Grapevine: On the cusp of hostilities

This week's social news.

ON THE Tel Aviv Independence Trail: The statue of Meir Dizengoff in front of Independence Hall, the last two stops. (photo credit: YOCHEVED LAUREN LAUFER)
ON THE Tel Aviv Independence Trail: The statue of Meir Dizengoff in front of Independence Hall, the last two stops.
Friction that already exists between certain secular and religious elements of society will in all probability become even more entrenched, following a conference that will be held on Sunday afternoon at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem.
The topic is “The end of the Era of the Great Rabbis (Gedolim) – the future of Shas and Mizrachi ultra-Orthodoxy.”
The event is a platform for two book launches: One is Haredim: A Guide to their Beliefs and Sectors, by Prof. Benjamin Brown, and the other is A Flock with No Shepherd: Shas Leadership the Day after Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, by Yair Ettinger and Nissim Lion.
Although there are Orthodox speakers and people of North African background on the panels, they are not exactly representative of haredim or of Shas, which seems to run counter to what democracy is all about. But, on the other hand, they may have been invited and declined. They and anyone else who is interested can follow the conference on the Israel Democracy Institute website:
■ STAFF, STUDENTS and Stand- WithUs leadership from around the world will gather at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Tuesday, April 17, while co-founders of the global advocacy group, which works primarily on university and college campuses, Roz and Jerry Rothstein, ring the opening bell which will signal the beginning of trade for the day. The couple, who act as CEO and COO, see this honor as a tribute to their work in giving Jewish students the tools to withstand incitement and antisemitism and to make the case for Israel.
■ EVEN THOUGH he’s running in the mayoral race for Jerusalem, attorney Avi Salmon discovered that he has quite a few supporters in Tel Aviv. Salmon, who is well known for his sense of humor, was invited to a comedy night at Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People, where actor and former member of the Hagashash Hahiver trio Shaike Levi pronounced that Salmon would indeed be the next mayor of Jerusalem.
Of course, if Levi meets up with other candidates, he might also tell each of them that he will be the next mayor. It’s simply a matter of telling people what they want to hear.
■ ALMOST IMMEDIATELY after Independence Day, there will be the beginning of the large-scale summer vacation exodus from Israel. A lot of people will be heading for New York, some of them to attend the seventh annual Jerusalem Post Conference on April 29.
Those who intend to stay through the first week of May might also be interested in attending the New York Chapter of Beit Hatfutsot conference on “Israel- Diaspora Relations, Past, Present and Future,” which will be held on Thursday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m. at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th Street. The panelists will include Prof. Marjorie Lehman, associate professor of Talmud and rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary; Prof. Shaul Magid, professor of religious studies at Indiana University Center for Jewish History; and Alana Newhouse, editor and founder of Tablet magazine.
The event will also include an address by Prof. Nathaniel Laor, professor of philosophy, psychiatry and medical education, Tel Aviv University, who will speak on the legacy of the late Leon Charney, a well-known American lawyer, media man and philanthropist, who was involved in several projects in Israel, including Beit Hatfutsot and academic institutions.
■ GRECOPHILES AND Greek expatriates will no doubt fill the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv on Monday, April 30, to listen to Greek singer Alkistis Protopsalti and composer Stavros Xarchikos, who are coming with an eight-piece band and a program titled “This is Greece.”
Israelis demonstrated a yen for Greek music long before the current close relationship between Israel and Greece that has evolved from natural gas fields. Two of Israel’s best known Grecophiles, Yaron Enosh and Shimon Parness, will in all probability be in the audience. Enosh, as far as is known, does not have any Greek genes, though sometimes he’s more Greek than the Greeks, but Parness, although a multi-generational Jerusalemite, can trace his lineage back to Greece. And then, of course, there’s star singer Yehuda Poliker, who has contributed greatly to the love of Greek music in Israel.
Hopefully the audience will remain seated and not break dishes the way they do in Greek tavernas.
■ TOURISTS WHOSE time is limited, often appreciate being at destinations in which several historic or cultural sites are in close proximity, with an easy walk from one to the other. Tel Aviv, which is already a big-time tourist attraction, is adding to its assets with a new national heritage trail that encompasses 10 heritage sites: Tel Aviv’s first kiosk, established in 1910; the Nahum Gutman Fountain, which incorporates a mosaic by famous, multidisciplinary artist and Israel Prize laureate Nahum Gutman; the home of Akiva Aryeh Weiss, founder of the Ahuzat Bayit neighborhood, which later evolved into the first modern Hebrew city, Tel Aviv; the site of the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium, first Hebrew-speaking high school in Tel Aviv, which was razed in 1962 to facilitate the construction of the Shalom Meir Tower, which contains a gallery that is dedicated to the visual history of Tel Aviv.
The tearing down of the school building sparked widespread recognition of the importance of conserving historic landmarks.
Also on the trail: the Great Synagogue; the Hagana Museum, located in the home of Eliyahu Golomb – the founder and de facto commander of the Hagana, whose secret headquarters were located in his house; the Bank of Israel’s Visitors Center, which displays the development of money in Israel; the Tel Aviv Founder’s Monument and Fountain, dedicated to the men and women who established and built up Tel Aviv in the first half of the 20th century; the statue of Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv, on his legendary horse, opposite his home which is now known as Independence Hall, because it was where Israel’s founding prime minister read out the Declaration of Independence of the sovereign State of Israel; and the recently inaugurated Israel Democracy Institute pavilion.
The trail, which is a joint venture of the Tel Aviv Municipality, the Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry, will be officially inaugurated on April 18, in honor of the 70th anniversary, according to the Hebrew calendar, of the founding of the state. The ceremony will be led by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and ministers Yariv Levin and Ze’ev Elkin.
There are many coffee shops and restaurants along the way, so if there happen to be crowds, there’s no need to swelter while waiting in line. One can always partake of refreshments and wait for the crowd to thin out.
■ RELIGIOUS LEADERS, including the Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem, His Excellency Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, will speak about religious imperatives for promoting environmentally sustainable practices and the use of renewable energy at an allday Interfaith Climate Change and Renewable Energy Conference taking place on Wednesday, May 9, at Tantur Ecumenical Institute, 1 Harosmarin Street, Jerusalem.
The purpose of the conference is to urge and empower faith communities to curb climate change and promote renewable energy use. Presentations will also be made by leading scientists, who will describe the current impacts and imminent dangers of climate change to the region. Breakout workshops and an ecological walking tour will enable person-to-person interactions.
Co-organizers of the conference are the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the Swedish Theological Institute, and the Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
■ BUREAUCRACY GETS into everything. Holocaust survivor Dr. Noah Stern, who told his story last week at the President’s Residence, said that his family was so appreciative of what had been done for them by the woman who gave them shelter that they wanted her to be publicly acknowledged.
Accordingly, Stern went to Yad Vashem to recommend that she be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
The first question he was asked was: “Did you give her any money?” Not realizing the significance of that question, Stern replied in the affirmative, to which the immediate response was that she couldn’t be considered, because she had taken money. Stern tried to explain that the only money that she had been given was to buy extra food and necessities. She hadn’t been paid for her lodgings or for protecting the family from the enemy.
But the person dealing with his application didn’t want to listen.
So Stern bided his time until he figured that either there would be someone else to talk to or that the person to whom he had already spoken would not remember him.
The second time around, he knew what to say, and after due investigations were conducted, he succeeded in his quest.
■ FORMER CZECH ambassador Daniel Kumermann objects to the use of the word “protest” in connection with the Gazan demonstrations close to the Israeli border. In his view, the word that should be used is “provocation.”