Grapevine: ‘Yekkes’ at Tefen

News briefs from around the nation.

December 3, 2015 16:11
3 minute read.
Stef Wertheimer

Israeli billionaire industrialist Stef Wertheimer.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

■ VETERAN INDUSTRIALIST Stef Wertheimer, who even though he’s lived for most of his life in Israel does not forget his German roots and has an open “yekke museum” at his Tefen Industrial Park in the Western Galilee, hosted a group of 17-year-old German students from the Philipp Matthäus-Hahn-Schule in Nürtingen, Germany, who are in Israel on a study tour as part of their A-levels curriculum.

Their “teachers” at Tefen were Wertheimer and Judith Bar-Or, who is in charge of Tefen’s Museum of German-Speaking Jews. They also met Andreas Mayer, 94, whose father, Otto Mayer, was one of the early settlers in Nahariya’s predominantly yekke enclave. Mayer and his brother Justus were both avid photographers, and together had photo-chronicled Netanya’s history. Andreas Mayer gave their joint photographic collection to Beit Lieberman Heritage Museum of the History of Nahariya. The city was settled and built by German Jews from 1934 onward.

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■ SOME OF Israel’s most influential figures are graduates of Tel Aviv’s famous Blich High School, which for years has been the barometer for Knesset election results. The preelection polls taken by Blich have proved to be uncannily accurate – if not 100 percent then very close to the mark.

Students from the Blich school were used for a video to highlight the popularity of former president Shimon Peres, who received the Diplomacy Award for 2015.

In a very cool production that was screened at the Foreign Ministry, diplomats laughed in delight at something that was so lighthearted and far removed from the usual heavy-handed and boring tributes to honorees with long and varied histories of community service.

■ WHEN MASTER CHEF Tom Franz was the guest of honor at a Diplomatic Spouses Club event in January of this year, he made such an enormous hit that those members of the International Women’s Club who also belong to DSC decided that they must invite him – and this was certainly the year in which to do it. Franz, a German-born convert who is now a practicing Orthodox Jew living in Israel, is the symbolic persona of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Israel-Germany diplomatic relations, which continue to be celebrated both formally and informally.

So when the German Culture Committee of the IWC was planning an end-ofyear function, it was only natural that they asked Franz to be the guest of honor.

No sooner was it announced that he would be Building Bridges with Food as part of the German culture event at the Herzliya Pituah home of Nathalie Mimoun, organizers were simply swamped with reservations. Needless to say, Franz’s appearance on Tuesday morning of this week was a resounding success.

Franz first came to Israel at age 22 and spent 18 months doing volunteer work.

The experience left a strong impression on him, and he kept thinking about Israel after returning to Germany. It took him six years to decide that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in Israel; not only that but he wanted to be Jewish.

He went through a full Orthodox conversion process, met and married his wife, Dana, and all the rest is history.

■ IN ORTHODOX schools for girls, strict attention is paid to necklines, sleeves below the elbow and skirt lengths. One doesn’t expect such strictures in secular schools. However, it does happen. Haaretz put a teaser on its front page this week encouraging readers to peruse a story about female students posing for a graduation photo in semi-formal black dresses.

The 12th-grade students at the Ben-Zvi High School in Kiryat Ono had been asked not to dress immodestly, and accordingly they wore high-necked dresses, and most of the dresses also had long sleeves. The problem was the hemline, which was halfway up the thigh. Even though many bewigged and be-scarfed Orthodox women wear skirts and dresses in which the hem is way above the knee, this did not influence the school directorate, who demanded that the girls pull down the skirts to cover their knees. The reason: the thigh-revealing skirts did not fit in with the values of the school and emitted the wrong message.

Whereas not so long ago students could wear whatever they wanted, so long as it wasn’t totally indecent, many schools are now banning girls from wearing shorts in summer, especially tight-fitting short shorts.

Meretz MK Ilan Gilon is siding with the girls, and has related to the matter on Facebook. Gilon, incidentally, sits on the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality.

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