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US PHILANTHROPIST Joey Low, who founded non-profit organization Israel at Heart and helped sponsor the reality show The Ambassador, will be named a Fellow of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya this week. Low is being recognized for his contribution to Israel's hasbara efforts, which aim to improve the country's image abroad. Among the other award recipients will be Al Schwimmer, the founder of Israel Aircraft Industries and one of this year's Israel Prize laureates.
THE BIG question in the life of multi-millionaire philanthropist Arkadi Gaydamak is whether the Second Channel Authority will give the green light to his purchase of regional radio station 99 Escape. Gaydamak has been trying for some time to get a toehold in Israel's communications industry, and ownership of the radio station would be a significant move in that direction. This is not his first foray into the Israeli media. In the past he seriously considered investing in Channel 10 and Radio Kol Hai, but the negotiations fell through.
ILLUSTRATING THE continuity of the life cycle, Yair Lapid paid tribute to Yossi Banai on his show last week by noting that he had gone from Banai's funeral to the hospital to see his newborn niece. A life had passed and a new life had come into the world, he observed.
ON THE morning of Yossi Banai's funeral, singer and actor Gidi Gov, who hosts a breakfast program on Channel Two, spent most of the show discussing Banai and reading eulogies published in various newspapers. His cohost on the program, Sivan Rahav-Meir, observed that the most newspapers' front pages were not written by regular journalists, but by members of Israel's entertainment industry. Like other Israeli icons who died over the past two years, Banai was being hailed as the last authentic Israeli. Gov predicted the trend will continue in years to come.
Few families in Israel have produced as many professional actors and singers as the Banais. In addition to Yossi, family members who have achieved success in the entertainment industry include actor Chaim, comedian Orna and singers Yuval, Ehud, Uri, Meir and Evyatar. The Banais are a prominent Jerusalem family: Agass Street in the Mahane Yehuda market was renamed several years ago for Yossi Banai's father, who is listed on the street sign as "a builder of Jerusalem." It's a fitting designation - the family changed its name to Banai, which means "builder," after arriving in Jerusalem from Persia. There are varying stories as to why they chose the name, with one version claiming that the older generation of the family consisted of builders. Another is that they arrived on Rosh Hodesh - the beginning of the Hebrew month - when one of the special prayers begins "Borchi nafshi et Hashem" (May my soul bless the Lord), and took the acronym as the family surname. Those members of the family who were unaware of Yossi Banai's illness had difficulty coming to terms with his death, because less than two weeks earlier he sang and danced with them at a family gathering.
FORMER MK Inbal Gavrieli may have to transfer her allegiance from Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer club to Maccabi Netanya because her significant other, Maccabi Tel Aviv star player Liran Strauber, has moved over to the Netanya team. This kind of dilemma affects other people as well. Justice Minister Haim Ramon and former foreign minister Silvan Shalom each have sons who play on basketball teams other than the ones their fathers have been supporting for years.