A rare birthday gift

Usually such awards to people living in Israel are made at the residence of the French ambassador in Jaffa.

December 21, 2017 22:58
A rare birthday gift

Yoni Peres performs with singer David D’Or. (photo credit: KAPLAN MEDICAL CENTER)

It’s not 100 percent certain that he’s the oldest working journalist in the world, but Walter Bingham, who will celebrate his 94th birthday on January 5, is certainly the oldest working radio journalist in Israel. Bingham sometimes covers several events a day for his radio program Walter’s World, which is broadcast on Arutz 7, and he’s agile in both mind and body.

Born in Germany, Bingham – who was sent to England on a Kindertransport, fought in the British Army during World War Two, and made aliya in 2004 – now lives in Jerusalem. On June 4 this year, he received a Guinness World Record Certificate testifying that he was the oldest living radio talk show host. Can anything top that? And what does one give as a 94th birthday present? The French Embassy will on February 15 present him with a gift that only the French can give, the Legion of Honor.

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Usually such awards to people living in Israel are made at the residence of the French ambassador in Jaffa, but Bingham’s life has always taken unexpected turns, and the presentation on this occasion will be on board the French frigate Jean de Vienne.

Bingham was among the soldiers who took part in the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944. For this, he was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the field.

Over the years he has been a failed businessman, a journalist, actor and male model, and despite the fact that he’s religiously observant, has appeared as Santa Claus at Harrods and Selfridges, and even now still stands straight-backed and tall.

In 1968, he received a pilot’s license and flew his plane from London to Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv. He had planned to do a sky dive for his 94th birthday gift to himself, but decided to steer clear of risks in order to be fit when he boards the French ship to receive his medal.

■ IN SEPTEMBER 2016, Werner and Pamela Loval of Jerusalem celebrated his 90th birthday, her 80th birthday and 60 years of wedded bliss. The festivities were held at the King David hotel, where their wedding had taken place in 1956 including among other guests Moshe Dayan, Moshe Sharett, Dov Yosef, Walter Eytan, Teddy Kollek, Gershon Agron, Chaim Herzog and Zalman Shazar.

From an historical perspective, their wedding was the first kosher function at the hotel.

Separately and together, the Lovals have pioneered the Reform Movement in Israel, were among the leaders in the establishment of the capital’s Nayot neighborhood, served Israel abroad as diplomats, ran a real estate empire, worked in public relations, and were active in many community organizations, especially Rotary.

They continue to be active and can be seen at many social events. She is an avid Scrabble player, a keen member of the Jerusalem Scrabble Club and plays at national and international Scrabble tournaments in addition to playing with various Internet partners. On Thursday, January 4, the Lovals will be honored by Hadassah Israel with a brunch at the Orient Hotel, where they will be presented with the Builders of Jerusalem Award. There will be musical entertainment by Adina Feldman and Paul Salter. The event is also a fund-raiser aimed at providing a state-of-the-art comprehensive computer program for Hadassah Hospitals’ neonatal intensive care unit.

■ COMPARED TO Walter Bingham and the Lovals, Rabbi Avigdor Burstein, who is stepping down after 40 years as the spiritual leader of Jerusalem’s Hazvi Yisrael Congregation, is a spring chicken who is about to celebrate his 70th birthday. Congregants will honor him with a kiddush this Shabbat. Although he is relinquishing his synagogue duties, he is not retiring.

His other great love is the Beit Shemesh Educational Center (BSEC), which he established 32 years ago together with a dedicated group of friends, and which he continues to manage.

The idea behind the project was to provide a yeshiva-high school program for boys from low socioeconomic backgrounds in order to give them a platform for developing their potential and aspiring to heights never dreamed of by their parents. BSEC not only fills the heads of its students with knowledge of a variety of subjects, but takes care of their nutritional, physical, academic and therapeutic needs.

They come to BSEC in seventh grade and continue to 12th grade and matriculation.

Those who pass their exams continue on to universities or yeshivot that combine religious studies and military service. BSEC counts among its alumni lawyers, scientists, educators, doctors, military officers and rabbis.

In honor of Burstein’s 70th birthday, the Friends of BSEC, several of whom are also members of Hazvi Yisrael, are hosting a gala birthday dinner for him at Jerusalem’s Leonardo Hotel on Tuesday, December 26.

The rabbi and his wife, Dina, will be serenaded by Dudu Fisher.

Over the years, the main congregation of the three operating at Hazvi Yisrael has become a third-age congregation with many grandparents and great grandparents and very few children. Burstein will be succeeded by American-born Rabbi Yosef Ote, who has five children. While most congregants will welcome the new blood, they will miss Burstein’s remarkable ability to deliver a sagacious yet succinct sermon.

He can pack a lot of food for thought into just a few sentences.

Quite a number of congregants are hoping that Burstein will make himself available for times when Ote may have other commitments, such as army service. He is a reserve unit commander of the Givati Brigade. Meanwhile, congregants can take comfort in the fact that Burstein still has a few pithy sermons up his sleeve before the changing of the guard.

■ SHE’S ONLY eight years old, but child model Anastasia Averbuch already has 68,000 Instagram followers after being chosen as the presenter for Pilpel Kids swimwear.

If the surname seems familiar, it’s because she’s the daughter of pole-vaulting champion Alex Averbuch, who together with his wife, Natalia, brought Anastasia to the photo shoot.

Although she’s quite a pro on the set, when she goes home to Netanya, she’s like any other girl her age. She happens to be an outstanding student and not surprisingly she’s also good at sports. Aside from that, she loves to compete in ballroom-dancing contests.

■ IT’S FORTUNATE that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t have a crowd complex, because hot on the heels of this week’s massive Likud Hanukka party at Kfar Hamaccabiah is the Birthright Israel Mega event this coming Sunday, December 24, at the International Convention Center Jerusalem. It’s not certain which of the two audiences Netanyahu prefers.

■ WOMEN WITH a slightly different political slant to that of the prime minister will congregate at Kfar Hamaccabiah in Ramat Gan on Sunday for the 10th multi-generational Emunah Conference, where greetings will be delivered by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, after which a series of women will present TED talks on taking responsibility.

In recent months “responsibility” has become the new buzz word. The speakers will be Aviva Winter, Oshra Koren, Maor Kaplan, Esther Naftalis and Michal Waldiger. Their individual topics will focus on formulating Jewish culture, influences on religious services, educating toward healthy sex, army service, and political integration.

■ ANYONE IN the audience who didn’t know who he was, but thought that the face of the lead guitarist looked familiar, might have been under the impression that he looked like a younger version Shimon Peres. Well, that’s what genetics are all about. Yoni Peres, the elder of the two sons of the late president, looks even more like his father than does Chemi Peres, who is much more in the limelight, though both bear a strong resemblance to their father.

The occasion was a fund-raiser for the Ophthalmology Department at Kaplan Medical center in Rehovot, organized by the Friends of Kaplan at Allenby Farm at Kibbutz Netzer Sereni. The event was attended by some 100 business leaders. Actor Dovele Glickman moderated the evening without charge, and conducted a public auction of objets d’arts donated by the Biderman Gallery.

Singer David D’Or also appeared free of charge and sang a duet with Dr. Carlos Gruzman, the director of the hospital. Also appearing gratis was the Mehametzet Band headed by Dr. Yoni Peres, who also happens to be a member of the executive of the Friends of Kaplan. Proceeds from the evening were dedicated to the purchase of urgently needed stateof- the-art equipment for the operating theater in Kaplan’s ophthalmology unit.

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