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August 23, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-23

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Ties That Bind


ourism is down and danger lurks
everywhere, propelling the economy
into a tailspin, but life goes on in
Jerusalem, says an Israeli jeweler who
helped coordinate the highly successful Ben
Yehudah Israel Shopping Expo in Oak Park last
"People are more intense, and they are scared,
but go out still," says Yedidia Ghatan, third-gen-
eration proprietor of Ghatan & Sons, a
Jerusalem-based maker of jewelry and Judaica.
"They have to. This is their
Ghatan, his wife, Ronit, and
their son Yaakov, 22, an army
officer, run two stores, one along
the main shopping district of
Ben Yehudah Street and one on
King David Street.
Since the intifada, or
ROBERT A. Palestinian uprising, began 22
Yedidia, Yaakov and Ronit Ghatan at the Jerusalem Mall sales area at
months ago, their business has
the JCC in Oak Park.
dropped at least 90 percent.
In a pensive moment outside
Technology-Machon Lev, but still reports for military
the Jewish Community Center in Oak Park, away from
service one month each year. "It's the most important
the hubbub of the Ben Yehudah Israel Shopping Expo tak-
thing of my life," he said.
ing place inside, Ronit reflected on what life is like in
Yaakov hopes that Jews and Arabs will one day live
Israel for her intifada-weary family.
together in peace. But for now, he would settle for a stop
"Things are very bad," Ronit said. "Maybe we get five
to the terrorist attacks — for a stop to "all the noise and
customers a week."
bad things."
_ The Palestinian violence and terrorism have claimed at
His mother came to Jerusalem from Tehran in 1964. In
least 610.1ives.
addition to helping run Ghatan & Sons, she teaches
But that hasn't deterred the Ghatans from going to work
Hebrew to students at the Shalom Hartman Institute
six days a week, resting only on Shabbat. "We have to
Charles E: Smith High School.
prove we won't surrender," Yedidia said.
Hebrew isn't the only thing on her students' minds,
Over the last year and a half, he has visited America 10 -
times as a representative for Israeli merchants selling prod-
"The children now say there's no hope, that we will
ucts ranging from silk scarves to olive wood to artwork as
never get peace with the Arabs," Ronit said. "But I believe
well as jewelry and Judaica. He started out representing
times will change and we will have better days. We've got
five designers and is now up to 75. His next stop is the
to trust, and believe in, our government."
JCC of Washtenaw County in Ann Arbor Aug. 25-26.
The wail of emergency sirens is a grim reminder of
Yedidia called last week's three-day expo at the Oak Park
Israeli life under the intifada.
JCC a success both personally and for the vendors he rep-
"During lessons, we'll sometimes hear a bomb go off,"
resented, but declined to give actual dollar figures. More
said. "The kids then will get nervous, and every-
than 5,000 people attended the Aug. 11-13 event.
body will call home to make sure everybody there is
"The expo has been wonderful," he said on the final
healthy and good."
day. "Like in other cities, there's the same warmth and sol-
The Ghatans' apartment on Keren Hayesod Street has
idarity. I am finding we Jews are all the same and want the
escaped damage during this intifada, but wasn't so lucky
same thing."
in 1989.
Nearby cars were set aflame, causing "our apartment to
Family Focus
turn black," Ronit remembered. "But we stayed and
Yedidia Ghatan, who emigrated from Cairo in 1967,
believes Israel would be more adept at fighting Palestinian
The current selling trip is Ronit's first. On-the-road sell-
terrorism if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had freer rein to
ing isn't easy, but the many Detroiters who said they wait-
respond to the war crimes perpetrated on innocent civil-
ed to make anticipated purchases at the expo warmed her
ians in Israel.
soul, she said.
"The left is not supporting Sharon," he said. "He's a
In addition to operating Jerusalem Mall, the formal
very good guy, the guy to do the job. But we need public
name of his travel business, Yedidia Ghatan is a leader of a
opinion behind him. We need to be united."
trade collective serving Ben Yehudah Street merchants. A
Yaakov is the great-grandson of the founder of Ghatan
tax rollback, special summer events, free parking and
& Sons. He recently finished three years of active duty
heightened security have begun to reap some dividends,
with the Israel Defense Forces as a platoon commander for
he said.
250 soldiers in north Gaza.
TIES THAT BIND on page 6
He's now a student at the Jerusalem College of



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