The 27th Jerusalem International Book Fair took place a couple of weeks ago. I was able to attend several of the events during my winter trip to Israel.
The highlight was definitely attending the February 8th ceremony at which the 2015 Jerusalem Prize was awarded to Ismail Kadare by President Rivlin.
The well planned evening was formal enough to let everyone know that something very important was taking place and also informal enough so as to be quite enjoyable.
Speeches by Mayor Nir Barkat and others were given in Hebrew, English, French and/or a combination of all three.
The highlight of the evening was definitely President Rivlin’s Hebrew address which was delivered in a formal, but relaxed manner. His various renderings of the recipient’s last name brought the house down. However, I am certain that Mr. Kadare was in no doubt as to the high esteem in which he was held by all present.
Purely by chance seating I met the poets Salah Al Hamdani and Eliaz Cohen and was able to briefly act as a translator between them.
The thought struck me as I walked back to my hotel later that evening that quite possibly this is how the Prophet Isiah contemplated Israel being a light for the nations. Not by some large earth shattering event, but rather expressed in a quiet intellectual way so as to clearly demonstrate an inherent set of internalized and intrinsic values for all the world see.