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REPRESENTATIVES OF the diplomatic community in Israel were thrilled by the vibrant voice of Yevgeny Shapovalov, one of the more successful musical imports from the former Soviet Union. Shapovalov was the entertainment segment at the President's annual Israel Independence Day reception to which diplomats, military attaches and heads of churches and non-Jewish communities are invited. To illustrate his versatility, Shapovalov moved with ease through opera to Jewish liturgical to Hebrew folk-songs, telling his audience, "You can dance if you want to."
In a departure from the norm, President Moshe Katsav, his wife Gila, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and acting Speaker of the Knesset Shimon Peres were seated so that the crowd could see them. Livni, who is an ardent drummer in her spare time, was vividly caught up in the music and could be seen mouthing - or possibly even singing - the lyrics. The Katsavs, who are known to be great music lovers, were swaying in time to the music and Peres had an expression approaching rapture on his face.
VIVACIOUS AND versatile actress, singer and dancer Galit Giat, familiar to television audiences as the singing and dancing hostess of the television show We Won't Stop Singing is usually heard doing Hebrew pop songs or performing Ladino classics. But now she's going back to her roots. Giat grew up in a musical milieu of Arabic music. When she was invited to sing with the Nazareth Orchestra in the Mediterranean Dream series of the Culture of Peace Festival, she jumped at the chance. She will be singing in Arabic at performances at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem on May 14 and at the Tzavta Theater in Tel Aviv on May 18.
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley arrived in Israel Wednesday to pay his maiden visit to Israel after a three-day stop in Jordan. His first priority is to meet with his Petah Tikva counterpart, Yitzhak Ohayoun, because the two localities are twin cities.
Daley met with President Moshe Katsav and former prime minister Shimon Peres on Wednesday. He will also meet with Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski to discuss urban issues such as housing, jobs, economic development, safety and water conservation.
While in Petah Tikva, Daley will take advantage of a meeting with alumni of Tel Aviv University's Kellogg-Recanati International MBA program to discuss business opportunities and possible joint ventures between Chicago and leading Israeli companies.
Daley came with a group of prominent Jewish Chicago business leaders. In addition to learning about Israel's economic structure, they were keen to celebrate Independence Day in Jerusalem.
The delegation expressed interest in helping Israeli start-up companies become multinational players.
Daley, who is here with his wife and daughter, told The Jerusalem Post that he had never expected to see so much greenery in the hills of Jerusalem.
He said he was very impressed by the architecture in the capital and by the way the historic beauty of the city had been preserved through the use of Jerusalem stone for building facades.
Aviv Geffen, who seems much more relaxed these days than in his frenetic younger years, is busy writing songs with Ninette Taib. According to Yediot Aharonot, the two have a fantastic rapport. He invited her to appear in a concert he was giving at Nitzanim. Even though she was already famous, she was more than flattered to receive an invitation from someone with much more enduring star status, someone whose fan she had been long before her own name went up in lights. The chemistry was good. There was an instant click, and the two are now busy producing material for an album.
SUPERMODEL Bar Rafaeli may soon have to part with a large sum of money to appease the ruffled feathers of her former agent, Rafi Aniv, who is suing her for NIS1.2 million for breach of contract. Aniv who is taking credit for Rafaeli's meteoric rise in the international galaxy, says Rafaeli's career was on the decline on the local scene towards the end of 2003 after she entered into a fictitious marriage so as to evade army service. At the time, Rafaeli received a great deal of negative publicity, and Aniv, who runs the DNA Agency that represents stage and screen performers, fashion models and other celebrities, says that it was his idea that she branch out beyond Israel. The rest, of course is history. Rafaeli has been featured in some of the world's top fashion magazines and has become an international celebrity, not only because of her looks but also because of her romance with film star Leonardo DiCaprio. Along the way, she ditched Aniv, who asserts that he was the one who built up her image and was responsible for her signing contracts with seven major overseas agencies, thus achieving sufficient fame abroad to once again become accepted and sought out on the home front.