Grapevine: Pre-Purim commemoration

Moses, by Rembrandt. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Moses, by Rembrandt.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
7 ADAR is the traditional date of both the birth and the death of Moses. Some people fast on this date, and in Israel it is customary to pay tribute to the memory of soldiers who have fallen in battle, as well as to victims of terrorism. The main memorial event in Jerusalem will take place near King David’s Tomb, at the foot of Mount Zion and adjacent to the ruins of the Sambuski Cemetery, which for centuries was used as a burial ground for the poor, as well as for Torah scrolls and other ritual objects no longer fit for use.
During the 19-year period in which Israel had no access, it was desecrated and fell into ruin. Many of the headstones were removed, and there is no way to know who lies in these graves. Although the government, more than a decade ago, approved plans for restoration of the cemetery, the resolution has yet to become reality.
The commemoration ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and will be headed by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau. Also participating will be Rabbi Arye Stern, chief rabbi of Jerusalem, and Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, CEO of the Jerusalem Cemeteries Council. In the evening, many will make their way to Tel Aviv for a night of tribute to former students of Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh who fell in battle or were the victims of terrorism. The occasion will also serve as reunion for alumni who will gather at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium, and later in the evening it will move into the Lowy Concert Hall for a multi-faceted memorial concert.
The event will also mark the launch of the Chachmei Lev (Wisdom of the Heart) scholarship fund in the name of Yehuda Katz, a brilliant student, the son of Holocaust survivors and a Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh alumnus who joined the IDF Armored Corps and disappeared along with two other soldiers, Zachary Baumel and Tzvi Feldman, in the 1982 battle of Sultan Yaqub in Lebanon. The three have been listed as missing in action, especially in light of reports that one or more was seen in enemy territory after the battle. All attempts to trace their whereabouts have been futile.
Thirty-one other graduates of the yeshiva have met their deaths during active IDF service or at the hands of terrorists. Because all 32 were unable to realize their potential, the scholarship fund will enable a new generation of students to move forward scholastically in their name and merit.
ISRAEL’S POLITICAL syndrome of shooting oneself in the foot left a sour taste in the mouths of American Reform rabbis who came, inter alia, to express their appreciation for efforts that have been made to accommodate members of the Reform and Conservative movements who wish to pray at the Western Wall in accordance with their own traditions and customs. The rabbis came with a sense of goodwill – only to hear the Reform Movement and its adherents denigrated by Israeli lawmakers and spiritual leaders. The concept of Jewish unity was trampled yet again.
However, one occasion on which the Reform delegation was made to feel extremely welcome was when its members visited the Alyn Pediatric Rehabilitation Hospital for disabled children and youth. They met with its director-general, Dr. Maurit Beeri, who briefed them on the various therapies being used and the extent to which patients can be helped. The group toured the facilities and saw the caring professionalism that is Alyn’s raison d’etre. Children with disabilities come there from all sectors of Israeli society – affluent and poverty-stricken, Jewish and non-Jewish, and religious and secular families, and from different ethnic backgrounds. They are all given the same loving attention.
NOTWITHSTANDING THE fact that tourism is down, yet another boutique hotel is going up in Jerusalem – this time in Rehavia. There is no shortage of hotel rooms in and around the neighborhood, and optimists believe that sooner or later the tourists will return, just as investor Kobi Shani has returned to the holy city after a 12-year stint in Las Vegas.
Shani’s hotel will be at the expense of the veteran Co-Op minimarket on the corner of Ramban and Ibn Gvirol streets. He intends to build a 17-bedroom, two-story structure within easy walking distance of synagogues ranging from haredi to Reform. Two large supermarkets are a five-minute walk away, and public transport is close by, as are several eateries.
Boutique hotels are becoming very trendy in Jerusalem because they charge less than large hotels and have lower overheads. Guests who use hotels primarily to sleep, shower and eat breakfast don’t care if they don’t stay in a luxury five-star facility. But there are also status-symbol guests who wouldn’t dream of being seen in a low-cost establishment, so when business improves, both the large hotels and the boutique hotels should do well.