Grapevine: Religious Rifts

Zevulun Orlev addresses World Emunah conference; TA beats J'lem in cooking contest; Suzy Eban completes autobiography; Marc Rich given honorary doctorate.

zevulun orlev 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
zevulun orlev 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
MEDIA REPORTS about the huge anti-Annapolis demonstrations in Jerusalem's Kikar Tzarfat (France Square) - around the corner from the Prime Minister's residence - on Monday night, noted the paucity of right-wing MKs. But at least one of them, further down the road, was spelling out a similar message to those of speakers at the demonstration. MK Zevulun Orlev was addressing the 8th International World Emunah Convention at which World Emunah, founded by the late rabbanit, Sarah Herzog, is celebrating its 30th anniversary. After making all the usual complimentary remarks, Orlev - listing almost enough names to fill a page of a telephone directory - moved mentally away from Emunah to Annapolis, saying that the prime minister and his entourage have demonstrated a total lack of understanding for the unity of Jerusalem and the unity of the nation as a whole. It was the duty of all religious Zionists to make the people of Israel and their leaders understand the significance of keeping Jerusalem united, declared Orlev. Coming back to Emunah, Orlev said the biggest revolution in religious Zionism was the dramatic change in the status of women. Religious women, he said, while remaining a central force in the home, are nonetheless able to make use of their potential and have learned the art of juggling the roles of wife and mother with careers and community service. More and more religious Zionist women are taking positions in public life at the highest levels, he said. In the National Religious Party, a rule has been laid down that in every one of its divisions, 20 per cent of the positions must be filled by women. "I hope that women will not need this safety net, and that when it comes to the vote more than 20 per cent of those elected will be women," Orlev said. Speaking of religious Zionism in general, Orlev said that it was in a state of political crisis, and that its true strength was not reflected in the Knesset. The National Religious Movement has gone through a number of rifts, he said, as a result of which there are 16 MKs who wear knitted kippot, but they're affiliated with nine different parties "because party and coalition loyalties supersede loyalties to religious Zionist values." JERUSALEM WAS also at the center of a contest between a team of Tel Aviv chefs and a team of Jerusalem chefs as part of the capital's Hamshushalim events designed to make the wider public more aware of what the city has to offer in terms of culture and tourist attractions. But more particularly it was to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the city's reunification, and the challenge was to produce a four-course meal that would somehow symbolize this. It was pretty tough for the Tel Aviv team, led by Shaul Ben Aderet of the Kimmel Restaurant, and comprising Antonio Mensa of the Spanish-style Ali Oli restaurant, where Tel Aviv chefs often gather late at night, Hadassah Wolfe from Comme-il-Faut and Cordon Bleu-trained Meir Adoni of Catit - none of which is kosher. The contest took place at the Inbal Hotel, where the kitchen is strictly kosher and the members of the Tel Aviv team had to compromise on some of their ingredients. They rose to the challenge so well that they beat the Jerusalem team headed by their host, Itzik Mizrahi, the Inbal's executive chef. The other members on the Jerusalem team were Marcus Gershkovitz of Canela, Motti Zigron of La-Corrosa, Guy Ben-Simchon from La Guta, and Daphna Baruch from Pituyim. When the chefs explained their various dishes and what had inspired them, Ben-Simchon said: "There have been a lot of peace talks in this hotel, so I used a lot of olive oil, because the olive is a symbol of peace. Let's hope it succeeds." THE RELIGIOUS camp may one day be joined by Arkadi Gaydamak, who seems to be leaning increasingly towards religion. Long before he purchased Bikur Holim Hospital, which is on the edge of a haredi neighborhood and caters largely to the haredi population, Gaydamak was reportedly laying tefillin on a daily basis. Now he's reportedly on the verge of starting weekly studies at Mir Yeshiva with Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Nosson Zvi Finkel. This may all be part of a strategy to court the religious vote should he actually decide to run for mayor of Jerusalem in the next elections. But it seems that the haredi community, as distinct from the religious Zionist community, is courting Gaydamak even more than he is courting the haredim. He is frequently seen in photos published in the haredi press in the company of leading figures from the haredi community at weddings and other family celebrations. AT LAST week's reunion at the King David Hotel Jerusalem of people who were connected with the visit to Israel 30 years ago of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, several guests remarked on the absence of Benny Begin. Since he quit public life, Begin rarely appears on public platforms. His sisters, who were known to the public mainly by virtue of the fact that their father was prime minister Menachem Begin, did come, and were constantly surrounded by people such as Begin's former bureau chief, Yechiel Kadishai, who had known them as young girls, and Begin Heritage Center founder, long-time friend and adviser to Begin, Harry Hurwitz, and retired diplomat Yehuda Avner, who was another of Begin's valued advisers. AS FAR as Harry and his wife, Freda Hurwitz, were concerned, the thirtieth anniversary commemoration of an event that led to a peace treaty with Egypt was not the only cause for celebration. They had just become great grandparents for the second time around. Their granddaughter, Sharon, and her husband, Jay Wohlgelernter, had become the proud parents of a second son. And just before the baby was born, Sharon Wohlgelernter passed her Israel Bar examination, making her a fully-fledged lawyer with career goals to map out while she's on maternity leave. AMONG THE invitees to a reception hosted by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik for Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko when he visited Israel earlier this month was Rabbanit Bruria Ifergen-Zvuluni. According to a report published last week in Yediot Yerushalim by photo-journalist Sara Davidovich, Yushchenko publicly thanked the Rabbanit for saving his life. The two have known each other since before he became president, and in Yushchenko's words, "She is a very welcome guest in the Ukraine." Rabbanit Bruria, as she is generally known, has achieved widespread word-of-mouth fame for her prescience, a gift not uncommon in her family. She was born an Ifergen, and some of the Ifergens have an uncanny ability to foresee hidden opportunities, talents and dangers, and to advise the people who come to them accordingly. Rabbanit Bruria is regularly courted by politicians and leading lights in the business community. ONE OF the guests invited to the Knesset's special session marking the 60th anniversary of the November 29, 1947 UN Resolution 181 that led to the partition of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel, was more entitled than Suzy Eban, whose late husband, Abba Eban, lobbied hard for that resolution, and had subsequently been Israel's ambassador to the UN and to Washington. If anyone is carrying the legacy of Israel's birth pangs, it is Suzy Eban, who was at her husband's side as history was being made. With a little patience, those of us who are interested will soon know more about it. She is putting the final touches to her autobiography, which is to be published in England, prior to its release in Israel. RECIPIENTS OF honorary doctorates bestowed last week by Ben Gurion University of the Negev included philanthropist Marc Rich, who was pardoned by president Bill Clinton on his last day in office. For 17 years, Rich, who lives in Switzerland, was a fugitive from US Justice. Current presidential candidate Rudy Guiliani, who in 1983 was US attorney for the southern district of New York, indicted Rich and his partner, Pincus Green, for tax evasion and illegal deals with Iran. Rich and Green (who now lives in Jerusalem), had fled the US to Switzerland, and were unable to set foot in the US until Clinton, at the behest of Rich's ex-wife and reportedly on the recommendation of Ehud Barak, who was then prime minister of Israel, signed pardons for Rich and Green. As far as Israel was concerned, Rich was always kosher, and not just because of his philanthropic largesse. According to a report in The New York Post on February 5, 2001, Rich lived a double life during his years as a fugitive, funneling secret data to Israeli and other intelligence services about some unsavory governments. Rich apparently had a lengthy relationship with the Mossad and his contributions to Israel's national security were repeatedly cited by Barak to Clinton and confirmed by former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit. Other recipients of honorary doctorates, who shared the limelight with Rich, were Israel Prize laureates Haim Israeli and Ada Karmi-Melamed, Bank Leumi CEO Galia Maor, and Hebrew University principal researcher into biological chemistry, Dr. Hermona Soreq. Ramat Hanegev Regional Council head Shmuel Rifman received the Yakir Hanegev Prize. Karmi-Melamed, an architect whose imprint is on several buildings on the university campus, is also the co-designer with her brother of the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem. THE DIPLOMATIC community is very much involved with life in Israel, and often uses its collective strength to support a variety of social welfare causes. Some of the women in the diplomatic community are currently trying to raise funds to save the life of Jasmitha Maharaj Singh, a seven-year-old girl from Sri Lanka who lives in Cyprus with her parents. Her mother is a cleaner, and her father a gardener. Jasmitha was diagnosed in Cyprus with a brain tumor in an advanced stage. Her school raised enough money to send her and her mother to Israel where Jasmitha is being treated at the Sheba Medical center in Tel Hashomer. However, her family has no money to pay for her treatment or for her mother's accommodation at the Tel Hashomer hostel. A second appeal is underway in Cyprus, but a woman diplomat stationed in Israel, who happened to have contributed to the first appeal in Cyprus, is now looking for ways in which to raise money for Jasmitha and her mother in Israel. As young as she is, Jasmitha - who is a cute little girl, and is fluent in four languages - has already had two operations and must now undergo a six-month course in radiation followed by chemotherapy. AND ON a less dramatic level, Australian Ambassador James Larsen and his wife, Antoinette Merrillees, are opening their home for an art exhibition and sale organized by the Givat Haviva Institute. The 170 works that will be displayed have been wholly or partially donated by the artists or owners. Proceeds from the sale will benefit Givat Haviva's educational programs for Jewish and Arab dialogue. These programs are conducted at the Givat Haviva Arts Center. Of the items on display, 25 will be sold at a silent auction. The remainder, with one exception will be sold at set prices. The exception will be the prize in a lottery for which the tickets are NIS 150. It should be noted that neither the Australian ambassador nor the Australian Embassy are in any way connected with the sales which are strictly the province of Givat Haviva. In Israel, everything is politics, so what makes this exhibition particularly interesting is that the list of artists includes Aliza Olmert, who happens to be the wife of the prime pinister, but who was an established artist long before her husband came into office. Other artists include Farid Abu Shakra, Tsibi Geva, Moshe Gershuni, Marcel Janco, Mordechai Levanon, Ofer Lellouche, Lea Nikel, and Jan Rauchwerger. Additional information concerning Givat Haviva can be found at its Web site, "," where the Art Center section includes a link to an on-line catalogue of the works in the exhibition. IT'S COMMON knowledge that US President George W. Bush became a big fan of Natan Sharansky after reading his book, Case for Democracy. But he was also interested in a book by another Jewish writer. Roy Neuberger, a former newspaper publisher and hedge-fund manager who divides his time between New York and Jerusalem, has written a riveting thriller called 2020, about a massive Islamic terrorist attack that cripples the United States and the western world, and the subsequent harrowing adventures of a small group of American Jews who try to reach Israel in the aftermath of this Armaggedon. Not surprisingly, Bush was very interested in the plot, and just as he met Sharansky after reading his book, he also made time to meet with Neuberger. WHILE ON the subject, Sharansky was very much on center stage at the end of last month at the opening of the exhibition at Beit Hatefutsoth of the 40th anniversary exhibit of the Struggle for Soviet Jewry. But he will be even more focus next week at the premiere of the documentary film, Refusenik, that chronicles the 30-year campaign for the freedom of Soviet Jewry. The film, by award-winning film-maker Laura Bialis, is part of the Jerusalem Film Festival at the Cinematheque. Bialis is due to arrive in time for the December 6 premiere, which will undoubtedly serve as yet another reunion for former refuseniks and Prisoners of Zion in much the same way as the exhibition opening at Beit Hatefutsoth. Sharansky has indicated that he will be one of the speakers at the premiere, as will Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who launched his political career by getting involved in the Soviet Jewry movement while still in college. A NEW multi-party Knesset coalition will be voting with its feet this coming Friday at noon, when a Knesset mini-soccer team, which will include among others Ophir Pines-Paz, Gilad Erdan, Eitan Cabel and Tzahi Hanegbi, will contest former stars who played in national football teams in a benefit game for the Israel Cancer Association that will take place at Goaltime, 24 Hatayasim Street, Tel Aviv. Among the star players will be Mordechai Spiegler, Uri Malmilian, Bonnie Ginzburg, Shaya Glazer and Moshe Sinai.