GREER FAY CASHMAN
At this time of the year, popular hassidic singer Avraham Fried is usually in Israel, singing to a full house in Jerusalem’s Sultan’s Pool.
ESHET LAPIDOT RECIPIENTS (from left) Nurit Kozahinof, Esther Mor, Osnat Levtzion-Korach and Zohar Yakobson. / (photo credit: YAAKOV NACHAMI)
At this time of the year, popular hassidic singer Avraham Fried is usually in Israel, singing to a full house in Jerusalem’s Sultan’s Pool. That won’t be happening this year. Like so many cultural events, whether high brow, low brow or flavored with religion, Fried’s pre-Rosh Hashanah concert will be presented online, and because he happens to be a Chabadnik, it will be hosted by Chabad of Rehavia under the title “Bringing Jerusalem to the World.” Fans of hassidic and cantorial music will have additional treats with performances by the Pirchei Yerushalayim choir, Aaron Razel, Duvie Shapiro, Gershon Wachtel, Motti Flikshtein and cantor Zvi Weiss.
There will be no charge, though Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, the director of Chabad of Rehavia, will welcome donations that will be used for Rosh Hashana outreach and other activities. Chabad of Rehavia has been providing meals for the poor, plus various online services. The concert, which will be viewed across the world on Sunday, September 6, can be seen in Israel from 7 p.m., London at 5 p.m. and Eastern Australia at 2 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time for viewing is 12 p.m., and Pacific Daylight Time 9 a.m. The link is www.BringingJerusalemToTheWorld.com
Apropos Chabad, the annual gathering of Chabad envoys in New York toward the end of the year is unlikely to take place unless there is some major positive change in relation to the pandemic. For the time being emissaries from more than a hundred countries and many more cities, have decided not to endanger themselves and each other or anyone with whom they might come into contact.
■ CONFERENCES HAVE become a major online hit, especially those run by newspapers, because they succeed in getting a large number of politicians from different parties who present a variety of views. Coming up on September 2 is the annual Jerusalem Conference hosted by the Besheva media group. The conference is usually an all-day day affair, though in the past it has also been a two-day event. How long it will take online with 45 speakers, plus sponsors, is anyone’s guess. The chief sponsor in Keren Kayemeth-Jewish National Fund, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary. Unlike the ultra-Orthodox movements, the National-Religious movement, with which Besheva identifies, has no problem giving a platform to women, and nine are included among the speakers.
The benefit of online events is that people who might cause last-minute changes in live events due to their being suddenly indisposed, can participate from anywhere in the world. Thus Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in isolation, can participate from home, as can MK Ayelet Shaked. The conference will be broadcast on Arutz Sheva and the Besheva Facebook account.
■ AFTER HOSTING a Life’s Door event in their home a few weeks ago, Life’s Door founders Dr. Ben Corn and his wife, Dvora, have discovered that other people are more than willing to emulate them and are happy to host events that comply with Health Ministry regulations. Thus on the evening of Thursday, September 3, Dr. David and Devora Goldfarb will be hosting a small group of friends who will come together to listen to prizewinning writer A.B. Yehoshua,whose subject will be: “Hope. Can we find light at the end of the tunnel?” Friday morning events have always been popular in Tel Aviv, and another pair of Life’s Door supporters, Menachem and Rutie Oren of Tel Aviv, will be hosting a brunch on Friday, November 20, with former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy speaking on “Paternalism, autonomy and their significance. How do we opt between free choice and health and security?” Both events will be online. Contact details are available on the Life’s Door Facebook account.
■ WORLD WIZO President Esther Mor was among the recipients of the Eshet Lapidot award given to outstanding women philanthropists who give of themselves and of their money to life improvement and life-saving projects, primarily in the field of health but also in other areas of well-being. Eshet Lapidot is the brainchild of Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the founder of ZAKA, the international search and rescue organization, which in Israel is also concerned with forensic issues. Other recipients were Nurit Kozahinof of the Beresheet Tower Real Estate project, whose family gives generously to numerous medical projects in Israel, Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach, the director of the Shamir Medical Center (formerly Assaf Harofeh), who was the first director of a state hospital to deal with coronavirus patients, and actors’ agent Zohar Yakobson, who created the Tal Center for cancer patients in memory of her daughter Tal who died of cancer.
■ PEOPLE WHO suffer frequent disturbances in their lives, and try to live with them, are often heard to say: “It can’t get any worse than this.” In actual fact it can. While some of the prime minister’s neighbors are upset over the court ruling that demonstrators can continue to protest in their neighborhood, Jewish News Syndicate reports that protests outside a Michigan synagogue are protected under the First Amendment according to a ruling by Federal Judge Victoria Roberts of the Eastern Michigan District Court.
In her 11-page decision, Roberts wrote: “Peaceful protest speech such as this – on sidewalks and streets – is entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection, even if it disturbs, is offensive,and causes emotional distress,”
The protests in Jerusalem have been in force for only a few months. Those in Michigan have been taking place every Saturday since 2003, according to the JNS report.
Every Saturday, a group of protesters harasses congregants outside the Beth Israel Congregation. They stand in front of the synagogue with signs that state “Jewish power corrupts,” “Zionism is racism” and “Resist Jewish power,” among other slogans that elsewhere might be regarded as incitement.
In justifying her ruling, Roberts also wrote: “There is no allegation that the protesters prevent plaintiffs from attending Sabbath services, that they block plaintiffs’ path onto the property or to the synagogue, or that the protests and signs outside affect the services inside. Plaintiffs merely allege that the defendants’ conduct causes them distress and ‘interferes’ with their enjoyment of attending religious services.”
True, there has been some violence in Jerusalem, but happily police, who have caused injury to demonstrators, are not trigger-happy like police in America, who have shot unarmed people simply because of the color of their skin.
After some of the police violence that was shown on television and social media, people should be worried, because it can get worse.
■ ALL MAYORS presumably care about the needs of the residents of their cities, but Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai surely stands out in this regard. Though not religiously observant himself, Huldai takes care of the needs of both the religious and secular residents of his city. Last week he announced that High Holy Day prayers could be conducted in the city’s public spaces, so that congregants from Tel Aviv’s 450 synagogues would have a place outside of their own homes in which to worship. Huldai is coordinating with Eldad Mizrahi, chairman of the Tel Aviv Religious Council and with synagogue officials to enable prayer services for expanded congregations while following Health Ministry guidelines.
Huldai issued a statement declaring: “The right to prayer and religious gatherings is fundamental, and everything will be done in order to permit tens of thousands of worshipers to carry out the holiday commandments – even under the health restrictions. From the very first days of the first Hebrew city, Jewish tradition has been of great importance in our daily life. As Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of the city, said: ‘We are striving so that the spirit of Judaism will be in harmony with our enterprise and this city – so that the spirit of brotherhood, peace and love will prevail.’”
Later in the week, Huldai took care of the cultural needs of the city’s secular population by entering into negotiations for the municipality to assume ownership of the financially strapped Habimah Theater, which for some years has been functioning under an ever-growing deficit, and was almost on the verge of closure.
The theater, which has debts amounting to NIS 60 million, is already under threat of liquidation, and although it has been granted a brief reprieve, there is little chance of it surviving unless city hall takes over its financial management.
■ MODEL AGENTS in Israel have come and gone but the one who seems to have the most lasting ability is Roberto Ben Shushan, who has discovered some of Israel’s top models, several of whom later became actresses, singers or television presenters. Among some of the household names that have been represented by his agency are Moran Atias, Agam Rudberg, Rotem Sela, Yuval Scharf and Maya Buskilla among many others. Ben Shushan has now branched out into the art world, and together with Yitzhak Mevorach, has opened a gallery in Tel Aviv, which goes by the name of Roberto’s Gallery.