Grapevine: Commemorating Rav Kook

A round up of news around Jerusalem

Uri Ariel
• LAST WEEK disciples of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi in British Mandate Palestine, marked the anniversary of his death. This week they gathered in the building that used to be his home on what is now Harav Kook Street to study his teachings on politics and society.
On Sunday, September 18, even more of his admirers will convene at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the entrance to Jerusalem for the annual Rabbi Kook conference. In addition to the numerous rabbis in attendance, most of whom graduated from the Rabbi Kook yeshiva, participants will include Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovich. The event begins at 9 a.m. Among the many speakers will be rabbis Haim Sabato, Haim Druckman and Yaakov Shapira and other well-known figures from the Religious Zionist camp.

• THE STANDARD kiddush at the Hazvi Yisrael Synagogue is not bad. The regular caterer usually comes up with kugel, herring, gefilte fish, raw fruits and vegetables, cookies, cakes and occasionally some cholent. Seldom does a congregant bring in an outside caterer. But when Nina and Serge Muller wanted to celebrate the marriage of their daughter Avigail to Avishay Waknine, they pulled out all the stops and brought in Toubin catering, a high-class mehadrin operation run by Yossi and Shulamit Toubin, who have been serving the greater Jerusalem area for more than two decades.
In 1992 Yossi Toubin, a trained chef, moved from the US to Johannesburg in South Africa and founded Toubin’s Bakery and Catering. It didn’t take long for Toubin’s to become a household name. It was obvious that he would continue in this field after moving to Israel more than 20 years ago. There’s a kiddush that’s nicely laid out but nothing special. There’s a kiddush in which the presentation is very sophisticated but the food tastes like cardboard. But the Toubin-catered kiddush was something else entirely. The presentation, the variety and the quantity of food were all superb – not only a feast for the eyes but something for every palate. Cakes were masterpieces of culinary art, presented on raised platforms and shaped like hearts. Vegetables were scalloped. Fruit was finely cut, presented in a beautiful colorful array. There were numerous salads, kugels, desserts, hot and cold dishes presented on elegant platters. At the entrance to the hall where the kiddush was held was a large “Welcome” sign. At a separate table at one end of the hall was an assortment of beverages, including various kinds of whisky, cognac and flavored vodkas. The most common comment was “Wow! If this is the kiddush, what was the wedding like?” Shulamit Toubin glided unobtrusively among the tables to ensure that aesthetics were maintained – and indeed, it was the least messy kiddush to be held in the synagogue hall, despite the fact that there were so many people. Several people declared quite openly that they weren’t going to eat the lunch awaiting them at home and lingered at the kiddush for much longer than usual.
Everything looked so tempting, that people wanted to taste as many different things as possible.
After such a marvelous spread, Hazvi Yisrael’s gala dinner planned for November 27 at a luxury hotel may be something of a letdown. The dinner is in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the synagogue, most of whose congregants are native English speakers. The guest speaker will be Rabbi Prof. Avraham Steinberg, a leading world expert on Jewish medical ethics, Israel Prize laureate and veteran member of the congregation.
The occasion will also be used to pay tribute to Rabbi Avigdor Burstein, who will be retiring at the end of 2017. Burstein, by the way, delivers his weekly sermons in Hebrew. They are always concise, to the point and sufficiently interesting to make those congregants whose Hebrew is inadequate to ask their neighbors to translate for them.