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Grapevine: Departure & expulsion

CM 20/05/2021

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Visitors to the Haas Promenade may see a new statue depicting three adults, three children and a babe in arms. This is the latest brainchild of Jerry Klinger, the founder and president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation (JASHP). Klinger believes in putting up monuments to commemorate historic events. 
For instance, in Haifa he erected a monument to commemorate the arrival of the Exodus, the ship bearing Holocaust survivors who came as “illegal” immigrants to Israel, among them the mother of Education Minister Yoav Gallant. Most of these immigrants were deported to Cyprus by the British and were able to realize their dream only after the proclamation of the sovereign State of Israel. This latest monument honors the Jews of Arab lands who were expelled in 1948 or soon after. Those who came to Israel, came with almost nothing and had to start life anew.
Although Israel accepted them, it took many years before they were treated as equals. Even today some people of North African background have found that when applying for a job under their real name, they are instantly rejected, or rather told that the vacancy has already been filled. Those who nonetheless apply again, giving false Ashkenazi names, are usually invited to come for an interview. If they were resurrected, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would have a tough time finding work in Israel, and it wouldn’t be any easier for Moses, Aaron or Joshua. The Ashkenazi elite seem to have forgotten our roots. In Israel, North African Jewish culture is marked primarily by Mimouna and Saharani festivals, which are far removed from the richness of North African Jewish culture. While there are some museums in which that cultural heritage is reflected, such centers are there by and large to preach to the converted. 
Klinger wants everyone who visits the Haas Promenade to be aware of the story of North African immigration. The monument was erected as a project of JASHP with the support of the Jerusalem Foundation, the World Sephardi Federation, and Mayor Moshe Lion, and is an interpretive work by Jerusalem sculptor Sam Philipe. An act passed by the Knesset in 2014, designates November 30, as the date on which to commemorate the 850,000 Jews who were expelled from Arab Lands. That is the date on which Klinger hopes to dedicate the monument, which is officially titled Departure and Expulsion.
■ MEMBERS OF Conservative congregations in Israel, but particularly those in Jerusalem, were saddened by the death of Shulamith Schindler, who continued to be involved with the Fuchsberg Jewish Center following the passing in August 2017 of her husband Rabbi Pesach Schindler at age 86.
Rabbi Schindler had been the emeritus head of the capital’s Conservative Yeshiva and the first director of the United Synagogue’s Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center. An inspired and inspiring teacher with a friendly personality and a ready smile who was always considerate of others, Schindler initiated and developed projects and activities at Fuchsberg for 25 years and was renowned for teaching the Daf Yomi, the daily page of Talmud. His wife remained a guiding light at FJC.
■ STATELY BANK buildings are slowly fading out of existence and are being converted for use by other enterprises. The former Bank Leumi building in Zion Square is now a store for optics. Bank Discount on Ben Yehuda Street is now a fashion store. Bank Hapoalim on HaPalmach Street is a supermarket and the Bank Beinleumi (First International) building in Halamed Heh Street is about to become a residential complex. Post office buildings are being converted into hotels and residential complexes, and movie theaters into hotels, restaurants and bars. 

But the change along Jaffa Road is more dramatic than the conversion of single buildings. High rise structures are increasingly dominating the skyline, with ever-taller buildings eliminating any sense of privacy that occupants of older single and double story buildings once had. Urban renewal is of course the watchword throughout Israel these days, and almost anywhere one goes, one can see construction cranes and scaffolding. There are even security fences around most construction sites, which was not always the case. 
However, there are still far too many accidents and fatalities at such sites; more must be done to enforce safety measures in order to protect the lives and limbs of workers. Unless government ministries honor their obligations for infrastructure – including sewage pipes, water and electricity – the partially constructed buildings, which because of their height, are a real eyesore, will remain that way and more unrest will ensue because construction workers will be deprived of their livelihoods. Some 32 mayors have signed a petition declaring that they will put a halt to residential construction if the government continues to shy away from its duties. 
Everything to do with housing is exacerbated by the situation in Isawiya. At the end of last month, Yohanan Weitzman, the representative of the Gur Hasidim on the Jerusalem City Council, said that as the conquerors of east Jerusalem, Israel, or rather the Jerusalem City Council, is responsible for the welfare of the residents of Isawiya. Weitzman was participating in a policy discussion on the preservation of old Arab buildings. While policy on old buildings in west Jerusalem is fairly clear, there are few policy guidelines in relation to Arab neighborhoods, and Weitzman, to everyone’s surprise, thinks that this is wrong, particularly at a time when property ownership and rights in Isawiya have become such a controversial subject. Weitzman’s remarks stirred up heated discussion.
■ PRESUMING THAT the internal strife between Arabs and Jews will have dissipated by the end of the month, fans of hassidic singer Avraham Fried will be able to once again come together at the Sultan’s Pool where he is scheduled to perform on May 31 and June 1 in the presence of Mayor Moshe Lion and Rachel Fraenkel, Bat Galim Schaer and Iris Yifrah, the mothers of the three yeshiva boys murdered by Palestinian terrorists seven years ago.
■ NOT ALL synagogue hosted lectures on Shavuot night, and of those that did, few kept going till the break of dawn, and many confined themselves to only two or three lectures, finishing at around 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. But the Great Synagogue – which was closed for more than a year and which when it reopened recently was extremely zealous in following the directives of the Health Ministry – went right through the night, getting to the Book of Ruth just as dawn was breaking. It also held a mock trial of the pandemic, devoting lectures to different aspects of the coronavirus crisis. Among the speakers was Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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