■ NOTHING CAN be more frustrating to a cartoonist than having a pen or a pencil
that doesn’t write. The compensatory factor may be that the pencil is a gold one
that has been awarded in recognition of the cartoonist’s work.
what happened last week to Yaakov Kirschen at the Israeli Museum of Caricature
and Comics in Holon. Despite the inclement weather, there was a huge turnout –
though to be honest, not everyone was there for Kirschen. Some had also come to
see who won the Happy Women’s Day Cartoon Contest in memory of Friedl Stern, the
country’s first woman cartoonist.
The winner was illustrator and designer
Noam Nadav, a lecturer at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy, whose depiction of the
modern family showed the bespectacled female spouse in superwoman costume going
off to work with her briefcase, while her husband, dressed as a wrestler, was
feeding a baby ensconced in a high chair.
“You could have at least left
me your eyeglasses,” complains the frustrated husband to his smiling wife as she
Had Kirschen been aware of the contest, he might have entered it
and had a good chance of winning, having the added advantage of having been born
on March 8, which is International Women’s Day.
Kirschen, whose signature
Dry Bones cartoon was initially published in The Jerusalem Post and has been
syndicated around the world for many years, received his gold pencil from Holon
Mayor Motti Sasson, who is turning his city into the country’s museum
Kirschen’s greater reward will be in April, when the Museum of
Caricatures and Comics publishes a catalogue of his work. The catalogue will be
circulated as a traveling exhibition and will be accompanied by discussions on
the cartoons’ subject matter and on hidden anti-Semitism in cartoons – a sphere
of knowledge in which Kirschen specializes and has lectured extensively abroad.
In his acceptance speech after receiving the Golden Pencil Award, Kirschen said
that although he was defined in Hebrew as a caricaturist, he didn’t really do
caricatures of people.
When he came to Israel in 1971, he continued, he
received an ID card, which he could not read for some years. Besides the usual
details of name, place and date of birth, the card also listed his
It was only after he learned to read Hebrew, he said, that he
discovered why he had been unable to get a job. The clerk who had issued him the
card was obviously unfamiliar with caricaturists and had written the word
Kirschen didn’t know how to drive a tractor and had never
applied for such a position. In December 1972, he was hired by the late Ted
Lurie, then-editor of the Post, against Lurie’s better judgment. Lurie told him
that he didn’t like or understand his cartoons, but that he had been advised
that he should try them out on the paper’s readers. Kirschen wanted to
start work immediately, but Lurie preferred to wait a week, so that the first
cartoon would appear on January 1, 1973.
If it turned out not to be
popular, Lurie explained, it would be dropped after a month, but if it was
popular, Kirschen would always be able to remember when the first cartoon was
published and would unhesitatingly be able to supply the answer to anyone who
asked. At the time, Kirschen thought this reasoning was stupid, but over the
years he has come to appreciate Lurie’s wisdom.
In January 2013, he will
celebrate the 40th anniversary of Dry Bones. Meanwhile, he is working on a new
cartoon project targeting a Chinese audience, with the aim of getting them to
understand not only what Jews, Judaism and Israel are about, but also their own
ancient culture. In addition, he has been invited to participate in the Vienna
Jewish Museum’s exhibit on Jewish humor, and to take part in a panel discussion
as an addendum to the exhibition. The moderator, he is told, will be
former Post editor Ari Rath, a native of Vienna who came to Israel in his youth
and who is now once more living in the city of waltzes.
■ LESS THAN two
months after mending fences with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, to whom he
had not spoken for around 30 years, Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau also
cleared the air with Beersheba Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri. Lau had distanced
himself from Deri when the latter competed against him for the Tel Aviv chief
rabbi position, which Lau had previously held prior to his 10-year tenure as
Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel.
In the first instance, Metzger initiated
the reconciliation by paying a condolence call on Lau when he was in mourning
for his brother; in the second, it was Deri who made the first move,
congratulating Lau on the marriage of his grandson Yediya, who last week wed
Shirel Fink at The Avenue banquet hall. The groom is the son of Modi’in Chief
Rabbi David Lau, who invited several of his colleagues to join in the
festivities. Among them was Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar, as
well as his predecessor Rabbi Bakshi Doron.
Among the other guests were
Rabbi Yosef Efrati, Rabbi Aryeh Deri, Vice Premier Eli Yishai, Construction and
Housing Minister Ariel Attias, former prime minister Ehud Olmert, former Knesset
speaker Dalia Itzik, opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank
chairman of the board and former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director
■ ANOTHER PROMINENT member of the Lau family, Rabbi Benny
Lau, the spiritual leader of the Ramban Congregation in Jerusalem’s Katamon
neighborhood, incurred the wrath of leading Torah authority Rabbi Yosef Shalom
Eliashiv’s followers. Lau wrote in his Facebook that Eliashiv, who has lived
modestly all his life and has devoted himself to the preservation of the Jewish
people through his dedication to the Torah, will find peace and quiet and will
shortly escape all the pains of his body. The 101-year-old sage, who has been
ill for some time, was recently hospitalized in serious condition at Shaare
Zedek Medical Center. His followers did not take kindly to Lau’s sentiments, and
Lau was forced to clarify his comments and apologize.
■ IN A strategic
move, Triwaks Public Relations, one of the most veteran PR firms in the country,
has decided to expand and has taken Elad Sasi and Oren Aharoni as partners in
the firm. The move reflects recent changes in the field of public relations,
where higher professional standards in television and broadcasting, reputation
protection and crisis management are in strong demand. With its staff of
11 communications consultants, the firm will now be rebranded under the name of:
Triwaks + Sasi + Aharoni. The new logo was designed in the spirit of the
rebranding, created by Hill + Knowlton Strategies, one of the world’s leading
public relations firms, which has maintained an exclusive affiliation agreement
with Triwaks for more than 30 years.
“This change will propel us into a
new era in public relations services in Israel,” said Daphna Triwaks, the
company CEO and the daughter of Moshe Triwaks, who founded the firm 50 years ago
and who is equally enthusiastic about the new development. Who says the world
belongs to the young?
■ TEL AVIV Mayor Ron Huldai was in the news this week in
connection with the Tel Aviv Marathon and the municipality’s decision to permit
public transportation to operate on Shabbat. No less newsworthy was his
participation in the opening of the new Bloomberg office on Rothschild
Boulevard, in the heart of the city’s financial district. Huldai, who had been
invited to cut the ribbon, announced that Tel Aviv was not only Israel’s
financial center, but also its hi-tech center, and that he was giving serious
consideration to turning it into the country’s Silicon Valley. Tel Aviv, he
said, is home to 600 start-ups, as well as the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and other
financial institutions. The opening of Bloomberg’s new Tel Aviv office “is an
important milestone in our journey,” he said.
The mayor added that the
founding fathers of Tel Aviv had hoped to make the city the New York of the
Middle East. The skyline certainly bears an increasing resemblance to that of
Manhattan, and from the 15th-floor window of the prestigious Bloomberg premises,
in which the elegant white furniture is offset by backgrounds of marine blue and
magenta, one sees that the new towers are rising ever taller.
On hand for
the launch were Bloomberg chairman Peter Grauer and the head of Bloomberg News,
Matt Winkler, who flew in from New York for the occasion and also managed to
meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley
Fischer before the launch ceremony. According to Winkler, Bloomberg
started reporting news from Jerusalem around 20 years ago and shared an office
with Time Magazine. Lisa Marantz, the company’s first reporter in
Jerusalem, now works in the New York office.
Bloomberg’s R&D team
started in Tel Aviv in the 1990s, said Winkler, who noted that of all the
developed countries in the world over the last 10 years, Israel had the least
volatility with the greatest return. Bloomberg had published this on
Monday, and the Post ran it on Tuesday. It was brought to Netanyahu’s attention
when Grauer and Winkler met with him, and he subsequently quoted it at a meeting
in the Knesset. It was also published on the government
At the Tel Aviv ceremony, Grauer noted that the opening of the
new office was another way of saying that Bloomberg saw the importance of
Israel, with its environment of innovative ideas. He said he had personally sold
1,000 copies of Start-Up Nation, a book he said everyone should read. As far as
start-ups go, he reminisced that Bloomberg had been a fourperson start-up that
had blossomed into a global community of 14,000 employees. Israel is a very
important country within Bloomberg’s global framework, and has experienced a
growth rate of 30 percent in the past two years, said Grauer. The Tel Aviv
office is five times the size of the previous office, he added, and the company
has expanded its Hebrew-language news service.
■ TEL AVIV’S Cameri
Theater will host at least as many entertainers in the audience as it will on
stage this coming Friday morning. The occasion will be a tribute to singer Yaffa
Yarkoni, who died almost two months ago. The event – which the Tel Aviv-Jaffa
Municipality Department of Performances has organized in collaboration with the
theater itself, IUPA – Israeli Union of Performing Artists, and Eshkolot – will
feature David D’Or, Ahinoam Nini, Liraz Charhi, Dikla, Zvika Pick, Shlomit
Aharon, Shula Chen, Roni Daloumi, Izhar Cohen, Meir Suissa, Ishai Suissa, Miki
Kam, Israel Gurion, Rama Messinger, Hani Nahmias, Israel Itzhaki, Shai Gabso,
Edna Goren, Dorit Reuveni, Eli Yatzpan, Anton Lapidus and others, who will sing
some of Yarkoni’s most popular songs. Moderating the event, which is being
produced and directed by Avi Gez, will be Natan Datner. Avi Koren has researched
the material that will be used in the texts, and the musical arrangements are by
Uzi and Chaim Asner.
■ TRAVELERS TO Austria now have an additional
option. NIKI, which belongs to the Air Berlin Group, introduced its new Vienna-Tel Aviv-Vienna flights this week.
The flights depart Vienna on Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:15 a.m. and land in Tel Aviv at 12:30 p.m. They
leave Israel on the same days at 1:35 p.m. and land in Vienna at 3:30 p.m. A new
summertime flight schedule will be introduced on March 28, when flights will
leave Vienna at 10:05 p.m. and land in Tel Aviv at 2:20 a.m. the following day.
Flights from Israel to Austria will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at
4:50 a.m., arriving at 7:05 a.m.
On hand for the arrival of the first
flight this week were NIKI CEO Christian Lesjak, NIKI Vice President of Sales
Ines Hoepffner, Tourism Ministry Director-General Noaz Bar-Nir and Moni Barr,
chairman of Holiday Travel.
■ WHILE THE power of the press may not always
be effective, it certainly worked quickly this week when Yediot Aharonot
reported that Menachem Begin’s legendary bureau chief Yehiel Kadishai, along
with Eli Shitrit and Zalman Samsonov, former Etzel fighters and founders of
Likud precursor Herut, had been ousted by deal makers from the Likud’s Central
Committee. It had not escaped the prime minister’s attention, but seeing it in
print put the matter into sharper focus. Netanyahu, who has a keen respect for
history, reacted instantly and told the Likud faction in the Knesset that
veterans of the party were not to be treated in this fashion and that he would
do his utmost to restore them to their rightful places.
“They are the
founders – flesh of our flesh,” he said. “We cannot leave them outside the
Michael Eitan, the minister for the improvement of
government services, proposed that the party’s founders be automatically
accorded places in the central committee, even if they fail to be
■ THE OLD Likud stalwarts are not the only ones who have been
stripped of power and influence. Former president Moshe Katsav, currently
serving a seven-year jail sentence for sexual offenses, was also a prominent
Likud member and had planned to return to the political arena after completing
his term as president. Now, to add to his fall from grace, the guard booth that
had been erected alongside his home in Kiryat Malachi has been dismantled, and
the former president has also been deprived of several other perks.
AFTER A long battle to stay out of prison, Russian-Israeli tycoon,
philanthropist and failed wouldbe politician Arkady Gaydamak was finally able to
express his faith in Israel’s justice system. In 2009, he was indicted on
several charges that included, inter alia, money laundering and aggravated
fraud. The money-laundering charge, which allegedly involved NIS 650 million,
was described as the worst case of money laundering in Israel. Police questioned
Gaydamak so many times and for such long periods that the fraud squad
headquarters almost became his home away from home. He claimed that he was being
unjustly persecuted by the police, and on several occasions when he was supposed
to appear in court, he failed to do so, pleading ill health. For a large part of
these ill-health periods, he was in Russia. But things finally came to a head
last week when the Tel Aviv District Attorney dropped the money laundering
charges in exchange for Gaydamak signing a plea bargain whereby he will plead
guilty to obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception and will pay a NIS 3m.
fine. He may go to prison for a relatively short term, but given the turn of
events, he will probably be sentenced to community service instead.
AMONG THE people who are delighted that former Miss World Linor Abergil is six
months pregnant by her second husband Oron Halfon is right-wing political
activist Baruch Marzel, who had tried to dissuade the former beauty queen from
marrying non-Jewish Lithuanian NBA player Sarunas Jasikevicius. Known by his
nickname of Sharas, Jasikevicius – whom Abergil met when he was playing for
Maccabi Tel Aviv – became a local celebrity and captured her heart. When the
couple announced their engagement almost exactly six years ago, Marzel wrote to
Abergil, urging her not to marry a non-Jew and divorce herself from the Jewish
people. He warned her of the problems that children of mixed marriages
encounter, and offered to be of help to her at any time.
Abergil chose to
go ahead with the wedding, and afterward posed with her new husband for
underwear advertisements. As it happened, the marriage was shortlived, and after
the divorce, she went in the opposite direction and became religiously
observant, to the extent of wearing long skirts and long-sleeved, highnecked
blouses. Needless to say, her second husband is Jewish. As a married woman,
Abergil, who celebrated her 32nd birthday last Friday, also covers her hair and
wears a head scarf. In her new image, she enrolled at Netanya Academic College,
where she earned a law degree and is about to embark on her articles at the
Central District Attorney’s Office.
Abergil, who was raped by her travel
agent shortly before the Miss World contest, had the courage to bring charges
against him. Ever since that traumatic episode, she has encouraged victims of
sexual offenses to speak up and speak out, and she recently raised the issue in
an address to the Bat Yam Religious Council.
For the past
three-and-a-half years, she has been preparing a documentary based on interviews
that she has had with women who have been raped. She is not quite sure how many
more interviews she will conduct or what she will do with the finished product,
but she feels that what she is doing is important. Her options may become
clearer once she starts working as a lawyer.