There are some people for whom age is not an impediment. South African-born music teacher Lily Hyde is one of them. She arrived in Israel last week as a new immigrant, at the age of 97, and once again embarked on a new adventure and a new lifestyle.

She came from one of the most distant countries from Israel – Australia – to which she had migrated at age 80 and where she has one grandchild.

Even then, she hadn’t stayed put. Instead of her grandchildren visiting her, at age 91, she packed a small suitcase and went to visit them in America, Canada, South Africa and Israel. Her relatives in Israel would have liked her to remain, but she went back to Sydney. About a month ago, she took ill and was hospitalized. Her family, especially the Israeli branch, was extremely worried about her and insisted that she come and live near them. In hospital she also realized the extent to which she missed them and how much she would have liked to have them around her bedside.

Believed to be the oldest immigrant from Australia, she is now comfortably living in Herzliya’s Beit Protea, where most of the residents are senior citizens who migrated from South Africa. According to one of her granddaughters, Jacqui Hochenberg, she settled in to her to her new surroundings immediately.

Hochenberg was in fact the initiator of her family’s aliya.

As a bat mitzva present, her father, Robert Hyde, brought her on a 10-day visit to Israel.

It was the first time in her life that she had seen a boy walking freely in the street with a kippa on his head.

“You’ve made a mistake bringing me here,” she told her father, “because I’m coming back to live.” And that’s what she did, at age 22. It was not surprising that her sister Liza Kramer also decided to live in Israel, but in her wildest dreams Hochenberg never imagined that her parents and grandparents would follow. After the arrival of her grandmother, Hochenberg’s father said to her “Jac, look what you’ve done, you’ve brought us all together again.

Who would have believed?” En route to Israel, Lily Hyde flew via Seoul, a journey that took more than 24 hours.

She also struck a typhoon along the way, but nothing seems to deter her, and she was simply thrilled on arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport to transform her family in Israel from one of three generations to one of four generations.

■ IT IS becoming a tradition for the Australian ambassador to host a garden party for the Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association. Ambassador Andrea Faulkner followed the example set by her predecessor, James Larsen, and was happy to welcome a large gathering of mostly British expats to her residence in Herzliya Pituah on Wednesday night. Faulkner proved to be such a gracious hostess that many of her guests were reluctant to leave.

In welcoming them, she said that she hoped to get to talk to each and every one of them throughout the evening, and she made a point of circulating and networking so that she managed to have some form of conversation with everyone – which was no mean feat considering the number of people in attendance. She also made sure that there were several bottles of kosher wine for those who observe Jewish dietary laws. In her welcoming address, Faulkner referred to the long and strong relationship between Australia and Israel and also spoke about Australia’s role in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which is currently chaired by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is the second Australian and the second woman to head the organization.

IBCA chairman Dr. Alan Webber, who has relatives in Sydney and Perth, boned up on his knowledge of the southernmost continent and suspects that there may have been one or two points of information in his address that even Faulkner had not known beforehand. He began his travelogue into Australian history with a headline from the front page of the February 13, 1940, edition of The Palestine Post (the forerunner of The Jerusalem Post), which will celebrate its 80th anniversary in December. The headline read “ANZACS Back Again” and the article referred to the victory in Beersheba in 1917 of the 4th Light Horse Brigade and the return of Australian and New Zealand soldiers during World War II.

Webber and his wife, who have visited Australia, were astonished at the vastness of the country and the history of its Jewish community that dates back to 1788 and the arrival of the First Fleet, whose passengers included at least eight petty criminals who were Jewish. Webber traced the different waves of Jewish immigration and also referred to Australia’s longstanding bipartisan support of Israel. He noted that Gillard is a good friend of Israel and visited here in 2009. Webber quoted her as saying “A just and secure Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people is an indispensable part of a just and secure world.”

Webber also put in a commercial for IBCA’s annual Balfour Day dinner, which will be held this year on November 12, with two attorneys-general as guest speakers.

One will be British Attorney General Dominic Grieve and the other Israeli Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. Entertainment was provided by singer/guitarist Racheli Goldstein, who has an amazing bilingual repertoire which includes a few traditional Australian songs. She sang nonstop for most of the evening in a soft, sweet voice that could be heard by those who wanted to listen but was not so loud as to disrupt conversation.

She is the daughter of IBCA vice chairman Prof. Alex Deutsch and his journalist wife, Gloria, who is a regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post Magazine.

■ WHEN A lifetime member of your organization happens to be one of the country’s leading restaurateurs, it’s a sure-fire recipe for success.

The restaurateur in question is Reena Pushkarna, who, with her husband, Vinod, owns the Tandoori chain of restaurants which includes Kohinoor, the first kosher Indian restaurant in Israel.

Addressing the annual benefactor’s luncheon of the Tamar chapter of Hadassah this week, Pushkarna said: “Whenever Hadassah calls, I’m there.” She brought some of her own exotic Indian outfits to the luncheon and had some of the women parade in them while she explained traditional Indian attire. She also explained some of the problems incurred in adapting traditional recipes to meet kosher standards, and spoke with pleasure and pride of the success of her son, Kunal, whose Pita Pan Middle Eastern vegetarian restaurant in Singapore has proved so popular that he’s in the process of opening a second one. Her daughter, Sarina, who is a senior manager at Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd in Singapore, has made her a grandmother of twins, who have just started Hebrew kindergarten.

Pushkarna has long been known as the unofficial Indian ambassador, and she has assisted a string of Indian ambassadors with introductions to influential Israelis, functions in their residence or their embassy and in any other way she can. This has not gone unnoticed in the country of her birth, and without even asking her in advance, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has a good chance of heading the next Indian administration, put her on its global team list of Overseas Friends of BJP. It was only when she received a congratulatory message last month from the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, which emailed her a copy of the newspaper clip with the announcement, that she became aware of it. The list contains the names of 27 Indians living in nine countries.

Pushkarna is the only one living in Israel. She will not be involved in politics, she said, but will focus on promoting Indian culture and business development.

One of the other highlights of the luncheon was a Bollywood dance workshop organized by Rochelle Oseran, who also organizes trips to India and is a certified group fitness instructor and a certified yoga instructor. Not too many women were prepared to join her on the floor for the dancing, and of those who did, the one who took to it like a duck to water was Tabby Corre, who, it transpired, had, like Pushkarna, been born in India to an Iraqi mother. In the course of her address, Pushkarna explained that there were basically four kinds of Indian Jews in Israel: those of Iraqi descent, those from Cochin, the Bnei Israel and the Bnei Menashe.

■ HADASSAH IS gearing up for the official inauguration of the dedication on October 16 of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, with President Shimon Peres as the keynote speaker. The ceremony is part of the Hadassah Zionist Organization of America’s centennial convention, which will conclude on October 18 with the presentation to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of the prestigious Henrietta Szold award, whose first recipient in 1949 was Eleanor Roosevelt. Other recipients in the ensuing years included Elie Wiesel, George Schultz, and Golda Meir. In 1995, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and foreign minister Shimon Peres were joint recipients.

Considering what Hadassah has done for Israel over the past 100 years in the fields of medicine, education, sport, economics and tourism, one can’t help wondering whether Peres or Netanyahu have something up their sleeves to give to Hadassah by way of appreciation.

■ IT’S NOT uncommon for ambassadors to Israel to become the foreign ministers of their countries. Some have been recalled from their posts to take up new positions as foreign minister or deputy foreign minister. Others have reached the position within two or three years of completing their tours of duty in Israel. Most return in their new capacities and are escorted throughout their stay by the current ambassador. However, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, who is a former Italian ambassador to Israel, was accompanied by two other Italian ambassadors to Israel: Sandro de Bernardin, who is currently the political and security director-general in his country’s Foreign Ministry; and Italy’s Ambassador Designate Francesco Maria Talo, who has yet to present his credentials to Peres.

Coincidentally, Terzi called on Peres on the day before Peres left for Italy to attend the Ambrosetti Forum, the annual international economic conference held at Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como, where he met with other prominent world leaders, including Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. Peres was among the speakers at the conference, which gave him yet another opportunity to warn the world of the dangers of a nuclear Iran. In his conversation with Terzi, Peres said that time is running out for non-military sanctions against Iran. Italy has been an active player in increasing economic pressure on Iran to stop uranium enrichment and to make sure that Iran is not seeking to produce nuclear weapons, said Terzi, who added that Italy is keen to help bring stability to the region along with assurances for Israel’s security.

The Middle East is now a major focus of Italy’s foreign policy, he said, and as part of the policy he is making a point of meeting with the new leaders of countries in the region. From Israel he went to Egypt, but not before visiting the Palestinian Authority.

■ CONGRATULATIONS ARE in order for Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who this Sunday will celebrate his 73rd birthday. Also born on September 9 is Shas MK Nissim Zeev, who will turn 61. Two other MKs who share a birthday are Minister for Culture and Sport Limor Livnat and Labor MK Isaac Herzog, who were both born on September 22. Livnat will celebrate her 62nd birthday and Herzog his 52nd.

National Union MK Ya’acov Katz, more commonly known as “Katzele,” will turn 61 on September 29, and Environment Minister Gilad Erdan will celebrate his 42nd birthday on September 30. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who was also born on September 30, will be 67. He has already received his birthday present with the indefinite postponement of being charged with moral turpitude – a subject that this week more than ever occupied both political and legal pundits.

greerfc@gmail.com


Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger