“I dedicate my latest update from Jerusalem to the literary legend, Amos Oz, my personal farewell to Amos Oz, “a man of Jerusalem,” the city of his birth, a city where his personality took shape, a place to which he remained deeply attached, even when he wandered to other cities.
Amos Oz was my personal friend – to me and to my family. We are a small group of six friends – three couples – the boys grew up together in Jerusalem and have been a tight knit group for almost 50 years. Our group includes Fania Oz Salzberger and her husband Eli, Amos’s daughter and son-in-law. For all of us, Amos was like a father, for all of us lost our own fathers early on, and in later years, we took to calling Amos “Dad.”
Two weeks ago friends and colleagues at the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens bade me farewell at a going away party. Of course, Nili and Amos were among the invited guests. Amos could not attend, as it was a few days before he was hospitalized, but Fania attended and she brought a gift from Amos, one of his books “Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest,” with this personal dedication:
To our beloved Shai
Upon your departure from the charming “petting zoo” and as you enter the “real zoo.” Affectionately, in friendship, wishing you the best of luck
And he added
“Use this little book also as a source of professional literature…”
I spoke with Amos a day after my farewell party at the zoo – a brief telephone call just to say thank you. But little did I know that this would be the last conversation we would share. Amos passed away a week later. After his death, when I visited Amos’ wife Nili, she told me that I was privileged to be the last person to whom Amos wrote a dedication in one of his books.
Over the last few years, Amos was a keynote speaker at a few fundraising events for the zoo in Israel and abroad. A few years after the Jerusalem Foundation’s 1993 establishment of the zoo in its new home, Amos wrote and said:
“Today I saw the new zoo in Malha. I saw it with its beauty and I saw it with its wisdom. Maybe I don’t need to expound on it. I was only there for an hour, but I thought deeply about the long journey of this Jerusalemite zoo from Shmuel Hanavi to Mount Scopus, from Mount Scopus to Tel Arza, from Tel Arza to Malha. Maybe now it has found its and rightful and restful place in Jerusalem. Now we only have to hope that the city of Jerusalem will follow the zoo and will have the same sense of quality, the same sense of harmony, the same sense of coexistence that I saw today at the zoo.”
With Amos Oz’s passing, we lost our moral voice, our conscience, and our wisdom – all of us in Israel and in Jerusalem in particular.
The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research Celebrates 40
The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research recently marked its 40th anniversary. Founded by Teddy Kollek and the Jerusalem Foundation, the Institute is one of the Foundation’s major achievements. I was invited to greet a packed audience as the Institute celebrated 40 years of its important work, and I must say that I was excited to stand as the President of the Foundation and to congratulate the Institute.
I was first exposed to the Institute’s work 30 years ago. I came to the Radak Street offices on the second floor, which then was the only floor. I came together with Teddy Kollek, I was a young man at the time, at beginning of my career as Teddy’s Chief of Staff, as the position is known today. There was hardly any staff in Mayor’s office at the time yet we did much with few resources – in the city, in the Municipality, and also for the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, as it was known back then. As far as I was concerned, a visit to the Institute was bound to be anguish-ridden because the “founding fathers” of the Institute were also my teachers at the Hebrew University, and in those days, there was significant respect for professors.
Professors Yehoshua Ben Aryeh, the late Professor Aryeh Shahar, and the late Professor Amiram Gonen, and those who remain active at the Institute today, Dr. Yisrael (Lolik) Kimchi and Dr. Maya Choshen, all influenced my understanding of Jerusalem and I had the honor to learn from them. If there is anyone who thinks that I have not done well in my various jobs in Jerusalem, then you can certainly blame my teachers. And if I have done well, then certainly the Institute has a part in it.
The Jerusalem Institute has a significant advantage in that it engages in applied research that is implementable. The Institute should be a tool for policymakers, for those who work on behalf of the city – in addition to research that looks to the future.
We are currently working on a practical vision – the role of the Jerusalem Foundation in shaping the city as we approach 2030. The Jerusalem Institute will play a significant role in assisting in the planning process and evaluating the impact in real time. The Institute would not exist without the Jerusalem Foundation and today, with the Institute, the Jerusalem Foundation will be a better and more efficient organization.
Jerusalem International Jazz Festival
At the beginning of next winter, at the end of 2019, mark your calendars so that you spend one at least one evening at the 2019 Jerusalem Jazz Festival at the Israel Museum.
Those who know me know that I am not a big fan of jazz music. Some combination of well-known Israeli artists, Barry Sakharof, Ehud Banai and Arkadi Duchin are more my cup of tea, yet there is something hypnotic and special about the Jazz Festival at the Israel Museum.
The fourth International Jazz Festival in Jerusalem (one of the Israel Festival’s unique productions) has been supported by the Jerusalem Foundation since its inception. I was invited to this year’s Festival by my close friend Eyal Sher, Director of the Israel Festival and the Jazz Festival. I warned him in advance that jazz music is not really my great love, but he convinced me to come and so the music was almost beside the point.
Thousands of people, many of them visitors from all over the country and from abroad, wandered among the Museum’s beautiful and unique galleries, walking from concert to concert, from original productions to conversations with artists, all in the Museum’s spectacular setting. Both Eyal and I (more Eyal than me…) are taller than average, so we had a great vantage point of the crowd. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Deputy Security Officer “A” (just like journalists do to preserve secrecy, I’m keeping the name anonymous), whom I knew as a security officer at the zoo. He was troubled, on the edge, by the crowd that had filled the museum halls. The audience was so delighted and immersed into the special atmosphere that the artworks and the museum’s treasures were in danger.
At the wine bar, Jerusalemites intimately blended together with guests from all over the country, in a relaxed atmosphere that you can see only in such settings. I saw an ultra-Orthodox Rabbi, “Rabbi Y” whom I know well (and whose identity will remain anonymous) who canceled his precious Torah study time to enjoy the Festival with a jazz-loving foreign Yeshiva student. But that’s another story, and a scene you can only see at the Jazz Festival in Jerusalem.
Mark your calendars, a year in advance, and dedicate at least one night for the 2019 Jerusalem Jazz Festival. You won’t be sorry.
And now allow me to conclude, even if I’m fashionably late, by wishing all you a happy and healthy 2019!
Jerusalem Foundation President