Yiddish culture appears to be enjoying a revival in many parts of the world,
including Eastern Europe, where it was stifled for so long; Western Europe,
where it all but disappeared; and even Israel, where, under David Ben- Gurion,
it was publicly banned.
Now it is being taught in Israeli universities
and other institutions, and in fact has been for some time.
demand for Yiddish is growing, so much so that famed US and Israeli
Yiddish-language actors Mike Burstyn and Shmuel Atzmon, together with Bar-Ilan
University’s Rena Costa Center for Yiddish Studies, are joining forces in an
effort to preserve and promote Yiddish language and culture. The initiative
derives from a recent meeting between the two actors and University president
Prof. Moshe Kaveh. The US Yiddish Actors Union, headed by Burstyn, will
also participate in the project.
Burstyn, a Broadway actor who has been
on the Yiddish stage since early childhood, and Atzmon, who founded Israel’s
Yiddishpiel Theater, visited the Bar-Ilan campus as guests of the Rena Costa
Center. The two also conducted a working session with University deputy
president Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, head of the Yiddish Center Prof. Hillel Weiss
and the center’s academic director Dr. Ber Kotlerman. All will be part of
strategic planning team proposed by Kaveh, with the aim of advancing Yiddish
language and culture within and beyond academia.
This year, as the Dina
Halpern Fellow for Yiddish Performing Arts, Atzmon is leading a theater seminar
at the Yiddish Center. Involving world-famous Yiddish actors in the center’s
activities is part of its innovative program, which includes, among other
things, cooperation with relevant international institutions and government
bodies, such as UNESCO or the Swedish authorities, which proclaimed Yiddish to
be one of the country’s official minority languages, Kotlerman
Earlier this year, Kotlerman led a special workshop for
Yiddish actors and performers at the Princeton University Center for Jewish
“By organizing the workshop, the Center for Yiddish Studies at Bar-
Ilan University contributes its academic strength to preserving our identity and
uniting our past, present and future,” commented Prof. Daniel Kurtzer,
former US ambassador to Israel and professor of Middle East Policy Studies at
Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in
welcoming the workshop participants.
Daniel Gildin, the nephew of Rena
Costa and a driving force behind the continued growth of the Rena Costa Center
for Yiddish Studies, said “It is thrilling that Rena’s passion for Yiddish
language and culture, the preservation of the Jewish mamma loshen and the need
to have its importance to future generations recognized and expanded, is being
embraced this way by Bar-Ilan University and these marvelous actors who have
dedicated themselves to Jewish theater for so many years.”
30 years ago through the support of the American Friends of Bar-Ilan University,
the Rena Costa Center for Yiddish Studies is distinguished in Israel and
throughout the world for its singular devotion to the academic study of Yiddish
language and culture and for its outreach to Israeli schools and the Jewish
communityat- large. The center, housed in Bar- Ilan University’s Faculty of
Jewish Studies, offers courses in Yiddish poetry and literature as well as
Yiddish cinema and Yiddish journalism from its roots in Europe to the
contemporary New York weekly Yiddish newspaper, The Forverts.
ISRAELIS did well in the International Mathematical Olympiad, there has in
general been a decline in proficiency in mathematics and science among Israeli
high school students. Educators and philanthropists who primarily support
educational projects, organizations and institutions were brought together by
concern that this decline might be caused by the way these subjects are taught.
The upshot was the creation last year of the Trump Foundation, the focus of
which is the improvement of the quality of teaching mathematics and science in
Israeli secondary schools. The Foundation’s advisory committee, which includes
Americans as well as Israelis, spent two intensive days of discussion this week
which culminated in a cocktail reception at the King David Special Events
Gallery in Jerusalem, and even then they couldn’t steer clear of their common
Eli Hurvitz, the foundation’s executive director and nephew
of Minister for Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor, has been a prominent
figure in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship for more than a decade. Prior
to taking up his present position he served for 11 years as deputy director of
Yad Hanadiv, the Rothschild Family Foundation. He is on the boards of several
He is extremely enthusiastic about the
improvements which he believes the Trump Foundation can influence, especially in
peripheral areas where there are some very bright young minds that can be made
even brighter if guided by the right teachers. He is also convinced that there
are a lot of brilliant teachers in these areas whose classroom talents deserve
wider recognition and encouragement.
There are fantastic opportunities
ahead, he said.
Council chairman Prof. Lee Shulman, president emeritus of
the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and a leading academic
in the study of teaching and teacher education, was equally enthusiastic despite
the challenges of Israel’s education system.
“If there’s any system of
education that we can call multi-system and complex, here it is – like a
persistent mosquito annoying the elephant.”
On second thought, Shulman
preferred to change the metaphor from mosquito to spider, or rather the spider’s
web, because the webs they spin are the ways in which spiders achieve
locomotion. The spider’s thread, he said, is one of the strongest that exists.
Continuing with this metaphor, Shulman noted that webs can connect to other
webs, enabling communication, collaboration, contradiction and new coalition
among Israel’s brilliant educators. He also pointed to the downside of webs,
saying that there is conflict between webs that expand our horizons and those in
which we are trapped.
After Shulman concluded his remarks, Nikolai
Schwartz, who teaches physics and mathematics at the Ort Arad High School and is
this year’s winner of the Trump Master Teacher Award, gave a lesson in physics
with a focus on gravity.
In 2010, Schwartz led the first Israeli team of
high school students to the Space Olympics in Korolev, Russia. He shared some of
his observations as well as some of the things he had been told: Astronauts tend
to lose weight in space, and if in space for several months will grow in height
– but the best news of all is that people who snore in their sleep don’t snore
■ A DUTCH microtechnology and information and communications
technology (ICT) mission visited Israel this week to learn about Israel’s
strengths in this sector and to seek international partners, know-how and
Participants included large companies, such as
Vodafone and Atos, and innovative small and medium enterprises. The group, along
with some of its Israeli counterparts, was feted at a reception hosted in his
residence by Netherlands Ambassador Caspar Veldkamp, who said: “Holland and
Israel are leading countries in the realm of microtechnology and ICT. The two
countries aim to be a step ahead, inventing, building and commercializing new
technologies. Our countries are at the forefront because we seek cooperation in
innovation. We see it here during the mission in Israel, and I’m confident we
will see it in our first bilateral innovation day next year in the
■ BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY of the Negev dedicated the
Fondation Adelis Garden this week in recognition of the Adelis Foundation’s
visionary work to promote research in solar and renewable energies.
event took place in the presence of representatives of the French foundation,
Sidney Boukhris, Dr. Michele Elmalek and Huguette Elhadad, of Israel. University
president Prof. Rivka Carmi praised foundation founder Andre Deloro for his
visionary commitment to advance scientific research in Israel by bringing the
brightest minds of Israel’s best universities together to advance research in
these essential fields.
“It was an historic event. Mr.
brought together representatives from the Weizmann Institute, the Technion –
Israel Institute of Technology and BGU so that we will work together on these
critical issues – not only for the benefit of Israel, but to make an impact on
the whole world,” she said. “Meeting Mr. Deloro was very emotional, as he is
clearly a very modest and special man who has touched the lives of so many
The garden is located on the Marcus Family Campus, adjacent to
the Kreitman-Zlotowski Classroom Building. “The garden is our way of
acknowledging Mr. Delores’s generosity, not only of the magnanimous gift, but of
his spirit to make a difference. We chose this location, in the heart of the
classroom complex, so that there will always be students here who will be able
to appreciate such a special man,” Carmi concluded.
In thanking the
university for bestowing this honor on Deloro, Boukhris described him as
“someone who prefers to help someone plant a tree that will bear fruits, rather
than give them the fruit.”
■ HAIFA MAYOR Yona Yahav was the recipient of
the German Order of Merit conferred on him this week on behalf of the president
of Germany by German Ambassador Andreas Michaelis at the German- Israel
conference on Partner Cities attended by some 400 participants.
conference, which was held in Jerusalem was opened by President Shimon Peres.
Yahav’s parents were born in Cologne and had to leave in 1933 as Nazism was
rearing its ugly head.
Later in the week, Peres was among the speakers at
the second International Conference on Homeland Security that opened in Tel
Aviv. “As someone who was part of founding Israel’s defense industries, I am
delighted to see the innovative technological developments that are leading the
world in homeland security. I am proud of my people; we are a nation with
creativity and wisdom, courage and chutzpah,” he said.
■ JERUSALEM POST
Editor in-Chief Steve Linde and news editor Ilan Evyatar farewelled their
secretaries, Moria Dashevsky and Elle Yahalom, who also doubled as a secretary
to managing editor David Brinn. At a party attended by a large representation of
the staff, both young women were presented with cuddly bears as mementos of the
affection in which they are held. The multi-lingual Dashevsky, who is also
somewhat of an expert on labor laws, proved an invaluable asset during her
relatively short term at the paper. If elections had not been on the horizon,
she might have stayed longer, but she will now be working with Tourism Minister
Stas Meseznikov, with whom she can chat in Russian. Yahalom is moving to Tel
Aviv to go into public relations, where her sunny personality with a smile to
match is bound to be an important icebreaker.
Both women are accomplished
singers, but refused to perform.
The most they would agree to do was to
pose for photos.
■ CAESAREA GOLF Club will host the third annual Ezer
Mizion Golf Classic tournament on Thursday, November 21. The popular event,
which is due to attract serious golfers and philanthropists from the United
States, Canada and Israel, will raise funds for Ezer Mizion’s bone marrow donor
registry, the global Jewish bone registry. Ezer Mizion is a non-profit
organization that provides a wide variety of professional services and programs
to the sick, handicapped and elderly in Israel, and is best known for its
numerous activities on behalf of cancer patients around the world.
registry, which is the fourthlargest international registry, has facilitated
hundreds of life-saving stem cell transplants.
“For many individuals
suffering from cancer or other life-threatening diseases, a stem cell transplant
offers the only chance for survival.
For this reason it is essential that
we promote international awareness of our registry and raise the funds necessary
to keep this lifeline strong,” said Rabbi Chananya Chollak, founder and
international chairman of Ezer Mizion. Among the invitees who have announced
their participation in this year’s tournament are El Al Airlines CEOEliezer
Shkedi and Maccabi Health Services CEO Ran Saar.