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(photo credit: Courtesy image taken by Avi Waldman)
Despite the Israel Cultural Institutions boycott of the state's 60th anniversary celebrations, many business enterprises are taking advantage of the anniversary. Castro, one of the country's most veteran fashion labels, is revved up to produce a special 60th anniversary collection and has signed up actress, model and former Miss Israel Gal Gadot to be its number one runway and photographic model for the 2008 spring/summer collection. Castro co-CEO Gabi Roter said that Gadot, 22, was an ideal choice for the 60th anniversary year because she symbolizes everything Israeli. She is beautiful, popular and fashionable and has represented Israel in the world's most prestigious beauty contest, Miss Universe. She also has a fresh, youthful style and a sunny personality.
NOTWITHSTANDING THE fact that it has been the recipient of several local and international awards, Yiddishpiel has somehow been overlooked by a Ministry of Culture, Science and Sport committee that recommends cultural exchange options to groups abroad. For three consecutive years, Yiddishpiel missed out on the recommendations, and to founder and director Shmuel Atzmon, it looked as if a fourth miss was on the horizon.
It wasn't going to happen if he could help it. Last Wednesday, he gathered members of the Yiddishpiel ensemble, Friends of Yiddishpiel and a klezmer group to stage a protest demonstration at the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv where the committee meeting was held. They came with huge placards in Hebrew, Yiddish, English and Polish. The text on the English placard was the mildest, simply demanding "Don't hide Yiddish culture." The Hebrew and Polish placards stated "Here they're ashamed of Yiddish culture," and the Yiddish placard defiantly proclaimed: "Yiddish lives!"
Atzmon gate-crashed the meeting, apologized for the intrusion and then briefly stated why he could not stand by while Yiddishpiel, which is today the bastion of Yiddish culture here, is being ignored despite its achievements. Atzmon, a Holocaust survivor who launched Yiddishpiel to preserve what was left of Yiddish culture after so many Yiddish speakers, writers and performers perished, told his surprised audience: "We cannot consent that the Yiddish culture, whose renewal is led by Yiddishpiel Theater... will be slandered and not given a showcase for its accomplishments among the other cultures in the State of Israel. Yiddish - a thousand-year-old European language and culture, which was recognized by UNESCO as a European culture worthy of conservation, cultivation and development - is being barred by people whose Jewish identity is confused and has no roots. Those speakers who have told you that the Yiddish theater is archaic, outdated and unrenewing - and they are referring to Yiddishpiel - are distorting the reality of Israeli theater.
"Are Nobel Prize laureates S.Y. Agnon and Isaac Bashevis Singer passÃ©? And what about Yehoshua Sobol and Ephraim Kishon and Ilya Ehrenburg? And what about Shalom Aleichem and Y.L. Peretz and Shalom Asch and Yitzhak Manger? Are they esoteric dramaturgy? And what about famous directors like Maciej Wojtyszko, Adolf Szapiro, Piotr Szalsza? Are they not celebrated enough for people to become acquainted with their works on our stages?
"We, the survivors of the catastrophe that befell this remarkable one-thousand-year-old culture, strongly protest against this before you and ask that you bring our existence and our battle for Yiddish's continued cultivation and existence to your countries, so that people may know, as said the partisans in the Second World War - 'We are here!' - and we will not give up!"
Atzmon then distributed Yiddishpiel pamphlets printed in English, and asked the visitors from abroad to take them back to their communities with a view to including Yiddishpiel in their cultural programs. Even if Yiddishpiel is not getting its due, Atzmon's work in building up a fine Yiddish repertoire is being recognized. He will be among the recipients of honorary fellowships being conferred today by the Netanya Academic College.
JERUSALEM APPARENTLY has a special pull for popular singer Sarit Hadad, who has performed in the capital many times. One of her largest crowds gathered at the opening of the Mamilla Mall earlier this year. Hadad returned to the vicinity last week to film her new music video and selected the archeological gardens by the Old City as a location. Hadad will reportedly be flying to Miami within the next few days for a private function at which Prince and Lionel Ritchie will also make appearances.
ALSO GOING to the US is Ninette Tayeb, who is doing a benefit show for Sderot on January 15 at the Wiltshire Theater, Beverly Hills. People anywhere in the world can purchase tickets on-line. The most expensive tickets are the $260 VIP tickets in rows one to five that include an after party where fans can actually meet and greet the Israeli star. The least expensive tickets are $85 each.
CHANNEL 2 Knesset reporter Amit Segal along with hard-hitting interviewer Dana Weiss met their match when they tried to push Communications Minister Ariel Attias into a corner. Apart from being extremely telegenic, suave and laid back, Attias doesn't get ruffled by tough questions. By the end of the program even the aggressive Weiss had to acknowledge that the Shas member of the government is a very polished politician. Attias, who doesn't own a television set, said that until age 30 he studied in a kollel. Only then did he set out into the world of business. It doesn't seem to have done him any harm.
AMONG THE major benefits of modern technology is that the voices of once famous performers can be preserved. Many works by composers and songwriters have been with us for centuries, but until the 20th century, their voices and moving images were lost. In a competition conducted by Maariv and its NRG Web site to determine the 100 most popular children's songs, Uzi Hitman's Elokim Sheli won. The song is about a dream of peace that was inspired by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's visit 30 years ago. Some of the songs in the list, including this one, became immensely popular among people of all ages, and Hitman was asked to perform it many times. His performances were often filmed or videotaped, a factor that will enable future generations to hear and see it performed by the man himself. Hitman, a singer/guitarist who composed well over 600 songs before his death in 2004, will remain an audible and visible force into the future.
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