Someone at Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People is gifted with prescience.
Among the exhibitions at the opening in May of its new wing was one dedicated to Bob Dylan on his 75th birthday under the title “Forever Young: Bob Dylan at 75.” In light of this, that the Swedish Academy awarded Dylan the Nobel Prize for Literature was a source of great pleasure to Irina Nevzlin, who chairs the Nadav Foundation and the museum’s board of directors. The foundation is one of the museum’s key financial supporters.
Nevzlin, in congratulating Dylan, said she was delighted to hear that he has been named as a Nobel Prize laureate. “Dylan was, and continues to be, a revolutionary, a leader and a trailblazer who inspires millions of people.
He pushed boundaries and reinvented himself and his music. He never stood still but kept exploring and striving to be the best he could possibly be.
“His complex relationship with his own Judaism is well documented, but these same elements of bravery, soul-searching and leadership so evident in his music and musical journey are profoundly Jewish. Judaism is all about searching, exploring and evolving; this is what defines our Jewish identity and our Jewish soul. Those Jewish elements influenced him and his music, and this is why we decided to build an exhibition around Dylan, as questioning, self-exploration and striving for betterment is interwoven into Jewish tradition.”
Nevzlin recently returned from New York, where together with American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot she celebrated the institution’s 38th anniversary and the completion of the first phase of its renewal.
The occasion was also used to pay tribute to the life and legacy of lawyer, real estate tycoon, author, media personality and philanthropist Leon Charney, who died in March.
Prior to his death, Charney and his wife, Tzili Doron-Charney, established the Leon H. Charney Center at Beit Hatfutsot. This new digital center will encompass Charney’s journalistic and musical legacy and will be added to Beit Hatfutsot’s ever-growing database. It will be available to visitors to the site free of charge.
At the 38th anniversary gala dinner, at which the establishment of the Charney Center was announced, Tzili Charney was honored as Yekirat Beit Hatfutsot, the institution’s highest award. In her acceptance speech she described Beit Hatfutsot as “a vibrant and dynamic enterprise, a global center for the shared agenda of Israeli society and world Jewry, a magnet for Jews the world over, a hub for Jewish peoplehood and the heart and soul of Jewish life, dealing with the fundamental aspects of the global Jewish experience and the interaction of Jewish civilization with other cultures.”
Nati and Mickey Charney accepted an award on behalf of their late father.
Honorary chairman of the dinner was former Israel consul-general in New York ambassador Ido Aharoni, who said “Beit Hatfutsot has a very special place in my heart, as my life’s mission has been engaging others in the story of our people. The story we tell about ourselves is the core of our national security and resilience as a people. National security does not begin and end with military might.
National security is about the ability to unite your people around a central narrative.”
A similar sentiment was voiced by Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes Media and the tribute chairman, who spoke of Beit Hatfutsot as “a most relevant, vital and significant global venue that has affected and transformed millions of people in Israel and around the world since its inception 38 years ago. The story and the experience of a people living among other people for millennia, sustaining their identity and core values, contributing magnificently to the world in every arena is captivating and powerful in its universal meaning and resonance.”
Former senator Joseph Lieberman declared that “Beit Hatfutsot is a singularly important institution for all those who love and are interested in the Jewish people, Judaism, Jewish history and the role Jews have played for millennia, and continue to play, in the world. My commitment to Beit Hatfutsot emanates from the fact that every person, regardless of their degree of religious observance, find their place in the time line of history as it is presented in this great institution.”
The event was also attended by Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Dani Dayan, and the Who’s Who of American Jewry, including American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot president Daniel Pincus, Ingeborg and Ira Rennert, Sofia and Mike Segal, Ruth and Sandor Frankel, Jerome Chazen, Malcolm Hoenlein, Alisa Doctoroff, Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, Nina Weiner, Wolf and Lynn Blitzer, Stephen and Sandra Greenberg, Richard Stone, Eric Goldstein, Deborah Halberstam, Bryna Wasserman, Eitan Wertheimer, Claudio and Penny Pincus and Sidney Banon. Among the non-Americans were Israeli businessman, philanthropist and social activist Eitan Wertheimer and Wunan Xiao, who headed a delegation from China.
■ AS MENTIONED previously in this column, it is not certain whether all the edicts delivered by Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev can be interpreted as her anti-democratic disposition or whether it’s just a means of grabbing newspaper headlines and remaining in the limelight.
Following her objections to the appearance of Arab rapper Tamer Nafar, who legitimizes terrorism, at a concert at the Neveh Yosef Theater in Haifa, there was a lot of publicity for her, for him and for Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, who kept eluding members of the media who wanted to interview him.
There were a series of on-off press releases, but in the final analysis a heavily guarded Nafar appeared, to a mix of cheers and boos. Among the hecklers was ultra-rightwing Jewish rapper Yoav Eliasi, professional known as Hatzel (The Shadow). Among those who cheered Nafar was controversial Arab MK Haneen Zoabi.
At the end of the performance Nafar, who is an Israeli Arab, said: “I speak two languages because I’m a man who knows how to talk. I want to thank everyone after this rough week that has passed. To those who booed me – I can’t even hate you.”
■ ACRE MAYOR Shimon Lancry, who is also chairman of his city’s Fringe Theater Festival, has also been the target of Regev’s edicts. His response was: “If you only want to see the things that please you, don’t look in the mirror, because it shows you both the good and the bad.” In an interview on Israel Radio, Lancry said that he had always given performers complete freedom of expression.
■ APROPOS ISRAEL Radio, has anyone noticed the frequency with which veteran broadcaster Shalom Kital is back on air? Kital began working at Israel Radio in 1970 and resigned in 1993 in order to join the founding team of Channel 2. In 1995 he was among the founders of the Channel 2 News Corporation and subsequently became its director.
He resigned in 2007, failed in 2008 for a bid to establish a local radio station, became an adviser and campaign director for Ehud Barak, resigned in 2009, and in 2012 became the strategic adviser for the Labor Party. In 2013, he was offered his own political program, Third Reading, on the Knesset Channel.
In April of this year, Shimon Alkabetz, the director of Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet, decided to pair Kital with Benny Teitelbaum for the period in which Teitelbaum’s regular partner, Adi Meiri, was away on maternity leave. This week Kital has been heard as the anchorman on Keren Neubach’s Seder Hayom (Agenda) program.
What else is in store for him on Israel Radio? Does this mean that he, too, will be working for the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, if and when it goes to air? A more interesting question is: What is his secret? He is not charismatic, nor does he have a radio-phonic voice.
■ ONE Of the most active members of Knesset in his time was the late Yuri Shtern, who died in January 2007 following a protracted battle with cancer. Shtern was the founder of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, many of whose members are in Israel this week to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and who participated in Thursday’s Jerusalem March.
Following Shtern’s death at age 58, his family established the Yuri Shtern Holistic Care Center, which has helped numerous cancer patients and their families. In order to raise funds to enable the center to continue with its work, there will be a special fund-raising evening in conjunction with the Batsheva Ensemble, which will perform Ohad Naharin’s Deca Dance on Tuesday, November 1, at the Jerusalem Theater. Established at the initiative of Shtern’s widow, Lena, the center provides integrated holistic treatment for individuals dealing with cancer, as well as their families. Each day, 150 qualified therapists come to the oncology department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center to provide patients with alternative medical treatments to help them cope with their illness.
The center provides alternative medical treatments for a wide-ranging population of individuals coping with cancer. Treatments are provided free of charge to both outpatients and inpatients, and for a minimum fee to family members, at the clinic located in Beit Yuri Shtern in Jerusalem. These treatments significantly improve the quality of life of patients struggling with cancer, as well as for their families, and help ease side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation.
The Yuri Shtern Fund and its Holistic Care Center are supported by donations and grants.
Lena Shtern believes that holistic treatments benefit both mind and body, ease the psychological stress of battling cancer, and therefore increase the chances of recovery.
All the therapists on the team are volunteers, specializing in palliative oncology and complimentary medicine, and provide more than 8,000 treatments a year for cancer patients and their family members.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has already promised to attend the event.