■ IN THEIR efforts of persuasion, campaigners for causes often use the
expression “one man can make a difference.”
Trite as it sounds, it is
actually true – as was evidenced this week with the inauguration of a direct bus
route from Ofakim to Tel Aviv. The person responsible for persuading the
Transport Ministry and the Metropolitan Bus Company to introduce the new route
is 28-yearold Avihai Sheli, who works for a Tel Aviv investment company and who
was sick of the nightmare of the daily twoand- a-half-hour drive to and from
Sheli, who is blind and hearing impaired, decided to make a case
not only for himself but for all the people who would benefit from a direct bus
Aided by students from Sapir College, Sheli prepared his argument
and put it to the ministry and to Metropolitan.
Neither the ministry nor
the bus company were initially enthusiastic, but Sheli remained persistent and
won them over to the extent that not only have they introduced route 378 from
Ofakim to Tel Aviv, but they have also, without any prodding from him, decided
to introduce a special volume application into their announcements about bus
arrivals and departures so that the hard of hearing will be aware.
Sheli boarded the bus this week for its maiden ride to Tel Aviv, other
passengers were almost ecstatic in their congratulatory comments.
is an old hand at meeting challenges. When he was an adolescent, he won the
national youth Bible Quiz. As of this week, he is able to get an extra hour’s
sleep each night, because the bus now takes an hour and 25 minutes to reach Tel
■ KADIMA’S NEW chairman, Shaul Mofaz, was quick to take up the
social justice cause. Very soon after his election he went to Migdal Ohr with
fellow Kadima MK Rubama Avraham Balil to help Rabbi Yitzhak Dovid Grossman pack
parcels of Passover food for the needy.
Mofaz made public statements
about social justice just as demonstrators were getting ready to take to the
streets last weekend. Although he did not join them, he sent along several
Kadima MKs to mingle with the crowd. A couple of Knesset members from other
parties also joined the protesters despite repeated Facebook requests for them
to stay away, which were followed by some unpleasant confrontations during the
demonstration when individual demonstrators, irked by their presence, asked them
Noticeably absent was Shelly Yacimovich who heads the Labor
Party and who is a longtime advocate for social causes and social justice. In an
interview on Israel Radio on Sunday morning, Yacimovich told Arye Golan that she
had deliberately refrained from attending demonstrations for social justice
because she believes that an authentic cry from the public should not be
tarnished by politics and certainly not by politicians looking for photo
■ AS IMPLIED in last Friday’s “Grapevine” column, it was
doubtful whether the Council for Higher Education would allow Hanoch Marmory,
the newly elected president of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, to take
up his position.
Sure enough, the council put its foot down and Marmory’s
glory was very short-lived.
Although the president of an institute of
higher education is usually its chief fund-raiser, the council insists that the
most important qualification is not whether the person elected is the best at
raising money, but whether or not he or she is a professor. In other words, to
represent an academic institution, one must first and foremost be an academic
oneself – and a BA or a PhD is simply not good enough. To become a president one
first has to become a professor. It’s a sophisticated way of cutting off one’s
nose to spite one's face.
Although Marmory, who lacks even a BA, will not
enjoy the title of president, it seems that Amos Shapira, who was elected
president of the University of Haifa, will be permitted to take the up his post.
But unless someone changes the rules, he will be the last non-professor to
preside over an Israeli institution of higher learning.
■ THERE’S A
certain irony in the fact that in the same week as the Schocken Library on
Jerusalem’s Balfour Road celebrated its 75th anniversary, a notice went up at
Balfour Road and Smolenskin Street that the local committee for planning and
construction had received a request from Ariel Yunger with regard to the
preservation, reconstruction and expansion of the Villa Schocken at 7 Smolenskin
Street. The property, which was sold by the Schocken family and for many years
served as the home of the Rubin Academy of Music and subsequently the Shuvu
School (which gave some form of religious identity to the children of Russian
immigrant parents who had grown up without any religion at all), is finally
going to be destroyed, in part if not entirely. The school was vacated a couple
of months ago, and the developer is keen to begin construction.
the first time that this historic building next door to the prime minister’s
official residence has been in danger of losing its character. Nor is it the
first historic building in Rehavia to be torn down. What happens in some such
cases is that part of the exterior is marked for restoration. The bricks are
numbered and dislodged. A modern apartment block goes up on land that once held
a singlestory or two- to three-story building, and the entranceway is formed by
the reconstruction of a smidgen of the original building. The new building is
definitely grander, and in some cases even more attractive – but it defiles
history and distorts the neighborhood which was originally built as a garden
While the Villa Schocken may be at risk, the (partially) good
news is that another building at 42 Rachel Imeinu Street in Jerusalem that was
slated for demolition has been given a reprieve thanks to the efforts of Itzik
Shweki, chairman of the Council for the Preservation of Historic Sites, whose
appeal to the District Planning and Construction Committee resulted in the
overturning of a decision by the local PCC. The building is not all that
historic, having been constructed almost 20 years after Villa Schocken. Designed
by Yehuda Lavie, it is nonetheless an outstanding piece of architecture that
features 40 small apartments, each with a balcony and each positioned in such a
way as to capture maximum natural light.
The sad part is that the
developer is permitted to build on top of the existing premises and at the
sides. This is what happened to a beautiful old building at number 2 Balfour on
the corner of Gaza Street, whose majestic facade had floors added at the side
and top. Construction was abandoned and what was once a stately abode looks like
a wreck, with scaffolding around it, plus an ugly construction fence. Next door
at number 4, an attractive building now in the final stages of completion has
replaced what used to be a music and classical dance recital hall. From the top
two floors, any busybody can look directly into the Prime Minister’s Residence.
If a high-rise goes up right next door to the Prime Minister's residence, there
were will be hardly any privacy at for the PM and his family.
how the developers got past the eagle eyes of the prime minister’s security
The 75th anniversary event of the Schocken library, which is part
of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Institute for Jewish Research, drew a much
larger crowd than organizers had anticipated and additional chairs had to be
brought out from storage throughout the evening. Architect Prof. Hillel Schocken
and his sister Racheli Edelman, who heads Schocken Publishing, smiled in
amusement as they listened to Schocken Institute director Prof.
Glick say that the room is exactly as it was when it was first built – and even
the chairs are the very same ones that were sat on by Martin Buber, Judah
Magnes., Shai Agnon, Zalman Shazar, Berl Katznelson, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook,
Gershom Scholem and other historical figures. Prof. Hagit Lavski of the Hebrew
University said that Shlomo Zalman Schocken was best known for being the patron
of Agnon, for having the world’s largest and finest collection of Judaica and
for being a publisher. Less was known about his Zionist activities, including
his close involvement with the Hebrew University, the Jewish National Fund and
the construction of Haifa Port, she said.
Edelman recalled accompanying
her grandfather to the library when she was a child and being told by him that
there were no books for children in his library. But the best story was told by
Prof. Hillel Schocken, who said he wasn’t a hundred per cent sure of its
veracity, but it had been told to him by a contemporary of his grandfather’s.
Whenever the elder Schocken traveled abroad, he took a book from his library to
read on the journey. He was quite fond of biblical literature and had a set 17
of beautifully bound volumes that included the Prophets. On one occasion when he
traveled to London, he took with him the book of Jeremiah and it disappeared. He
hunted for it high and low but could not find it. Some years later, when
visiting Chaim Weizmann in Rehovot, he caught sight of the book in Weizmann’s
library and asked him how he came by it. Weizmann said he’d found it in a taxi.
When Schocken returned home, he sent Weizmann the remaining 16
But that's not the end of the story. The Weizmann residence on
the campus of what is now the Weizmann Institute had been built in 1936 and had
fallen into disrepair. The house, like the Schocken library in Jerusalem and the
Villa Schocken, had been designed by Erich Mendelsohn, the acclaimed German-born
In 1999, when it was decided that the Weizmann
residence needed to be restored to its original character, Hillel Schocken was
the architect commissioned for this purpose. Until then, he confessed, he had
never been inside the Weizmann residence. Like any visitor, he looked around,
pleased to see that the residence looked as if it was still occupied. On a table
in a corner was an open book. When he drew closer, he noticed that it was the
book of Jeremiah – the same book that had disappeared from his grandfather's
possession in London several decades previously.
■ THE AGHION house,
which has been the Prime Minister’s Residence ever since Yitzhak Rabin took
office for the first time, is far from an ideal choice for the official
residence of the prime minister. During Ariel Sharon’s term, work began on
relocating the Prime Minister’s Residence to the vicinity of his office. Ehud
Olmert took matters a step further and commissioned Ram Karmi to design a
complex that would take into account demographic growth both in government and
Karmi came up with a marvelous, if somewhat extravagant
design, the construction of which was estimated at NIS 650 million. Olmert had
the project approved by the Knesset, but no sooner did Binyamin Netanyahu become
prime minister than he decided to cancel it. Meanwhile, security, not only in
terms of personnel, is being constantly increased in the streets leading to the
PM’s residence and the ugly fortresslike environment has all but ruined what
used to be one of the most charming parts of the Rehavia-Talbiyeh seam.
WHILE THERE are still areas in which women may be facing discrimination in the
work force, by and large women finding their places at the top of the political
pyramid in law, in diplomacy, in education and in business. Australia, both the
prime minister and the ambassador to Israel of which are women, also has women
in top business roles. One such woman, Carolyn Hawson, is ranked by the
Australian Financial Review as Australia’s most powerful company director and
sits on boards whose combined market capital is almost $209 billion, came to
Israel last week as the co-head of a 32-member Australian Trade Mission on
Innovation, Industry and Social Enterprise.
Co-chairing the mission was
Carol Schwartz, whose private real estate firm, Qualitas, which provides advice
and tools for business, government and community groups as well as for a global
diversified property developer with $8b in market capital, has $500m worth of
assets under management.
Schwartz has also initiated the Women’s
Leadership Institute of Australia. Previous Australian trade missions have been
led by one woman or chaired by a man and a woman, but this was the first to be
led by two women, even though almost half the mission participants were men. The
group was a mix of Jews and non-Jews who all expressed admiration for what they
had seen in education, science, hi-tech and social enterprise.
Ambassador Andrea Faulkner hosted a reception for the group and on the final
night of the mission, international lawyer Zallui Jaffe, who is vice president
of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue, hosted the group at Sabbath services and later
at the traditional Sabbath dinner at the King David hotel. He explained Jewish
religious customs and why the Sabbath has become even more important in the
frenzied world of today. Jaffe, who has some major clients in Australia,
commutes between Jerusalem and Sydney and Melbourne.
He will be
travelling down under for the sixth time this year right after
One of the treats at the dinner was a lecture based on the
biblical portion of the week, given by internationally renowned bible authority
Dr. Bryna Yocheved Levy, who teaches at Matan – the Sadie Rennert Institute for
Torah Studies. Levy set out to demonstrate the heroism not only of Miriam and
her mother Yoheved, but also Pharoah’s daughter who defied her father by
rescuing the infant Moses. Levy wove such an intricate and absorbing tale that
she had her audience leaning forward on the edge of their seats to catch every
word. Even those who were not terribly au fait with the bible admitted to being
fascinated and inspired.
■ ON ANOTHER Australiarelated theme is what
Seyma Lederman’s six children have decided to call “Seyma’s Safari” – an influx
to Israel of the Lederman clan from Melbourne.
Some of them actually live
in Israel but were in Melbourne for the Bar Mitzvah of Justin Lederman, one of
four Lederman cousins who have had or will have Bar or Bat Mitzvahs over a
Three of the six Lederman siblings live in Israel and
the other three in Melbourne. They have decided that the whole family – a total
of 29 souls, including two married grandchildren, will spend Passover at the
Ramot Resort in the Golan Heights.
They have printed tee-shirts for the
occasion featuring a caricature of their mother as a smiling lioness protecting
her cubs, who are depicted as different kinds of animals. After the holiday
there will be some catching up with other relatives and friends who are either
living or vacationing in Israel. This will be the first time in a long time that
the Ledermans will spend Seder night together.
■ AS IF running in the
Jerusalem Marathon several weeks ago was not enough for him, Jerusalem Mayor Nir
Barkat ran in the Tel Aviv Marathon last Friday. This time it was a little more
fun because he had no official duties and was running with his buddies from the
IDF reserves. Barkat was given a warm welcome by his Tel Aviv counterpart Ron
Huldai, who was delighted with the huge turnout.
■ EVEN BEFORE taking up
his new position as Israel’s ambassador to China, Matan Vilnai, who went from
the army to politics, back to security affairs via politics and then to
diplomacy, participated last week in an event that could be labeled philatelic
diplomacy. To mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel
and China, the postal services of both countries issued commemorative stamps
that were unveiled at a ceremony at the Jerusalem Music Center with the
participation of Vilnai, Chinese Ambassador Gao Yanping and senior Chinese and
■ THE COURT case between supermodel Bar Refaeli and
Suny Electronics Ltd, which is headed by Ilan Ben-Dov, has been going on for
three years without any end in sight.
Refaeli is suing Suny, the
importers of Samsung mobile phones, for NIS 4.4m, for what she claims was a
breach of contract. What sparked the legal action was a 2006 video clip which,
according to Refaeli was screened in violation of the contract that had been
signed with her. In other words, it used her image for advertising purposes that
had not been stated in the contract. The case, rife with mutual recriminations,
has been in and out of court several times, most recently last week.
Dov has counter-sued, but is asking for only NIS 2m.
The bottom line so
far is that Suny used photographs and video clips of Refaeli, as well as of her
ex-boyfriend, film star Leonardo DiCaprio, in cinema advertising without
Suny’s response is that it had been made clear to Refaeli
that the advertising campaign would include different categories of media. There
have also been altercations between Refaeli’s father and Ben-Dov.
case sounds like the outline for a movie, showing that life sometimes has more
to offer than fiction.
If Refaeli does win, one wonders how much Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister
Avigdor Liberman could ask from Dr. Gav, the bed and mattress company that
features them each individually in its advertising campaign.
Dr. Gav, in
full page advertisement in various Hebrew tabloids, features one of the
politicians in each halfpage ad and addresses each one personally, stating that
it is important he sleep well at night. Photoshop distortions have been used in
each case so that whichever minister is featured in the advertisements is shown
in his pajamas.
One can’t help wondering by how much they could
collectively reduce the national deficit if they took the advertiser, the
advertising agency and the various publications to court. While it’s permissible
to lampoon any public figure, it’s a different story to use the image of a
public figure in an advertising campaign without permission.
GERMAN-BORN sculptor Frank Meisler, who is famous for his miniatures that appear
in limited editions as well as for his larger creations, lived in and exhibited
in many countries.
Though born in Danzig, he was educated in England,
studied architecture at Manchester University and has for many years made his
home in Old Jaffa, which is where his studio is located. In January, Meisler was
informed that he had been awarded the order of Merit First Class by the German
The award was formally conferred on Meisler last week
by German Ambassador Andreas Michaelis not only in recognition of Meisler’s work
as an artist, but also in appreciation of what he has done to foster goodwill
between Germans and Jews and Germans and Israelis. Michaelis noted that through
his art, Meisler has created a poignant reminder of the Holocaust. Meisler
barely escaped it. He was among the 10,000 youngsters who were part of the
kindertransport that was allowed into Britain between 1938 and
Meisler arrived on the final transport in August 1939. His parents
were arrested and murdered soon afterwards.
firstname.lastname@example.org GRAPEVINE •
By GREER FAY CASHMAN TALI SINAI-RIKLIS and her daughter, Tom Sinai-Riklis, at
Tom’s first modeling job. (Eitan Tal) FRANK MEISLER receives the Order of Merit
from German Ambassador Andreas Michaelis. (Courtesy) JERUSALEM MAYOR Nir Barkat
running in the Tel Aviv Marathon. (Jerusalem Municipality) AVSHALOM VILAN with
Yossi Peled. (Noga Ked) One man who made a difference ■ THERE WAS another
reminder of the Holocaust at the retrospective exhibition at the Jerusalem
Theater of the works of the late Polish-born artist Joel Iglinsky. The
exhibition was opened by Government Minister Yossi Peled, the artist's cousin,
who said that many people had presumed because of their age difference that
Iglinsky was his uncle.
”He wasn’t. He was my cousin, but he was much
more. He was like a father to me and he raised me,” said Peled, who was a child
Holocaust survivor when he came to Israel. It was Iglinsky who brought Peled to
Israel and cared for him.
“His home on Kibbutz Negba was the first home I
knew in this country,” said Peled, who remains in close contact with the
artist’s children and other members of the family.
Among those who came
to the opening of the exhibition was former MK Avshalom Vilan, who was born at
Kibbutz Negba. The exhibition will remain on view till April 18.
■ IT IS
rare for anyone whose father is still alive to take on her stepfather’s name,
but then again the Riklis name has a certain panache, and perhaps even a Midas
touch. Tom Sinai-Riklis, the daughter of singer Arik Sinai and his ex-wife Tali
Sinai-Riklis, one of the stars of “The Real Wives of Israel” that focuses on how
rich bitch women spend their time, has embarked on a modeling career and is
using a double barreled name.
Tali Sinai-Riklis is married to billionaire
Meshulum Riklis who, though old enough to be her father, still cuts a dashing
figure. Tom, who is 24 and studying towards a BA, decided that she wanted to
earn a little money for herself and figured that since she has the looks and the
physique, she might try her hand at modeling. She succeeded in getting signed up
to promote the Morana swimwear campaign. A little nervous about her first photo
shoot, she took her mother with her to the set, which was on the beach. Of
course mama, who likes to show off, could not resist being part of the
production and put on a bikini in the same print as the one-piece suit that Tom
was wearing. You guessed it.
Mama stole the show.
recognized her and crowded around to get her autograph. Maybe Tom would do
better to revert to her real name, which is simply Tom Sinai.