Grapevine February 13, 2022: No surprise

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 FROM LEFT: Daniel Friedmann, Avi Dichter, Yaakov Edri and Yitzhak Aharonovitch in a weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in 2007.  (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
FROM LEFT: Daniel Friedmann, Avi Dichter, Yaakov Edri and Yitzhak Aharonovitch in a weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in 2007.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

Law professor Daniel Friedmann, a former dean of the Law Faculty at Tel Aviv University and later a somewhat controversial justice minister, was asked on Army Radio whether he was surprised by the Pegasus spyware revelations. Friedmann replied that he wasn’t. But he was surprised that other people were surprised, he said, adding that he had long ago written about the courts being a rubber stamp for police abuse of the law.

■ THE ISRAEL Philharmonic Orchestra last December celebrated the 85th anniversary of its founding by Polish-Jewish violin virtuoso Bronislaw Huberman, and this year is having a series of 85th anniversary events. In Czestochowa, Poland, 2022 is the Huberman year, in that it commemorates the birth and death of Huberman, who was born there in December 1882, and who died in June 1947, meaning that it’s the 140th anniversary year of his birth and the 75th since his death. 

The Czestochowa Philharmonic Orchestra, whose auditorium stands on the site of an impressively beautiful synagogue and rich Judaica library that was set on fire by the Nazis on December 25, 1939, was several years ago named the Bronislaw Huberman Orchestra.

Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, chargé d’affaires at Israel’s Embassy in Poland, is a member of the Honorary Committee of the Bronislaw Huberman year along with Prof. Tomasz Grodzki, marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, Krzysztof Matyjaszczyk, mayor of Czestochowa, and Alon Goldman, chairman of the Association of Czestochowa Jews in Israel.

A festive concert, which opened the Huberman year, was conducted by Adam Klock, and was attended by Ben-Ari and Matyjaszczyk.

 PIANIST ARTUR RUBINSTEIN on the podium during the gala opening of the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv in 1957. (credit: HANS PINN/GPO) PIANIST ARTUR RUBINSTEIN on the podium during the gala opening of the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv in 1957. (credit: HANS PINN/GPO)

2022 is also a milestone anniversary year marking the birth and death of another great Polish-Jewish musician pianist, Artur Rubinstein, who was born in Lodz in January 1887 and who died in December 1982. In Lodz, in 1984, the Philharmonic Orchestra was officially named the Artur Rubinstein Philharmonic. Prior to his death, Rubinstein gave one of his last concerts in Lodz.

This year also marks the centenary of Warsaw-born Klezmer musician Ben Bazyler, who during the Holocaust was deported to Siberia, moved back to Poland after the war, and in 1964 emigrated to the United States.

■ MEMBERS OF Jerusalem’s Migdal Hashoshanim Synagogue, otherwise known as “Pinsker”, (which is the name of the street in which it is located), this past Saturday got to meet and listen to Dr. Noam Wasserman, the dean of Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business, who was the congregation’s special guest. Dean Wasserman’s parents, Marsha and Manny, are among the most recent members of the Pinsker synagogue, which they joined after making aliyah from Los Angeles. 

Prior to his current position, Wasserman was a professor of entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School and a chaired professor and founding director of a center at the University of Southern California. He addressed Pinsker congregants on Saturday morning and again on Saturday afternoon, and got to know several of them during the morning kiddush. The synagogue is located on the ground floor of one of Jerusalem’s early high-rise buildings and a five-minute walk from another building on Washington Street, which also houses a beautiful synagogue on the ground floor. 

In both cases, a large number of the residents of the apartment building are Modern Orthodox Jews who immigrated from the United States, and the fact that there’s a proper synagogue on the premises helps to cement the sense of community among the residents.

■ REGULAR READERS of this column are aware of frequent references to Yiddish, coupled with the claim that it is neither dead nor dying. That contention is supported in a February 6 article in The New York Times by Joseph Berger, who regularly writes on issues of Jewish interest. In a February 6 article, he writes of how Yiddish scholars are rescuing Yiddish novels from obscurity and translating them for a wider readership. What’s particularly interesting is that most of these novels were written by women, and they’re not all sentimental. 

In New York, which boasts the largest Jewish community outside of Israel, one somehow expects Yiddish to survive and thrive. There’s a certain confirmation of the expectation in the newsletter sent out by Rukhl Schaechter, the editor of the Yiddish edition of the Forward (originally Forverts), who in her latest epistle writes about the Yiddish kitchen (as distinct from the Jewish kitchen, which is much more varied). 

There’s also a growing interest in Yiddish music, she writes, and mentions Aaron Bendich, 27, who says that his label, Borscht Beat, is here to bring new, exciting Yiddish music into the world. Among the new releases: psychedelic folk band Forshpil has produced a second album – a record that Schaechter writes “could best be described as taking obscure Yiddish women’s folk songs from the turn of the century and sending them to the astral plane.” Bendich also hosts a radio show, likewise called Borscht Beat, which airs Yiddish classics and features interviews with klezmer musicians.

In Israel, Yiddish is also enjoying renewed interest and not just from a generation that heard it spoken by their grandparents who are no longer around. There are also middle-aged and third-age people, who somehow feel embarrassed that they don’t know Yiddish, and are enrolling in Yiddish courses online and in person.

Getting back to the Yiddish kitchen, Schaechter felt a craving for her grandmother’s fluden, and regretted that she had never asked for the recipe, nor had she had the presence of mind as an adolescent to watch her grandmother as she cooked and baked. But thanks to a number of Jewish cookbooks dedicated to the preservation of the Ashkenazi Jewish kitchen, Schaechter was able to make fluden that taste more or less like those made long ago in her grandmother’s kitchen.

Fluden, she explains, is an old Purim recipe, long forgotten by Jewish cooks in America. It’s a pastry made with savory sour cream dough and filled with dates, nuts and raisins. In much of the Jewish, world the only items considered Purim fare are poppyseed cakes and Hamantashen, or Oznei Haman as they are known in Hebrew, because their triangular shape resembles Haman’s supposedly pointed ears. The Yiddish version, meaning Haman’s pockets, is closer to the truth because the pastry pockets fillings such as poppyseed, dates, dried apricots or jam.

Anyone who wants to try making fluden this Purim but can’t find the recipe in any of their Jewish cookbooks, will find a choice of recipes on Google, which in many respects is the secular Jew’s Talmud.

■ BRITISH MEDIA went overboard in reporting that Queen Elizabeth, in her 70th anniversary address, expressed the wish that Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will in the fullness of time become the queen consort. While focusing on the fact that Camilla, who for many years was persona non grata in the Windsor family, has now found favor in the eyes of the queen, British media paid less attention to the second bombshell dropped by Her Majesty, which was that Prince Charles will indeed be king.

There has long been speculation in Britain that Charles might be cast aside in favor of Prince William. Media coverage of William and his wife, Kate Middleton, who is the Duchess of Cambridge, has helped to fuel that speculation. William and Kate will eventually be king and queen, unless Britain decides to do away with the monarchy, which costs the British taxpayer a very pretty penny, but not before Charles and Camilla.

As longevity runs in this branch of the royal family, Charles, who is the world’s longest monarch-in-waiting, will have to continue waiting. Unlike King Juan Carlos of Spain, King Albert of Belgium, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands or Emperor Akihito of Japan, the queen made it clear that she has no intention of abdicating and will continue to serve her people.

But the new state of affairs vis-à-vis Camilla provides food for thought about how much heartache might have been avoided had Charles been able to marry her when their romance began in 1971. At the time, when the rules surrounding royalty were much more conservative than they are today,the bride of the heir to the throne had to have a noble pedigree, a reputation as a virgin and not be a Catholic. 

The young and then naïve Diana Spencer met these requirements. Camilla Shand did not quite fit the bill, having had several serious romances before she met Charles. She and Charles were in love and carried on their affair while married to other people. Both eventually got divorced, and finally married each other in a civil ceremony in 2005.

It took a while before Camilla gained acceptance, but even William and Harry like her, and the queen appreciates the fact that Camilla carries out royal duties. How different British royal history might have been had Charles and Camilla married half a century ago. Then again, if the queen’s uncle had not abdicated to marry the divorced Wallis Simpson, Elizabeth would never have become queen, unless Edward VIII had chosen to remain a playboy bachelor king. Even then it’s doubtful, because the queen’s uncle outlived her father, and he had other siblings.

■ LAST WEEK, the Labor Party celebrated its 54th anniversary. There’s no big deal in the number 54, but it happened to coincide with the first anniversary of Merav Michaeli standing at the party’s helm, and she received many congratulatory messages from sister parties around the world. Other than her personal victory, which included becoming a government minister and a mother in the first year of her leadership, Michaeli can rejoice in the fact that although Labor has lost a lot of Knesset seats over the years, it remains the most veteran party in the Knesset today. Labor was founded in January 1968 and Likud in September 1973.

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