The combined wealth of the friends of Teddy Kollek and the supporters of the
Jerusalem Foundation, who assembled in Jerusalem’s Teddy Park for its
inauguration and for the presentation of the 2013 Teddy Kollek Awards, could
have solved Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s budgetary problems many times over.
What was perhaps most heartwarming was to see a four-generation gathering of
Jews and non-Jews, including a group from BMW, as tangible evidence of the
passing on of the torch of philanthropy and concern for the future of the
world’s most contentious capital – which this week celebrates the 46th
anniversary of its reunification.
In fact, Teddy Park, located on what
was once no-man’s land, serves as a bridge between east and west Jerusalem,
Arabs and Jews, the religious and the secular, and people of all faiths. This
was part of Kollek’s vision when he established the Jerusalem Foundation and
began developing the city on both sides of the park, which now will form a
bridge of coexistence, tranquility and mutual respect.
There were 19
elements of the park dedicated during the inauguration ceremony, with the most
popular being the Jerusalem Foundation’s Wall of Honor, on which the names of
close to 200 individuals, organizations and foundations that have contributed to
the development of the capital are engraved. Many of the donors posed for photos
alongside their names. One of the first was Della Worms, who said she felt a
certain a m b i v a l e n c e because she was listed as a benefactor from the UK
– when in fact she has been living in Israel for several years. All of the
park’s benefactors were from abroad, with the exception of Michael Federmann,
who heads the Dan Hotels chain and whose parents, Yekutiel and Bella Federmann,
first became acquainted with Kollek in the 1930s and remained lifelong friends.
Dan Hotels and the Federmann family donated a wishing well, into which Michael
Federmann threw the first coin.
Shira Zacks, Kollek’s eldest grandchild
who is the daughter of well-known artist Osnat Kollek, filled in the story of
the Kollek-Federmann relationship. In the late 1930s in Germany, a well to-do
young Jewish couple learned on their way to work that the Gestapo was looking
for them. They instantly fled the country, leaving behind their home and baby.
Somehow they got word to people in the yishuv that they would give a substantial
donation to the Zionist cause if their child could be found and returned to
Despite the dangers involved, Kollek went to Germany and located
brothers Yekutiel and Samuel Federmann, who were Zionist activists. They went to
the house and discovered that the Gestapo had preceded them.
someone had spirited the baby away before the Gestapo arrived. Kollek and the
Federmann brothers managed to track down the whereabouts of the infant and to
reunite the baby with its parents, who made good on their
Another Kollek grandchild, Avigail, the daughter of filmmaker
Amos Kollek, said how pleased she was that the park bore her grandfather’s name,
because this ensured he would always be remembered.
superbly conceived Teddy Kollek visitor’s center, donated by Kenneth and Ann
Bialkin, presents a wonderful retrospective of who the mayor knew and what he
did. The park was clearly a most appropriate venue for the presentation of the
awards, which this year went to Alan Hassenfeld of the US; Julia and Henry
Koschitzky of Canada; and Sonja Dinner, president of the Swiss DEAR Foundation.
All have contributed to and left their imprints on so much of Jerusalem’s beauty
and culture. Dinner, for her part, said she has been guided in everything she
has done by the inspiring motto of her foundation’s founders – a childless
couple in which the wife was Christian and the husband an observant Jew – who
said that “in the eyes of the other, you are always the other.”
lifetime achievement award was also given to Ruth Cheshin, the longtime former
president of the Jerusalem Foundation, who has been ardently involved since its
very beginning. Cheshin said that she did not like being on the receiving end of
awards – she prefers to prefers to present them – but said she was happy to
follow in the footsteps of her great-grandfather, Yoel Moshe Salomon, who
established one of the first neighborhoods in what is now considered downtown
Also following an example set by his parents was Leonard Wilf,
who dedicated a garden plaza in memory of his mother, Holocaust survivor and
lover of Jerusalem Judith Wilf. On the previous day, Wilf had participated in
the dedication ceremony of the new Yad Vashem Square at the entrance to the
Mount of Remembrance; he recently took up the post of chairman of the American
Society for Yad Vashem together with his cousin Zygmunt, who is the society’s
trustee and secretary- general of its board. Their families contributed
substantially to the construction of the square, which is not only an aesthetic
addition to the complex but also functions as a directional guide for the
thousands of daily visitors.
Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev announced
that the square would also serve as the main entrance to Yad Vashem, and as a
transition point from the daily reality of Jerusalem to an emotionally
meaningful experience. Mayor Nir Barkat noted that Jerusalem attaches great
cultural, social and historic importance to Jewish heritage and in preserving
the memory of the Holocaust.
Members of the Wilf Family have been
longtime, active supporters of Yad Vashem, and were among the original founders
of the American Society for Yad Vashem. In addition to the square, they have
also contributed to the establishment of the Valley of the Communities, and
endowed the new Holocaust History Museum as well as the entrance plaza in front
of the visitors center. The Wilfs also underwrote Yad Vashem’s ongoing project
to record the testimonies of Holocaust survivors.
Beyond Yad Vashem, one
of their most outstanding projects in Jerusalem was the renewal of Independence
■ INDIVIDUAL HOLOCAUST survivors and organizations of survivors
have acute financial problems. The conference of Partisans, Underground and
Ghetto Fighters, which took place in Jerusalem this week, would not have been
possible without the financial backing of software tycoon Noam
Supportive of various Holocaust survivor organizations, Lanir
became involved with the partisans after reading a book by one of
Lanir has quite a history of heroism in his own family. His
grandparents were active Irgun members, and his father, Avi Lanir, was a combat
pilot who fought in the Six Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur
War. The highest-ranking combat pilot to be taken captive, he was tortured to
death by the Syrians. His body was returned to Israel in June 1974, and two
years later he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor. Avi Lanir’s uncle,
Eliyahu Lankin, was the commander of the Altelena, while Lankin’s wife, Doris,
was for many years a law reporter and analyst at The Jerusalem Post.
ONE OF the traditions of Poland’s Constitution Day celebrations in Israel is to
award medals to people who fought in Jewish and Polish resistance movements
against the Nazis. Five such heroes were recognized this week at a reception
hosted by Polish Ambassador Jacek Chodorowicz and his wife Monika, at their
palatial residence in Udim near Netanya. Because this is the 70th anniversary of
the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, all five honorees were people who had fought in
either the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising or the Polish Uprising of 1944, or in
They were: Stanislaw Aronson; Peretz Hochman, who died a month ago
and whose medal was accepted by his wife Sima and son Ran; Simcha Rotem;
Kazimierz Rutenberg; and Samuel Willenberg, one of the last survivors of the
Treblinka death camp.
The medals were awarded by Robert Kupiecki,
Poland’s deputy minister of defense, who came to Israel with his senior adviser,
Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska, an immediate past ambassador of Poland who was
greeted with great enthusiasm by many friends. Both she and Kupiecki came to
Israel to participate in a strategic military dialogue.
announced that later this year, Israel can expect a visit from Polish President
Bronislaw Komorowski. He will be the country’s fourth president to visit Israel
since Poland was liberated from the yoke of Communism.
■ Tourism Minister
Uzi Landau, who brought the greetings of the government and people of Israel,
had trouble pronouncing the names of both the ambassador and his
He apologized, saying that although his father had come from
Krakow, he himself had never mastered Polish. Recalling that in February 2011,
Jerusalem had hosted the first joint meeting between the Israeli and Polish
governments, Landau noted that the second summit of this kind will take place
this year in Warsaw.
The military cooperation between Israel and Poland
has been illustrated by the participation of Polish pilots in training exercises
in Israel, the tourism minister said, adding: “It is not every day that we see
fighter planes from other countries flying over Israel. This is a reflection of
the warm ties between Israel and Poland.” He also spoke of intensive cultural
cooperation and welcomed the establishment of the Museum of the History of
Polish Jews, which he regarded as a positive illustration of modern, democratic
Poland. Israel is committed to strengthening the ties between the people of both
countries, said Landau, citing as an example the youth exchange program in which
15,000 Israelis have met with their Polish counterparts. Israel is determined to
expand the program, he said.
Taking advantage of Landau’s position in the
government, Chodorowicz said he would like to see more tourism in both
directions, and not just educational tours by Israelis to Poland and pilgrim
tours by Poles to Israel.
He also commented on the fact that of all the
people gathered in the sprawling grounds of the residence, the ones who felt
most at home were members of the Willenberg family, who actually own the
property which he is renting.
The story is that in the early 1960s,
Samuel Willenberg – who now lives in Tel Aviv – decided that he wanted to own a
farm. In those days, land in Udim was cheap and the area was totally
underdeveloped. Willenberg’s daughter Orit eventually became an internationally
acclaimed architect, and designed the palatial modular house in which the
ambassador and his family now live. There was more than enough land for her to
build a house for her own family next door.
Both Willenberg, 91, and his
wife, Ada, 84 and a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, are active, vivacious and
frequent fliers. The two were in Poland last month for the 70th anniversary
commemoration of the uprising, and Willenberg still had the yellow flower with
the six petals symbolizing the yellow Star of David, which Jews were forced to
wear on their clothing during the Holocaust, pinned to his blazer.
Willenbergs are frequent visitors to Poland. Last October, they were in
Czestochowa where Willenberg was born, for a gathering of survivors and their
progeny. In August, they will be back in Poland for the 70th anniversary of the
Treblinka Revolt, of which Willenberg was one of the leaders.
never been a deterrent. The will to tell the story of Jews who fought back is so
strong, nothing gets in the way.
■ GUESTS AT diplomatic affairs held in
the residences of heads of mission are often surprised to discover that the
catering is not kosher, especially when several of the guests are wearing kippot
and are known to be religiously observant. To the delight of many of the guests
who were invited by genial new South African Ambassador Sisa Ngombane and his
wife Thathanyana to their Freedom Day reception, the cuisine – while consisting
of South African delicacies – was all kosher.
Though some of the wines
were not, guests were advised of this before they visited the bar.
the kosher fare was not the only surprise of the evening. Environmental
Protection Minister Amir Peretz, who is not known for his proficiency in
English, had apparently devoted time to improving his linguistic skills. He was
interrupted several times by warm bursts of applause, and after his remarks, was
engulfed by well-wishers.
Peretz noted that South Africa is the only
country on the African continent in which Israel has commercial attaches and as
such, is committed to strengthening economic ties between the two countries. He
also spoke of the need to enhance relations in general, and said Israel is
interested in seeing the renewal of the reciprocal ministerial visits as an
effective means of advancing the bilateral relationship.
minister and a person who fought his whole life for social justice, Peretz
continued, he saw a direct connection between social justice and environmental
justice, because the environment knows no boundaries in reality. He was certain
that cooperation between Israel and South Africa would lead to a cleaner, moral,
more peaceful and just world.
It is rare for government ministers to say
much about themselves at such events, but Peretz thought that the ambassador
should at least know something about him as a representative of the government,
and how he rose from being a poor Moroccan immigrant living in a peripheral
southern city that is now constantly under threat, to being a
His political career had its beginning in Sderot, where he
still resides with his family.
After serving as mayor, he later held a
variety of public service positions, most notably Histadrut chairman, deputy
prime minister and defense minister.
A strong believer in the bond
between peace and social justice, Peretz expressed regret that the violent
atmosphere in the region continues to undermine efforts to revive the peace
process. As an example of such violence, he cited the missiles launched from the
Gaza strip that target cities in South, including Sderot. While these attacks
cannot be ignored, said Peretz, he remains a great advocate for peace and
welcomes American efforts to renew the peace process. He suggested that South
Africa, which has good relations with both Israel and the Palestinians, could
make a considerable contribution towards encouraging a better atmosphere, which
would pave the way for renewal of the peace process.
Just a few days
prior to Freedom Day, Telfed-the South African Zionist Federation had hosted a
reception in Ra’anana to welcome the ambassador and his wife. Aside from a large
representation of the diplomatic community, guests at the reception included
ambassador-designate to South Africa Arthur Lenk; the new South African
Ambassador to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, Prof.
the Telfed leadership, represented by chairman Dave Bloom, director Sidney
Shapiro and deputy director Dorron Kline; and numerous South African
expatriates, among them Michael Jankelowitz, whose late father was Colin
Jankelowitz, an eminent South African lawyer who defended late ANC leader Govan
Mbeki in a trial in Port Elizabeth the early 1960s. Mbeki’s son later became
president of South Africa.
■ IT’S A girl, yet again. British Ambassador
Matthew Gould and his wife Celia last week became parents of their second Sabra
daughter, born like her sister Rachel at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital. The new
baby is called Emily Rebecca Leaberry Gould. The Goulds are not the first
ambassadorial couple to produce a Sabra, but they may well be the only heads of
a foreign mission with two. They probably won’t be in Israel long enough to
produce a third, though a sibling to Rachel and Emily could still be conceived
■ THE FACT that someone has a disability does not necessarily
prevent them from enjoying what any fully functional person enjoys –
particularly music, which does something for the soul, regardless of anyone’s
physical or mental condition. Hillard Fahn, an American Jew who became a
quadriplegic at age 18, had a deep love for all types of music, and was also
very conscious of the need to advance the independence of young people with
disabilities. Following his death in 2010, his sister, Roberta Fahn Schoffman,
who lives in Jerusalem, thought that the best way to honor his memory would be
to have an annual concert in connection with Alyn Orthopedic Hospital and
Rehabilitation Center, which helps so many physically challenged children and
The Second Annual Hillard Fahn Concert took place last month
in Alyn’s gardens, with the participation of the Afro-Pop Ensemble from the
Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. Patients and some of their parents,
doctors and nurses, administrative staff and volunteers – all were obviously
infected by the beat of the music. The audience reflected the demographic mosaic
of the city, and included Jew and Arab, haredi and secular, light- and
dark-skinned, with everyone caught up in the music. Schnoffman was thrilled with
the reaction, explaining that the event brought together her brother’s love for
Israel, his enthusiasm for music and his commitment to improving the quality of
life for the disabled.
■ THE COMMON expression is that the world belongs
to the young, but senior citizens from all over the country gathered at a
three-day conference in Jerusalem this week to prove that it still belongs to
people of the third age. Participants included people still active in their
professions, volunteers in a huge variety of social welfare projects, athletes
engaging in many different sports, dancers, and students delighting in academic
pursuits. The underlying message was that age does not necessarily disqualify
people from contributing to their nation, community or quality of
Four well-known senior citizens received special recognition from
Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach and Barkat. They included, in order of
seniority: Ruth Dayan, 97, founder of the now-defunct Maskit arts and crafts
store and a tireless worker for Beduin rights, women’s causes and Jewish- Arab
coexistence and cooperation; Yona Uzpiz, 92, who continues to play an active
role as CEO of the veteran Holon company Yona Uzpiz Electric Motors Ltd.; and
Noah Kliger, 86, an Auschwitz survivor and veteran journalist who has worked for
Yediot Aharonot since 1958, writing about Holocaust- related issues and sport.
Kliger, who is fluent in several languages, also lectures extensively on.the
Holocaust, and frequently accompanies groups to Poland in official and
unofficial capacities. The “baby” among the honorees was stage, screen and radio
personality Rivka Michaeli, 74, who continues to appear in plays and television
series, to act as mistress of ceremonies at countless events, and to anchor
radio and television programs.
■ THE JEWISH communities of Hebron and
Kiryat Arba are basking in the recognition that will be bestowed upon Rabbi
Moshe Levinger, 77, in Jerusalem tomorrow (Thursday).
He is among the
recipients of the Lion of Zion Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, for his pioneering
role in the 1968 renewal of the Jewish community in Hebron. Leading a group of
like-minded people, Levinger and his wife Miriam arrived there for Passover in
the aftermath of the Six Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem – and they
Others subsequently followed and built up the Jewish communities
of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, through the Gush Emunim settlement movement initiated
by Levinger. There were many trials and tribulations along the way, but the
Levingers refused to be swayed by bureaucracy, existential threats or ill health
– and 45 years later, they are still there.
The two other recipients of
this year’s award are Yigal Cohen-Orgad, the chancellor of Ariel University, and
Dr. Zvi Zameret, a veteran educator.
■ AT AN age when many of his peers
are being made redundant, Root and Branch founder, author, public speaker and
interviewer Lowell Gallin, who recently celebrated his 57th birthday, has added
yet another string to his bow. A couple of years back he was approached by a
young Dutch university student, who asked him to appear in a film that he was
making for his thesis. Gallin was slightly taken aback, but then decided that it
would be fun. His name now appears on the list of credits for The Dinner Table,
which has been accepted for screening at the upcoming 66th Cannes Film
■ AS A youngster in Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda neighborhood, it
is doubtful that Rami Levi, who went on to become Israel’s supermarket discount
king and is now making inroads in the communications industry, ever imagined he
would counsel graduates of a special program that helps 11th- and 12thgrade
students from low socioeconomic backgrounds with their future careers. Maagalim,
a nationwide organization that counsels the students about utilizing their
potential and continues to work with them after they graduate from high school,
brings leading figures from many fields to talk to them – especially those with
rags-to-riches success stories. When Levi recently met with Maagalim graduates
who had just completed military service, at a unique employment and education
convention, his advice was that having dreams and taking initiative are the
first step toward achievement.
■ US AMBASSADOR Dan Shapiro was a guest of
TowerJazz and its CEO, Russell Ellwanger, in Migdal Ha’emek’s “Silicon Valley,”
and together they visited the company’s innovative, state-of-the-art Fab 2
sterile production facility. During the visit, Shapiro stated that TowerJazz was
a template of how an Israeli-headquartered company can take the best parts of
Israeli, American, and even Japanese business cultures and merge them to become
an international technology leader. Most impressive was TowerJazz’s
employee-driven sustainable community service, with activities spanning both
Jewish and Arab communities.