Grapevine: Between the lines

Read up on this week's social news.

By
October 14, 2017 20:57
Israeli writer Amos Oz

Amos Oz. (photo credit: DANNY MECHLIS/BGU)

Though once again on the short list of the Nobel Prize for literature, best-selling Israeli author Amos Oz, who has won numerous other prizes, should not be disheartened that he missed out yet again, but should have faith that he may eventually win the award. The late Ephraim Kishon, who was a legend in his lifetime, was embittered by the fact that he had long been overlooked for the Israel Prize. His works had been translated into 37 languages, making him one of the most widely read satirists of the 20th century, and yet he did not receive the Israel Prize till 2002, when it was for life achievement and not for literature. Though he was nominated for the Nobel Prize, it was an award that he never received, though he received many other awards in Israel and abroad. Oz received the Israel Prize in 1998.

■ AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is coming to Israel for the Battle of Beersheba centenary on October 31, may be expected to raise the issue of the drawn-out effort to extradite Malka Leifer, the Israeli principal of an ultra-Orthodox school for girls in Melbourne who sexually abused several of her students.

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When the story came to light in 2008, she fled home to Israel, which has so far resisted the requests of the Australian authorities to extradite her on the grounds of being mentally unstable and therefore unable to be brought to trial. This excuse does not hold much water, as Leifer, despite 74 counts of alleged abuse, has had no restrictions placed on her movements, has not been hospitalized and is still teaching.

Despite the extensive publicity her case has received both in Israel and Australia, there are Israeli parents who are willing to entrust their daughters to her care. According to a report in the Australian Jewish News, Turnbull met quite recently with Dassi Erlich, one of Leifer’s victims. A spokesperson for Turnbull told the paper that the meeting had been constructive and positive and that the government remains committed to securing Leifer’s extradition.

■ KNESSET SPEAKER Yuli Edelstein was photographed on the eve of Sukkot putting the finishing touches to the sukka he built. He tweeted: “For one week I’ll exchange the gavel for a real hammer.”

■ WRITING IN Tablet Magazine, Jeffrey F. Taffet recalled how building a sukka helped former New York mayor John Lindsay to be re-elected. “On the eve of the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot, with the 2017 New York City mayoral contest already in full swing, it is instructive to reflect on the impact that a similar coincidence had on a mayor’s race nearly 50 years ago, and on the nature and influence of the solidly Democratic yet independent- minded Jewish political base that proved decisive in that election.

“In 1969, New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay needed Jewish voters to win his reelection bid. But in the months before the election, survey and anecdotal evidence suggested that Jewish support at the polls would not be forthcoming. Many Jews had come to believe that Lindsay had not been effective and, more importantly, that he had little interest in supporting their particular interests.

“Recognizing the necessity of courting Jewish voters, Lindsay took a series of important symbolic steps to reassure Jews that he understood and sympathized with their concerns.

Most notable among these was an extraordinary reception he gave in a sukka for Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir during her visit to New York in late September of 1969.

“Lindsay’s advisers believed that this reception was the key factor that helped him win Jewish support and, by extension, the election.

In his second term, Lindsay continued to focus on appealing to Jewish voters using the model set by the Meir visit – by embracing their international concerns. This included energetically snubbing foreign leaders whom New York Jews believed had anti-Israel agendas, traveling to Israel, and embracing the nascent Soviet Jewry movement.”

New York is now once again facing mayoral elections on November 7, and according to the polls incumbent Bill de Blasio, who won the Democratic primary in September, is set to serve another term.

New York has had three Jewish mayors – Abe Beame, Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg – though technically, Fiorello La Guardia was also halachicly Jewish. His mother was Jewish and a descendant of Italy’s prestigious Luzzato family of rabbis, kabbalists, scholars and poets.

■ THERE IS always something heart-warming when Israelis are admired and revered abroad for the work they do. Photorealist painter Yigal Ozeri, whose one-man show, “The Storm,” will open at the Zemack Galery in Tel Aviv’s Kikar Hamedina on October 19, was reviewed in the Huffington Post in August.

The reviewer wrote: “The art world is in agreement that Ozeri is among the leading photorealist painters, enjoying great respect and admiration internationally. The quality of his works is beyond doubt, his technique is unrivaled, and his portraits are as exquisite as they are sought after.”

Ozeri is based in New York and has been living in the US for the past 25 years. He is known for large-scale cinematic oil portraits of young women in landscapes. His subjects are so life-like that his paintings often look like photographs.

■ ABOUT a week ago, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the great authorities on Jewish law, dropped by United Hatzalah headquarters at the entrance to Jerusalem while en route to the Western Wall and immediately attracted the attention of residents in the predominantly haredi neighborhood. Hatzala president and founder Eli Beer managed to get to the door of Kanievsky’s car and told him of the importance of supporting the thousands of dedicated volunteers who each day save lives across Israel.

Kanievsky reached into his pocket, took out a NIS 200 note and gave it to Beer as a contribution toward United Hatzalah’s work.

At Beer’s request, he then blessed all of the organization’s donors, whose contributions enable the purchase of additional ambucycles so that more volunteers can respond quickly with emergency situations. Kanievsky did not require any explanation about the importance of United Hatzalah, for he is the official rabbi and spiritual guide for the non-profit organization Belev Echad, which is dedicated to assisting sick and disabled children and adults.

■ A CONFERENCE on “The Struggle for United Jerusalem” will launch the recently established Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies on Monday, November 6, from 2 p.m. at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, 6 Nakhon Street, Jerusalem. Speakers will include JISS president Prof. Efraim Inbar, professor emeritus of political science at Bar-Ilan University and founding director of BIU’s Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies; Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Zev Elkin; Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat; Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, professors Hilel Frisch and Yitzhak Katz, Drs. Eran Lerman and David Koren, Rabbi Yaakov Medan and others. The conference will be conducted in Hebrew with simultaneous English translation.

■ SINGER Rikki Gal, who is an avid bicyclist and who plans to sell her car because she prefers riding her bike, decided earlier this year to upgrade her two-wheel vehicle and bought an electric bike. It was not a good idea. Gal had a nasty accident, after which someone stole her bike. She was actually thrilled that it was stolen, because meant that she could go back to her regular bicycle without having to find an excuse.

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