Crews from the office of the Rabbi of the Western Wall remove tens of thousands of written prayers from the Western Wall. (photo by Gil Zohar)
On April 10, equipped with long sticks, crews from the office of the Rabbi of the Western Wall removed tens of thousands of written prayers, which worshippers had wedged into crevices at the holy site over the previous half year. The painstaking work is done twice annually, in advance of Passover in April and Rosh Hashanah in September, to ensure space for new prayers. The notes that are removed are buried in Mount of Olives Cemetery.
The origin of the practice of placing small folded sheets of paper between the cracks of the 2,000-year-old ashlars is unclear. According to tradition, God’s female presence (Shechinah), has never left the holy site.
A retaining wall of the Temple Mount, built by King Solomon circa 960 BCE and destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, the Kotel Maaravi (Western Wall) stands today beneath a religious plaza known in Arabic to Muslims as al-Haram ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). Jews believe the holy hill marks the navel of the world from where God began his creation 5779 years ago; the site also marks where Abraham brought his son Isaac to offer him up as a sacrifice. Muslims consider the Western Wall to be where Muhammad tethered his winged steed al-Burak when he ascended to the Seventh Heaven. And Christians believe Jesus was one of the millions of Jewish pilgrims in antiquity who came here during the festivals of Passover, Tabernacles and Pentecost.
From 1948 until 1967, when East Jerusalem was under the control of Jordan, Israelis were prohibited from visiting the site.
The stamp of “Ikar, son of Matanyahu.” (IAA photos courtesy Ashernet)
The 2,600-year-old stamp of “Ikar, son of Matanyahu” was among the artifacts uncovered in archeological excavations at the Givati Parking Lot, in City of David National Park in Jerusalem. The dig was conducted by archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Tel Aviv University and, according to TAU’s Prof. Yuval Gadot and IAA’s Dr. Yiftah Shalev, the artifacts were found inside a large public building that was destroyed in the sixth century BCE, probably during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. Large stone debris, burnt wooden beams and numerous charred pottery shards were discovered, all indications that they had survived a fire.
The stamp and bulla (seal impressions), which are about one centimetre in size, were deciphered by Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Centre for the Study of Ancient Jerusalem. “The name Matanyahu appears both in the Bible and on additional stamps and bullae already unearthed. However, this is the first reference to the name Ikar, which was unknown until today,” said Mendel-Geberovich.
According to Gadot and Shalev, “These artifacts corroborate the highly developed system of administration in the Kingdom of Judah and add considerable information to our understanding of the economic status of Jerusalem and its administrative system during the First Temple period, as well as personal information about the king’s closest officials and administrators who lived and worked in the city.”
Running has become one of the most popular sports in Israel, with both the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem marathons attracting thousands of competitors. The Jerusalem Marathon on March 15 attracted some 40,000 runners, including 4,600 athletes from more than 80 different countries. Six different runs were offered, one of which was designed for competitors with special needs. The main event was won by Kenyan runner Ronald Kimeli, 33, who ran the 42.2 kilometres in two hours, 18 minutes and 47 seconds.
The landmark synagogue before being
dynamited by Jordan’s Arab Legion in 1948. (photo from Wikipedia)
A cornerstone laying ceremony was held May 29,
2014, for the rebuilding of the Old City of Jerusalem’s Tiferet Yisrael
Synagogue, which was dedicated in 1872 and dynamited by Jordan’s Arab Legion in
Speaking nearly five years ago, then-Jerusalem
mayor Nir Barkat declared, “Today we lay the cornerstone of one of the
important symbols of the Jewish community in Jerusalem. The municipality
attaches great importance to the preservation and restoration of heritage sites
in Jerusalem, and we will continue to maintain the heritage of Israel in this
Citing Lamentations 5:21, Uri Ariel, housing
minister at the time, added, “We have triumphed in the laying of yet another
building block in the development of Jerusalem, a symbolic point in the vision
that continues to come true before our eyes: ‘Renew our days as of old.’”
The two politicians symbolically placed a stone
salvaged from the ruined building, and construction was supposed to take three
years, according to the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the
Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem Ltd. (JQDC), a public company under
the auspices of the Ministry of Construction and Housing.
Fast forward to Dec. 31, 2018, and the exercise
was repeated, this time with the participation of Jerusalem minister Zeev
Elkin, construction minister Yoav Galant, deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman
and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon. But, this time, according to the JQDC, much of
the project’s NIS 50 million (approximately $18 million Cdn) budget has been
secured, in part thanks to anonymous overseas donors. With the Israel
Antiquities Authority’s salvage dig of the Second Temple period site headed by
Oren Gutfeld completed, work can now begin in earnest.
Fundraising to purchase the land for the
Tiferet Yisrael, also known as the Nisan Bak shul, was initiated in 1839 by
Rabbi Israel Friedman of Ruzhyn, Ukraine, (1797-1850) and his disciple Rabbi
Nisan Bak, also spelled Beck (1815-1889). While der Heiliger Ruzhiner
(Holy Ruzhyner), as his Chassidim called him, purchased the hilltop in 1843,
the mystic didn’t live to see construction begin.
His ambitious plans in Jerusalem reflected his
grandiose lifestyle in Sadhora, Bukovina, in Galicia’s Carpathian Mountains,
pronounced Sadagóra in Yiddish. There, he lived in a palace with splendid
furnishings, rode in a silver-handled carriage drawn by four white horses and,
with an entourage, dressed like a nobleman, wore a golden skullcap and clothing
with solid gold buttons, and was attended by servants in livery. This unusual
manner was accepted and even praised by many of his contemporaries, who
believed the Ruzhiner was elevating God’s glory through himself, the tzadik
(righteous one), and that the splendour was intended to express the derekh
hamalkhut (way of kingship) in the worship of God.
In one incident, described in David Assaf’s The
Regal Way: The Life and Times of Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin (Stanford
University Press, 2002), the Ruzhiner’s Chassidim noticed that, notwithstanding
that their rebbe was wearing golden boots, he was leaving bloody footprints in
the snow. Only then did they realize that the gold was only a show and his
shoes had no soles. Indeed, he was walking barefoot in the snow.
Rabbis Friedman and Bak were motivated by a
desire to foil Czar Nicholas I’s ambitions to build a Russian Orthodox
monastery on the strategic site overlooking Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Bak
consulted with architect Martin Ivanovich Eppinger. (Eppinger also planned the
Russian Compound, the 68,000-square-metre fortress-like complex erected by the
Imperial Russian Orthodox Palestine Society west of the Jaffa Gate and outside
the Old City, after the czar was outmanoeuvred by the Chassidim.)
Bak, who both designed the massive synagogue
and served as its contractor, spent more than a decade fundraising and six
years building it. Inaugurated on Aug. 19, 1872, he named the three-storey
landmark in honour of his deceased rebbe.
According to a perhaps apocryphal story, the
quick-witted Bak was able to complete the ornate synagogue thanks to a donation
from Kaiser Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary. In 1869, while visiting Jerusalem
en route to dedicate the Suez Canal, the emperor asked his subjects who came
from Sadhora in the remote Austrian province of Bukovina why their synagogue
had no roof. (In 1842, having spent two years in Russian prisons on charges of
complicity in the murder of two Jewish informers, Rabbi Friedman fled to
Sadhora and reestablished his resplendent court.)
Seizing the moment, Bak replied, “Your majesty,
the synagogue has doffed its hat in your honour.” The kaiser, understanding the
royal fundraising pitch, responded, “How much will it cost me to have the
synagogue replace its hat?” and donated 1,000 francs to complete Tiferet
Yisrael’s dome, which was thereafter referred to by locals as “Franz Joseph’s
Tamar Hayardeni, in “The Kaiser’s Cap”
(published in Segula magazine last year), wrote that, while the kaiser
made a donation, the dome was in fact completed with funds provided by Rabbi
Israel of Ruzhyn’s son, Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov of Sadhora (1820-1883).
In the winter and spring of 1948, the dome
served as a key Haganah military position and lookout point for the Jewish
Quarter’s outgunned defenders.
Children were recruited for the battle for
Tiferet Yisrael. Some as young as 9 built defence positions. The “older” ones –
12 or so – carried messages, food, weapons and ammunition. Some were killed,
including Grazia (Yaffa) Haroush, 16, and Nissim Gini, 9, who was the youngest
fallen fighter in the War of Independence. Like the others who fell in the
defence of the Jewish Quarter and were buried there, his remains were exhumed
after 1967 and reinterred on the Mount of Olives.
Badly damaged by heavy shelling, the synagogue
was blown up by Jordanian sappers on May 21, 1948. A few days later, following
the neighbourhood’s surrender on May 25, the nearby Hurva Synagogue – the main
sanctuary of Jerusalem’s mitnagdim (anti-Chassidic Ashkenazi followers
of the Vilna Gaon) – met the same fate.
With the rebuilding of the Hurva completed by
the JQDC in 2010, Tiferet Yisrael became the last major Old City synagogue
destroyed in 1948 not rebuilt.
Hurva is a stone-clad, concrete and steel
facsimile of its original structure, updated to today’s building code and
equipped with an elevator. The same is planned for Tiferet Yisrael.
The reconstruction of faux historic synagogues
has not been without critics. Writing in the Forward in 2007 as the
Hurva was rising, historian Gavriel Rosenfeld, co-editor of Beyond Berlin:
Twelve German Cities Confront the Nazi Past (University of Michigan Press,
2008), noted the manifold links between architecture, politics and memory.
“The reconstruction of the Hurva seems to
reflect an emotional longing to undo the past. It has long been recognized that
efforts to restore ruins reflect a desire to forget the painful memories that
they elicit. Calls to rebuild the World Trade Centre towers as they were before
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks represent a clear (if unrealized) instance of this
yearning. And the recently completed reconstruction of Dresden’s famous
Frauenkirche – long a heap of rubble after being flattened by Allied bombers in
February 1945 – represents a notable example of translating this impulse into reality.
“And yet, the reconstruction project is
problematic, for in seeking to undo the verdict of the past, the project will
end up denying it. Denial is inherent in the restoration of ruins, as is
frequently shown by the arguments used to justify such projects. In Dresden,
for example, many supporters of the Frauenkirche’s restoration portrayed
themselves as the innocent inhabitants of a city that was unjustly bombed in
1945, thereby obscuring the city’s longtime support for the Nazi regime and its
war of aggression during the years of the Third Reich. Similarly, the physical
appearance of the restored Frauenkirche – despite its incorporation of some of
the original church’s visibly scorched stones – has effectively eliminated the
signs of the war that its ruin once vividly evoked.
“In the case of the Hurva,” writes Rosenfeld,
“the situation is somewhat different. If many Germans in Dresden emphasized
their status as victims to justify rebuilding their ruined church, the Israeli
campaign to reconstruct the Hurva will do precisely the opposite – namely,
obscure traces of their victimization. As long as the Hurva stood as a hulking
ruin, after all, it served as a reminder of Israeli suffering at the hands of
the Jordanians. [Mayor Teddy] Kollek said as much in 1991, when he noted: ‘It
is difficult to impress upon the world the degree of destruction the Jordanian
authorities visited upon synagogues in the Old City…. The Hurva remnants are
the clearest evidence we have today of that.’ Indeed, as a ruin, the Hurva served
the same kind of function as sites such as Masada and Yad Vashem – which, by
highlighting the tragedies of the Jewish past, helped to confirm the Israeli
state as the chief guarantor of the Jewish people’s future.
“At the same time, however, it seems the
Hurva’s existence as a ruin conflicted with the state of Israel’s Zionist
master narrative: the idea that, ultimately, heroic achievement triumphs over
helplessness. In fact, in the end, it may be the project’s ability to confirm
the national desire to control its own destiny that best explains its appeal.
Israel faces many intractable problems that make present-day life uncertain.
But, in the realm of architecture, Israelis can indulge in the illusion that
they can at least control and manipulate the past. In this sense, the Hurva’s
reconstruction may express deeper escapist fantasies in an unpredictable
Rosenfeld’s theorizing about architectural
authenticity made little impression on the JQDC chair, Moti Rinkov. Indeed the
JQDC, together with the Ben-Zvi Institute, recently published High Upon High,
in which 12 historians trace Tiferet Yisrael’s history. Rinkov noted at the
second cornerstone ceremony: “The renovation and restoration of the Tiferet
Yisrael Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter is one of the most important and
exciting projects I’ve taken part in. Rebuilding the synagogue is, in fact,
raising the Israeli flag in the Jewish Quarter. It’s truly a work where they’re
restoring the crown to its former glory and restoring glory to the Jewish
The rebuilt Tiferet Yisrael, together with the
Hurva, will engage Jerusalem’s skyline not as authentic landmarks but, as
Rosenfeld noted, “postmodern simulacrum.”
The other Tiferes Yisroel
In 1953, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo Friedman, the
Boyaner Rebbe of New York, laid foundations for a new Ruzhiner Torah centre in
west Jerusalem to replace the destroyed Tiferet Yisrael. Located on the western
end of Malkhei Yisrael Street between the current Central Bus Station and
Geula, the downtown of the Charedi city, the Ruzhiner yeshivah, Mesivta Tiferes
Yisroel, was inaugurated in 1957 with the support of all of the Chassidic
rebbes descended from Friedman, who was the first and only Ruzhiner Rebbe.
However, his six sons and grandsons founded their own dynasties, collectively
known as the “House of Ruzhin.” These dynasties, which follow many of the
traditions of the Ruzhiner Rebbe, are Bohush, Boyan, Chortkov, Husiatyn,
Sadigura and Shtefanest. The founders of the Vizhnitz, Skver and Vasloi
Chassidic dynasties were related to the Ruzhiner Rebbe through his daughters.
A grand synagogue built adjacent to the new
Ruzhiner yeshivah also bears the name Tiferes Yisroel. The current Boyaner
Rebbe, Nachum Dov Brayer, leads his disciples from there. The design of the
synagogue includes a large white dome, reminiscent of the original Tiferet
Yisrael destroyed in 1948 and now being rebuilt.
Ever since the YMCA opened on King David Street in Jerusalem in 1933, the building, designed by Arthur Lewis Harman (of New York’s Empire State Building fame), has been a famous landmark; in particular, its iconic tower has been part of the city’s landscape. The tower contained a carillon of 35 bells made by the British bell foundry Gillett & Johnston in the early 1930s. It is the only carillon in the Middle East, but there was one note – in other words, a bell – missing from it. A recent anonymous donation made it possible for the YMCA to order the missing bell from the Royal Eijsbouts foundry in the Netherlands and, in a precisely managed operation earlier this week, a large crane raised and placed the new, 36th, bell into its place in the tower.
A tallit’s tzitzit with threads dyed in tekhelet blue produced from Murex trunculus snails. (photo from Ptil Tekhelet/Eugene Weisberg)
There’s only one thing missing from the comprehensive temporary exhibit Out of the Blue, which opened June 1 at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem (BLMJ) – the reek of the workshops along the Mediterranean coast of Phoenicia and Israel that produced the prized dyes known in antiquity as tekhelet and argaman.
Researchers at the Jerusalem-based foundation Ptil Tekhelet (Blue Thread) maintain that some 8,000 Murex trunculus mollusks were needed to produce a single gram of the luxury pigment. A demonstration of the malodorous dyeing process was carried out – in the garden of the museum – with one of the marine gastropods. A person can only imagine the stink of many thousands of the rotting sea creatures.
The Out of the Blue exhibit documents the significance of tekhelet, together with the Tyrian purple called argaman in the Torah, from antiquity to the present. Not coincidently, the exhibit opened in honour of Israel’s 70th anniversary. It traces the heavenly blue from the time it was a colour revered by the ancient Israelites and other early peoples of the Near East to its use for Israel’s national flag.
“This special exhibition looks at the magnificence as well as the significance of the colour blue in the ancient world, and ties the blue dyed threads mentioned in the Bible and extra-biblical texts to the very design of the flag of the state of Israel today. BLMJ is proud to be the one museum in the world that highlights the relevance and continuity of the roots of civilization in this region and their impact on our world today in a universal and non-sectarian way,” said museum director Amanda Weiss.
Out of the Blue spotlights ancient Near East cultures’ fascination with the colour as a symbol of divinity. In the Egypt of the pharaohs, Mesopotamia and Canaan, lapis lazuli imported at great cost from Afghanistan was used for cultic purposes.
The BLMJ exhibit continues with the lucrative imperial purple dye industry of the ancient Phoenicians, whose name means the “Purple People.”
But, for this reviewer, the core of the exhibit deals with the dyeing of sky blue tzitziyot (ritual fringes affixed to Jews’ tallitot, prayer shawls). In the eighth century, following the Arab takeover of the Levant, that technology was lost. As a result, Jews were compelled to wear white rather than blue ritual fringes on their prayer garments. Research to rediscover the lost dyeing process of the biblical commandment became synonymous with Zionism, the Jewish people’s return to their biblical homeland.
For more than 25 years, Ptil Tekhelet has dyed hundreds of thousands of sky blue tzitziyot coloured with murex snails’ distinctive tint. The azure tzitziyot remind worshippers of the sea, the sky and God’s sapphire-hewn throne, according to Tannaite sage Rabbi Meir, who was a disciple of Rabbi Akiba.
The exhibit includes a collection of the snail (hilazon) shells excavated at Tel Shikmona near Haifa, and dating back to the 10th through seventh centuries BCE, according to Yehuda Kaplan, one of exhibit’s three curators.
“You can see that, for some of them, there is a breach in the shell,” he said during a press tour of the exhibit. It was from those holes that a gland from the snail was extracted, with each yielding only a “minuscule” amount of the rare and highly coveted dye’s raw material.
“These snails, the Murex trunculus, probably about 4,000 years ago it was discovered that they could produce magnificent dyes with the most beautiful colours, dyes that were fast on wool, never faded. And that was something in the ancient world that was simply unheard of, it was priceless,” said Dr. Baruch Sterman of Ptil Tekhelet, co-author of the book The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Colour Lost to History and Rediscovered.
At some point, added Sterman, those dyed fabrics were “worth up to 20 times their weight in gold.”
Other artifacts on display include garment fragments discovered at Masada during archeological excavations in the early 1960s. More than 30 years later, tests using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) proved the cloth had been dyed with a murex solution.
Out of the Blue concludes with the flag flown outside the United Nations in New York in May 1949, when Israel was accepted as a member state of the international body. A second Israeli flag on display was carried into orbit aboard the American Apollo spacecraft, which docked with the Soviet Soyuz rocket on July 17, 1975, in the first international manned space flight.
Sterman’s nonprofit amuta (foundation) is based on the research, in the 1980s, of Otto Elsner, a chemist at Ramat Gan’s Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, who discovered that, if a solution of the purple dye made from the hypobranchial gland of the Murex trunculus was exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, it would turn a deep shade of blue.
Popularizing that knowledge has been a slow process. According to the Talmud, tekhelet is a specific azure dye produced from a sea creature known as a hilazon. Rabbinic sages ruled that vegetable indigo dyes were unacceptable.
Over the past 150 years, several marine creatures were proposed for reviving the biblical process of dyeing the tassels, among them one favoured by Israel’s first chief rabbi, Isaac Herzog, father of Israel’s sixth president, Chaim Herzog. Rabbi Herzog, who completed his PhD at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1914, believed that the violet pelagic snail, Janthina janthina, was the source of the ritual tekhelet.
Another theory was proposed half a century earlier by Rabbi Gershon Hanokh Leiner, known as the Radzyner Rebbe, who produced blue dye from the black ink of the Sepia officinalis (the common cuttlefish). But chemical analysis identified his dye as Prussian blue, an inorganic synthetic colour derived from iron filings and not from the squid itself.
That dispute continues to reverberate: most of the blue-coloured tzitziyot worn in Israel today are dyed from the inexpensive cuttlefish, acknowledged Ptil Tekhelet. (The tekhelet factory in Radzyn near Lublin in Poland was destroyed during the Holocaust, and the technology was lost but was revived in Israel after 1948 thanks to the prewar research of Chaim Herzog.)
The rediscovery of tekhelet has almost messianic implications – one rabbinic source notes, “The revelation of the hilazon is a sign that the redemption is shining near.”
According to the museum, “The tekhelet blue, which reminded every Jew of their connection to God, remained in the memory of the [Jewish] people and became an integral part of the national symbol of the state of Israel.”
A section of Jerusalem’s Old City, near the Jaffa Gate, is illuminated with a greeting to welcome the establishment of the new Paraguayan embassy. On May 22, the municipality welcomed the establishment of the third embassy in the capital – the United States and Guatemala moved their embassies to Jerusalem earlier in the month. The next country to make the move to the capital is thought to be Honduras.
In Jerusalem on Sunday, May 13, which was Jerusalem Day, there was a strong feeling of anticipation, as Israelis waited for Monday’s opening in the city of the new American embassy. Other countries are expected to follow the United States’ lead, starting with Guatemala, which opened its embassy in Jerusalem two days later, and Paraguay.
Jerusalem has been reunited now for 50 years. For five decades, we have had the privilege of praying at the Kotel, the Western Wall. On Jerusalem Day, 28 Iyar, which falls this year on May 13, thousands of worshippers will flock to the city, many before sunrise.
Nothing has ever come easily to the Jewish people. For 19 years, from 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was cut in half and, at the Mandelbaum Gate, outside the Old City, there were signs: “Danger. Frontier ahead. Snipers nearby … stay out of the middle of the street!” Neighbourhoods and streets were split down the middle. Jews were evicted from their homes and synagogues in the Old City, and the Western Wall was out of bounds. Across the dividing line, Jordanian troops stood with rifles at the ready.
Jerusalem’s story covers thousands of years, but this segment began in 1948. Before the ceasefire was signed on Nov. 30 that year, Moshe Dayan, the commander of Israel’s forces in Jerusalem, met with his Jordanian counterpart, Abdullah El-Tel. In a deserted house in Musrara, they marked out their respective positions. These rough, indistinct marks expanded from the heat and blurred over time, yet they were accepted as the borders between Jordan and Israel in Jerusalem. The map was locked up at Government House and referred to in all disputes.
On June 5, 1967, while Israel was still warning King Hussein of Jordan to stay out of the impending war, a foreign radio station announced the conquest of Mount Scopus by Jordanian troops. It was a mistake, but it confirmed Israel’s suspicions of Jordan’s intentions, and that Mount Scopus, with its Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, was in danger. The Jordanians believed that Israeli troops would come from east to west, but instead the Jerusalem Brigade attacked from the opposite direction, taking Armon HaNetziv, three Jordanian positions, the Arab village of Sur Baher and Mutzav HaPaamon, before several Arab troops came out of hiding and killed six Israeli soldiers.
Below, on the road to Bethlehem, stands Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. Jordanians and Egyptians fought Israelis on the southernmost part of the dividing line and the kibbutz changed hands three times. However, the Israelis eventually held it, which helped stop the Arab invasion of southern Jerusalem.
Soldiers of the Jordanian legion conquered the British High Commissioner’s residence, but were driven back by the Israeli Defence Forces, who moved towards the City of David. At dawn on Tuesday, 27 Iyar, a unit of paratroopers advanced, taking the police school, the district of Sheikh Jarrah, the American Colony and the area of the Rockefeller Museum. After a bloody battle at Ammunition Hill, the paratroopers reached Mount Scopus.
Jerusalem’s great day was 28 Iyar. With a daring thrust, Israeli soldiers scaled Mount of Olives, advancing beyond the village of Al-Azariya. Armoured vehicles burst through the Lions’ Gate towards the Temple Mount. At 10 a.m. came the announcement: “The Temple Mount is ours. It is in our hands!” Soldiers, even secular ones, ran towards the Western Wall, caressing its stones, their eyes full of tears and with a prayer on their lips, even if they didn’t know the words. A few minutes later, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, then IDF chaplain, blew the shofar at the holy site. David Rubinger, a military photographer, took the now-famous photo that has been reproduced around the world, of a soldier named Yitzhak Yifat (who is now a gynecologist living in Rishon lesion), removing his helmet and looking up at the wall in awe.
One of the first to reach the Kotel was a former Australian, Mordecai (Mark) Rechtschafner, from my hometown of Melbourne. He told me that, although he was overwhelmed by the sense of history at that moment, he was far from euphoric. Heavy losses had been sustained and he had lost many comrades. “I was exhausted, filled with sadness at the unbearable death of so many of my friends,” he said. “The Six Day War ended swiftly, but we paid a heavy price.” Every year, on Jerusalem Day, he comes to the city from Kibbutz Ein Zurim, where he lives, for the memorial service, to pay tribute to the many friends he lost in the battle.
Until the First Intifada and its ongoing aftermath, the hope of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs seemed a possibility and some believe it still is. Thousands of Arabs used to pour into Western Jerusalem each morning to work. On weekends, the narrow lanes of the Old City’s Arab shuk (market) would be packed with Israeli shoppers, but, today, it is mostly tourists who fill the market. The future is a question mark, as ongoing violence brings renewed tears to families throughout the land.
But the city of Jerusalem remains unforgettable and heartbreakingly beautiful. To me, it is a poem. One night, as darkness descended, I was moved to write these lines:
Black velvet spangled with stars Is night in Jerusalem. Splashes of silver, The sob of the wind, An ancient perfume, A taste of nectar. Skyline of turrets and domes Is night in Jerusalem. Pine trees are sighing. Through a tracery of leaves Golden lights dot A midnight canvas. Landscape of enchantment Is night in Jerusalem.
Dvora Waysmanis a Jerusalem-based author. She has written 14 books, including The Pomegranate Pendant, which was made into a movie, and her latest novella, Searching for Sarah. She can be contacted at [email protected] or through her blog dvorawaysman.com.
שיתוף הפעולה הטכנולוגי בין קנדה לישראל מתרחב משמעותית. (צילום: tec_estromberg)
מועצת המנהלים של קרן קנדה-ישראל תממן שמונה פרוייקטים חדשים בסכום כולל של כחמישה עשר מליון שקל (שהם כמישה מיליון ושלוש מאות אלף דולר קנדי). הפרוייקטים יבוצעו בשיתוף פעולה עם חברות בתחומים הבאים: חקלאות, רובטיקה, תקשורת לווינים, טכנולוגיות, מזון וטכנולוגיה נקייה (קלינטק). רשימת שמונה החברות שזכו בתקציבים של קרן קנדה-ישראל כוללת את: פלורה-פוטוניקה – בתחומי החקלאות, אינובופרו – בתחומי החקלאות, סי-נייצ’ר – בתחומי החקלאות, אף.אף.אר רובוטקס – בתחומי הרובוטים לחקלאות, גילת רשתות לווינים – בתחומי תקשורת לווינים, קנופי מדיה – בתחומי הטכנולגיות לאינפורמציה ותקשורת, אטלנטיום טכנולוגיות – בתחומי המזון והטכנולוגיה הנקייה (קלינטק) ואפקון בקרה ואוטומציה – בתחומי הטכנולוגיה הנקייה (קלינטק).
יצויין שקנדה כיום היא אחת השותפות המשמעותיות של ישראל, בתחום החדשנות. בנוסף לשיתוף הפעולה עם קרן קנדה-ישראל, מתבצעים שיתופי פעולה נוספים עם ממשלת מחוז קוויבק, ממשלת מחוז אונטריו וגורמים נוספים, בתחומי בריאות, תחבורה חכמה ועוד. התקציב הכולל של מחקר ופיתוח הכולל של פרוייקטים בין קנדה וישראל שאושרו בשנה האחרונה, עומד על לא פחות מכארבעים ושניים מיליון שקל (שהם כחמישה עשר מיליון דולר קנדי).
אומר שר הכלכלה של ממשלת ישראל, אלי כהן: “קשרי החדשנות בין ישראל לקנדה קיימים כבר יותר מארבעים שנה. מדובר במנוף כלכלי בילטרלי חשוב מאין כמוהו, המחבר בין חברות, חוקרים, ויזמים ישראלים וקנדים. שיתוף הפעולה הטכנולוגי שלנו עם קנדה, על מגוון ערוציו הוא נכס אסטרטגי חשוב למדינת ישראל ולאקוסיסטם הטכנולוגי שלנו”.
מנכ”ל רשות החדשנות ,אהרון אהרון, מוסיף: “קנדה מפעילה מערכות חדשנות מתקדמות ומפותחות מאד, הן ברמה הפדרלית והן ברמה המקומית. רשות החדשנות מפעילה מגוון תכניות ברמות שונות שמאפשרות לחברות טכנולוגיה ישראליות בתחומים שונים ליהנות ממערכות חדשנות אלה, ולשתף פעולה עם חברות וגופים קנדיים”.
הקרן הדו-לאומית קנדה-ישראל שמופעלת על ידי רשות החדשנות הוקמה לפני כעשרים וארבע שנים (ב-1994). מאז היא עוסקת בחיבור שבין חברות טכנולוגיה בין שתי המדינות. וזאת במימון של פרוייקטים של מחקר ופיתוח משותפים. בנוסף לקרן הדו-לאומית, רשות החדשנות מפעילה מספר הסכמי שיתוף פעולה עם גורמים נוספים בקנדה. כאמור בהם בין היתר ממשלת מחוז אונטריו. במסגרת זו אושרו בחודש פברואר שנה זו ארבעה פרוייקטים חדשים בתחומי: החקלאות, טכנולוגיה נקייה (קלינטק), תעופה, חלל וטכנולוגיות לאינפורמציה ותקשורת. ההיקף הכספי של פרוייקטים אלה עומד על כארבעה מיליון שקל (שהם כמיליון וחצי דולר קנדי). גם עם ממשלת קוויבק נחתמו (בשנה שעברה) הסכמים ליישום ארבעה פרוייקטים חדשים, בסכום של כעשרה מיליון שקל (שהם כשלושה וחצי מיליון דולר קנדי). הרשות לחדשנות מפעילה בנוסף תוכנית ייעודית של אימות פתרונות בריאות לקשישים בבתי חולים בכל רחבי קנדה. ובמקביל הרשות לחדשנות מפעילה תוכנית חדשה בתחומי התחבורה החכמה בקנדה.
המפלגה השמרנית תכיר בירושלים כבירת ישראל
מפלגת השמרנים הקנדית בראשות אנדרו שייר, תכיר בירושלים כבירת ישראל כפי שארה”ב עשתה. ארה”ב הבטיחה להעביר את שגרירותה מתל אביב לירושלים בקרוב. כך הכריז שייר אם מפלגתו תנצח בבחירות 2019 את מפלגת השלטון הליבראלית בראשות ג’סטין טרודו. בהודעה רשמית של השמרנים נאמר בין היתר כי: “המפלגה מכירה בעובדה כי ישראל, כמו לכל מדינה ריבונית אחרת, שמורה הזכות לקבוע היכן תמצא בירתה”.
יש לזכור שהמפלגה השמרנית בראשות סטיבן הרפר, החזיקה בשלטון במשך קרוב לעשר שנים. דווקא הרפר שהיה מקורב מאוד לישראל, לא חשב להכיר בירושלים כבירת ישראל. שייר חושב אחרת.