Grapevine: Joyous Jerusalem Day

Chief rabbis of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Arye Stern  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Chief rabbis of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Arye Stern
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
■ SYNAGOGUES THROUGHOUT Jerusalem will be the venues for joyous Jerusalem Day services on Saturday, June 4. The Jerusalem Great Synagogue, together with the Union of Synagogues, will host a Peace for Jerusalem Sabbath Service to mark the 49th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Participants will include Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Moshe Amar, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Aryeh Stern, Mayor Nir Barkat, heads of communities and synagogues from Israel and abroad, Chief Cantor Chaim Adler, and the Great Synagogue Choir, conducted by Maestro Elli Jaffe. The Board of Directors of the Great Synagogue will be especially pleased to have people who were born on June 7, 1967 attend the service.
■ THE FIRES that spread through various parts of Jerusalem on Lag Ba’omer destroyed much flora and fauna, and endangered a special herd of gazelles that live and graze in the Jerusalem hills. Ariel Kedem and Amir Balaban, two inspectors of the Society for the Protection of Nature each standing at different sites, saw gazelles fleeing from the flames, though some were trapped and burned alive. The fire destroyed their source of food, which may cause the herd to move elsewhere or starve to death.
■ HEBREW UNION College, which is the headquarters of the Reform Movement in Israel, is about to undergo a $15 million face-lift made possible by a grant from Taube Philanthropies, based in San Francisco. This is the largest grant that Taube Philanthropies has ever made to a Jewish organization. The groundbreaking ceremony for the enhanced campus will take place on June 29, from which time on the campus will be known as The Taube Family Campus.
HUC-JIR president Rabbi Aaron Panken, in expressing gratitude to Tad Taube and his family, said that Tad Taube’s generosity represents an enormous investment in advancing Reform Judaism in Israel.
“His foundation’s generous gift will secure our Jerusalem campus as an enduring testament to the vital links between Israel, North American Jewry, and the global Jewish people. HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem campus, which prepares Israeli rabbis, educators, and pastoral counselors who are pioneering religious pluralism in Israel and serving the global Jewish community, will in its interactions with the Taube Foundation place special emphasis on the Jewish community in Poland. Taube Philanthropies has a long history of support for the revitalization of Jewish life and culture in Poland.
Tad Taube was born in Krakow in 1931 and was fortunate to escape Poland on the eve of the Holocaust. In later life he committed himself to the resurgence of Jewish life in Poland, and established a representative office there to oversee the Taube Philanthropies’ heritage programs for Jews from around the globe, and to support Jewish heritage initiatives for Polish Jews, many of whom discover their Jewish backgrounds only after reaching adult age.
Tad Taube, who serves as honorary consul for the Republic of Poland in the San Francisco Bay Area, was one of the key contributors to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews that stands in what used to be the Warsaw Ghetto.
■ CONSIDERED ONE of the greatest cantors of all time, Yossele Rosenblatt became an even greater legend following his death in Jerusalem in June 1933 than when he was alive. A child prodigy who was invited to lead services in some of the great synagogues of Europe when he was only 17. He got married when he was 18 and received appointments to congregations in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany before moving to the United States.
He continued to tour and when he was invited to appear in a film in Palestine, he gladly accepted the offer. At the time he was deeply in debt, and the film was a heaven-sent excuse to get away from his creditors. Aside from that, he’d never been to the Holy Land.
His joy in seeing Jerusalem was short-lived. The burden of his debts weighed heavily on him; he suffered a heart attack at age 51 and died. But his style of singing was the legacy he left to future generations of cantors.
Charlie Bernhaut, a leading US advocate of Jewish cantorial music, will deliver a multimedia presentation on Rosenblatt’s life and music at Hazvi Yisrael Synagogue, 14 Hovevei Tzion Street on Monday, June 6, at 8 p.m. Entry is free of charge. People not familiar with Rosenblatt who may come under the spell of his voice during the presentation should be aware that his recordings have been re-issued many times on LP and CD, and can also be heard on You- Tube.