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IT'S NOW become an Independence Day tradition to kindle a light for Elem, the organization that provides a haven for youngsters at risk and steers them from a wayward to a productive path.
The result of this national kindling project is a giant Israeli flag composed of thousands of lights. This year the flag is being lit from the top of the Azrieli building in Tel Aviv. The current campaign was initiated several weeks ago and will conclude on Independence Day. To add a light costs NIS 10, and members of the public can make an SMS contribution to Elem's fund-raising campaign by punching the numbers 2747 into their telephone. If using a cell phone press "star" before punching in the numbers. The grand climax of the campaign will be a segment in the Reshet produced Independence Day special The Troupe. Elem President Nava Barak joined singer Sassi Keshet and a group of Elem singers for rehearsals on the roof of the Azrieli building. When they started to sing, Barak, who is no stranger to community singing, grabbed the microphone and joined in. Elem is a family affair for Keshet. His wife, the beautiful actress Yona Elian has been an Elem volunteer for years and sits on the Elem board.
USUALLY SAVVY on sensitive issues, Yehoram Gaon should have been aware that some journalist would delve into what it cost organizers of March of the Living to have him sing two songs at Auschwitz-Birkenau. As it happened, Yediot Aharonot's Oren Meiri did just that. Although he didn't discover exactly how much Gaon was paid, he did learn that it was commensurate with the singer's usual fee - which means that it wasn't chicken feed. In addition, Gaon was flown to and from Poland in business class and was accommodated in one of Krakow's upscale hotels. According to Meiri, when Gaon was asked about the remuneration for his appearance, his reply was that he doesn't give pro bono performances. One wonders whether the allocation of funds to Gaon's renditions of "Eli Eli" and "The Song of the Partisans" was of better value than bringing several more Israeli youngsters to Poland whose parents couldn't afford the trip.
IF ANYONE had any doubts about the celebrity status of singer and actress Ninette Tayeb, who soared to fame a couple of years back after winning A Star is Born, the headlines on two almost identical stories in Yediot Aharonot and Maariv indicate that she has come a long way in a short time. One article stated that local diplomats would be getting a lesson from the singer. The other said that she would be training diplomats.
The gist of the story as it appeared in both papers is that the Foreign Ministry, in its efforts to dispel the negative images of Israel that frequently surface on television news reports around the world, wants diplomats going abroad to be familiar with different aspects of Israeli culture so that they can relate the vibrant and very positive side of Israel to other countries. Toward this end, the Foreign Ministry recruited Tayeb along with several other celebrities including Israel Prize laureate and first lady of Israeli theater Gila Almagor, singer David D'Or, whose unusually versatile voice has delighted audiences around the world; master chef and television personality Israel Aharoni, prizewinning authors Sami Michael, Etgar Keret, and Roni Somek, along with several other well known personalities. But the main media focus is on Tayeb, who will also be performing in the gala Israel Independence Day happening at Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park that is being financed by philanthropist Arkady Gaydamak. Other stars in Gaydamak's firmament include Daphna Dekel, Tom Avni, Sarit Hadad, Shiri Maimon, Shai Gabso, Maya Buskila, Ivri Lieder, Rita and Rami Kleinstein, Mashina - and that's just a short list. The event is being held under the banner of Gaydamak's Social Justice Movement and entry is free of charge to those who succeed in making it through the traffic congestion leading to the park. Those who want to avoid the chaos would do well to take the train to the Tel Aviv fairgrounds and walk the few hundred meters to the park from the railway station.
WHILE STILL on the subject of Tayeb, she's undergone an image change, and has shortened her long, wavy hair that used to trail half way down her back to shoulder length. She's also had it straightened. Apparently change is in the air. Lior Schlain, whose thick curly hair framed his face all the way down to his shoulders and was part of his signature image, has also shorn his locks. Although he still has a thick mane of hair, it now stops above the ears and has been thinned and shaped so that it's no longer unruly.
NOT SO long ago singer Miri Mesika and her husband Uri Zach were in perfect harmony both professionally and in their private lives. But at least one of them has his/her tune. Mesika has moved out of the marital home.
Also living apart after a series of crises which previously threatened to disrupt their marriage over the past 20 years are Mashina co-founder and lead singer Yuval Banai and actress Orli Silbersatz-Banai. He has moved out of their home and has temporarily taken up residence with his mother.