Grapevine: Kindred mayors

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
■ NOTWITHSTANDING THE fact that they belong to different political parties, there are certain similarities between Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. Both are avid bicycle riders, both have encouraged marathon races through the central streets of their cities, and both have recently decided to enforce long-dormant city ordinances under which supermarkets and grocery stores are not permitted to operate on Shabbat.
Huldai is a former fighter pilot. Barkat was an officer in the Paratrooper Brigade. Barkat has already made it known that he is not likely to run for another term of office and that his political ambitions have shifted to the national front.
Huldai, 71, has been rumored to have his eye on the leadership of the Labor Party, but he has a lot of considerably younger competition and has yet to make his future plans public. However, his chances for reelection as mayor are diminishing as his popularity wanes through the implementation of rules that irk many members of the public. The first is the one pertaining to the closure of supermarkets on Shabbat. Now there’s the hefty fine for cyclists who ride on the sidewalk unless they ride within the confines of a clearly marked bicycle path. In addition, according to Yediot Aharonot, the long-term store owners in trendy upmarket Kikar Hamedina, which has long held sway with top global brands of haute couture, fashion accessories, furniture, furnishings and household goods, are protesting that the municipality is allowing a lower class of vendor into their ivory-tower enclave. This, they claim, is spoiling their image, although for many years the circle of high-class shops has surrounded an unkempt privately owned grassy oval that has done nothing to enhance the image of the square.
■ FOLLOWING THE sentencing of Upper Nazareth mayor Shimon Gapso to six months in prison for bribery and fraud, the city is holding new mayoral elections. One of the people who has thrown his hat into the ring is Knesset Director-General Ronen Plot, who has been a resident of Upper Nazareth for some 40 years. Plot will be competing against Eliran Gapso, the son of the former mayor, and there may be others vying for the position as well.
Plot has served as acting mayor and deputy mayor of the city and has twice been defeated in races for mayor. Plot, who has served in his current role since May 2013, was previously director-general of the Public Diplomacy Ministry and, before that, director-general of the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, following Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein from post to post.
■ AT THE beginning of every Hebrew calendar month, there is a women’s gathering at Moshav Meor Modi’im. On Monday, May 9, to usher in Iyar, various women will give talks on the power of healing, yoga and the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the founder of the moshav. The event is hosted by Leah Rivkah Sand Soetendorp. Speakers will include Ilana Rachel, Meira Ra’anan, Shoshana Harari, Sara Wurtzel, Rabbanit Emunah Halevi Witt and Leah Golomb. There will be a potluck vegetarian lunch and communal singing of Hallel.
■ ON MAY 11, artist Yaacov Agam will celebrate his 88th birthday. It will be not only a personal celebration but also a celebration for Rishon Lezion. One of the pioneer creators of kinetic art, Agam was born Yaacov Gibstein, in Rishon Lezion, where he resides when he is in Israel. He also spends a lot of time in France but is in fact a citizen of the world, having exhibited in major museums and galleries in many countries. His father, Yehoshua Gibstein, was a rabbi and a well-known kabbalist, and Agam claims to be carrying on some of his father’s philosophies through art. The Rishon Lezion municipality is proud of Agam, and an expression of that pride is in the city’s recently completed Agam Museum.
■ IN ADVANCE of Independence Day, artist Rafael D. Maimon – who was born in the same year as the state was proclaimed – has mounted a popart exhibition in the Ramat Aviv Mall. The exhibition is a blend of history, politics and past and present issues confronting the nation. It includes images of artifacts, people and places that in one way or another bring Israel to mind, depending on the perspective of the viewer. Scenes include a pair of sandals, a plate of hummus, a portrait of David Ben-Gurion, a Tel Aviv cityscape, a container of olive oil, the Bamba Baby, plus cultural figures such as former actor and filmmaker Uri Zohar, who found religion. There are also actual objects that are associated with Israel, such as the Sypholux soda maker that used to be a standard wedding present and was found in almost every household.