EVEN AT the peak of her career, singer Ofra Haza, who died in February of 2000, never forgot the Yemenite culture into which she had been born, and highlighted it in her style of singing, her stage attire and her video tapes. Likewise she never forgot that she came from the underprivileged Hatikva Quarter in Tel Aviv, which had been one of the key areas targeted by prime minister Menachem Begin in his ambitious Project Renewal program. The youngest of nine children, Haza frequently returned to her family home to visit her elderly parents and to take part in local celebrations. When she died, the Who's Who of Israel, including then prime minister Ehud Barak, flocked to the Hatikva Quarter for her funeral service. Although the people of Hatikva need no reminding that Ofra Haza was one of them, they did want something to perpetuate her name and her memory for future generations. The Tel Aviv Jaffa Municipality and the Tel Aviv Development Fund agreed, and at the beginning of March, on the seventh anniversary of her death according to the Hebrew calendar, part of the public park in the Hatikva Quarter will be renamed the Ofra Haza Park. The designated area features a children's playground, which is entirely appropriate. Haza adored children. She and her husband Doron Ashkenazi had tried unsuccessfully to have a child before she fell ill.
ASIA IS falling in love with counter tenor David D'Or. Last month he was in Thailand to perform for His Majesty King Bhumibol on the occasion of His Majesty's 79th birthday. This month he was in China to perform at a gala concert at the National Opera House of China, where he shared the stage with renowned Chinese vocalists Yao Hong and Wang Haitao, accompanied by members of the National Chinese Opera who sang both Israeli and Chinese songs. In the audience were Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose grandfather is buried in China, Israel ambassador Yehoyada Haim, Chinese Ambassador to Israel Chen Yonglong and many other dignitaries. The occasion marked the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the forging of diplomatic ties between Israel and China.
ALTHOUGH HE has been Israel Radio's commentator on legal affairs for more than two decades, corruption charges and sex scandals involving public figures have caused Moshe Negbi to soar to stardom. Almost every presenter on Israel Radio's Reshet Bet brings him on from early morning till late at night to discuss the legal aspects of the scandal of the day. And his husky voice is probably heard with greater frequency than that of most other IBA employees.
ISRAEL WAS represented by singer/guitarist David Broza at a concert in Toronto last Thursday organized by JAMOP (Just a Minute of Peace), a Canadian humanitarian organization which has recruited prominent entertainers and other public figures from around the world to participate in an ongoing global peace campaign. Countries supporting the campaign include Jamaica, Colombia, England, Israel, Italy and the United States. Events in countries around the world will lead up to a worldwide concert on July 7, namely 7/7/07, emulating Armistice Day, in which peace after World War One was declared on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. As the idea gains momentum, increasing numbers of stars from the entertainment industry are expected to join the campaign along with Nobel Peace Prize laureates. Concerts can be viewed on MySpace and YouTube.