NAVA BARAK 88 298.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
RABBIS OFTEN reach celebrity status by performing celebrity weddings. Two Ashkenazi chief rabbis, Yisrael Meir Lau and his successor and current incumbent Yona Metzger, have a reputation for marrying the rich and the famous, including dignitaries and celebrities.
Rabbi Lau, who is once again chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, is still in high demand, but it was Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi of the Western Wall and the surrounding holy places, who was chosen to perform the wedding ceremony of former prime minister, current defense minister and occasional piano player Ehud Barak last Friday. Barak married his live-in companion Nili Priel, a former public relations executive who was once his girlfriend in the army. The couple reunited four years ago after Barak lost the prime ministerial elections, for which his ex-wife Nava helped him campaign.
After splitting in 2003, Nava Barak was introduced to businessman Shalom Zinger, who quickly became her significant other. Ehud Barak had no problem taking Nili Priel to official and unofficial events. She has accompanied him several times to functions at Beit Hanassi, most notably the Israel Independence Day celebrations.
Now that Barak has his heart set on becoming prime minister again, he realized the criticism and undesirable publicity he might have incurred if he took his girlfriend to live with him in the official residence of the prime minister. The couple now live in a luxury apartment in north Tel Aviv.
RABBI RABINOVICH was also busy at Beit Hanassi on Wednesday for the dedication of a Torah scroll to be used by soldiers coming to pray at the Western Wall. Needless to say, Metzger and Lau were also there, as was Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. All four were among the speakers, but the celebrity who excited the most attention was internationally celebrated cantor Yitzhak Meir Helfgott, who literally caused concern over the safety of the ceiling when he exuberantly raised his voice in blessing for the She'heheyanu prayer. There were numerous dignitaries and celebrities in the audience, including world renowned sexologist, television and radio personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who after making a documentary on the family life of the Druse, has returned to Israel to make another documentary on Beduin family life.
EVEN THOUGH she was dumped for another woman, Nava Barak remains in the limelight, working tirelessly for organizations such as the Rabin Medical Center and Elem. As a former schoolteacher, she is particularly devoted to Elem, which deals with youngsters at risk and has saved many from drug addiction, prostitution and crime. She has enlisted many celebrities for the cause, among them prize winning actor, television host and stand-up comedian Avi Kushnir, who donated all the ticket sale proceeds of his last one-man show to Elem, bringing in a sum of NIS 120,000. At the end of the performance in the theater of the Tel Aviv Museum, Barak presented a surprised Kushnir with the Elem Fellowship Award, telling the audience that Kushnir had raised a great deal of money for Elem by asking audiences at the close of his shows to donate to Elem instead of applauding him. An emotionally moved Kushnir confessed that he'd thought about doing so again, but bearing in mind that the whole evening was a benefit for Elem, he didn't think he could ask the same people to give twice in one night.
EVERY CLOUD has a silver lining. Complaints filed by both the paparazzi and celebrity couple Bar Rafaeli and Leonardo DiCaprio following the latter's visit to Israel a few months back, inspired a scene for Rafaeli's upcoming modeling campaign for Irit. The photo shoot, concocted by the Boroda-Kaplan Advertising Agency, shows Rafaeli being hounded by paparazzi at the airport, in a hotel and in a restaurant.
ROCK SINGER and composer Aviv Gefen and his wife, model Shani Pridan, rejected all the usual and unusual Hebrew names for their two week old son. They recently announced that they named their first-born Dylan.
AFTER MUCH speculation about whether or not they will eventually tie the knot, Tzvika Hadar and Liat Ganon have set a date and a place for their big day. They plan to stand under the bridal canopy in a private ceremony for family and close friends on the morning of October 25 and then to continue on to the Jaffa Theater Club for a huge celebration in the evening. Hadar was recently seen at the Impress Jewelry Store. No, he wasn't there to buy a ring. Like Didi Harari, he is an avid watch collector, and came out of the store with an expensive new timepiece.