After only two months as chairperson of the Israel branch of UNICEF, Judy Shalom Nir Mozes has decided to step down.

It’s not that she’s lost her love for children. After all, she has five of her own whom she loves dearly, and she has a record of standing up for children’s rights. But she also has a record of speaking her mind on a whole load of issues and often ignoring what might be considered politically correct. During Operation Pillar of Defense, Shalom Nir Mozes, who went south to deliver toys to children who had been traumatized by the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza, tweeted that she hoped Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would not surrender to the pressures of Israel’s enemies and their lobby, but would continue the operation until the last terrorist in Gaza had been killed. She wrote, “They shoot our children and hide behind their children.”

The tweets created quite a furor because part of UNICEF’s mission statement specifies, “We involve everyone in creating protective environments for children. We are present to relieve suffering during emergencies, and wherever children are threatened, because no child should be exposed to violence, abuse or exploitation.”

A lot of people were angry because a continuation of Operation Pillar of Defense would mean the deaths of more children in Gaza and there was a flurry of demands that Shalom Nir Mozes be unseated on the grounds that she had violated UNICEF’s mission by introducing politics to her role. Although she still thinks UNICEF is a great organization doing great work, she thinks it is unfortunate that it is under the umbrella of the United Nations because that creates bureaucratic and political obstacles for those who care about children but are not subservient to diplomacy. She has resigned from her post as chairperson.

With all the empathy and sympathy that she has for the children of the world, Shalom Nir Mozes was raised to take care of her own first and then worry about others, and in the face of the suffering of Israeli children in the South, she decided to direct her endeavors toward helping the children suffering in the South through other channels.

■ SHALVA, THE Jerusalem-based NGO founded in 1990 by Rabbi Kalman and Malki Samuels to provide a therapeutic environment in which children with special needs can thrive, has been awarded the Seal of Outstanding Effectiveness by Midot, Israel’s leading organization for rating the effectiveness of nonprofits.

SHALVA, which has achieved remarkable results with therapies for mentally and physically challenged children, grew out of the personal need of the Samuels family when there was nothing available for the couple’s own son, Yossi, who at the age of 11 months received a vaccine that rendered him blind, deaf and acutely hyperactive. There was no one to help Yossi until he was eight years old. He lived in his own isolated world until Shoshana Weinstock, a special education teacher, began to teach him finger spelling in much the same way that Anne Sullivan brought Helen Keller out of her solitary world. This inspired the Samuelsto establish SHALVA, through which they have provided help and hope and have enabled many children to reach undreamed of potential.

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the state of Israel in 1958, a Bible Quiz for adults was inaugurated by the Israel Society for Biblical Research with the blessing of founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion, who was himself a biblical scholar and who held regular biblical study circles in his home. The winner was Amos Hakham, a 30-yearold employee of the Jerusalem Center for Education for the Blind, who in addition to his blindness also had a severe speech impediment. But neither of his impairments got in the way of his Bible study. Hakham, who died only a few months ago, was so desperately poor that he had to borrow a decent shirt to wear to the finals of the Bible Quiz. After winning, he became quite a personality in Bible study circles and he helped in the publication of various Bible commentaries.

The Bible Quiz for adults continued until 1981, after which there was a 32-year hiatus, which enabled the 1981 winner, Rabbi Aharon Ben-Shoshan, to hold the championship title for just over three decades. At the request of the prime minister whose late father-in-law was a biblical scholar, whose brothers in law were all junior Bible Quiz champions and whose younger son, Avner, was a national Bible Quiz champion, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar this year revived the International Bible Quiz for adults, which was won last week by 26- year-old Raphael Meyuhas from Netanya, who in the final round answered all eight questions correctly.

Netanyahu and Sa’ar were both in the audience to applaud him.

Netanyahu underscored the importance of the Bible Quiz in that the legitimacy of the State of Israel is rooted in the Bible, as are the values of the state. After reviving the Bible Quiz, Sa’ar is not resting on his laurels, but has now launched another quiz on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in advance of the 70th-anniversary commemorations in April 2013 of that momentous example of resistance against the Nazis. Up until recent years, it was thought that only left-wing movements produced the leaders of the uprising, the main one being Mordechai Anielewicz, the head of the Warsaw branch of Hashomer Hatzair, but in-depth research by Prof. Moshe Arens, a former foreign minister and defense minister, has proved that right-wing Betar members, especially Pavel Frankel, also played a prominent role in the uprising. Arens has documented this information in his book, Flags over the Warsaw Ghetto.

■ ONE MIGHT ask whether French Ambassador Christophe Bigot has a surfeit of honors to bestow on Israelis of merit. It is almost mindboggling to tote up the number of Israelis on whom he has conferred French decorations during his three years of tenure. Among the recent honorees in two separate functions were two Moroccan-born Israelis and one Sabra, the latter being former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch, who was the first and so far only woman to rise to the top of the legal totem pole.

Bigot conferred the honor of Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite (Knight in the National Order of Merit) of France on Prof. Shimon Benita, director of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Pharmacy and head of its Institute for Drug Research, at a reception at the French residence in Tel Aviv-Jaffa in recognition of Benita’s scientific achievements and his contribution to the forging of close ties with French researchers.

Benita came to Israel from Morocco in 1967 and earned his PhD at the Hebrew University School of Pharmacy. Following his doctoral studies, he participated in pioneering research in Israel on drug delivery based on micro- and nano-particles.

This brought about revolutionary improvement in the administering and efficacy of chemotherapy drugs.

He spent many years doing research in France, where he participated in a team working at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Paris-Sud. In 2000, he founded the Novagali Pharma pharmaceutical firm, which specialized in drug delivery for optical illnesses.

Bigot also bestowed the Order of Merit to Jean-Claude Niddam, an expert on legal systems in Arab countries, who participated in the research and drafting of the Muslim Law Legal Dictionary at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS - France). Niddam, who is a highly respected lawyer in Israel’s Ministry of Justice, also counseled lawenforcement agencies in the United States and in Europe in major criminal and anti-terrorism cases. He was involved in the Middle East peace process and particularly in the Wye River Plantation talks in 1998. He testified at the US Senate and in international forums, including the United States Institute of Peace, the European Council, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the European Union. Among those in attendance at the ceremony were Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak, Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer and Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel. Meanwhile, Dorit Beinish waited patiently for her turn to receive the more prestigious knighthood of the Légion d’honneur.

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