This week in Israeli history: July 22-28

JULY 24: Chief Rabbis David Lau (left) and Yitzhak Yosef visit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his sukkah in September 2013. Photo: Israeli Government Press Office


July 22, 1939 — Actress Gila Almagor Is Born

Gila Almagor, the “queen of the Israeli cinema and theater,” is born in Haifa four months after a sniper killed her policeman father. She makes her debut for the Habima Theatre at age 17 in “The Skin of Our Teeth.” She establishes herself as a leading lady during a long run at Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theatre beginning in 1958. She appears in more than 40 films, including “Munich” and “The Debt,” and 10 TV series and writes two autobiographical novels.

July 23, 2002 — Knesset Enacts Tal Law on Haredi Draft

On a 51-41 vote, the Knesset approves the Tal Law, an effort to address the growing problem of Haredi yeshiva students receiving exemptions from military service. The law allows Haredim to defer service until age 22, when they must choose vocational training and 16 months in the military or a year of civilian service. The Supreme Court rules the law unconstitutional in 2012, and the issue of ultra-Orthodox military service remains unresolved.

July 24, 2013 — Sons of Former Chief Rabbis Win the Positions

Haredi Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau are elected to 10-year terms as Israel’s chief rabbis — Yosef for the Sephardim and Lau for the Ashkenazim. Each wins 68 of the 147 ballots cast. Yosef’s father, Ovadia Yosef, was chief rabbi from 1973 to 1983. Lau’s father, Yisrael Meir Lau, was chief rabbi from 1993 to 2003. The religious Zionists back the runners-up, Shmuel Eliyahu and David Stav, in a bid to reform the rabbinate.

July 25, 1992 — Nightclub Owner Aris San Dies

Aris San, who helped popularize the Greek sound in Israeli music, dies under mysterious circumstances in Budapest at age 52. After following a woman to Israel at age 17, the Greek native found an audience for his bouzouki-driven music among Greek and Mizrahi Jews, and his hybrid music, known as laika, set the stage for the rise of Mizrahi music in the 1970s. He opened Greek nightclubs across Israel, then repeated the success in New York.

July 26, 1928 — Writer Netiva Ben Yehuda Is Born

Netiva Ben Yehuda, a writer acclaimed for a trilogy based on her service in the Palmach, is born in Tel Aviv. She calls the books neither fiction nor history, but a “worm’s-eye view” of the trauma women experienced on the front lines. She de-mythologizes Israel’s founding and exposes sexism in the Palmach. She advocates the use of Hebrew slang in writing and co-writes “The World Dictionary of Hebrew Slang” in 1972.

July 27, 1955 — El Al Flight Is Shot Down

A Bulgarian fighter jets shoot down El Al Flight 402 en route from London’s Heathrow Airport to Israel. The weekly flight includes stops in Vienna, Austria, and Istanbul, Turkey, and the Lockheed Constellation veered off course between those cities into Bulgarian airspace. Two Bulgarian MiG-15s trail Flight 402 for almost 120 miles, then shoot it down just before it reaches the Greek border. All 51 passengers and seven crew members are killed.

July 28, 1923 — Opera Arrives in Palestine

Mordechai Golinkin’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” in a movie theater marks the beginning of opera in the British Mandate of Palestine. Golinkin wrote his thesis in Moscow on “The Vision of the Hebrew Art Temple of Opera Work in Palestine” before trying to make that vision a reality. His Palestine Opera stages 16 productions by 1945, including “Dan Hashomer,” the first opera written in Hebrew.

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