IT WAS not exactly coincidental that Aish HaTorah, at its annual Boneh
Yerushalayim Dinner, chose to honor four women in the week prior to the Torah
reading of Shemot, which tells the story of the roles played by women in the
preservation and continuity of the Children of Israel. All four women are
actively engaged in various forms of outreach and the perpetuation of Jewish
All four are extremely gracious, and each, in the speech she
made on receipt of her award, said how privileged she felt to be included in the
same group as the other three.
Each was also the subject of a short video
presentation, and of a brief biography read out by Jane Medved
, whose husband
was the chairman of the dinner.
Medved noted that as far as he
was aware, Aish HaTorah was the first major religious Jewish institution that
was not a women’s organization, to honor women. Aside from that, the dinner had
other significant connotations.
It was the 36th anniversary dinner of
Aish HaTorah, the 10th Boneh Yerushalyim dinner and the first to be held in the
Aish HaTorah World Headquarters directly opposite the Western Wall.
of the 450 people who attended knew all four honorees: Eva Levi
, founder of SOS
Shabbat; Sarah Lipman
, CTO of Power2B and founder of Kishor Women’s Professional
Network; Lori-Laya Lurie
, cofounder of Magen-Avraham, KLE and Behirat Halev, who
is also a mega philanthropist and family therapist; and Sherri Mandel
of the Koby Mandell Foundation and Women’s Healing Retreat for Bereaved Mothers
Medved remarked that we all think we know people, but there
is always so much more to learn about them.
And indeed there was a lot to
learn about the motivation and activities of this remarkable quartet. While
women seldom receive the recognition due to them in male dominated religious
circles, Aish HaTorah Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hillel Weinberg
, the son of the late
Aish founder Rabbi Noach Weinberg
, spoke movingly of the sacrifices and heroism
of Jewish women throughout the ages, and noted that his father would never have
been able to achieve what he did without the input of his mother, who he
referred to as “the engine behind my father.”
Guest speaker Rabbi Dovid
, in declaring that the event was honoring special women, said that for
him it was special too – because he has eight daughters.
■ FROM THE warm
reception that ever-smiling Turkish Charge d’Affaires Tolga Uncu
gave his guests
at the holiday season reception he hosted at the Saraya building in Jaffa, one
would never have guessed that there is anything amiss between the two countries.
The atmosphere was pleasant, the food and drink were plentiful, the
entertainment was delightful and in his social chit-chat, Uncu frequently
referred to the common history of Turkey and Israel and Turkey and the Jewish
It should not be forgotten that Turkey provided a haven for Jews
expelled from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition era. In fact, Uncu
brought in Rinat Emanuel
to sing in Ladino, which is still the common language
of the Jews of Turkey.
The Saraya building, which belongs to the Tel
Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, is now the Turkish Cultural Center. It had served under
Ottoman rule as the headquarters of the Turkish governor during the 19th and
early 20th centuries, was badly damaged in bomb attacks, and stood for years as
a tenement adjacent to the famous Jaffa clock tower. The Turkish Embassy took
out a 24-year lease on the building and, at the cost of some $2 million, had it
restored to its former glory. It should have been officially opened about two
years ago by a visiting senior Turkish official, but the visit never eventuated,
and the restored building was never officially inaugurated. In fact, Uncu was
surprised to learn that Namik Tan
, who two years ago concluded his term as
Turkish ambassador, had hosted a dinner on the premises for noted historian
. Fortunately, Prof. Itamar Rabinovich
, one of the guests at that
dinner, was also among Uncu’s invitees, and was able to confirm the
■ WHILE BETHLEHEM celebrated its best Christmas in a decade with
the largest turnout of pilgrims and tourists, Jewish visitors to Jerusalem,
especially the religiously observant, were happy not to be inundated with
reminders of Christmas, though some religious extremists did call for a boycott
of the Mamilla Mall, because the fairy lights and other decorations were
reminiscent of the Christmas season. In Tel Aviv, especially the southern part,
including the Central Bus Station, there were Christmas decorations all over the
place. Several of the ethnic restaurants catering primarily to the communities
of foreign workers also featured Christmas pudding and other yuletide
delicacies. Although the occasional Christmas carol was played on radio, DJs
focused on singer, composer and instrumentalist Yehuda Poliker
, who was born on
Poliker is just a little under a month younger than Danny
, who celebrated his 60th birthday on November 30. Among other well
known entertainers who turned 60 this year were Yigal Bashan
on September 11 and
on August 4. They moved into their next decade without much fanfare,
unlike Shlomo Artzi
who turned 60 on November 26, 2009 and celebrated with mega
concerts and huge media focus. Yardena Arazi
will celebrate her 60th birthday on
September 25, and is reportedly already preparing for the occasion. Zvika Pick
will also celebrate his 60th on October 3.
Age is apparently not a
deterrent in our entertainment industry. Statistics released by ACUM, the
Association of Composers and Musicians that protects the royalty rights of
entertainers, indicate that Arik Einstein
, who turns 72 on January 3, was the
most featured singer on radio throughout 2010, followed by Artzi, Eyal Golan
Poliker and Shlomi Shabat
. Chava Alberstein
, who turned 63 on December 8, was in
eighth place and Yehudit Ravitz
, who celebrates her 54th birthday today, came in
■ GETTING BACK to Christmas Day, it proved to be a grand reunion
date for alumni of Camp Judaea, which is part of Young Judaea, the youth
movement sponsored by Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.
There are approximately 1,000 Camp Judaea and Young Judaea alumni living here,
and many of the young people attending the movement’s camps or courses are
second and even third generation participants.
Among them is Tali Burger
who is on the current Young Judaea Year Course. She is part of a family of Young
Judaeans. Her parents, Michele
, met at Camp Judaea in 1978 and
subsequently went on Young Judaea year courses.
They married in 1990 and
have three children – Tali, 18, Jonathan
, 16, and David
, nine. Jonathan plans to
attend the year course in 2012-13.
The family lives in Miami. They will
be among the thousands of people who will attend the Camp Judaea 50th
anniversary celebrations in North Carolina during the Labor Day
Meanwhile, when former Floridian, Susan Dubowsky Nehab
about the 50th anniversary, she and her husband Micky
volunteered to host a
local event at their home on Moshav Beit Yitzhak. The Burgers, who were
visiting, offered to help with the arrangements, and some 100 people
representing each decade of Camp Judaea showed up, some of them with old camp
photographs dating back to the 1960s.
They sang camp songs and reminisced
about old times and old friends. Camp Judaea founder Roz Soltz
, who lives in
Jerusalem, was unable to attend due to ill health, but made a five-minute video
that was shown at the event. Soltz’s daughter Alyssa
was among those who
■ RECENTLY APPOINTED director of the Government Press Office
will make his major debut at the upcoming conference of the Israel
Public Relations Association at the Dead Sea when he participates in a panel
discussion on “Government, Politics and Communication.”
will include MK Gila Gamliel
, MK Nachman Shai
and communications consultant Moti
. Helman has been very busy these days. Aside from integrating into his new
role, he is also moving shop. The GPO, which for decades has been located in
Beit Agron, is moving to Malha, as Helman’s predecessor Daniel Seaman had long
urged it should. Once the hub of Jerusalem’s media world, Beit Agron has
gradually become something of a ghost town as the restaurant closed, followed by
Jerusalem news bureaus that were gradually closed down by those publications
that went out of business or that downsized their international
■ WHILE ON the subject of journalists, religious journalists
this month gathered for an inaugural meeting of the steering committee of the
Religious Journalists Association. It’s not the first time that they’ve tried to
band together, but in the past they never had the numbers they have today.
Curiously, they assembled in neither Jerusalem nor Tel Aviv, but in Petah Tikva.
Among those in attendance were Dudu Saada
), Yinon Peklach
(Radio Kol Berama
), Avraham Lurie
), Uzi Baruch
and Sari Gal Rotenberg
Recognizing the need to train
religious journalists in universal journalistic values and ethics, the Lamda
College in Jerusalem launched a communications course for journalists and
spokespeople, which has graduated its first class. There’s just one hitch. The
course caters only to men.
However another religious educational facility
will soon be introducing a journalists’ course for women.
■ TWO OF the
people greeting participants from 10 countries, at the opening reception of the
first international Yiddish in Israel course at Beit Ben-Yehuda in Jerusalem,
commented on the irony of having a Yiddish course at the home of the patriarch
of the modern Hebrew language.
Although it is called the Eliezer Ben-
home, it was not really occupied by him, but by his widow Hemda
. On his
60th birthday, Ben- Yehuda was presented with a gift of money to build a home
for himself, but died before it was completed.
The house in Talpiot is
not a museum or even a national historic site.
Hemda lived in the house
for almost 30 years. Approximately 10 years after her death, her son Ehud
transferred the title to the Jerusalem Municipality for the purpose of creating
a museum, a memorial and a research center for the study of the Hebrew
It didn’t happen. The house remained unoccupied for years and
fell into a state of neglect. Its contents were stolen, squandered or ruined.
Eventually it was leased to a German Church umbrella group that comprises the
Krupp Foundation and a series of Evangelical churches which established a center
for German youth who, “to atone for the sins of their fathers,” come here as
volunteers to work with needy Jews, especially Holocaust survivors. The roof
organization, Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, has been organizing
exchange programs for more than 40 years. Beit Ben-Yehuda also offers programs
that deal with a variety of subjects.
■ ALTHOUGH YIDDISH was trampled on
for many years, and even outlawed by David Ben-Gurion
, Prof. Yechiel Szeintuch
of the Hebrew University told the course opening with some degree of pride that
the National Library at the Hebrew University has the world’s largest collection
of Yiddish books, newspapers and periodicals.
Researchers no longer have
to go to the library to access the latter. They are now available online along
with many Israeli and Jewish newspapers in several other languages at
www.jpress.org.il. Publications include early issues of The Palestine Post (this
newspaper’s original name) as well as several other local publications, some of
which are now defunct.
■ THE SCENE at the Agamim Banquet Halls in
Ashkelon was reminiscent of a Kadima caucus meeting.
was there and so was much of the Kadima top brass. The
municipalities of Tel Aviv and Ashkelon were also well represented. They were
all there at the invitation of Atarim CEO Itamar Shimoni
, who was inducting his
newborn son into the faith. Atarim is the company that is responsible for the
development of the Tel Aviv Port.
Livni shared a table with Ashkenazi
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger
, who was the infant’s godfather (sandak).
guests included Dalia Itzik, Ronnie Bar-On, Tzachi Hanegbi, Nachman Shai, Gideon
and Ruhama Avraham-Balila
■ MEETINGS OF chambers of commerce are
usually attended by business people without their spouses.
general meeting of the Tel Aviv Chamber of Commerce, which coincided with its
90th anniversary, was an exception. The gala luncheon was attended by many
spouses, including Yehudit Lynn
, whose husband Uriel is president of the
Federation of Chambers of Commerce. The event drew close to a thousand people
and 36 of them ran for the new 11 member executive. All of them, according to
Lynn, were worthy, and those who were voted in were described by Lynn as a dream
■ RELATIONSHIPS FORGED in youth often bear fruit in later life.
With this in mind Taiwan and Israel have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on
Youth Affairs. Simona Halperin
, representative of the Israel Economic and
Cultural Office in Taipei, who had signed the MOU earlier in the month in
Taiwan, came for another signing ceremony with Liang-jen Chang
of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Tel Aviv.
The ceremony was
witnessed by Ariella Gill
, project director, Israel Youth Exchange Council;
, secretary-general, Council of Youth Movements; and Dr. Kobi Naveh
director-general of the Kfar Hayarok Educational Village. The MOU calls for
reciprocal visits by youth and young adult delegations so they can get to know
each other and each other’s cultures, and for mutual participation in youth
Both countries will also provide scholarships for exchange
■ BRITISH AMBASSADOR Matthew Gould
found himself in a position
not unlike that of being in the dentist’s chair, except the focus was on his
brain, when he visited Bar-Ilan University and met with scientists in several of
its branches. Since his arrival, Gould has placed a priority on strengthening
scientific and technological cooperation. Earlier in the day, when addressing
BIU political science students, Gould expressed keen interest in expanding links
with Israeli hi-tech and developing wider academic and scientific
“If we can build scientific links between our two
countries, it sends a very strong message to those who attempt to delegitimize
Israel,” he said. Before leaving the university, he met with senior research
associates at its Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
■ IT USED to
be that the definition of a good Zionist was one person collecting from another
person to have the funds to send a third person to Israel. But in the case of
Canadian Zionist leaders John
and Mildred Devor
, they chose to set an example
and came on aliya just over 40 years ago. They were in Jerusalem on sabbatical
during 1966-67 and hadn’t really considered aliya until the outbreak of the Six
Day War. That did it for John Devor. He was determined that they were coming
back to stay – and that it would be sooner rather than later. The Devors
returned with their three children in 1969.
Unfortunately, John Devor a
member of the executive of the Zionist Organization of Canada and a tireless
volunteer and fundraiser, did not live long to enjoy his new home. He died at
56. Toronto-born Mildred Devor passed away earlier this month at 94. She was a
past president of WIZO-Hadassah Canada and Ezrat Nashim and a fundraiser for
Chug Yovel that works for Herzog Hospital.
Over many years she
entertained busloads of Hadassah women in her living room, offering them cakes,
cookies and other delicacies that she had made herself. She had an enviable
reputation as a cook and baker.
She is survived by her son Marshall
, a professor and brain researcher at the Hebrew University, and her
daughter Susan Cogan
of the singing duo Susan & Fran. Her eldest son David
died two years ago at 64. He founded Project Mind.[email protected]