■ PEW REPORTS about waning identification with and support for Israel notwithstanding, major American Jewish organizations still succeed in bringing large delegations to Israel for conferences, as was the case this week with the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum. AJC president John Shapiro announced at a meeting at the President’s Residence that the 2,400 participants, or as he called them “supporters” of Israel, had significantly boosted occupancy rates in several Jerusalem hotels.
■ SURPRISING THOUGH it may seem, American Jewish organizations functioned in Israel long before the establishment of the state. Of course, the most widely known is Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America – but it wasn’t the only one.
Hadassah sent its first two nurses to Jerusalem in 1913, but the Jerusalem Chapter of B’nai B’rith was founded well before that, even before the advent of the Zionist movement.
The Jerusalem Lodge, founded in 1888, was the first B’nai B’rith Lodge in what was then called Palestine. This was one of the bits and pieces of history conveyed by Zehavit Levian, who did an excellent job as compere at the ceremony of the annual B’nai B’rith journalism awards. The first Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897 – by which time B’nai B’rith as a movement had been active in the United States for more than half a century.
■ ALTHOUGH SHE’S a Tel Avivian, Reshet Bet’s Keren Neubach has taken up the fight of Jerusalem’s pedestrians who are being increasingly deprived of the safety of a pavement, or what the British call a footpath. In telephone conversations with listeners, she heard desperate pleas for both two- and four-wheeled vehicles to be taken off the pavement.
Although there have been several accidents on crosswalks in Jerusalem, one listener said that he felt safer on a crosswalk than on the pavement where cars, motorcycles and bikes are parked at dangerous angles. Another listener pointed out that pavements were created in the days of horse-drawn carriages so as to avoid a clash between pedestrians and carriages, which he said have now been replaced by motor cars. But whereas the carriages parked alongside the pavement, motor cards and other vehicles park on the pavement itself, and many traverse the pavement, which is quite frightening to pedestrians.
In streets where the pavements are very narrow, it’s sometimes impossible for pedestrians to pass, and even more of a nightmare for people confined to wheelchairs or for parents wheeling baby carriages.
■ PEOPLE ARE often more inclined to be generous when they are relaxed and in a good mood, than when their minds are on business or on figuring how to get past bureaucratic hurdles. Mindful of this, AMIT, the education network, has engaged comedian Benji Lovitt to perform at the Mill Comedy Club, 8 Rambam Street, on Sunday, June 24, at a fund-raiser titled Laugh4Amit.
Lovitt will share side-splitting anecdotes about aliya and life in Israel for new immigrants. Anyone who has been a new immigrant in Israel will be able to identify with situations that he will relate. It wasn’t necessarily funny at the time that anyone experienced any of those situations, but with hindsight it’s hilarious.
■ A SIGN of the popularity of Susan Fried was seen in the number of people who showed up for the kiddush at Talbiyeh’s Hazvi Israel congregation that was sponsored by her husband Arthur Fried to mark her ‘retirement’ after 22 years of teaching English at the Yehuda Halevi School, a public, religious elementary school serving children living in Old Katamon, Baka and the German Colony.
Involved in numerous projects including the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, Fried told well wishers that she isn’t really retiring.
She is still going to help out with the school play and the school newspaper. That’s a frequent story of retirement in Israel. People officially retire and unofficially keep working either as volunteers or as freelancers.