Tzemach Atlas is in Jerusalem for Yom Tov, and files this fun report from Chabad’s Tzemach Tzedek shul in the Jewish Quarter:
On the first day of Sukkos I was found myself sitting next to Peter Kalms. … We both made our way to Rabbi Steinsaltz’s table; he was speaking about the new addition to the Shule with agitation. “This is an epitome of kitsch; they should take this wall and give it to an Arab church. Look at this!!! Look at the lights!
Tzemach Atlas: But the lights look appropriate.
Rabbi Steinsaltz, counting the lights on the chandelier: “You see eleven; there is a Jerusalem tradition to have ten lights like the sefirot. They should have asked the Lelever Rebbe. He builds lights according to the traditional arrangements”.…
Tzemach Atlas: So the wall is a little Hungarian Boro Park in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Steinsaltz: Hungarian taste is the worst chachkes they did not want in Vienna ended up in Hungary as high art. I speak about this with authority because when I was a teen I studied sculpture.
Tzemach Atlas: R. Weiss is the donor; you can talk to his grandkids other there, the Levitins. Why did they build the wall?
Rabbi Steinsaltz: The temptation was too great. You see in Jerusalem this is the weakness.
The conversation skips to Russia and Putin.
Rabbi Steinsaltz: I think Putin is an alien. The way he walks and then all the emotions are staged. He has no anger. When he is angry it is all calculated.
Peter Kalms: Lazar says that Putin is OK.
Rabbi Steinsaltz: He probably learned this from the Italian mafia, in the mafia you leak the one who is above you.
Rabbi Steinsaltz: Putin once said in a conference that a journalist who cared too much about Chechenya that the journalist could convert to Islam, and that Putin can recommend excellent Mohels from Moscow. You see Mohels in Moscow actually use this quote as an endorsement advertising their services. But it is all calculated and staged like everything Putin says.…
It reminds me of my Tishreis at the Tzemach Tzedek. Peter Kalms is wonderful guy, and Steinsaltz – what can you say?
Make sure to check out the post for some great pictures, as well.