square on Saturday, July 22, at 8:30 p.m. Escobar, who is one of Colombia’s best-known opera singers will present a fusion of traditional Colombian music.
■ Haifa is traditionally a secular left-wing city with a series of mayors politically affiliated with the Labor Party.
But now there is apparently a bid for a Likud takeover, that may stem from the fact that present incumbent Yona Yahav, a former Labor MK, switched horses and joined the now-defunct Shinui Party, then Kadima, and is currently considered an independent. Yahav has been mayor since 2003.
Likud MK Yaron Mazuz, who currently serves as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, ostensibly invited fellow Likudniks to his 55th birthday party, which was also designed as an information seminar. However, it turned out to be his initial salvo in the bid to oust Yahav in next year’s municipal elections.
■ An article was published on the Algemeiner website to the effect that Shayla, the daughter of American actor Tyrese Gibson, who stars in The Fast and the Furious, wanted to have a ticket to an Eyal Golan concert for her 10th birthday, and this quickly resulted in the little girl getting her wish. Gibson’s daughter, who speaks fluent Hebrew, happens to be in Israel, and following publication of the article, Gibson asked his millions of Instagram followers to help him out. The upshot was that he was contacted by Golan himself, who assured him that Shayla would have a ticket to his July 18 concert in Ashdod.