Grapevine: Offcial vs private

■ WHILE MANY dignitaries were all but falling over themselves in their desire to meet Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Mayor Nir Barkat declined since he had been informed that such a meeting could take place only outside Jerusalem – because the British Foreign Office considered a meeting within the city to have political connotations. Barkat was therefore invited to the reception for William that was held at the British Residence in Ramat Gan, but he declined the invitation.

One might well ask why meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister in Jerusalem was acceptable to the Foreign Office but a meeting with the mayor was not. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is after all a political figure and his views on united Jerusalem are wellknown. Similarly when William visited the Western Wall, the nature of the visit – in a game of political semantics – switched from official to private.

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The point is that he arrived in Israel on an official visit, a factor that was stressed again and again not only in the Israeli and British media, but also in the international media – and the average person in the street wouldn’t know the difference between the official visit and the private visit that the prince made in Israel’s capital on the last day of his stay. After all, if he hadn’t left the country in the interim, why should his last day here be considered private? ■ TWO AUSTRALIAN reunions took place simultaneously in Jerusalem last Thursday. One was the sheva brachot (post-wedding celebration week) of Ari and Batsheva Werdiger hosted by Nechama Werdiger, the grandmother of the groom who was continuing a tradition that she started with her late husband Nossen Werdiger when they hosted sheva brachot for the first of their 28 grandchildren to be married. There was an even bigger reunion at the wedding the previous night when members of the large and extended Werdiger family flew in from Australia, America and England to join relatives in Israel.

The groom is the son of David and Adira Werdiger from Melbourne, and the bride is the daughter of Nuchi and Sarah Vogel of London. The newlyweds are setting up home in the Baka neighborhood.

But that was not the only celebration in the family at this time.

Nechama Werdiger joined in celebrating the brit milah of one of her many great-grandchildren who are scattered around the globe.

She plans to be back in Jerusalem for the celebration of a family bat mitzvah on Sukkot.

Elsewhere in Jerusalem, former members of Australian Bnei Akiva celebrated the 90th anniversary of the movement at a huge barbecue and picnic at Trotner Park on the Talpiot promenade overlooking the Temple Mount. The reunion, which may now become an annual event, was the brainchild of Steve Sattler, who was delighted to see so many former members of the movement arrive with spouses, children and even grandchildren.

Coincidentally, Israel Bnei Akiva was also having a meeting with their leaders just a short distance away from the Australians, who included amongst others Jonathan Wreshner, Channa Wreshner, Warren and Shirley Zauer, Naomi Levine, Robert Vasl, Daniel Luria, Norman and Marcia Tarsis and Moshe Ben-Porath.

■ FOR SOME odd reason, the Facebook accounts of deceased people remain open long after they have died, and their Facebook friends receive notices of their birthdays. Sometimes it’s a rude shock to see these names appear on the screen of one’s computer or cell phone, but on the other hand, it means that they are not forgotten and that memories of their existence linger beyond those treasured by their families.

Last Friday, the name of David Rubinger, one of Israel’s best known photojournalists popped up, and several days earlier, there was an eerier experience when the name of Aryeh Dean Cohen, who some years ago was a journalist at The Jerusalem Post, appeared on the screen.

Cohen died last month, less than two weeks before his birthday, and Rubinger died in March of last year.

They’re not the only deceased Facebook friends who were part of my real life, and in both cases there were memorial messages on their Facebook pages. So maybe it’s a good idea to keep such accounts and thus keep memories alive.