Grapevine: The Polish connection

By
July 15, 2017 20:37

“Three months ago I participated in a cross-country cycling trip with a group called Geerz that empowers youth through informal education revolving around cycling excursions."




AVI MOSKOWITZ (left) toasting life with a Beer Bazaar patron.

AVI MOSKOWITZ (left) toasting life with a Beer Bazaar patron.. (photo credit:Courtesy)

The Polish connection with Israel goes way beyond diplomacy, considering how many of Israel’s pre-state pioneers came from Poland, and how many more Holocaust survivors came from there. The connection between the two countries continues to thrive, regardless of changing administrations and new generations of Poles, who may have heard of Jews but have seldom met anyone Jewish unless they made a specific effort to do so.

Nonetheless, there was a reunion in Poland last week between Dr. Laurence Weinbaum, the executive director of the Israel Office of the World Jewish Congress, and Piotr Puchta and Agnieszka Magdziak Miszewska, each of whom served as a Polish diplomat in Israel. Magdziak Miszewska is a former ambassador, and Puchta served more than once at different levels. He also served in the Palestinian Authority.

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The three met at the University of Warsaw, which was the alma mater of Menachem Begin, and was last week the venue of the 14th Warsaw East European Conference.

Weinbaum moderated a roundtable on Israel, the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe. In his student days, Weinbaum studied in Poland and speaks Polish fluently.

He has frequently returned to participate in academic and political conferences.

IN THE days of black-and-white photography, portrait photographers used to do fascinating things with light and shadow to bring out hidden aspects of their subjects, but now that color is more dominant than black and white, photographers have to resort to a certain gimmickry in the pose in order to make the photo eye-catching.

An interesting example of this can be seen in Sharon Beck’s Tel Aviv-Berlin exhibition that opened last week in the Ramat Aviv Mall in north Tel Aviv. There are photographs in both color and black and white, with more dramatic effects in the latter. Beck has photographed well-known figures from the entertainment industry as well as politicians such as German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who obviously did not attend the opening, nor did Hollywood actress and model Ayelet Zurer, but many of the Israelis featured in the exhibition did.

Among them were actress Yael Abecassis and her son, Mori, singer Dafna Armoni and her daughter Ella, and singer Riki Gal, who last Friday week celebrated her 67th birthday. Among the other people photographed are singer Miri Mesika, actress Agam Rodberg, writer and former politician Yael Dayan, Yiddishpiel director Sasi Keshet, and the late Ronit Elkabetz, the striking filmmaker and actress, whose death from cancer in April last year shocked her many friends and fans.
INTERVIEWED ON Kan Reshet Bet last week about reactions in New York to the Western Wall crisis, Consul- General Dani Dayan said that he doubts that most of the people who are so vehemently against Reform Jews had ever met one, and he conjectured that they probably don’t really know what Reform Judaism is about.

Interviewed on the same radio station in the early morning following the results of the Labor primaries, former Labor MK and government minister and subsequently Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin, when asked what advice he had for new Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay, said that he wouldn’t presume to give him any advice, but taking the overall situation into account, he thought that it might be a wise move to emulate the British system and to establish a shadow government.

That would certainly be one way of ensuring greater unity within the party, and it could also compensate all the other contenders for party leadership. There would still be enough seats left over for people such as Shelly Yacimovich and Eitan Cabel. If he takes up the idea, Gabbay might even offer a seat to Tzipi Livni.

IS THE prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, in trouble? No, the question has nothing to do with her court cases. It has to do with her departed hairdresser. Yediot Aharonot devoted two-thirds of a page to the fact that Jean Cohen, who has styled her hair for the past four years, has decided to call it quits.

It’s not as if he has anything against her. The story is not exactly a repetition of tales in the anthology of disgruntled employees. It’s just that it’s a losing proposition for him money-wise to keep commuting between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and forfeiting almost a day’s work in the salon, where prices are in the range of NIS 500 for a hairdo, as distinct from the NIS 75 that he gets for creating a natural but flattering look for Netanyahu. No, don’t jump to conclusions. She isn’t being mean. That’s the sum that has been determined by the state comptroller, Cohen was reported as telling Itay Yaakov of Xnet. It simply does not pay for him to make the trip from Tel Aviv and back at his own expense.

There’s also another factor. For a while, Cohen was Netanyahu’s most influential fashion arbiter, advising her not only about the hairstyles that were most suitable for her, but also on matters of attire and accessories. Then along came stylist Sandra Ringler, and Cohen lost some of his clout. During the Trump visit, there was even stiffer competition, as Nicole Raidman, who owns a couture boutique in Tel Aviv’s trendy Kikar Hamedina, became one of Netanyahu’s close friends and confidantes.

This is not the first time that Cohen and Netanyahu have embarked on a parting of the ways. The question is whether it will be permanent this time around. It may well be. Jerusalem has some highly skilled hairdressers, and it would certainly save time to have at least one of them on call.

DURING A working session that he had this week with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, President Reuven Rivlin recalled two of his own connections with Ireland. The more recent was when, as speaker of the Knesset, he had visited the Emerald Isle and had found the Irish Parliament to be a true bastion of democracy. The other was somewhat further back in time – his bar mitzva, at which the rabbi who addressed was Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog, who was a former chief rabbi of Ireland.

ON A Friday in the first week of July, Avi Moskowitz, the owner of the popular Jerusalem Beer Bazaar, hosted a thanksgiving celebration in honor of his complete recuperation from a debilitating accident he suffered three months previously.

“Three months ago I participated in a cross-country cycling trip with a group called Geerz that empowers youth through informal education revolving around cycling excursions. They had asked me to come up to the north of Israel and supply them with beer,” said Moskowitz, who decided that if he was already heading north, he would join the tour. The invitation had been well ahead of the trip, giving him plenty of time in which to train. He joined the group as they cycled from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee.

Recounting the traumatic accident, Moskowitz said, “The second day of the trip, towards the end of the trail by Kibbutz Lavi, I hit something in the path and went flying. I broke many ribs, as well as a number of bones, and the United Hatzalah EMTs who were accompanying us began to treat me immediately. They helped evacuate me to Poriya Hospital, and the next day when I was transferred to Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. The organization was instrumental in getting my treatment fast-tracked. They opened a lot of doors for me, to speed up the process of treatment.”

Believing that the organization and its volunteers had gone above and beyond the call of duty in terms of caring for him as a patient, at his thanksgiving celebration he honored the organization for its help and for the work it does for the community in general. “The whole organization is comprised of volunteers who are solely interested in helping other people. The volunteer who was with me was simply terrific. He treated me on scene and helped me at the hospital immensely.”

Moskowitz presented United Hatzalah with a plaque thanking it for its service to the community.

“Most people, even if they know about the organization, don’t know how much good the volunteers actually do. I hope to shine a light on that by holding events at the bar in partnership with them, so that I can give something back. We are here for the community, as is United Hatzalah and their volunteers, so why simply serve beer when we can help educate people about the organization that saves lives in their community each and every day?” Every few weeks, in cooperation with United Hatzalah, Moskowitz’s Beer Bazaar hosts a program called “CPR on the bar,” in which they teach interested patrons how to perform CPR and other basic lifesaving techniques, should the need arise.

Participants get a 25% discount on their orders. “As a community-based bar, it is the least we could do,” declared Moskowitz.

ALMOST A quarter of a century ago, singer, actor, TV host and current affairs commentator on radio Yehoram Gaon wanted to be mayor of Jerusalem. He lost that race, but did spend several years on the city council, from where he made a significant contribution to the capital’s cultural and educational endeavors.

He never actually set his cap at the Knesset, but he is getting there regardless – albeit not on a political ticket. Fans who miss his Friday broadcasts on Reshet Bet will be able to see him as well as hear him on the Knesset Channel, where he will soon launch his interview program.

The new franchisee of the Knesset Channel is Channel 20, which is headed by Moti Shklar, a former director-general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, who was familiar with Gaon as a broadcaster from the days when they worked under the same umbrella. History is not exactly repeating itself, but it’s coming close.

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