Ming vases, Bach grace Jerusalem 3000 reception

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No doubt the 250 guests were attracted to the reception because of its connection with a momentous occasion, as well as by the fancy food and the two troupes of renowned musicians imported from the Holy Land.

Still, it was the baritone strains of Mayor Willie Brown's belly laugh that drew the largest crowd.

Brown shook dozens of hands, posed for photos and kibitzed with Jewish leaders such as William Lowenberg, chair of the city's Jerusalem 3000 events, and Tad Taube, chairman of the evening and president of the Koret Foundation.

Also milling through the crowd were consuls general from Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy and Russia.

"We wanted to share this day with the entire community, with the whole world," said Lowenberg.

Earlier this month, 1,400 people attended the first Jerusalem 3000 event, a packed concert at San Francisco's Masonic Auditorium featuring Israeli rock singer Yehudit Ravitz.

"This is for a more mature audience," said Lowenberg, describing the musical offerings of the Israeli Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and the Israel Lyric Trio, whose repertoire includes Bach and Israeli composers. Preceding the concert, Brown addressed the audience, declaring the week of May 13 "Jerusalem 3000 Week," and encouraging public schools and community centers to help students "learn and then reflect on the meaning of Jerusalem." "It is an extraordinary honor to be mayor in this city at a time when so many people are pausing to recall the history and the incredible contribution and meaning of an ancient city like Jerusalem," he said.

Other religious and political leaders also took the stage to praise the City of Gold.

The Right Rev. William Swing, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, recently returned from a three-month trip around the world, where he met with religious figures including Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Pope John Paul II and several Jerusalem rabbis.

Swing said it was "important for all of us to stop" and think about the ancient city, which he said has been close to his heart since his grandmother sang hymns about Jerusalem when he was a child in West Virginia.

Gov. Pete Wilson's senior policy adviser Rosalie Zalis also offered personal recollections about the Holy Land. She recounted a trip to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, during which she, like others in Israel, went into a bomb shelter.

This memory made Tuesday's joint session of the State Assembly and Senate in Sacramento so "touching and moving to me personally," said Zalis. At that session, the governor honored Jewish leaders and proclaimed May 13 Jerusalem 3000 Day in California.

"Mazel tov, to all of us," said Zalis.

Eschewing sautéed mushrooms and Brandenburg concertos, the next Jerusalem 3000 events will focus on education and family entertainment.

A symposium slated for Sunday, May 19, "Jerusalem at 3000: Sanctity and Strife for Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Holy City," takes place at the University of San Francisco's McLaren Auditorium.

Organizers hope the final event — the Jerusalem in the Gardens Festival on Sunday, June 9 — will draw a crowd of 4,000 to 5,000 to San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens. Jerusalem 3000 sponsors include the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, the Consulate General of Israel and the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

Amid lifelike facsimiles of Jerusalem landmarks, visitors can enjoy Israeli food, crafts booths and a performance by Israeli rock star David Broza. Planners are saying the outdoor celebration will be the most elaborate ever held in the Bay Area.

Maybe Da Mayor will stop by for a falafel.