One of the great characters of Jerusalem is Toby Willig, a former national president of Emunah of America. Willig, now a nonagenarian, is famous for knowing almost everyone who is anyone, and for her readiness to voice her opinion on just about anything – but always without malice, no matter how much she may disapprove of something. She is also a frequent letter writer in response to items in various publications, and her name can often be seen on the Letters page of The Jerusalem Post.
Thirty years ago, she founded the Emunah of Jerusalem seminar committee, which has been conducting monthly meetings to which she has invited a large number of exceptional speakers. She has also arranged visits to cultural institutions, historical sites and Emunah projects.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of this committee, of which Willig has been at the helm, Willig will be honored at the upcoming annual Emunah concert at the Jerusalem Theater on November 21.
Proceeds from the concert will go to Emunah’s Neve Landy residential home.
■ ANOTHER NONAGENARIAN who may come in for honors is Rachel Rabin-Yaakov, the older sister of Yitzhak Rabin, who has been nominated by the Kibbutz Movement to receive the Israel Prize in the 70th anniversary year of the independence of the state.
She was one of the founders of Kibbutz Manara, the first Jewish settlement in the Naftali Hills. In the early years of the kibbutz she worked in the fields, and traversed the rocky hill slopes that had no proper path.
During the War of Independence, Manara, which is located near the Lebanese border, was in an extremely vulnerable position, and mothers and children were evacuated to Kfar Giladi. Rachel Rabin remained at Manara and helped to defend the kibbutz from enemy gunfire, treated the wounded and was involved with their evacuation. During a lull in the fighting, she married Rafi Yaakov, an immigrant from Germany. They had three children and adopted a fourth, who was killed in the Yom Kippur War.
From 1981 to 1986, Rabin-Yaakov worked at the Education Ministry as an inspector of kibbutz education.
She was also elected to the Board of Governors of Tel-Hai Academic College and has remained there till this day. Since 1996, she has also been actively involved with the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv. Over the years, she has been the recipient of various prizes, but the Kibbutz Movement believes that the cherry on top will be the Israel Prize.
She was in Jerusalem this week, as she is every year for memorial ceremonies for her assassinated brother, with whom she was very close.
■ SEVERAL DIPLOMATS – among them Ambassador Anu Saarela from Finland, Ambassador-designate Joao Bernardo Weinstein from Portugal, Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, the head of the European Union Delegation to Israel, and Margarida Mano, the chairwoman of the committee on Economics, Financial Affairs, Social Affairs and Education of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean – attended the opening of the third annual Youth Organized Collaboration on Peace and Sustainability, which was held at the Eastern Mediterranean International School at Hakfar Hayarok Youth Village.
Among the 250-plus students and guests from more than 40 countries who attended the three-day conference were representatives from Gaza and the West Bank.
■ YOCOPAS is an innovative program that provides a platform for Middle Eastern youth and those from elsewhere to interact, network, exchange ideas and translate initiatives into action. Maya Shina, 17, who is one of the YOCOPAS organizers from Cape Town, South Africa, spoke of apartheid crisis management, and disclosed that it is mandatory in South African high schools to take apartheid studies and to study the teachings of Nelson Mandela, who succeeded in promoting the dialogue which brought about the end of apartheid.
“I believe in dialogue with the other, and I am sure that if we had a leader like him [in the world today] we would have succeeded in bringing peace,” she said.
■ ISRAEL RECEIVES so many hi-tech accolades that there is almost the danger of becoming blasé and resting on past laurels. Still, it is a source of national pride when Israeli companies and/or individuals in the hi-tech industry, or in any other field for that matter, are singled out.
Itsik Kattan and Zvika Ashani have been named among the top 12 physical security and video surveillance market influencers for 2017, in a list compiled by industry publication Security World. The list was compiled on the basis of a poll in which readers of the publication were asked to recommend people who they thought had great insight into physical security and video surveillance.
Agent Video Intelligence is led by CEO Kattan and co-founder and CTO Ashani.
Ashani is also a featured speaker in the upcoming Smart City Expo World Congress, which will be held in Barcelona from November 14 to 16.
■ WHILE ISRAEL’s leadership keeps warning the world about the dangers of a nuclear Iran, the implications of a nuclear North Korea are threatening to world stability no less than those of a nuclear Iran. These issues will be aired at a high-level discussion with leading Israeli and international experts on Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Conference Center, 2 Ahuzat Bayit Street, Tel Aviv.
Participants in the event, organized by the Israel-Asia Center and the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, will explore the regional and international implications of a nuclear North Korea, and will present their views on what they believe to be the foreseeable actions of North Korea’s neighbors and the United States They will also examine Israel’s perspective, given its opposition to the Iranian nuclear agreement. Speakers will also look into whether there are any economic, diplomatic and military options to the status quo.
Opening remarks will be made by Rebecca Zeffert, founder and executive director of the Israel-Asia Center, and Dr. Laurence Weibaum, director of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations. Speakers will include Dr.
Daniel Pinkston, lecturer on international relations at Troy University, Dr. Emily Landau, head of the arms control and regional security program at the Institute for National Security Studies, and Dr. Alon Levkovitch, BESA Center researcher.
The moderator will be Larry Luxner, News Editor, The Washington Diplomat.
■ A SOMEWHAT different conversation can be experienced in Jerusalem in the evening of the same date, when veteran DJ and Israel’s walking encyclopedia on the entertainment industry Yoav Kutner hosts singer- guitarist David Broza at Beit Avi Chai at 9 p.m. Kutner is a mine of trivia information about entertainers, such as, in Broza’s case, he met his first wife, Ruti, on a Friday, proposed to her on Saturday, and married her on Sunday. They divorced after 17 years of marriage. He spent much of his early life in England and Spain, and before becoming a guitarist and folk singer planned to be a graphic artist.
■ THE PUBLIC and the media remain divided as to whether the address by President Reuven Rivlin to the Knesset at the opening of its winter session was statesmanlike or political. Those who think it was the latter say that the president overstepped the bounds of his office, and in some cases make the point that the views he expressed in defense of the judiciary run contrary to the views that he expressed when he was a legislator.
OMETZ, the movement for good government and social and legal justice, sent a letter of support to Rivlin (with a copy to the state comptroller) in which it condemned the attacks against the president and the institute of the presidency.
At a midweek meeting with CEOs of local authorities subsequent to Rivlin’s remarks, Harel Toubi, the director-general of the President’s Residence, characterized the President’s Residence as the “common denominator” for all sectors of the population and all the issues related to the state.
Alluding to Rivlin’s controversial address to the Knesset, Toubi, while conceding that the role of president is an apolitical ceremonial position, said that there are times when the president must speak out on issues that threaten the democratic status of the state.
He said that he had heard that certain legislators want to do away with the presidency and are asking why the state has to support a purely ceremonial institution to the tune of NIS 60 million per annum. But what is happening in the country now is proof of the importance of the presidency, he said, adding that when democracy is at risk, the president can’t be a fence-sitter. “He is the guardian of the common denominator.”
Some of Rivlin’s critics said that he had taken his cue from his predecessor Shimon Peres, who they charged had been a very political president.
■ LABOR PARTY members received email notices from MK Hilik Bar in which he welcomed the new addition to his family, a baby girl, safely delivered by his wife, Edit. Bar described the infant as “a beautiful princess” who is a sister to Harel and Oriya.[email protected]