For more than half a century, the first association that anyone made with Liverpool was the seemingly immortal rock band, The Beatles, even long after it broke up and two of its members were dead. Even now, the band, which was formed in 1960, is still popular and its recordings are frequently played on radio stations around the world.
At the present time, if you say Liverpool, the immediate association is Eurovision. And if you’re an Israeli and say Liverpool the Eurovision association includes singer Noa Kirel, who is representing Israel in the much-hyped contest.
But there’s another side to Liverpool, which will be revealed or rather reincarnated in Jerusalem on Wednesday, May 17, at 7:45 p.m. when Jonny Greenstein will present an evening of music and Jewish history with the Jerusalem-based Kol Rina choir, reliving the music and traditions of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation that was located on Princes Road. Liverpudlians living in Israel might care to join members of the Israel branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England at Mercaz Hibba, 75 Herzog Street, Jerusalem.
The NIS 30 cost for admission is a bargain price for a night of nostalgia.
The birthplace of Yiddish theater
■ THERE’S A dispute as to when and where Yiddish Theater was born. Among the more popular theories is that it was the Mazel Tov Theater in Russia, in the latter part of the 19th century. Some think it was in Poland, given the size of Poland’s Yiddish-speaking Jewish population, and others think it was Romania where Yiddish theater really flourished.
It also flourished in New York, where the first Yiddish Theater performance took place in a building on East 4th Street, on August 12, 1882, and by the early 20th century, there were as many as 11 Yiddish theaters in Manhattan alone.
Lovers of all things Yiddish are invited to the Romanian Cultural Center at 8 David Hamelech Blvd., Tel Aviv, on Tuesday, May 30 at 6 p.m. to celebrate Yiddish in Romania with the Mazal Tov Klezmer Band from Romania. Admission is free.
While there is no doubt that Yiddish as a spoken language has faded in the years since World War II, there are people who simply will not let it die.
It is spoken in Ashkenazi Orthodox communities, including in Israel. There are Yiddish schools and Yiddish university courses in various parts of the world, again including Israel; there is Yiddish cabaret and there is Yiddish Theater. Veteran Yiddish Theater actors in Israel include Leah Koenig and Yaakov Bodo. Both are nonagenarians and still going strong. She was born in Lodz, Poland, but grew up in Romania and he was born in Romania.
■ THE CORONATION of King Charles and his Queen Consort Camilla is providing plenty of fodder for media outlets in Britain and around the world. Initially, it was speculation about whether Prince Harry would attend. Then, bits and pieces of news about how the coronation would be conducted, how it would differ from that of Queen Elizabeth, what robes the king would wear, what jewels would be selected by the queen and what the menu for lunch was.
Then, yesterday, eyes around the world were glued to televisions, computers and mobile phone screens to view the coronation as it was happening.
British Embassies also hosted events that were not simply one-day affairs. After all, it was the first British coronation in seven decades. In contrast, just think of how many people have been the prime minister in the same period. There were 16.
Queen Elizabeth met them all, including present incumbent Rishai Sumak, whom she probably met when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Some of the 16 were elected more than once. The list up to Sumak includes Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Donald Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, who met the queen just days before her passing to inform her of her resignation.
While people from all over the world came to Britain this past week to be part of the British excitement, or in some cases, to actually be invited to Westminster Abbey to witness the historic occasion live instead of on-screen, others joined and will join in events hosted by British ambassadors and their embassies in the days and possibly weeks ahead and will reflect the king’s passions which inter alia are youth, community, diversity and sustainability. Celebrations and related events are expected at 280 diplomatic missions around the world.
In Israel, the British Embassy has decided to celebrate together with the local community and on Saturday, May 6, the date of the coronation, the embassy held a joint public event with Park Hatachana in Tel Aviv – which was decorated in royal blue, red and white, and filled with British music, famous London landmarks, art workshops for kids and a huge screen with a live broadcast of the Coronation ceremony from Westminster Abbey. Ambassador Neil Wigan addressed the crowd and other embassy personnel participated.
Today, Sunday, May 7, the Ambassador will host an exclusive reception at the British Ambassador’s residence in Ramat Gan to celebrate the coronation in a festive but more intimate manner. Guests at the reception will include people from a wide range of British Embassy contacts, including government officials, senior executives from the business and trade industry, local NGOs, journalists, representatives of the LGBTQ+ community and more.
Wigan said that he had been looking forward to celebrating the historic milestone over the weekend both alongside the general public at the community event in Tel Aviv on Saturday, and with colleagues and contacts at the embassy’s special coronation reception in Ramat Gan. “It’s wonderful to see how involved and excited Israelis are when it comes to the Royal Family,” he said. “It has been 70 years since the UK celebrated a new monarch and it’s incredible to be part of such a unique celebration around the world.”
■ BEFORE the coronation – with no specific relationship to it – a group of British expats, most of whom live in and around Jerusalem, got together for a reunion and the sharing of memories of the times they spent as members of the Jewish Study Group, a prominent youth group for 14-18-year-olds that has been in the UK for more than 50 years.
With branches in almost every city throughout the UK, it attracts youngsters from Jewish homes of every level of observance to come together on a weekly basis in their local communities to study Jewish subjects and for social activities that connected them to their Jewish roots and to Israel. Through those weekly meetings, supplemented by summer and winter camps, lifelong friendships were formed.
A significant percentage of Study Group alumni now live in Israel. The last reunion was 30 years ago and it was now considered timely to hold another reunion. Around 30 or so, including Kay Weinberger, Rosalind Duke, Wendy Elliman, Brenda Coren, Jack and Susan Godfrey, and Peter Orelle, gathered last week for an afternoon of reminiscence in the capital’s San Simon Park.
Participants pored over photos from summer and winter camps, shared memories and re-connected with old friends. Although for many, some sixty years had passed since their participation in the movement, the years fell away as they recalled the enriching experience of being involved in such a sterling organization.
■ ASSISTED BY the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Jewish National Fund, members of the Czech Embassy on behalf of the Czech Government planted 75 trees in the Jerusalem Forest in honor of the 75th anniversary of Israel’s Independence. It should be remembered that former Czechoslovakia played a significant role in enabling Israel to achieve and maintain its independence by supplying arms and training pilots when other countries refused to do so.
This week, the Czech Embassy will host a book launch in memory of Czech Holocaust survivor Ruth Bondy, who was initially sent to Theresienstadt and then to Auschwitz. In Auschwitz, she cared for young children who were later murdered in the gas chambers. She was later transferred to Labor camps in Hamburg and eventually to Bergen Belsen, from where she was liberated.
In 1948, she came to Israel where she became a well-known broadcaster, author, prize-winning journalist and translator, and wrote for the now-defunct newspaper Davar. She translated books and articles from Czech into Hebrew and also wrote in English. She translated more than 50 books from Czech into Hebrew. She also taught a journalism course at Tel Aviv University.
She wrote extensively about the Holocaust, in which 25 members of her family were murdered. She, her sister Dita, their grandmother and a cousin were the only survivors. Bondy died in 2017. This year marks the 100th anniversary of her birth, in honor of which the Czech Embassy, with which she had a close relationship, will hold the launch of a new Czech Israeli book: A journey from Czechoslovakia to Jerusalem and Cairo by Martin Kabatnik, which was translated by Bondy. The event at the Czech Embassy will feature Tal Bashan, Dan Bahat and Orit Ramon.