The appearance of a well-known police reporter instantly arouses suspicion that something on the premises may be amiss. Anyone who caught sight of veteran Channel 2 police reporter Moshe Nussbaum this week at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya graduation ceremony, at which some 2,000 bachelor’s and master’s degree students of the class of 2014 received their certificates, might have wondered if there had been a violent incident.
But Nussbaum was there not in a professional capacity, rather a parental one: His son Yarden was among the graduates.
Another proud dad was Ra’anana Mayor and former MK Ze’ev Bielski, whose son Eran was also among the graduates. There were also some proud grandparents – such as Raya Strauss, whose granddaughter Noa Michael was yet another graduate.
Prof. Uriel Reichman, founding president of IDC, told the graduates they had been privileged to acquire an interdisciplinary education, which enabled them to look at things from a broader perspective and work in a team, and that this was the path to new initiatives and leadership.
Shimon Peres, a former president and prime minister who is an IDC honorary fellow, told the graduates it didn’t matter if they forgot some of the things they had learned. What was important, he emphasized: “Don’t forget to dream.”
■ ANYONE WITH a sense of history and a respect for sanctity, if asked to choose between Jerusalem and New York, is unlikely to opt for the Big Apple.
Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard University who is a past speaker at the annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York, will be in Jerusalem when the conference opens on June 7. But he will, nonetheless, have a connection to The Jerusalem Post: Dershowitz will be the guest of honor at the Van Leer Institute on June 8, at the prize-giving ceremony of the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage.
Instead of delivering a lecture, Dershowitz – a world-renowned jurist who is universally recognized as one of Israel’s most ardent advocates in the court of world opinion – will enter into a conversation with Liat Collins, editor of The International Jerusalem Post and weekly columnist in the Post’s Friday edition. In the course of their parrying back and forth, Dershowitz will answer tough questions on Israel, American Jewry, the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions Movement, and US-Israel relations.
The Post connection doesn’t end with Collins. One of the recipients of the award is Sam Sokol, the paper’s Jewish world correspondent, who has extraordinary contacts in communities large and small throughout the Jewish Diaspora, and whose series on Jews in war-ravaged Ukraine constitutes some of the best and most comprehensive reporting on this chapter in contemporary Jewish history.
The other winner of the award named for Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf is Channel 10’s Nadav Eyal, for his program Hate, dealing with rising anti-Semitism in various European countries. A lifetime achievement award in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky will also be presented to Israel Radio, for its long-running program Searching for Missing Relatives, now edited and presented by Izi Mann. A special citation for contribution to Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts will be presented to acclaimed singer David D’Or, who will perform.
Kol Israel’s Searching for Missing Relatives was inaugurated in 1945 to help Holocaust survivors. The program was broadcast continuously until 1969 and was relaunched in 2000 by Yaron Enosh, in a new format that included interviews and investigative reporting. Over the years the program and its English print iteration, Seeking Kin by Hillel Kuttler, have brought together hundreds of Jews from around the globe, enabling them to locate and reunite with long-lost relatives, friends and neighbors.
The members of the award jury include chairman Asher Weill, publisher and editor of ARIEL – The Israel Review of Arts and Letters from 1981 to 2003; Prof. Yehudith Auerbach of Bar-Ilan University’s School of Communication; Eytan Bentsur, former Foreign Ministry director-general; Sara Frenkel, former Diaspora correspondent for Israel Radio and a lifetime achievement award winner in 2002; Shalom Kital, former director-general of News Company and Channel 2; Prof. Gabriela Shalev, chairwoman of the Higher Academic Council at Ono Academic College as well as a former ambassador to the UN; and Bambi Sheleg, founder and editor-in-chief of Eretz Acheret and a 2011 award-winner.
■ ANTI -SEMITISM IS currently a hot topic for Jewish journalists and filmmakers, including those who live in countries where anti-Semitism was once rampant and is again coming to the surface. Some are dealing only with the resurgence, others are more concerned with going back to the past to illustrate where the roots of today’s anti-Semitism may lie.
One such person is Polish-Jewish filmmaker Pawel Jozwik, a native of Kielce who says being Jewish is not easy. He has therefore made it his mission in life to create films about prejudice, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Jozwik wants to make a film about 42 Jews from his hometown who in 1946, were murdered in Kielce after surviving the Holocaust and returning to their town.
The subject is painful and controversial in Poland to this day, and Jozwik has been unable to get any support for his project.
He has thus started a crowdfunding campaign, in the hope of raising sufficient capital to finance what he considers a very important documentary.
The story of the Kielce pogrom has been widely publicized in several languages, but even so, to the world at large it is basically unknown. Some people are more affected by films than by literature, and it is for them as well as for people who are affected by both mediums that Jozwik wants to go ahead with his project.
■ BACK IN March 2012, Yuli Edelstein – then public diplomacy minister – toured Tikun Olam, Israel’s largest marijuana- growing farm, and praised it as an example of Israel’s technological and medical progress. Yet few people knew then that his wife, Tatiana, was one of the people being helped by it. Edelstein said at that time that when it was realized how suffering people are benefiting, he was sure everyone would support its availability.
Tatiana Edelstein died a year-and-ahalf ago from cancer, and Edelstein, now Knesset speaker, is still putting his weight behind legalizing medicinal marijuana for all who need it.
A year after touring Tikun Olam, Edelstein – who was by then Knesset speaker – applied for permission to obtain medicinal cannabis for his wife, and the application was granted. If he was not the speaker and not conversant with the procedure and to whom to turn, it would have taken much longer, Edelstein said this week, as he contemplated how many people who could be helped are denied the possibility. Edelstein believes the subject requires serious, in-depth discussion to be followed by tight but compassionate legislation.
■ AN ELO QUENT anchorwoman and presenter on Channel 2, Dana Weiss, who is equally at home speaking in English as in Hebrew, is frequently called upon to be a speaker or moderator at conferences. This week, she was one of the speakers at the International Freedom of the Press conference hosted by the Jerusalem Press Club.
A lawyer by training, she disclosed that her family had wanted her to become a judge, but she had refused because she did want to be in the position of having to make decisions affecting other people’s lives. Yet as an investigative journalist and producer of documentaries, she has to make such decisions almost every day.
The dilemma confronting many journalists is not just what to put into the story, but what to leave out.
■ REGARDLESS OF where anyone’s politics may lie, a little logic never goes astray.
Yediot Aharonot reported on Thursday that singer/guitarist Shalom Hanoch, who was scheduled to open the Israel Festival that night by hosting Yehuda Poliker and Danny Sanderson, was seething because Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev had announced her intention to address the audience prior to his performance. Hanoch was reported as saying that the Israel Festival is not a political event, and that he objected to Regev’s appearance.
The Israel Festival is the Jewish state’s cultural showcase; it is obvious that whoever holds this portfolio must attend and deliver a brief greeting at the opening.
Limor Livnat, Regev’s predecessor in office, attended almost every major cultural event in the country and often made an appropriate statement at the beginning; there was minimal objection to her presence because it was understood this was her role. If Regev, who is new to her position, failed to attend the Israel Festival, there would have been a hue and cry – with political and entertainment pundits surmising she had boycotted the event because she and Hanoch are on opposite sides of the political fence.
In radio interviews during the day Thursday, Regev praised all three performers as icons who have enriched Israel’s cultural scene, but made the point that when the Culture and Sport Ministry helps fund a project, no one associated with the project should be protesting if the minister wants to say a few words.
■ ON THE night before the opening of the Israel Festival, entertainment of a different sort altogether was provided for invited guests to the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, there to watch a performance by the Noh classical Japanese dance theater – which has a tradition reaching back more than 1,000 years. The performance was facilitated through the mutual cooperation of the Jerusalem Municipality, the Foreign Ministry, the board of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and the Japanese Embassy.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he and his wife, Beverly, like to travel to Japan and absorb the diversity of its culture. When they were there approximately a year ago, they went to a Noh theater performance, and because it was so different from anything by way of entertainment in Israel, they thought it would be interesting to bring it to Jerusalem.
Noh master Tatsumi Manjiro explained that Noh is dedicated to world peace and for that reason, he had long been looking forward to performing in Jerusalem, where part of the performance would be a prayer for the peace of the Holy City as well as the world at large. In fact, he had created a special “Inori – Tribute for Peace” performance for the occasion.
Alan Berkley, chairman of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens board, was enthusiastic and effusive in welcoming the guests, praising manager Oren Ben-Yosef, who he described as “fantastic”; he also noted the JBG has the largest concentrated bonsai collection in the world, beautiful cherry blossom trees and the Israeli-Japanese monument of peace.
Berkley also spoke of “the amazing cultural diversity” of the gardens, which have special sections devoted to the flora of different countries.
“We are a start-up garden,” he enthused, lauding the innovation and creativity that have been invested in its beauty, and alluding to the fact that there are many plants which for all intents and purposes are unsuitable for Israel, yet somehow manage to take root and thrive here.
“We are building a garden of creative wonders,” he declared, and in commenting on the demographic diversity of those who come to work in the gardens, mentioned both convicted prisoners – for whom the gardens are a form of rehabilitation; and children – who learn from the earliest possible age to appreciate nature’s beauty. “We like to say to our children, ‘Throw away your screens and get dirty,’” said Berkley, to a gale of laughter.
Japanese Ambassador Shigeo Matsutomi observed the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens was an appropriate place for him, because his name in Japanese means the wealth of the pine tree. He was very pleased to share some aspects of Japanese culture that reflect conflicts in life, such as external harmony and internal combustion; he noted that Noh is the oldest “alive and active” theatrical art form in Japan.
Rafi Gamzu, who heads the Foreign Ministry’s cultural department, said the ministry was very pleased to act as a bridge between Jerusalem and Tokyo. He was also glad to see former ambassador to Japan Moshe Ben-Yaacov among those in the crowd.
Tatsumi demonstrated the discipline and restraint that is part and parcel of Noh, when he showed no sign of being disturbed by the water birds in the lake alongside the performance. Every now and again, the birds emitted a series of loud and repetitive quacks. Equally disturbing to the audience was the sound of communal singing from the restaurant across the lake, but like good troopers, Tatsumi and his team carried on as if nothing were amiss.
■ A TOTALLY different form of entertainment will be provided at Jerusalem’s Khan Theater on June 3, by New Zealand-born writer, performer, character artist, comedienne and producer Deborah Filler – whose Polish-born father survived the Plaszow, Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Theresienstadt concentration camps.
Her mother’s family, which was from Germany, fled to New Zealand in 1938; on her maternal grandfather’s side, Filler can trace her family back to the 16th century. An expert in changing character and accents, Filler has traveled to many parts of the world and has received excellent reviews for her current show, I Lost it in Kiev.
This is not her first time in Israel. In fact, she came here as a young girl and spent time at the Jewish Agency’s Youth Leadership Training Institute. She also spent time on a kibbutz, and her current show – which includes skits based on different parts of the world – includes a kibbutz scene.
This is a good “fix” for lovers of English-language satire and comedy, who just don’t get enough of it in Israel.
■ FORMER POST reporter and entertainment editor Ruth Eglash, who now works for The Washington Post, has a bureau chef who cares about keeping his staff happy.
During a trip to London, William Booth, who is Eglash’s boss, bought her four jars of Marmite, the national bread spread, and sent her an email showing the four jars in a row. One has to have a special taste or upbringing to enjoy Marmite, or its Australian near-equivalent Vegemite.
At the Post, Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde knows everyone on-staff likes chocolate, so that’s what he brings back from abroad. It’s certainly sweeter than Marmite.