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Grapevine: Round-table laureates

CM 21/04/2021


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Although Independence Day events were held all over the country, the main events, as always, were held in various Jerusalem venues. The Israel Prize ceremony – held several days ahead of Independence Day, recorded and broadcasted last Thursday – enabled all the laureates to see themselves from the perspective of the audience, instead of only from the stage. 
It was an absolutely brilliant idea to seat laureates and their relatives at round tables in the auditorium of the Jerusalem International Convention Center where there was a much greater sense of family intimacy than there is when everyone is sitting along a row. Admittedly, the arrangement was prompted by health considerations, but all things considered, it was a wonderful solution to a troubling problem.
For the first time in the history of the Israel Prize, there were equal numbers of male and female laureates. Among the males was Yossi Ciechanover, a man of diverse accomplishments both in service to the state and in non-government enterprises.Ciechanover, who was asked by prime minister David Ben-Gurion to write his will, was also named by Israel’s founding prime minister as one of seven beneficiaries of Ben-Gurion’s intellectual property. It saddened him, he said, that of the seven, he was the only one still living. President Reuven Rivlin, who has been meticulous about leaving his mask in place, removed it temporarily as Ciechanover approached the presidium where Rivlin was sitting with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Education Minister Yoav Gallant. Familiar with Ciechanover’s many contributions to the state, Rivlin held a brief but very warm conversation with him, then replaced his mask.
■ ISRAEL CONTINUES to be a land of immigrants, but like wounded soldiers, immigrants rarely receive the attention they deserve. The callous treatment of wounded soldiers who responded to the call to defend the nation and were left with physical and psychological disabilities that in most cases accompany them for the rest of their lives, was recently made public through the dramatic act of desperation of 26-year-old veteran of Operation Protective Edge Itzik Saidian, who self-immolated outside the rehabilitation division of the Defense Ministry, because he was tired of the humiliation, the bureaucracy and the paltry disability pension that he received.
Many new immigrants who have come to Israel, especially those who have enlisted in the army, have likewise been humiliated and hazed, and have discovered that the idealism with which they came to the country is not always appreciated. Some have endured such psychological and emotional suffering that they have committed suicide. Even those who are exempt from army service for whatever reason have a terrible time with Israeli bureaucracy, which is often unlike the bureaucracy to which they were accustomed in the countries from which they emigrated.
Enter Nechama Levy, the founder of Alynu, which literally means “We rose up” or “We ascended,” and is the plural verb of the noun oleh, which means going up, but in everyday parlance, is the word used for immigrant. Levy loves Israel and always wanted to come on aliyah, but found it to be much more challenging than she had anticipated. There’s a big difference between being a tourist and an immigrant. In the final analysis Levy adjusted, but along the way realized how many people find it much more difficult to get used to life in Israel than she did. 

Whenever she heard of a new immigrant with problems, she tried to help find solutions. She became a walking Olim Center. Most of the people she helped, stayed, but some moved back to their countries of origin, which for Levy was painful, because she believes that every Jew should feel at home in Israel. In an effort to create that kind of atmosphere, and help new immigrants to integrate successfully, she founded Alynu and recruited other veteran immigrants, as well as native-born Israelis who are as passionate about Israel as she is, to act as mentors to the newcomers, steering them through the bureaucratic process, advising them about study programs, health services, kosher restaurants, sports clubs, employment opportunities, facilities for people with special needs, and the myriad things that are of specific importance to different individuals. Knowing that there is someone to ask who actually knows the answers, and who will investigate the situation if they don’t know, makes it that much easier for the newcomer to adapt. 
Last week, in conjunction with the Jerusalem Municipality, she organized Remembrance Day and Israel Independence Day events in Teddy Kollek Park to pay tribute to olim, such as Canadian-born Lt. Daniel Mandel, who paid the supreme sacrifice in defending the State of Israel. His mother, Cheryl Mandel, spoke about her son who was killed in action during an exchange of gunfire while pursuing wanted terrorists in Nablus, in 2003.
The memorial ceremony was led by Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier, the founder of Yakir, which promotes unity through diversity. Kermaier, who is himself an immigrant, made aliyah in 2015 and lives with his family in Jerusalem. He is rabbi emeritus of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Synagogue and past president of the New York Board of Rabbis.
In welcoming the huge crowd Levy said, “As we usher in Israel’s 73rd birthday, we must remember that the Jewish state was established as a home for all Jews. It has never been more important, as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, to help olim acclimate and make Israel their home. That is what we do at Alynu.”
■ ONE OF the most beautiful residential buildings in Talbiyeh is the residence of Belgian Consul General Danielle Haven. There have been honorary and career consuls general of Belgium living in Jerusalem since 1851, though there have been periods when there was no Belgian representative in the city. For the past four years, the career consul general has been Haven. Because Belgium bases its jurisdiction on United Nations Resolution 181, which refers to the city in the partition plan as Corpus Separatum with Jerusalem under international aegis, the territorial jurisdiction of the Belgian Consul General includes Jerusalem within the definition of corpus separatum as a separate enclave, and the West Bank and Gaza.
While the actual Consulate is located in east Jerusalem, the villa in which the consul general resides is in west Jerusalem at the Balfour-Jabotinsky intersection, a roughly five minutes’ walk in one direction to the President’s Residence, approximately the same in another direction to the Jerusalem Theater, and even less to the Prime Minister’s Residence in yet another direction. In other words, a prime location. The villa, known as the Villa Salameh, originally belonged to the Salameh family, which left the country in 1948 in order to get out of the way of the war that was raging at that time. The villa was subsequently treated as abandoned property and its control was transferred to the State Custodian. However during the 1950s, the Salameh family rented the villa to the Belgian government. In 1983, the Salameh family sold the property to the State of Israel through businessman David Sofer. The Belgians stayed put in the building, but declined to pay rent to the new owners, claiming that Belgium did not recognize Israel’s rights to the villa. The matter was eventually settled, but not without acrimony. 
What enhances the beauty of the villa are the surrounding gardens, both inside and outside the fence, but now all that may be marred by the addition of a bike station on the pavement, right on the intersection even though there is a traffic island just a little further along Jabotinsky Street better located with plenty of room there for a bike station. The whole area, based on the local population, is totally unsuitable for bikes. The area is very close to a retirement home located adjacent to the Islamic Museum. Several of the residents of the retirement home go for daily walks that take them as far along Jabotinsky Street as Balfour or Ahad Ha’am.
They walk slowly, sometimes with the aid of walkers or canes or a caregiver. If a bike comes whizzing past them, they could easily go into shock. Unfortunately, unlike some other places in the world, Jerusalem permits bicycles, skateboards and scooters on the pavement, leaving little room in which pedestrians can move safely. Sometimes, when there is traffic congestion, motorcyclists also mount the pavement. Worse still, they and bicyclists and skateboard riders tend to ignore red traffic lights and sail through them, endangering pedestrians who are crossing the road on a green light.
Where are municipal traffic supervisors? Where are the police? And why are city architects and urban planners permitting an unsightly bike station to intrude on so beautiful a corner? 
greerfc@gmail.com

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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