Grapevine: Bookworms abound

A round-up of news from around the Jerusalem.

Reuven and Nechama Rivlin with children at the WIZO shelter. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Reuven and Nechama Rivlin with children at the WIZO shelter.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
• STALL ATTENDANTS, publishers, writers and visitors to Hebrew Book Week at the First Station were surprised to see a couple of bookworms whose presence had not been announced in advance.
President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, who are both avid readers and also like to read to their grandchildren and to other children who visit the President’s Residence, walked from one book display to another, chatting to people here and there but mostly inspecting titles and authors. It wasn’t just a matter of noblesse oblige in that presidents generally attend major cultural events. The Rivlins, like many other visitors to Book Week, purchased a few of the books that appealed to them.
Rivlin received yet another addition to his library last Friday when he hosted some 20 former players of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, of which he was once the manager and continues to support. Veteran sports journalist Roni Dion gave Rivlin a copy of his book Beitar Forever. Among the former household names who congregated in Rivlin’s reception room were Uri Malmilian, Danny Neuman and Eli Ohana. Rivlin had originally intended for the meeting to last about half an hour but became so immersed in Beitar nostalgia that the meeting went on for more than two hours.
• THE PRESIDENT of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, paid a state visit to Israel this week. While he was engaged in other matters, his wife, Andri, took a private tour of the Bible Lands Museum. She was escorted by director Amanda Weiss as she toured the “By the Rivers of Babylon” exhibition and as some of the other exhibitions in the museum.
• EVEN THOUGH he resigned from the chairmanship of Jerusalem Venture Partners when he became a member of Knesset, Erel Margalit cannot completely absent himself from the enterprise that he founded. Thus it came as no surprise last week when he showed up at his old Media Quarter stomping ground to escort former French president Nicolas Sarkozy during his visit to JVP to learn more about Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship but particularly about Israel’s cutting-edge cyber-security technologies. JVP functions as an innovation hub through which more than 200 entrepreneurs have excited international attention in the areas of cyber-security, media, mobile and storage technologies and other technological breakthroughs. Sarkozy expressed great interest in what he saw and spoke to some of the entrepreneurs engaged in start-ups.
• IN HIS review in The Jerusalem Post of Art Garfunkel’s June 10 concert at the Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa, Elli Wohlgelernter implied that a large swathe of the audience was comprised of people in the 60+ age group who had grown up in the US, where Garfunkel had already achieved fame as a boy, especially in his native Queens, New York.
Among those who had gone to imbibe a little Queens nostalgia were Jerusalemites Larry and Marsha Wachsman, who perhaps had a closer interest in Garfunkel than some of his other former landsmen.
Garfunkel had been the junior cantor at the Jewish Center of Kew Garden Hills on Main Street, which was the synagogue of Marsha Wachsman’s father, Rabbi Usher Kirshblum, and the first prayer that he sang at the concert was one that he used to sing when walking behind the rabbi at a wedding. The final song he sang, “Shehehiyanu,” was not only because he was glad to be back in Israel after his initial concert here with Paul Simon 32 years ago but also, according to Larry Wachsman, because he was giving thanks for having recovered his voice, which he had lost for four years.
Wachsman was particularly impressed by the fact that for both prayers, Garfunkel, who is now secular, had donned a kippa. Wachsman is a daily congregant at the President’s Synagogue in the President’s Residence and at nearby Hazvi Yisrael, where he often leads the services.
• OPPOSITION LEADER and head of the Zionist Union Isaac Herzog on Saturday night came to Jerusalem and paid a surprise visit to the home of the Belzer Rebbe Yissachar Dov Rokeach. He was accompanied by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, who divides his time between London and Israel; and Rabbi Avraham Direnfeld, who heads the Belz community in Tel Aviv. The meeting was arranged by MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler, who prior to going into politics was the Rebbe’s right-hand man.