Grapevine: Getting into character

last week, members of the cast of the latest revival of Ish Hassid Haya (Once There Was a Hassid), at the initiative of the Haifa Municipal Theater and Habimah, came to Jerusalem.

Hassidim praying 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hassidim praying 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
■ SECULAR ACTORS and actresses often have to play hassidic characters on stage. Every good thespian knows the importance of studying the character in his or her environment, if possible, to catch the nuances of movement, speech and dress. Thus last week, members of the cast of the latest revival of Ish Hassid Haya (Once There Was a Hassid), at the initiative of the Haifa Municipal Theater and Habimah, came to Jerusalem to view the Israel Museum’s exhibition of “A World Apart Next Door,” a multimedia exhibition of contemporary haredi life.
Among the large group of actors who came to be inspired were Itzik Weigarten, Tzachi Halevi, Yigal Sadeh and Yigal Mizrahi.
The group was warmly received by curator Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper, who had spent five years researching the project. She told the group about reactions that she had received since the exhibition opened a couple of months back and the wonderful cooperation from communities that are usually isolated from mainstream Israel. It took her a while to win their trust, but once she did they were ready to help her in any way. The exhibition has attracted more people from the haredi community than had ever visited the museum.
■ WHEN PROF. Jacob Frenkel first returned to Israel in 1991 after a long hiatus to take up the position of governor of the Bank of Israel, his wife said that he had been wanting to come home for a long time but could not find a position commensurate with his qualifications and experience. Frenkel, who served two terms as governor of the Bank of Israel, is chairman of JP Morgan Chase International, as well as chairman of the Group of 30 (G-30), a private nonprofit consultative group that advises on international economic and monetary affairs. He served previously as vice chairman of the American International Group, and before that as chairman of Merrill Lynch International following the completion of his tenure as governor of the Bank of Israel.
In 2002 he was awarded the Israel Prize in Economics in recognition of his having reduced inflation, achieving price stability, liberating Israel’s financial markets, removing foreign exchange controls and integrating the Israel economy into the global financial system. He is also a recipient of the Tel Aviv University Hugo Ramniceanu Prize for Economics, as well as several international awards and honorary doctoral degrees.
His newest position is that of chairman of TAU’s Board of Governors. TAU president Prof. Joseph Klafter welcomed the decision, saying that Frenkel is a man of so many accomplishments that the university can only benefit from his involvement.
■ ONLY IN Israel? The principal of the Shuvu School in Petah Tikva, who has been suspended by the Education Ministry from any executive position in Shuvu or any other school during the current school year on the grounds that she refused to accept first-grade pupils from the Ethiopian community, is appealing to the High Court of Justice to overturn the decision. Batsheva Kepler was informed by Dalit Stauber, the director-general of the ministry, that in view of her refusal, which runs counter to all the pedagogic and social values of the Education Ministry, she cannot take on a supervisory role in any school in the country. Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar subsequently rejected an appeal by Kepler, who has now sought reinstatement from a higher authority.
It is difficult to believe that any court in Israel would rule in favor of a person who has discriminated against a group of children on the basis of their race, especially as Kepler appears to have also acted against the principles of the Shuvu network of schools, which ranges from kindergarten through high school. According to its website, Shuvu is changing the face of education in Israel, instilling Jewish pride, ensuring continuity, keeping kids off the streets and offering a helping hand and a helping heart. Children of Russian background are the major focus of Shuvu’s 69 educational facilities, but that should not be to the exclusion of Ethiopian children.
■ WITH ALBUMS entitled Jerusalem and Yitzhak Rabin that include songs in Hebrew, Ivory Coast reggae singer Alpha Blondy has forged a new bond with Israel. While he was visiting the University of Haifa with his friend, businessman and supporter of the university Eytan Stibbe, the university announced that it will be awarding an Alpha Blondy Scholarships for Peace to two students – one Jewish and one Arab.
Alpha Blondy’s visit to Israel started out according to schedule, with a performance at the Zion Reggae Festival in Jerusalem but concluded with a somewhat more surprising event at the University of Haifa. In the course of a tour of the university with Stibbe, he was given a geopolitical survey of the Middle East by Prof. Arnon Soffer in the university tower’s 30th floor observatory, which faces north and offers a view as far as Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria. The campus tour included a meeting with head of the Music Department Yuval Shaked and head of the Fine Arts Department Sharon Poliakine. It was at this meeting that vice president for external relations and resource development Amos Gaver announced the two Alpha Blondy Scholarships for Peace.