Grapevine: In the swim of diplomacy
Leading an intrepid team from the UK Embassy in Tel Aviv, the ambassador and his colleagues put in a very respectable performance in what is one of the largest amateur sports events in Israel.
Ambassador Matthew Gould with British Embassy staf Photo: Courtesy British Embassy
The emperor has no clothes. Scrap that. British Ambassador Matthew Gould is
almost in his birthday suit – but not quite. It has been previously noted in
this column that Gould is an expert swimmer and, just to prove the point, he
decided to take part in the 59th Sea of Galilee Swim. Leading an intrepid team
from the UK Embassy in Tel Aviv, the ambassador and his colleagues put in a very
respectable performance in what is one of the largest amateur sports events in
Once he was back on dry land, Gould said that the contest was
undoubtedly one of the highlights of his time in Israel. “The atmosphere was
fantastic, the scenery unparalleled, and swimming the Kinneret with 10,000
others was a real joy. I only wish we had followed the example of our Olympians
and put in a few more hours of training. We’ll all be feeling a little sore
tomorrow. It’s been a great day and I’m thrilled to have been part of a great
Perhaps next year, all the members of the
Ambassadors’ Club will be persuaded to participate. Some of them and some of
their predecessors in office previously participated in a table tennis
tournament against players from the Foreign Ministry and found Foreign Minister
Avigdor Liberman to be a formidable opponent. He might be equally formidable in
■ USUALLY, WHEN one talks about coming to Israel on eagles’
wings, the subject is about the long ago airlift of immigrants from Yemen. But
they’re not the only ones who can claim a latter-day interpretation of biblical
Last year, LaTrice Nettles visited the Interdisciplinary Center
Herzliya as a member of an evangelical students’ mission called Eagles Wings.
The group met vice president for external relations and head of IDC’s Raphael
Recanati International School (RRIS), Jonathan Davis, who spoke to them on
counter-terrorism and the situation in Israel.
Inspired by what she had
heard, Nettles thought carefully when she got home and decided that she wanted
to return to Israel to study for an MA in counter-terrorism.
came to her assistance by awarding her a scholarship, and now she’s enrolled at
IDC. A basketball player in the US, Nettles is keen to try out for IDC’s
basketball team, led by head coach Ilan Kowalsky. Last week, Nettles attended
IDC’s annual World Summit on Counter-Terrorism and met Tal Brody, with whom she
has more than basketball in common. Both are alumni of the University of
■ PARTIES IN the household of Michelle and Yehudah Katz almost
always develop into a jam session because Yehudah is the lead singer-guitarist
in the Reva L’sheva band, which specializes in Jewish rock and soul music and
includes a lot of Carlebach in the repertoire. Many of his friends are also
singers and musicians. The late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was a family friend and
Yehudah Katz frequently appeared with him in Israel and abroad.
last week, at the bat mitzva party for their daughter Daniella in their
beautiful, spacious home in Tekoa, Yehudah took a back seat and let his wife,
who is an accomplished torch singer, do most of the singing. The repertoire was
of course decidedly different from his, and included a wide Beatles
Joining her were Rabbi Joe Schonwald and singer and keyboard
instrumentalist Hanan Elias. All the members of the Katz family are musical,
especially Batya, who is the third of six siblings and who sings very much like
her mother. She, too, took a turn at the microphone. It was delightful to see
how all the siblings – Shalom, Aviva, Batya, Amitai and Elisheva – pitched in to
make this a very special evening for Daniella, who is the youngest member of the
They all looked exceptionally festive, wearing the outfits that
they had worn a week earlier at a family wedding in New York. Bat mitzva guests
who were waiting to hear the Carlebach melodies were not disappointed. Yehuda
Katz temporarily disrupted the pop scene, brought out his guitar and launched
into some of Carlebach’s earliest and most soul-stirring works.
ALTHOUGH THERE was no official representative of the government at the funeral
of lyricist and poet Haim Hefer, who died on the second day of Rosh Hashana,
there was at least a member of Knesset – ironically, one who isn’t Jewish. Labor
MK Ghaled Majadele came to honor the iconic Hefer on his final journey. Perhaps
the over-candid Hefer, who never hesitated to express his opinion, would have
preferred it that way.
Hefer fans are in for a treat on the 30th day
after his death, when Israel Radio will have a Hefer marathon in which it will
play most, if not all, of his songs, featuring legendary singers such as
Shoshana Damari, Yaffa Yarkoni and Arik Lavi, who were all his contemporaries,
as well as some who are somewhat younger and still in the land of the living,
such as Rivka Michaeli, Yehoram Gaon and Arik Einstein.
■ WHAT DO you do
when you’re not well enough to attend a fund-raiser for the institution that you
not only built, but which is dearest to your heart? Dalia Rabin was supposed to
go to New York to participate in the gala fund raiser that Friends of the Rabin
Center hosted at the Big Apple’s Plaza hotel, but she was unwell and unable to
Fortunately, she was able to send a very suitable replacement –
her son, Jonathan Ben-Artzi, who is the grandson of slain prime minister Yitzhak
Rabin. Ben-Artzi appeared on stage with Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former US president Bill Clinton. The
Clintons always surrounded themselves with Jewish friends and advisers, but more
so now that Chelsea is married to a nice Jewish boy by the name of Marc
■ ON OCTOBER 18, Gilad Schalit will celebrate the first
anniversary of his release from Hamas captivity. The long years of
demonstrations calling for his freedom and the tent meetings around the corner
from the Prime Minister’s Residence now seem part of the dim and distant past,
when in actual fact it was not so long ago that the tent, with its many VIP
visitors from Israel and abroad, was part and parcel of our everyday lives. But
over the past year, Schalit celebrated his first festival of freedom in years on
the recent Passover festival.
Then, on August 28, he celebrated his 26th
birthday, his first birthday celebration out of captivity in a seven-year
period. Last week, grinning from ear to ear, he attended the wedding of his
brother Yoel to Ya’ara Winkler, who was one of the activists campaigning for
Gilad’s release – which is how they met. And a couple of days later, Gilad
celebrated Rosh Hashana, his first New Year in freedom.
By now he may
have learned to take all these things for granted, but after his ordeal it’s
possible that he will never take anything for granted again.
AUSTRALIAN-ISRAELI venture capitalist Ishai Klein and his wife, Tammy, who have
been living in Singapore for the past 11 years, are currently in Israel to spend
the holidays with Klein’s mother, Sarah, in Jerusalem. Klein, who is religiously
observant and active in Singapore’s Jewish community, knows Jewish spiritual
leaders throughout Asia and the Pacific and often calls them ahead of time to
find out if they can arrange a minyan for him. In this way he has gained quite a
few Jewish friends across Asia and has hosted some of them in his home when they
have come to Singapore.
Klein was recently approached by the Chabad
emissary in Bali to contribute to the cost of a pair of phylacteries because,
although Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, many Israeli
tourists go there, as do Jewish businesspeople and tourists from other parts of
the world, in addition to which the local Jewish population is
One of Chabad’s many missions is to get Jewish males over the
age of 13 to don phylacteries at least once in their lifetime.
whose father died a little over a year ago, was looking for a project with which
to honor his memory, and the idea of providing phylacteries appealed to him
because, in his final illness, despite extreme weakness, his father had insisted
on donning phylacteries daily.
When the family had lived in Australia,
one of their first holidays abroad was in Bali. Many of Klein’s father’s friends
had tried to dissuade him, saying that Bali was no place for a religiously
observant Jew, but Shmuel Klein fell in love with the gorgeous scenery and
returned there several times. After donating to the Bali project, Ishai Klein
remembered that there was a paucity of Jewish ritual objects in Taiwan, which he
frequently visits for business. So he contacted Rabbi Shlomi Tabib, the Chabad
rabbi who arranges a minyan for him when necessary, and asked him if he also
Tabib was ecstatic because, until now, the only
available phylacteries were his own.
For people who want to make truly
worthwhile donations to a cause without worrying that their money is not serving
its purpose but is going towards someone’s salary, donating phylacteries, prayer
books and Torah scrolls to Chabad houses in outlying areas is one way of
performing the closest thing to hands-on philanthropy.
■ ISRAELIS OFTEN
fail to realize the extent of Jewish community life in the Diaspora, and
Diaspora Jewish communities are often unaware of what is going on in Jewish
communities in other countries. For instance, it’s quite interesting to note how
many Jewish radio stations operate around the world.
Some are privately
owned; some are owned by organizations or religious groups and others are part
of state-owned networks that specialize in multilingual broadcasts to various
In South Africa, Johannesburg-based community radio
station 101.9 Chai FM held a radiothon just before Rosh Hashana and raised just
over R2 million ($239,605) for the Selwyn Segal in the Bidvest. Selwyn Segal
caters to the intellectually disabled.
Billed as the Selwyn Segal Change
A Life radiothon, the project was supported by various Jewish community
institutions and businesses.
Kathy Kaler, CEO of 101.9 Chai FM said that
she was overwhelmed by the love and generosity of spirit shown by Chai FM
listeners toward the residents of the Selwyn Segal. Lara Milner, the social
worker at the Selwyn Segal, described the radiothon as a “very humbling
experience” and said that the residents were very excited by the interest and
care toward them that was demonstrated by the community. 101.9 Chai FM has
issued a challenge to all other community radio stations to create a radiothon
fundraiser for organizations in their orbit.
■ TEDY PRODUCTIONS, which
produces the popular television singing contest Kochav Nolad “A Star is Born,”
which is the Israeli version of American Idol, was almost in the position of
having to find a new host for the show.
Tmira and Dudi Yardeni own Tedy
Productions, which has produced several other leading television shows, live
events and media programs and which has exclusive agreements with some of
Israel’s major pop talents and other performing stars, including Zvika Hadar,
who has been both host and one of the audition judges of the popular show since
its 2002 inception. Hadar suffered cardiac arrest on Wednesday just prior to
undergoing a stress test in the course of a regular checkup at his Meuhedet
health clinic in Tel Aviv.
The jovial, well-built Hadar, 46, had some
weeks earlier undergone a catheterization procedure in his heart and had
returned to work. Had it not been for the prompt action of his cardiologist, Dr.
Hana Tamir, who applied CPR, Hadar, a father of four, would most certainly have
died. Following the CPR he was transferred by ambulance to Ichilov Hospital,
where he underwent a second catheterization procedure, and his condition was
pronounced stable. He was fully conscious afterwards and able to joke with
family and friends.
Tmira Yardeni said afterwards that he would return to
work when his doctors allowed it, but that there was no doubt that Hadar, who
has been a senior partner in many Tedy projects, would resume his role as host
of Kochav Nolad.