Grapevine October 31, 2021: Festival time

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 MAGEN FUND co-founder David Rose (left) with MDA paramedic Ariel Matlon (photo credit: COURTESY OF THE MAGEN FUND)
MAGEN FUND co-founder David Rose (left) with MDA paramedic Ariel Matlon

The Fifth Jerusalem Biennale is due to open on November 11 and will keep going until December 30. Art lovers with a yearning to meet artists, or better still to visit them in their homes or studios, will have ample opportunities to gravitate between selected historic Jerusalem venues, as well as at dozens of small events in homes and studios at Take Me Home exhibitions and in individual and group exhibitions that can be seen in person and online, and the best part is that entry is free of charge.

Some 300 professional artists, mostly from Israel, but also from the US, UK, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, United Emirates and Argentina will be participating. The Take Me Home exhibition, which includes works by more than 100 contemporary artists, will be held in the old Shaare Zedek building, which is the permanent home of the Biennale.

“This year’s Jerusalem Biennale is very different from previous editions where we would gather in museums, galleries and other public spaces to share the art experience,” says JB Founder and creative director Rami Ozeri. “This year, we are asking the question: is art part of our private domain? Do we have meaningful artworks on the walls of our living room, bedroom or kitchen?? And if so, what should we do to take this one step further and share this art with family, friends or even strangers?”

■ AFTER A secret visit to Jordan and a state visit to Ukraine, President Isaac Herzog is off to England in November, – but not on a state visit, so he is unlikely to meet the Queen. He is due to attend a dinner honoring the life and legacy of former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who passed away a year ago at age 71 after battling with cancer. Sacks was widely recognized by Jews and gentiles alike as one of the most erudite of clergy who managed to find common ground between religious and secular philosophies, especially those dealing with civil rights.

Among the many tributes that were published following his death, was one from Prince Charles.

 BRITISH CHIEF rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is honored at the 2016 Templeton Prize ceremony. Most of the translation was completed by Sacks, though an esteemed committee finished portions after his passing. (credit: Catholic Church England Wales/Flickr) BRITISH CHIEF rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is honored at the 2016 Templeton Prize ceremony. Most of the translation was completed by Sacks, though an esteemed committee finished portions after his passing. (credit: Catholic Church England Wales/Flickr)

Last week, on the anniversary of Sacks’s death, Herzog released a videotaped statement in which he said: “Rabbi Sacks was giant of a man, a rabbi whose prose read like poetry; whose words, in his magically soft and wise voice, touched our hearts, our souls, and our minds; whose humility, whose kindness, whose brilliance of mind enriched the Jewish world and indeed the entire world. His untimely passing one year ago has left an enormous void in our collective Jewish life.”

■ REGARDLESS OF the stream of Judaism with which anyone identifies, there are always subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences in customs and practice, even among the most stringently Orthodox of people. The unifying factor is in the universal Jewish recognition of Shabbat, Jewish festivals and Yizkor (Remembrance) commemorations on the anniversaries of deceased loved ones. How all these are observed by different communities and individuals is another story.

Almost a decade ago, South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein dreamed up the Shabbat Project, which he continues to direct. This global initiative is far from uniform, but it links Jews around the world through Shabbat dinners and lunches, Shabbat-oriented weekend retreats, challah bakes, liturgical concerts and more.

Such events have attracted Jews of all stripes around the world, but went into semi-hibernation and were much more subdued during 2020 and much of 2021. In mid-October of this year, there was a grand revival with 1,166 citywide “unity events,” in addition to thousands of private events, in 1,511 cities in Europe, the US, South America, South Africa, Asia and Australia where people celebrated Shabbat. In places where COVID restrictions prevented groups from getting together, people participated on Zoom and other social media, everyone being happy to be part of Shabbat in different ways, and yet linked through that one word – Shabbat.

Goldstein was delighted at what he called “the triumph of Jewish unity” with so many individuals, organizations and synagogue groups coming together while geographically apart.

Curiously, the most secular of Jewish women in Israel and elsewhere simply love being part of a challah bake, and are thrilled to take home the results, which of course are placed on the table on Friday night, regardless of whether or not Sabbath candles were lit or Kiddush recited. It may be only a pennyworth of Judaism, but better the penny, than nothing.

■ CO-FOUNDERS of the Israel Magen Fund David Rose and Mati Goldstein presented Binyamin Regional Council chairman Israel Ganz with eight life-saving defibrillators for Magen David Adom ambulances and paramedics stationed throughout the Binyamin region, in Neria, Dolev, Ateret, Shiloh, Kochav Zion, Mevo Horon, Eli and Kfar Adumim. On behalf of Binyamin residents, Ganz thanked the Israel Magen Fund, the Joseph Safra Foundation and individual donors from around the world “for their important donation which will certainly save lives.” The Israel Magen Fund supports Israel’s medical and military sectors through transparent, direct and communicative giving. 

■ ON FRIDAY morning November 26, singer-songwriter Ania Buckstein will participate in a fund-raising brunch and intimate musical performance hosted on behalf of Life’s Door by Ruth and Menachem Oren of Tel Aviv.

Only people with a Green Pass will be admitted. Reservations close on November 17 and can be made at [email protected] Tickets range in price from NIS 1,000 to NIS 20,000 for one to 10 people. Brunch is at 9:30 a.m. and the performance at 11.

Life’s Door helps people with life-threatening or terminal illnesses to cope and put quality into their lives, and also to prepare in a calm and tranquil fashion for the end of life.

■ AS IF the residents of Tel Aviv are not being sufficiently inconvenienced by the construction glut throughout the city, here comes another major building project on land belonging to the municipality.

Amot, of the Alony-Hetz Group, and Gav-Yam at a press conference last week announced the launch of the ToHa2 Tower, adjacent to ToHa1 at the Totzeret Ha’Aretz, Yigal Alon and Derech HaShalom intersection.

Leading architects Ron Arad and Avner Yashar, who designed ToHa1, joined forces once again to introduce what they call a timeless creation that will impact on its environment. Like the

The new tower will be considerably taller and three times the size of its adjacent predecessor, rising to 300m and spanning 77 huge floors of 2,500-3,000m² each. The tower’s overall area will cover ~170,000m².

Construction is scheduled to commence in November following the completion of the underground parking lot, and the overall project is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2026. The developers believe that when completed, the tower will be occupied by leading local and global companies, and who will collectively provide jobs for 20,000 employees.

The total investment in the project by both companies is estimated at NIS 3 billion and forecasted revenues, upon completion and full occupancy, are expected to reach NIS 280 million per annum.

The project was unveiled in the presence of Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai; the company managers, Amot Investments Chairperson Nathan Hetz and CEO Shimon Abudarham; Gav-Yam Chairman Eldad Fresher and CEO Avi Jacobovitz.

ToHa2 will offer a combination of culinary, cultural, leisure, entertainment and fitness experiences, as well as an auditorium.

Both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are looking increasingly like Hong Kong. As Tel Aviv is a very modern city, that’s not such a bad thing, except for the fact that there seems to be some kind of competition as to how much higher towers can go. In view of the Iranian threat, that’s pretty scary. But Jerusalem, unlike Tel Aviv, is more than 3,000 years old and should have more of a yesteryear quality than one straining to reach for tomorrow. With all of its new streamlined modernity, Jerusalem is losing the uniqueness of its character, something that upsets many of its residents who came to Israel as immigrants and chose to live in Jerusalem, either because they were religiously observant, or because of the character of the city, or both.

But the kind of city in which they purchased their homes is rapidly disappearing.

■ THE DAN Hotel Chain is giving its patronage to the Israeli Kitchen Festival which is being run in conjunction with American Express, beginning in the second week of November and continuing through to the first week of December. Among the featured chefs will be Haim Cohen, Raz Rahav and Ran Shmueli, who will be hosted by Dan Hotel Chefs at the King David Hotel Jerusalem and the Dan Caesarea Hotel, and various chefs will also be cooking up a storm at the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel.

In tandem with the festival, hotels in the chain will be having festive weekends with musical performances and market tours.

Although many people now do their grocery and green grocery shopping online, nothing beats the atmosphere in the hustle and bustle of the market with its colorful displays and even more colorful characters.

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