THEY WERE both born in Poland. Doris Levine, at five, arrived in the US with her
parents and sister in 1938. Rena Quint, three years younger, remained in Poland
and was caught up in the war. She was eventually liberated from Bergen-Belsen –
bereft of parents and her two brothers. From there she was sent to Sweden. In a
displaced persons camp she met Anna Philipstahl, whose brother had gone to
America before the war and had arranged immigration papers for her and her son
Throughout the war years, Quint had been cared for by a series
of surrogate mothers. Now she had another one. Philipstahl invited her to come
to America with her as her daughter. Unfortunately she died six months after
they reached the US, and her brother did not want to be responsible for the
little orphan girl.
As fate would have it, he knew a childless couple who
were willing to take her in for a weekend to see if they could get along. The
weekend evolved into a lifetime. They became her parents in every sense. Rena
saw Sigmund, who by that time had changed his name to Stanley, when he was at
university. She was in high school and she had gone to visit him. She had stayed
with his girl friend Marcia, whom he later married.
That was more than
half a century ago, and there had been no contact between them since. Like many
Holocaust survivors, Quint was haunted by unanswered questions.
moving here in 1984, some of those questions had been answered because she had
access to archives such as Yad Vashem and the Joint Distribution Committee.
Sarah Kadosh, former director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution
Committee Archives in Jerusalem, had helped her to acquire information and asked
if there were anything else she wanted to know. Quint, who had always regarded
Sigmund or Stanley as her brother, wanted to know what had happened to
Kadosh discovered on the Internet last January that he had died the
previous year. She also found out about his wife and daughter. Quint wasted no
time and called Marcia Philips at her home in Florida. Both women were
overwhelmed with emotion.
Philips took down Quint’s details, but because
she was so excited, she wasn’t sure that she had them correctly.
daughter Nanci Shwartz, going through Facebook, found the name of an old
schoolmate who now lives in Jerusalem. She got in touch, and asked her to
confirm Quint’s details.
The friend contacted Quint, and soon e-mails
kept jumping back and forth. Quint invited her “sister-inlaw” and “niece” to
come here, telling them they would have no expenses beyond the fare.
put them up in her home, took them out on tours and invited them to attend the
Amit gala luncheon this week at which she and Levine, who has been living in
Jerusalem since 1997, were honored.
When Quint had to make her response
speech she told her story, including her search for Sigmund/Stanley. At the
close of her address she presented plaques to her Florida “family” in memory of
Anna Philipstahl with the inscription, “Who though she did not give birth to me
gave me life.”
Quint surmised that without Philipstahl’s generosity of
spirit, she might have been a child in an Amit home.
Instead she had
grown up in the warm and loving home of Jacob and Leah Globe, had married Rabbi
Emanuel Quint and had become the mother of four children who have given her 22
grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
■ LEADING MEMBERS of the
Druse community can be as outspoken as prominent Israeli Jews. Likud MK Ayoub
Kara tells his Israeli friends on the West Bank that he’s a bigger Zionist than
they are, and Kadima MK Majallie Whbee asserts that accusations charging Israel
with being an apartheid state are “false.”
Addressing a luncheon
gathering of the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association at the Leonardo
Hotel in Ramat Gan this week, Whbee – a colonel in the IDF reserve who described
himself as “a proud Israeli” – came out strongly in defense of our
He noted the Druse community’s unique standing, and the
high-level positions its members have attained in the military, police,
political and public life – out of all proportion to their 130,000 souls. But he
acknowledged the Druse community is not benefitting from the rights to which all
citizens are entitled. Budgets granted to Druse towns and villages are far lower
than to Jewish ones.
On the more positive side, universities, the legal
system and the government embrace Jews, Arabs and Druse alike. Whbee cited
hospitals as the biggest melting pot, where treatment is given to everyone, be
they sporting keffiyehs, kippot, jalabiyas or jeans. He expressed pride in the
legal system which includes Arab judges – even on the Supreme Court. “Here, no
one is above the law,” he said.
Asked about the Druse of the Golan
Heights, Lebanon and Syria, Whbee said they were loyal citizens of the countries
where they reside.
“As for us, we are ready to die for Israel,” he
■ BRITISH AMBASSADOR Matthew Gould, who insists that there is
no contradiction between his being a proud Englishman and a proud Jew, often
goes to enormous lengths to explain the compatibility, and he and his wife Celia
have done so again in naming their new sabra daughter Rachel Elizabeth. Of the
four Jewish matriarchs, no one more than Rachel symbolizes the return of the
Jewish people to its spiritual homeland, and Elizabeth is the name of two
British monarchs. Better still, the Hebrew name from which Elizabeth was adapted
is Elisheva, who according to the Bible was the wife of Aaron, the brother of
Rachel Elizabeth, who was due to arrive on Tuesday, instead made
her entry into the world in the wee small hours of April 1. Gould, usually seen
in a business suit, wore jeans and a white T-shirt when he accompanied his wife
to the hospital and posed for photographs with her and their daughter.
Presumably over the next few weeks, diplomatic matters will take a back seat to
paternal pride, and eloquence will give way to the strange speech adults adopt
when talking to babies.
■ ON A somewhat different British note, three
generations of British Rothschilds, headed by Lord Rothschild, came here for the
40th anniversary celebrations of the Israel Center for Educational
They were joined by other members of the Rothschild clan who
flew in from Geneva. They were welcomed at a reception held in their honor by
ICET CEO Gil Ben-Har on what it means to move into the digital age and how this
will affect many areas of endeavor. She was proud of the fact that ICET is the
country’s leading producer of digital books. The reception and festive dinner
had been preceded by a conference on new media, digital communication and
For Lord Rothschild, who has contributed to the
development of ICET since its beginning, this was an exciting occasion. Among
those attending the reception and dinner were MK Meir Sheetrit, who has had a
close connection with ICET since he was mayor of Yavne; Yuli Tamir, president of
Shenkar College; Shimshon Shoshani, director-general of the Education Ministry;
Micha Angel, chairman of the board at ICET; and Avi Ze’evi, a
founding partner of Carmel Ventures.
■ AUSTRALIAN EXPATS brought together
last week by Australian Jewish businessman Ashley Korngold and Ambassador to
Australia Yuval Rotem were thrilled to have the opportunity to sit around a
dinner table with former Australian prime minister John Howard, who was
delightfully casual, expressed an interest in each one of them, posed good
naturedly for endless photographs and laughed uproariously when Aviva
Banczewski, who works for Israel Chemicals, told him that her mother in
Melbourne kept his photograph on her bedside table.
mother can replace that photograph with one of Howard shaking hands with her
Howard, known to be a great friend of Israel and the Jewish
people, had just come from Johannesburg, where he had attended the annual gala
conference of the Zionist Federation of South Africa and had been given a
tumultuous ovation by 2,500 attendees after making his pro-Israel
Among those attending the dinner in Tel Aviv were international
karate champion Danny Hakim, founder of Budo for Peace, who is now running a
self-defense program in martial arts for Jewish university students from
America; David Schlessinger, CEO of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce New
South Wales division; Dr. Harvey Belik, whose son played Australian Rules
football with the Peres Peace Center team which visited Australia; Guy
Spiegelman, vice president of business development at Apos; Garry Stock,
chairman of James Richardson; Capt. Benji Rutland, of the IDF Spokesman’s
Office; Don Stanley, director of Israel Trust; Joel Zamel, director of
Wikistrat; and Paul Israel, executive director of the Israel Australia Chamber
■ DIPLOMATS HAVE to rub shoulders or press palms with every
strata of society if they want to have a really good understanding of the
countries to which they are assigned. Last week Tom Goldberger, deputy chief of
mission at the US Embassy, and his wife Eden, spent a day in Jerusalem as guests
of Rabbi Matityahu Cheshin, known as the haredi consul. Cheshin, a ninth
generation Jerusalemite, took them to meet Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, head of the
Mir Yeshiva, and visit the Mir Bakery, where they baked hallot.
took them to a matza factory where they baked their own matza.
they went to Belz to tour the Belz Great Synagogue. Their guide was
Melbourne-born Yehezkel Friedman, who not only explained the structure with its
main sanctuary that can seat 6,000 people, but also told them something of the
history of the Belz dynasty, which was almost destroyed by the Nazis, but
rebuilt by Rabbi Aharon Rokeach, the uncle of current Belzer Rebbei Yissachar
The acoustics in the main sanctuary are such that someone
standing at one end and talking in a normal voice can be easily heard by someone
at the other end. The sound bounces off the crystal chandeliers.
even whispered prayers can be easily heard, whenever there is a need for
uniformity, a large leather cushion is taken from beneath the lectern and given
a whack with a big stick to create instant silence. Friedman invited Goldberger
to use the stick.
■ IT’S ALMOST a sin to be affluent here. The local
media regularly attack the oligarchy, conveniently forgetting the number of
social welfare, educational, cultural, medical and other institutions and
projects they support.
Last week nearly 1,000 people convened at the
David InterContinental Hotel-Tel Aviv for the DC Finance Annual Family Office
and Wealth Management Conference, which was opened by Nava Michael Tzabari, who
spoke about her Strauss family roots and of how the second generation is
managing their wealth.
Among the attendees at the conference moderated by
TV personality Gadi Sukenik were Mickey Dorsman, founder of Shilov; Dalia and
Moran Shuster, Ya’acov Burak of Evergreen, Orni Petrushka, Yisrael Eliahu of
Eliahu Insurance Co., Dr. Eli Fisher of Fisher Pharmaceuticals and Dr. Esther
Luzzatto, managing partner of Luzzatto & Luzzatto patent attorneys. DC
Finance CEO Denny Chared has instituted a variety of conferences that help the
rich to decide how to invest their money in the nation’s future.
ALTHOUGH THEY are on opposite sides of the political fence, one of those who has
come to the defense of the media maligned Sara Netanyahu is Israel Prize
laureate Gila Almagor. At a belated International Women’s Day brunch at the
prime minister’s residence last Thursday, the actress urged her to be strong,
and said that while it was legitimate to criticize and even attack the prime
minister, his wife and children should be left alone.
Also coming out
strongly was Batsheva Hayat, widow of firefighter Danny Hayat, who died of
injuries sustained when fighting the Carmel fires. Hayat said that when she was
a student, her teacher had been Sara Netanyahu’s father Shmuel Ben- Artzi, who
had taught her the values that she cherishes and lives by.
other women present were Sivan Rahav Meir, whose interview with her later in the
day on Channel 2 made front page news in most of Friday’s papers; Elizabeth
Berkowitz, Limor Livnat, Gila Gamliel, Esther Wachsman, Carmella Menashe, Orit
Noked, Merav Michaeli, Miriam Ben-Porat, Nadia Cohen, widow of executed spy Eli
Cohen; Gila Gamliel and Tzipi Hotovely. The husband of the hostess was also
■ LEGAL PROBLEMS notwithstanding, former prime minister Ehud
Olmert was the man of the hour last Wednesday at the Menachem Begin Heritage
Center, where members of Kadima celebrated the launch of a new book about party
founder Ariel Sharon. Current leader Tzipi Livni, who had a previous engagement,
did not attend. If she had, perhaps Dalia Itzik, Shaul Mofaz and Haim Ramon
might have been more circumspect in their remarks, an outpouring of affection
There were several people who dubbed him one of the country’s
best prime ministers.
■ UNLIKE ISRAEL, whose citizens living abroad
(other than those who are in service to the state) cannot vote in the Knesset
elections, the French do allow expatriates who have retained citizenship to vote
in national elections. French media analyst Philippe Karsenty, who exposed the
Muhammad al-Dura hoax, is running for parliament and is campaigning to represent
a recently created district that comprises French citizens living abroad –
mostly here and in Italy, Greece and Turkey, but also the US.
to Karsenty, the largest percentage of his potential electorate lives here. That
explains his presence this week. He was campaigning in Ashdod on Monday,
Jerusalem on Tuesday and today he’ll be in Netanya. He’ll be in North America
from May 5-15. Israel needs to have a friend in the French parliament, he
■ IT’S AMAZING how many people stay up in the predawn hours to
listen to their favorite radio programs.
Israel Radio’s Raya Admoni and
Claude Buchbinder, who had worked closely with the late Netiva Ben-Yehuda,
decided to have a memorial tribute to her in which they played snatches of old
programs that featured her voice, but also took calls from loyal
Among them was Reuma Weizman, widow of the seventh president,
who called in at around 2:30 a.m. and expressed profound gratitude for being
given the opportunity to say a few words in Ben-Yehuda’s memory.
REGARDLESS OF the outcome of the game, Austrian Ambassador Michael Rendi and
Israel Rugby Union president Menahem Ben- Menahem will raise a glass of Red Bull
at a reception at the ambassador’s residence on Saturday to toast the two
countries’ rugby teams, which will compete earlier in the day in a European
Nations Cup match.
■ ETHICS ARE very important, but sometimes the people
who make the rules about ethical behavior can go overboard. Such was the case
with the legal department of the Israel Broadcasting Authority with regard to
singer/song writer Kobi Oz, who just over three weeks ago was approved by the
cabinet to serve on the 31-member IBA plenum. Along with the honor came a stern
limitation on the frequency with which his recordings could be played on Israel
Radio, the need to secure permission from the IBA’s legal department to appear
on the IBA’s radio or television programs and the imperative to refrain from
giving interviews. Oz had been unaware of these restrictions until the legal
department circulated a letter outlining all the things he’s not allowed to
To remain on the plenum was tantamount to professional suicide – so
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