Grapevine: Rosh Hashana receptions
President Peres hosts new year reception for diplomats; PM Binyamin Netanyahu visits a unit of the Golani Brigade.
Cyrus Vance Jr. (left) with Diamond Exchange head Photo: Kobi Fuchs
DEPUTY FOREIGN Minister Danny Ayalon slipped out of the extremely well-attended
conference on Justice for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries, of which the
Foreign Ministry was one of the organizers, to attend the annual pre-Rosh
Hashana reception for diplomats hosted by President Shimon Peres.
addition to the ambassadors and the various Foreign Ministry personnel with whom
they are in frequent contact, the event was also attended by several honorary
consuls, among them Ran Rahav, the networking king who heads one of Israel’s
leading public relations firms and who is honorary consul for the Marshall
Rahav is on friendly terms with many ambassadors, to the extent
that when he greets them, it is not a mere handshake, but an embrace and
sometimes a kiss on both cheeks. He also kissed Peres on both cheeks, and when
he turned around to exchange pleasantries with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, he did
not hesitate to ask him about the reported angry exchanges between Shapiro and
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Shapiro laughed and told him not to believe
everything he reads in the newspapers.
A new custom was introduced to the
event when, at the end of the ceremony, waitresses came in with trays laden with
glasses of sparkling wine and everyone present clinked glasses with all those in
their immediate orbit. Some ambassadors even left their seats to clink glasses
with colleagues in other rows.
■ COMPETITION NOTWITHSTANDING, the
camaraderie in Israel’s hotel industry was evidenced on Tuesday night in both
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where two members of the Federmann family, which
controls the Dan Hotel chain, found themselves in executive capacities in the
hotels of other chains. Ami Federmann, who heads the Israel Hotel Association,
hosted a reception at the Tel Aviv Hilton to toast the New Year; while Michael
Federmann, who heads the Dan Board of Directors, was, in his capacity as
president of the Israel-Germany Chamber of Commerce, among the recipients of the
hospitality of the Fattal chain at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel, Jerusalem, when he
attended a dinner hosted by the erudite, multilingual, multicultural Godel
Rosenberg, who heads the Representative Office of Bavaria in Israel.
dinner was in honor of Horst Seehofer, president of Bundesrat, Germany,
minister-president of Bavaria; and Ludwig Spaenle, member of Bundesrat, Germany,
Bavarian state minister of education and religious affairs. Earlier in the day,
Seehofer met with Colette Avital, the head of the Center of Organizations of
Holocaust Survivors, and invited her to address the Bavarian Parliament next
January on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
At the Leonardo,
executive chef Shalom Kadosh, who has remained at the hotel through a series of
changing ownerships and managements, prepared a feast for both the eyes and the
stomach. He created a colorful Jerusalem market around the pool, with street
signs pointing to the Persian market, the Iraqi market and the Bukharan market,
where island buffets with a huge variety of delicacies were set out in such a
manner as to avoid crowding.
Kadosh will travel to Munich in October to
receive the Internationalen Eckart Witzigmann Prize for culinary
Seehofer said that he had wanted to visit Israel for a long time. If
anyone had told him 30 years ago that such good relations could exist between
Israel and Bavaria, he confessed, he would not have believed it.
even more impressed after listening to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat speak of the
capital’s cultural growth and its potential for hi-tech which was Barkat’s own
area of expertise before his retirement from the field 10 years ago to focus on
local politics. Seehofer invited Barkat to come to Bavaria, tempting him with a
football game, the cultural delights of Oktoberfest or a hi-tech
Among those attending the dinner were German Ambassador
Andreas Michaelis and Yaacov Sudri, the director of business development for
Fattal Hotels, a chain that includes 25 hotels in Germany.
One of the
attractions of the evening was percussionist Bishara Naddaf of Nazareth, who
taught everyone present to play a darbuka, which is a goblet-shaped drum.
Rosenberg subsequently presented everyone with a small darbuka to take home as a
■ THE GUEST of honor at the Israel Hotel Association’s
reception was Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov, who encountered a huge phalanx
of media following revelations the previous evening on Channel 2 about his
alleged misconduct, which he has denied.
Meseznikov came to the reception
after attending Wizz Air’s launch of its new Tel Aviv-Budapest route, which will
initially operate three times per week beginning December 6, 2012. Wizz Air,
which claims to be the largest low-cost, low-fare airline in central and eastern
Europe, inaugurated its European low-cost operations in 2004 and currently
offers more than 250 lowfare routes across 29 countries, connecting 80
destinations. Wizz Air’s arrival in Tel Aviv is great news for Israel tourism
and low-cost aviation, given that Malev, the national Hungarian carrier, went
bankrupt and is permanently grounded.
The festive launch announcement at
the Renaissance Hotel in Tel Aviv was also attended by Hungarian Ambassador
Zoltán Szentgyörgyi. Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi was confident that his company’s
low fares would be a driving force in generating more two-way tourism between
Tel Aviv and Budapest, and anticipated that in the first year of operation the
route would attract some 45,000 passengers. Varadi was warmly appreciative of
the effort of Meseznikov, who has worked diligently to promote an open skies
policy. Meseznikov, who is keen to reduce both air fares and hotel prices, said
that he welcomes the introduction of any airline company to Israel because the
more airline companies there are, the more it will encourage competition and the
more tourists will opt for Israel as a destination.
■ REGARDLESS OF the
excellent relations between Israel and Germany that have been carefully nurtured
over the years and the extent to which German reparations have been instrumental
in Israel’s development, there are still people who are opposed to reparations
payments. With this in mind, the powers that be at the Begin Heritage Center
decided to mark the 60th anniversary year of the Reparations Agreement between
Israel and Germany by recalling the atmosphere of the immediate post-Holocaust
era. Speakers were Channel 1’s current affairs anchor David Vitztum;
best-selling author Michael Bar- Zohar, who was David Ben-Gurion’s official
biographer; and Arye Naor, who was cabinet secretary in Menachem Begin’s
Organizers had expected a huge turnout, especially
because Begin, whose parents and brother were murdered by the Nazis, had been
the most vocal opponent to the agreement. What they didn’t count on was that
with all the benefits that people derive from information technology, it has
simultaneously eroded the individual’s sense of history. There is no a longer a
need to remember dates and events or even all the characters that appeared on
the historical stage at any given time, so long as one knows the name of one of
the lead players; a Google search will bring up the rest of the information.
Thus, at the designated starting time, the auditorium at the Begin Heritage
Center was less than half full, with mostly veteran Herutniks in the audience
and barely a handful of young people. Some of the more senior members of the
audience had joined Begin in his anti-reparations demonstration.
speakers pointed out that it had not been so much the actual reparations that
bothered Begin, but the fact that Israel was entering into direct negotiations
He believed that the negotiations should have been carried
out by a third party and not by Israel. Prior to the reparations payments,
Germany had been isolated from the world, which was still reeling from the
atrocities carried out by supposedly civilized and cultured people.
put it succinctly in his closing sentence when he said that “Israel received the
money, Germany regained its honor and rejoined the community of
■ ANNIVERSARIES ARE often rife with symbolism. When PM Binyamin
Netanyahu visited a unit of the Golani Brigade in the Golan Heights to wish them
well for Rosh Hashana, it just so happened that the date was September 11 – a
most fateful day in modern American history and in the history of terrorism.
During the visit, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz remarked that the date coincided
with the birthday of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and implied that if Assad’s
brutality was to extend across the border, the IDF was more than ready to meet
the challenge and is prepared to confront any enemy.
■ REGULAR GUESTS at
Jerusalem’s King David Hotel who have missed the efficiency and the smiling face
of Sheldon Ritz will be glad to know that he is “returning home” as of September
23 to resume his position as deputy general manager and to take on the
responsibility of director of the food and beverage division. During his
previous stint at the King David, he was also director of operations and
diplomatic delegations. He was so adept in this capacity that he was transferred
to the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, where he served as the Dan Corporation’s director
of sales for embassies and government ministries.
When Russian President
Vladimir Putin visited Israel a couple of months back, Ritz was summoned back to
the King David to help out with arrangements.
Even though there is not a
word related to diplomacy in his upcoming title, it’s in the cards that Ritz
will be the man that every ambassador will turn to when making arrangements for
the visit of a foreign dignitary. All the ambassadors know him and his name is
on their guest lists.
■ AMONG THE films to be screened at the Haifa
International Film Festival, which opens at the Haifa Cinematheque on September
29, will be several Polish films. From a Jewish perspective, the most important
of these films will be Korczak, Andrzej Wajda’s biographical tribute to renowned
humanitarian Henryk Goldszmit, who wrote under the pseudonym Janusz Korczak.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of Korczak’s deportation to
Korczak was a pediatrician, a writer, a teacher and a radio
personality who took upon himself the administration of a Jewish orphanage in
the slums of Warsaw.
Following the Nazi invasion of Poland, Korczak took
the children into the Warsaw Ghetto. Because of his vast connections, he had an
opportunity to save himself, but refused the urgings of friends and
acquaintances and remained with the children, trying to protect them from the
ugliness around them.
Prior to the screening, children’s author Tami
Shem-Tov, who is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Hebrew Writers,
will talk about Korczak, who is the central figure in her new book, I Am Not a
Thief, which is based on events that took place in Korczak’s orphanage in the
years before the war.
■ MICHAEL ROSENZWEIG has been appointed global
president and CEO of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, which is
headquartered in Jerusalem. He will be working both in Israel and North America.
Rosenzweig was a key figure in the establishment of the National Museum of
American Jewish History in Philadelphia.
Pardes director Danny Landes
welcomed the appointment and recalled that Rosenzweig had been his student at
the Wexner Foundation, where Rosenzweig had been a Wexner Heritage
He is also a former president of the North American Board of
Landes said that Rosenzweig’s appointment marks a new era of
enrichment in the 40-year history of Pardes, due to both his leadership skills
and his passion for Torah learning.
■ TOO OFTEN these days, people learn
about tragedies affecting their families not from a direct source, but from the
media, which makes the shock even worse.
But sometimes good news not
coming from a direct source can be a very pleasant surprise, as was the case
with pop star and composer Ivri Lider, who received some very good news in the
most unexpected manner. Lider was flying Arkia Israel Airlines from Tel Aviv to
Eilat when passengers were notified by loudspeaker that Lider and his band were
among those on board. But the announcement didn’t stop at that.
continued with the information that Lider’s latest disc, “Mishehu Pa’am”
(Someone Once), had reached the gold album status.
“Arkia and the crew
are happy to surprise Ivri Lider and present him with the gold album,” was the
tail end of the announcement. The presentation was accompanied by white wine
which doubled as champagne – but the occasion deserved a toast of some kind.
Lider was literally up in the air.
■ ON A visit to Israel, New York
County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
stopped by the Israel Diamond
Exchange in Ramat Gan, where he was given a grand tour by Diamond Exchange
president Yair Sahar . Vance’s father was secretary of state to Jimmy Carter,
and before that he was secretary of the army under Presidents John
Kennedy and Lydon B. Johnson. He also served as deputy secretary of
defense under Johnson. Sahar also acquainted Vance Jr. with Israeli legislation
pertaining to trade in diamonds and precious stones which is designed to prevent
■ ALMOST EVERY school can boast a few graduates who
became famous, and some can even boast several from one class. Among the
graduates of the class of 1982 at the Rothberg High School in Ramat Hasharon
were at least two talented people – a boy who thought he was going to be a
singer but ended up becoming mayor of the city, and a girl with a comic streak
and a sense of drama who became a sophisticated comedienne and a popular
At the 30th anniversary reunion of their graduation, Itzik
Rochberger and Keren Mor met up with old school friends. It’s just as well some
of them wore name tags, because not all remained instantly
Another famous classmate who literally lived up to his name
was businessman Moshe Gaon, whose surname means “genius” in Hebrew. Gaon is the
nephew of famous entertainer Yehoram Gaon and the son of the late Benny Gaon,
who was considered to be a business genius.
■ MOST OF us have
accidentally – or deliberately – jaywalked at one time or another. Those of us
who are drivers have on occasion neglected to give way to pedestrians on
crosswalks or have swerved too sharply around corners, almost colliding with
pedestrians crossing the street. Some have driven private vehicles in sections
of the road reserved for buses and taxis and others have broken the speed limit.
There are many other infractions of which we ourselves are guilty or which we
see others committing as though breaking the law was an accepted norm.
the perverse human behavioral pattern that goes along the lines of “Do as I say,
not as I do,” many of us wish that there was such a thing as citizen’s arrest so
that we could immediately pounce on miscreants. Well, now there’s a nextbest
thing. Nirsham, a mobile device application which was launched in Israel in
July, enables citizens to record violations and present them to the police. The
company is headed by brothers Gene and Elazar Goldman, the former a seasoned
entrepreneur and the company’s CEO.
Gene Goldman has already founded
three start-ups in the field of programming.
He returned to Israel after
spending several years in Australia, where he held a senior executive position
with Rio Tinto and managed $150-million projects. But his big dream was to
improve the quality of life and sense of safety for all citizens of the
Elazar Goldman, who serves as the company’s deputy CEO, is a
member of a group of thinkers whose goal is to develop generic methodology to
optimize processes. According to the brothers, police react positively to the
reports and take them very seriously, realizing that the citizens who file them
are concerned with public safety. The police have even given them suggestions
about how to speed up the processing.
The app is designed to deter
violations, to promote safe driving and to assist in monitoring. The company has
secured the aid of traffic violation specialists and community activists who are
willing to follow reports and review them to see if there is sufficient evidence
to warrant reporting the incident to the police. The Goldmans believe that the
project will eventually attract a lot of community involvement and will cause
people to take more care on the road and thus create a safer
■ TO USHER in Israel’s 65th year, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and Deputy Minister for Senior Citizens Affairs Dr. Lea Nass, in
cooperation with the Israel Postal Company launched on Sunday, September 9 the
“Thanks to Them” stamp as a salute to Israel’s senior citizens. The stamp, which
features the hands of a senior citizen fashioning clay into the shape of a
Jewish star, refers to the fact that in many countries, the age of retirement is
■ MOUNT SCOPUS, which is one of the largest Jewish schools in the
world, has been sending student groups to Israel for many years, and is this
year sending its largest group ever from Melbourne to Tel Aviv. At least 103
tenth-grade students will arrive in Israel to participate in five- and 11-week
programs. Many Mount Scopus collegians, including those who were in the
pioneering classes, such as Louise Israeli (nee Goulburn), Amiel Gurt and Rita
(nee Isaacs) are among the hundreds of old collegians living in Israel on
kibbutzim, moshavim and in urban areas. Some have even achieved fame in Israel.
One of these is Mark Regev, a senior spokesman for the prime minister and a
frequent spokesman for Israel.