Grapevine: Sing for the king

It's not certain whether Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, will attend the Morocciada Festival

November 1, 2017 16:38
3 minute read.
miri regev jerusalem

Miri Regev with her Jerusalem of Gold dress at the 69th Cannes Film Festival. (photo credit: ELI SABTI)


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■ It's not certain whether Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, will attend the Morocciada Festival at the Leonardo Club Hotel in Eilat on November 12-15. Regev’s father immigrated to Israel from Morocco.

The main singer will be Raymonde Abecassis , who was born in Casablanca in 1943, and moved to Israel with her parents when she was nine years old. In the 1970s she was invited to sing for King Hassan II of Morocco. The king had heard one of her recordings and was enchanted by her voice. She was supposed to be a warm- up artist for famous Moroccan singer Samy Elmaghribi , who had also been invited to perform for the king. However, she impressed the monarch and his guests to such an extent that she was kept on stage till 1 a.m., and it was only then that Elmaghribi took the microphone.

Abecassis will be the only female singer to go along with nine male singers, who include Pinhass Cohen , who is coming directly from Morocco, Binyamin Buzaglo and Lior Almaliach , who are popular in Moroccan communities in Israel and abroad.

■ At a recent Tel Aviv University event, Chicagoan Albert Frank , a major supporter of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, met the incoming class of 1,500 IDF combat veterans of modest means whose college educations are being sponsored by the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which Frank helped found 15 years ago.

One of the more than 100 students Frank sponsors, St.-Sgt. (res.) Avraham Fazualo , is a lone soldier who immigrated from Brazil with no immediate family in Israel to serve in the IDF. Fazualo, who had not seen his parents in nearly five years, was given a great surprise by Frank, who presented him with a round-trip plane ticket to Brazil to visit his family and return to Israel to take up his studies.

Since its founding, the program has mushroomed nationally and has provided some 13,500 four-year financial need-based scholarships for deserving IDF combat veterans. The power of the program resonates far beyond the individual, as each scholarship recipient completes 130 volunteer hours during each year of study. In this way, IMPACT! is the premier community service scholarship program in the country.

Frank is a member of both FIDF’s national board and its central region board of directors. A retired US Army second lieutenant, he formed his own construction company and established the village of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, in 1957. Frank has been a longtime supporter of many Jewish and Israeli organizations.

FIDF’s central region has supported more than 2,500 IMPACT! scholarships since the program’s inception, said FIDF Midwest executive director Tamir Oppenheim .

■ Apropos lone soldiers, the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin will be hosting its ninth annual Thanksgiving celebration in Tel Aviv on November 23. More than 1,000 lone soldiers will come to enjoy food, beer, music, football and great company at Israel’s largest annual gathering of lone soldiers. The event is made possible by individual donors in Israel and abroad, Beer Bazaar Jerusalem and communities across the country that prepare massive quantities of delicious, homemade food.

There are nearly 7,000 lone soldiers serving in the IDF. The holidays are particularly challenging for many whose families are celebrating thousands of miles away.

For lone soldiers from North America, Thanksgiving was one of the happiest and most fun days of the year, when they got together with their families and closest friends to eat, watch football and enjoy being together, said Joshua Flaster , a former lone soldier and national director of the center. “We prepare this meal for the over 1,000 American and hundreds of Canadian lone soldiers to give them a taste of home and allow them to be together with their family in Israel.”

The evening is not just for IDF soldiers from the US and Canada. Soldiers with backgrounds from all over the world attend the massive event, enjoying unlimited turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, green beans, mashed potatoes, beer and more. The event at WIZO House in Tel Aviv is not open to the public and is restricted to lone soldiers.

Michael Levin was an American-born lone soldier who died fighting in Lebanon in 2006. The Lone Soldier Center was established in his memory by his relatives and friends.

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