Grapevine: ‘Heimish’ Haifa

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews flood to Haifa as Rabbi Yaakov Hager, the new Seret-Vizhnitzer Rebbe presides over his first tish.

Ultra orthodox Jews wear shtreimels to a traditional religious wedding ceremony in Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ultra orthodox Jews wear shtreimels to a traditional religious wedding ceremony in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
HAIFA IS by and large a secular city, yet thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered there on Shabbat for the induction ceremony of Rabbi Yaakov Hager, the new Seret-Vizhnitzer Rebbe, who presided over his first tish on Friday night. The crowd included many well-known rabbis, among them Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Sinai Meir Frankel, Israel Rushetzki, Baruch Sternbuch and Moshe Boyer, along with MKs Meir Porush and Menahem Eliezer Moses, and many of Haifa’s public figures.
Following in the tradition of his late father, who died a month ago, the rebbe led the singing of “Lecha dodi” at the start of the service on Friday evening and danced through the synagogue. Following the blessing over the wine, he also led the singing of “Ya Ribon,” which was followed by many other Shabbat songs. His father, Rabbi Eliezer Hager, a former member of the Hagana who later encouraged haredi boys to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, died on July 7 at age 91.
TOO MANY cooks spoiling the broth? Not when they’re sitting around chewing the fat. It was gourmet gab and culinary chitchat when chef Roy Dekel of the Muscat Restaurant in the Mitzpe Hayamim hotel and spa in the Upper Galilee hosted a delegation of American champion chefs headed by Michael Solomonov of the Percy Street Barbecue, with other mavens in the group including John Currence of City Grocer, Emily Seaman of Dizengoff, Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner, and Alon Shaya of Domenica.
The hotel has an organic farm where it grows its own organic produce and processes its own dairy products. The Americans came to the Mitzpe Hayamim Farm to check out Israeli cuisine of the farm-to-table genre. Their journey was part of an ongoing research project aimed at coming up with new concepts for fresh and nutritious food. Before sitting down to a festive and healthy meal, the chefs toured the organic garden, which they dubbed the Chefs’ Garden of Paradise. They were utterly enchanted by the variety of fruits and vegetables. From there they went to the barn and the dairy where they met up with cheese-maker Yoav Balhasan and sampled a selection of cheeses and other dairy products.
Solomonov invited members of the Mitzpe Hayamim team as well as a group of Golani soldiers to join the delegation at the meal, which was washed down with wine from the Golan Heights.
 IT’S A well-known fact that if you want to feel good about yourself, the best way to achieve that is to give of yourself to others, which is what the employees of L’Oreal did when they voluntarily renovated family rooms and public areas in a shelter for battered women in the Sharon area within the framework of L’Oreal International’s Good Citizens Day, which has been in operation since 2010.
It might have been enough if all they had done was to freshen up the part of the building that is used by the children of the battered women for their various activities. But L’Oreal is, after all, a famous international brand name for beauty products, so it wasn’t just the kids who got a little pampering; it was also their mums who got the full L’Oreal beauty treatment. L’Oreal Israel CEO Eli Sagiv emphasized that community responsibility is part of the company’s policy, but even if it weren’t, he said, the employees got a real kick out of being able to make so many people happy and out of the warmth of the appreciation they received from mothers and children alike.