Grapevine: Tribute to Isi Leibler

May 6, 2021

Movers and shakers from Israeli society.

Isi Leibler

International Jewish leader and long-time Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Leibler, who died last month, and was best known for being one of the most prominent figures in the struggle for Soviet Jewry, was a member of the Hazvi Yisrael Congregation, more commonly known as Hovevei. To mark the conclusion of the 30-day mourning period for him, the congregation will hold a memorial service and tribute on Tuesday, May 11 at 7.30 p.m. Attendance is limited to people who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19. Everyone attending must wear a mask. If the number of people who came to the Leibler home to pay their respects is indicative of the size of the crowd who will attend the service, the synagogue will be as full as it usually is for the High Holy Days. 

After lockdowns and national tragedies, the good news is that the Israel Festival will celebrate its 60th anniversary before a live audience, according to Festival director general Eyal Sher. Tickets went on sale this week. The Festival, one of Jerusalem’s crowning events, will be held June 3 to June 19.

The International Young Israel Movement’s Jerusalem branch has not been idle during the past year or during the past month. April was highlighted by the weekly Kabbalat Shabbat program run by Rav Hanoch Yeres, director of the Judaic Heritage for the Deaf program at the Kiach School in Jerusalem, where special needs students are taught about the elements of Shabbat and its importance in Judaism.

Another aspect of reaching out to the deaf is the beginners and advanced sign language courses, which have started on Zoom with IYIM’s inspiring deaf teacher Hila. Participants in the course receive an authentic experience in learning to communicate in ISL (Israeli Sign Language) and creating a network. The small group setting allows for students to engage with one another easily and receive quality and individualized learning.

Yet another important element of IYIM is to promote prenuptial agreements, to ensure minimal hostility in cases in which marriages don’t work out. Dr. Rachel Levmore, the director of IYIM’s Agunot and Get-Refusal Prevention Program is in frequent demand as a consultant and lecturer, and from time to time spends Shabbat with a congregation other than her own to discuss prenuptial agreements and their halachic significance.

Many large scale apartment complexes in affluent neighborhoods have a superintendent-cum-manager. Among the more veteran of such complexes is the Pinsker building at 22 Pinsker Street, whose long time superintendent and manager Gershon Luxembourg, is on the cusp of retiring. The residents of the building have their own beautifully appointed synagogue, the Migdal Hashoshanim-Pinsker shul, which is also attended by people who don’t live in the building but who will be joining residents and regular congregants in organizing a Jerusalem Day evening tribute in Luxembourg’s honor.

In addition to his duties at 22 Pinsker, Luxembourg is the founder of the Jerusalem Boxing Club, which has proved to be a safe haven for Jerusalemites of all ages and ethnicities. In 2015, film director Helen Yanovosky directed a fascinating film about Luxembourg that was screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival that year. This film will be screened again, in the presence of Yanovsky and Luxembourg in the Pinsker parking lot, following the celebratory evening service. The event is sponsored by Debra and Jay Solomont and family, who are among Luxembourg’s many admirers.

On Monday morning, May 10, Jerusalem Day celebrations will continue with a breakfast sponsored by the Meltzer family in memory of Zecharia Meltzer, one of the original residents of the Pinsker building and owner of the well-known Meltzer Jewelers on Helene Hamalka Street. The synagogue sanctuary was renamed Mishkan Zecharia in his memory. His wife and children continue his legacy.

Among the recipients of a recently announced Health Ministry award is Dr. Chedva Levin, a leading instructor in Internal Medicine at the Jerusalem College of Technology’s (JCT) Department of Nursing, and an intensive care nurse at Sheba Medical Center. The award is in recognition of her outstanding contribution to health services during the coronavirus pandemic. The award ceremony is due to take place on May 12, which immediately follows Jerusalem Day and coincides with International Nurses Day.

Levin, a mother of six who lives in Talmon in the Binyamin region, was temporarily moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) from her usual position in Sheba’s vascular surgery department due to an upsurge in urgent COVID-19 cases. Working almost around the clock, in the ICU, she treated dozens of patients, including many who needed to be placed on ventilators and ECMO machines.

At JCT, Levin has been targeted to head the nursing program’s new master’s track in Internal Medicine, which is designed for nurses with a bachelor’s degree who work in hospital departments of neurology, respiratory medicine, intensive care, infectious diseases and others. Expertise in internal medicine became increasingly important during the pandemic, as rising demand for specialist care to treat patients with complex pre-conditions caused overcrowding of internal medicine wards. It was quickly realized that many coronavirus patients who arrived at hospitals in moderate or mild conditions, often deteriorated due to their other illnesses. Thus the need for nurses with extensive and varied medical knowledge and skills that developed from a background in internal medicine, became crucial.“

Levin has a reputation for total professionalism and dedication to her patients at Sheba Medical Center as well as to her students at JCT, who represent an important part of the future generation of Israel’s health care system,” said Prof. Freda Ganz, Dean of JCT’s Faculty of Life and Health Sciences. “We take tremendous pride in Dr. Levin and in the various other JCT students, alumni and faculty who have mobilized to fight COVID-19, day and night.”

When the Israeli Health Ministry in March 2020 asked nursing schools across the country to train their students in care of COVID-19 patients, JCT swiftly answered the call by training 600 third- and fourth-year nursing students within a week. The following month, more than 30 JCT nursing students started training in nursing homes nationwide.

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