IT'S RARE for the Moreshet Israel congregation in Jerusalem to count three national presidents of Hadassah (the Women's Zionist Organization of America) among its worshippers. What brought present incumbent June Walker and former presidents Deborah Kaplan and Marlene Post to services last Saturday was the bat mitzva of Liat Mushkin, whose maternal grandmother is the legendary and inimitable Barbara Goldstein, deputy director of the Hadassah office in Israel.
Barbara Goldstein has been part of the Hadassah family - and a driving force in its operations - for most of her life. Liat Mushkin, a seventh-generation Jerusalemite on her father's side, was born at Hadassah Hospital.
Many representatives of past and present Hadassah leadership came to the synagogue, where Rabbi Adam Frank pronounced himself undaunted by the large Hadassah presence. The reason: his grandmother is a life member of the organization, his mother is a life member, and he has no doubt that when the time comes, his six-month-old daughter will also become a life member. Liat's maternal grandfather, retired cantor Mordecai Goldstein, also happens to be the President of Moreshet Israel. He and Liat's paternal grandfather Benny Mushkin led the major part of the service, assisted by Barbara Goldstein, Liat's parents Shira and Noam Mushkin, other members of both families and close family friends. When it came to the sermon, Frank commented that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. He had chosen to be silent. The reason was immediately clear; the sermon was delivered by Barbara Goldstein - a personal message to her granddaughter, to whom she related one of her favorite Hassidic homilies.
Two young boys wanted to test the wisdom of the rabbi. They caught a bird and decided to ask the rabbi if it was dead or alive. One of the boys held the bird in his hand. If the rabbi said the bird was alive, the boy would immediately strangle it. If the rabbi said the bird was dead, the boy would immediately release it. When the boys presented themselves to the rabbi and asked whether the bird was alive or dead, the reply he gave them was: "The answer is in your hands."
The moral of the story was that Liat has been given the tools to shape her own destiny; what she does with them is up to her. The prognosis is good; she comes from strong pioneering stock. Some 150 years ago, while Benny Mushkin's great, great grandfather settled in Jerusalem, Mordecai Goldstein's forebears were traveling in covered wagons to Colorado.
IN HER capacity as chairman of fundraising for the renovation and rejuvenation of the Mann Auditorium, home of the Israel Philharmonic, Ruth Sheetrit leaves no stone unturned. If a formula works in Texas, Sheetrit sees no reason why it shouldn't work equally well in Israel. That's why she brought Bill Lively, president and CEO of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation, to Israel. Sheetrit wants to learn from Lively's experience. The Dallas Center was built with an investment of $350 million, of which 95 percent was raised by Lively through contacts in the private sector. Lively, who is aided by a 75-member advisory committee of business, cultural, educational and civic leaders working as volunteers for a four-year period, met in Tel Aviv with Sheetrit, Maestro Zubin Mehta and Friends of the IPO. He came with a portfolio that attested to his Texas triumphs, and offered several suggestions as to how these successes can be emulated in Israel. Mehta was extremely impressed, and arranged to meet him again in the US.
TELEVISION BROADCASTER Sheila Zucker has an annual pre-Succot party in her magnificent home, but this year's do, held the night before Succot, may be the last at her present domicile; the property has been on the market for some time, and it looks as if she is about to close a deal. Zucker's guests, who came from both inside and outside Jerusalem, were delighted to have the opportunity to meet and greet on the night before the holiday, because many of them would not have gotten to see each other during the festival.
ONE OF the more pleasant tasks of British Ambassador Simon McDonald is to serve as postman for Queen Elizabeth II. He usually does this when the Queen is congratulating a subject on whom she has bestowed special honors, or when one of her subjects is celebrating a 100th birthday. It was the latter that brought the ambassador to Hofit, north of Netanya, to personally deliver the Queen's congratulatory letter to Victoria Baker.
In their conversation, the spry triple-digit lady, born in the north of England on October 18, 1905, told the ambassador about her move to Israel in 1967, shortly before the Six Day War. When he asked whether she had mastered Hebrew, she told him she enrolled in an ulpan on arrival, but that classes had been disrupted by the outbreak of hostilities.
NOTWITHSTANDING THE fact that Prof. Joseph Bodenheimer, president of the Jerusalem College of Technology, was the one who thought of featuring international media mogul Rupert Murdoch at a JCT fundraising event, Bodenheimer will not attend the intimate luncheon with Murdoch being auctioned on eBay. The auction itself was proposed last year by Larry Krauss, who is in the forefront of the Canadian Friends of JCT. Krauss asked Bodenheimer to suggest a name, and Bodenheimer instantly thought of Murdoch, whom he had met some years earlier at a JCT event in Los Angeles.
Getting to Murdoch was easy. JCT alumnus Dr. Dov Rubin, vice president and general manager of NDS Americas (part of the Murdoch group), sees Murdoch two or three times a month. Rubin together with other JCT alumni is a founder of NDS, which started in Jerusalem in 1988 as News Datacom. NDS Technologies Israel, a multinational private company headquartered in Jerusalem, provides end-to-end solutions for digital broadcasting.
Bodenheimer recalled Murdoch saying that any educational institution that turns out graduates of the caliber of the NDS team is worth supporting.
Bodenheimer will not be attending the luncheon because he believes that anyone willing to pay a great deal of money to lunch with Rupert Murdoch either wants to pick his brain or interest him in a business venture. In either case, Bodenheimer feels he would be in the way. Conservative estimates of the auction proceeds stand at around $250,000.
JCT GRADUATES are engaged in many interesting projects. After a 10-year hiatus, JCT last week re-introduced its annual Succot reception for overseas supporters. The event, held at the gracious home of Ruth and David Schreiber, featured a demonstration by JCT alumnus Kloni Lieberman of a virtual keyboard. Using Bluetooth technology, a virtual keyboard can be set up almost anywhere out of strong sunlight. Data from a virtual keyboard can be instantly transferred to a hand-held computer, or even to a sophisticated cellphone. Lieberman says he has great fun using the virtual keyboard when traveling. It immediately attracts the attention of other passengers in a plane, who can't believe their eyes. This is science fiction made fact.
AN ANNUAL tradition of the Bank of Jerusalem is to host its local and overseas clients at a Succot breakfast. In past years, speakers have addressed their audiences in English. Introducing Rabbi Mordechai Elon, who is head of Yeshivat Hakotel, the bank's deputy manager and head of its international division, Stuart Hershkowitz, apologized that this year's lecture would be in Hebrew, but noted that this was the only way to truly appreciate Elon.
Realizing that most of the audience had a better grasp of English, Elon said: "I'll do it in English, and then you'll prefer my Hebrew."
Actually, his English was quite fluent, and the audience was highly appreciative.
SOME MEMBERS of the audience attending the screening of Ever Again, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's latest in-depth documentary, said they could have done without all the preliminary speeches - some of which were fatuous - and would have preferred to devote the time to a discussion, with audience participation, on how to battle the rising tide of anti-Semtisim in Europe. Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Los Angeles-headquartered Simon Wiesenthal Center, noted that hatred is not just an external threat but an internal threat. Jews must become more tolerant of each other, and that's why the Simon Wiesenthal Center is building the Museum of Human Dignity in the heart of the capital of the Jewish people, he said. Work on the downtown Jerusalem site on the edge of Independence Park is due to commence within the next month. The project is scheduled for completion in three years, after which, said Vice Premier and former mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert, he hoped that the Simon Wiesenthal Center would move its world headquarters to Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem City Council has announced plans for the addition of a wing to Beit Agron, the home of The Jerusalem Journalists' Association located directly across the road from the Wiesenthal Center project. The Journalists' Association is furious that plans received the green light from the city's planning committee without any previous notification to the JJA and other owners of the property. The JJA can still protest, but fighting city hall is not easy.
PRIME MINISTER Ariel Sharon's same-day Succa receptions for immigrant soldiers and Likud activists discomfited neighbors on either side of his official residence because security precautions were more stringent than usual, with additional barricades further marring the two intersecting streets on which the official residence is located. Although Sharon has been approached with the suggestion that he compensate neighbors by having at least one block party for them, invitations have yet to be extended. The prime minister would do well to remember that neighbors are voters too.
THE MEMORY of the late Vivienne Wohl, who passed away earlier this year after a courageous battle with cancer, will be honored in perpetuity at Bar-Ilan University with the dedication on Sunday, October 30 of the Wohl Center, a multi-purpose facility for large-scale national and international gatherings. The Wohl Center is the first building in Israel to be designed by globally acclaimed architect Daniel Liebeskind, who on Monday will address Israeli architects at the center, the funding for which has come from the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Charitable Foundation.
For the larger part of her life, Vivienne Wohl, together with her husband, was philanthropically involved in community concerns in England and Israel, including projects for the arts, health care, medical research, sheltered housing, education, poverty relief and beautification of the city. Often compared to an English rose, Vivienne Wohl counted the huge Wohl Rose Garden adjacent to the Knesset as one of her pet projects. She was also actively involved with Jerusalem's Great Synagogue, where her husband served as president for several years. Frequent visitors to Israel, the Wohls made it a personal tradition to be in Jerusalem for Independence Day so they could participate in the Great Synagogue's special Independence Day services and gala dinner.
WHO ARE Israel's most frequent fliers? Obviously vying for first place are vice premiers Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert, who are out of the country at least twice a month. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom runs a close third, and President Moshe Katsav, though not an airman like his predecessor Ezer Weizman, has certainly done more flying than any other president of Israel, and possibly more than all the others put together. Discussing this at a recent cocktail reception, a guest who frequently rubs shoulders with all the above wondered aloud about what happens to their frequent flier miles. Who are the beneficiaries?
RADIO AND television broadcaster Rafi Reshef, who made a fine art of an interviewing style so laid back that it induced interviewees to say more than they intended, is returning to the small screen. Reshef, who was contracted to Telad (whose Channel 2 franchise terminates at the end of this month) is moving to Channel 10, and will have a news-based interview program similar to the one he used to host on Channel 2. The hour-long program, with a 5-6 p.m. time slot, is part of Channel 10's new November line-up.
Meanwhile, Telad has been running a collage of clips from shows it produced and screened on Channel 2 for the past 12 years - giving viewers a taste of what they're going to miss.
DECISION MAKERS at the Channel 2 News Corporation have been dithering over whether to leave Shalom Kittal at the helm or appoint someone else. Possible replacements are Nissim Mishal, Ram Landes and Army Radio commander-in-chief Avi Beniyahu. Kittal's contract expired before a consensus could be reached. The solution: His contract has been extended to February 2006, and may yet be renewed.
WHAT GOES around comes around. There's a certain irony in the fact that Uri Shinar, who was ousted from the presidency of Keshet - one of the two Channel 2 franchisees - following an ugly spate of publicity, has been replaced by Keshet's founding director-general Alex Giladi, who was largely responsible for winning a franchise for Keshet in 1993. It was a remarkable accomplishment, considering that unlike Reshet and Telad (the other two founding franchisees of the commercial television channel), Keshet was not associated with a daily paper.
Giladi was dismissed in mid-1995 and replaced by Shinar. Giladi, who owned stock in Keshet, was offered the presidency, but no authority to go with the title. Giladi chose to return to his more rewarding work with the International Olympic Committee. He is also a vice president of NBC, responsible for global arrangements for sports broadcasts. In this respect, he's probably Israel's most influential television personality.
In his new role at Keshet, he will be responsible for adhering to regulations set down by the Communications Ministry, and the development of long-term strategies for the company. Shinar's big gripe - the one that led to his eventual dismissal - was that his wings had been clipped, and that much of the authority previously vested in him had been transferred to current Director-General Avi Nir.
Who knows? Shinar may yet return, but not for some time.