Grapevine: 70th-anniversary damper?

This week's social news.

Orly Levy-Abecassis (L) and Adina Bar-Shalom (R) (photo credit: KNESSET + SARAH LEVIN)
Orly Levy-Abecassis (L) and Adina Bar-Shalom (R)
(photo credit: KNESSET + SARAH LEVIN)
The arrest last week of Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman on suspicion of corruption may put a new complexion on the mayoral election in the capital. Turgeman was a candidate in the event that Mayor Nir Barkat does not run for a third term.
As it is, Barkat’s popularity is likely to recede, as residents get fed up with changes that he is making in the city, where traffic is becoming an ever-increasing disaster, with frequent alterations in the city skyline and the entrance to the capital. Construction at the entrance is supposed to take four years, but few Jerusalemites believe that it will be completed on schedule. Many are angry that it started this year and will hamper 70th-anniversary celebrations of the state.
Then there’s still the problem of whether the light rail will go through picturesque Emek Refaim Street and change its character. Although some residents are in favor, most are not and are holding an emergency meeting on Sunday, March 18, at 8 p.m. at the Israel Goldstein Youth Village, 1 Shai Agnon Street, Katamon.
■ MEANWHILE, SOME of the positive things in which the Jerusalem Municipality is involved are going ahead. The OnLife conference for women in business, which is being run in partnership with the municipality, will be held on Monday at the International YMCA on the capital’s King David Street.
The conference will be opened by Nechama Rivlin, the wife of the president of the state, and OnLife founder and CEO Hadas Goldstein. Barkat will be one of the few males present and will discuss his achievements and ongoing ambitions for Jerusalem. Also participating will be MK Orly Levy-Abecassis, who is forming her own political party, and stage and screen personality Tzofit Grant, who will receive the OnLife Prize in recognition of her community work.
■ WHEN SHE was awarded the Israel Prize in 2014, Adina Bar-Shalom, educator, social activist and the daughter of the late Shas spiritual mentor and former Sephardi chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, hinted that she might run for Knesset.
Bar-Shalom, who is in her early seventies, has long been active in opposing gender discrimination in haredi circles. She has been in the forefront of the haredi feminist revolution, in which the voices of well-educated and charismatic haredi women are being increasingly heard. She has been active in a number of organizations in which haredi and secular members treat one another with mutual respect.
At a gathering of alumni of the Gesher Institute last week, she announced that she has formed a political party that may run for Knesset in the next election. The party, which includes secular, traditionally religious and ultra-Orthodox people, has been functioning for the past two years. At this stage of the game, Bar-Shalom is not certain whether she will personally run for Knesset, but she will certainly back those members who are interested in joining the legislature with the aim of bringing about change.
Bar-Shalom was scathing in her remarks about Shas leader Arye Deri and of the Shas Party itself. She believes that Deri has changed over the years and is not the bridge maker that he used to be, and that Shas, too, has deteriorated since her father’s death, in October 2013. She voiced doubts about Shas doing well in the next Knesset election.
Deri did nothing to help her maintain the Haredi College of Jerusalem, which she initially founded in 2001 to enable young haredi women to catch up with secular subjects so that they would be better equipped for the job market. The college later expanded to include young haredi men, who studied in classes separate from those of the women, but suffered from severe financial difficulties. Instead of helping to keep the college open, Deri closed it just over a year ago. Bar-Shalom charged him with betraying her father’s legacy.
■ A RECENT issue of The Jerusalem Post’s InJerusalem supplement contained an item about the free communal Seder being conducted by Chabad of Baka. The item included a comment that anyone who hasn’t been invited to a Seder can always depend on Chabad.
To add weight to this, Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, the director of Chabad of Rehavia, has announced that due to last year’s record attendance of 250 people, he is conducting two simultaneous Seders this year – one for English-speakers and one for Hebrew-speakers. Both will be held at Heichal Shlomo, next door to the Jerusalem Great Synagogue.
The notice says that no one will be turned away for lack of funds, and even saves embarrassment for those who cannot afford to pay, by enabling them to make an online reservation, so that they don’t have to come face-to-face with anyone to explain their financial circumstances.
Aside from food, the Seder will include storytelling and singing. Heichal Shlomo is within easy walking distance of more than a dozen hotels. Reservations must be made by Thursday, March 22. For details, telephone (02) 800-1717 or 052-731-8777 or email [email protected]/.
■ A RECENTLY released booklet From Latvia to the Mediterranean, which was compiled and published by members of the Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews in Israel, features the late brothers Gabriel and Maxim Shamir, who in 1935 founded the Society of Hebrew Graphic Artists in Eretz Israel.
The brothers, whose original surname in Latvia was Sheftelowitz, each studied graphic design at the Charlottenburg School of Arts in Berlin, before settling in Tel Aviv, where they opened the Shamir Brothers Studio on Rothschild Boulevard. Following the establishment of the state, they designed the state’s emblems, medals, stamps and currency notes, including the official emblem containing the menorah and the olive branch. They also designed stamps for countries in Africa, Asia and South America – and of course produced many designs for consumer product advertisements in Israel.
In their native Latvia, the Shamir brothers, though deceased for well over 20 years, are so highly regarded that an exhibition of their works under the title of “Independence” has been on view at the National Library of Latvia since early February, and will remain on view till April 4. A special coin was minted for the occasion. The exhibition was curated by Gabriel Shamir’s son Yoram E. Shamir, who aside from having a family interest in the works of his father and uncle, has a professional interest as someone who is in the advertising industry.
In their designs, the Shamir brothers, who were icons in their day, reflected the elements that created Israel’s independence: symbols of sovereignty, immigration, absorption, security, economic development, language and national culture. These are also the subjects of the exhibition. The most famous and enduring of their designs is the official emblem of the State of Israel, though it is doubtful that a random quiz would find many people, if anyone, who could correctly answer who was responsible for the design.
Among the works on view in Riga is the sketch for a monument dedicated to Jewish soldiers who fell in the Latvian War of Independence. The monument is located at the New Jewish Cemetery in Riga, but the sketch dates back to 1934.
In 1974 the brothers decided to work separately and closed the studio. They remained on good terms with each other, but each wanted to work as an individual rather than as part of a team. They continued to each work separately for nearly 20 years.
In Israel the Shamir brothers were called “national designers,” but in fact they were very international. In addition to their work in Latvia and Israel, they also worked for 18 other countries.
The exhibition in Riga was organized by the Embassy of Israel to Latvia in cooperation with the National Library of Latvia and was produced with significant support from United Israel Appeal, the Israel State Archives, the Zionist Central Archives, the Academic Library of the University of Latvia, the Eretz Israel Museum and private collections. After April 4, the exhibition will be opened in Liepaja, where the brothers were born, and Daugavpils. The opening of the exhibition coincided with the launch of the book Shamir Brothers – Designers Who Became Icons.
■ THERE ARE many names that became immortalized during the Holocaust. One of the most widely known, even among non-Jews, is that of Janusz Korczak, whose educational heritage has inspired the 28th Haifa Children’s Theater Festival, which is to take place during the intermediate days of Passover.
The festival’s competition will focus on the characters of independent and resourceful children who, with the power of imagination and their connections with the environment, overcome obstacles. The main thing in his teachings was a theory that the child should not be treated as a “non-adult” but simply as “another.”
The play Kaitush is based on the book by Korczak, which relates the journey of a boy who learns to be a magician. Through difficult and painstaking efforts, he comes to understand the significance of this profession and the responsibility it entails. Kaitush elevates the values of humanism and compassion to a place of miracles and presents criticism and an attack on the worldview that laid the foundation for Nazism.
The play also demonstrates the relevance of Korczak’s heritage today and how it can be transmitted to the younger generation. The actors are Roy Sahar, Shir Abramov, Hagar Tishman, Golan Gross and Michael Shomron.
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