Ordinarily, the 134th anniversary of someone’s birth is no big deal, because it’s not a milestone anniversary.
But in the case of Bronislaw Huberman, who was born on December 19, 1882, it connects with a milestone anniversary – the 80th anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which he founded, and which, as the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra, gave its first concert on December 26, 1936, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini.
Huberman was a brilliant violinist who was born in Czestochowa, Poland, where the home of the philharmonic orchestra that bears his name is in the Bronislaw Huberman Hall, which was erected on the site of a synagogue destroyed by the Nazis.
Huberman formed the PPO with leading musicians from Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary. Many of these musicians lost their positions after the Nazis came to power and would in all probability have been murdered during the Holocaust. Huberman brought the musicians and their families to Tel Aviv. All in all, he saved some 1,000 people, and in so doing created a wonderful cultural legacy.
■ IN 2008, a few months after the death of US congressman Tom Lantos, the Netanya Municipality decided to rename Orzim Street as Tom Lantos Boulevard, which in Hebrew is known by his initials, Tet-Lamed. Lantos, a Democrat who was born in Hungary, was the only Holocaust survivor to serve in the US Congress, which he did from 1981 until his death in February 2008.
Now, in addition to the street that bears his name in Netanya, there will also be a life-size monument with a dog at its feet, which will be unveiled on Monday, December 19. The monument was initiated by Phil Friedman, a prominent member of the Lantos Foundation. Participating in the dedication ceremony will be the congressman’s widow, Annette Lantos, together with her children and grandchildren, some of whom arrived in Israel on Thursday. Also at the ceremony will be Jerusalemite Dolly Tiger-Chinitz, 87, a child Holocaust survivor, who is the cousin of Annette Lantos, whose family escaped to Switzerland from Budapest thanks to documents issued by Raoul Wallenberg.
■ WHEN THE worst of a fearful crisis is over, people tend to forget its victims. But those who suffered loss of homes and family possessions in last month’s inferno which caused so much damage around the country are still living with the traumatic experience and have received very little to tide them over until their homes are rebuilt or repaired. In the interim, there have been many nongovernmental efforts to help them out with clothing, household goods and money.
One such effort under the title of Fighting Fire with Fashion – ShopIsrael is being held this coming Monday, December 19, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., at Jerusalem’s First Station.
The initiative is the brainchild of a group of seminary girls from Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim, Midreshet Torah V’Avodah, Midreshet Lindenbaum and Michlala who want to help victims in Neveh Tzuf and Beit Meir, where families have frequently hosted seminary students over Shabbat. In fact, there were seminary students at Neveh Tzuf when the fire broke out who had to flee with the residents, leaving all their belongings behind. The students who wanted to help came to people with some experience in organization – namely, Joanna Shebson, Chaya Bina Katz, Sophie Sklar and Dinah Kraus, who came up with the concept of a pre-Hanukka fair.
■ EVERYONE WHO has ever taken commercial flights knows the frustrations of cancellations and delays. It’s bad enough for those who are on vacation or taking business trips, but when a family has packed all its belongings and left its home to make aliya, it’s not just frustrating, it’s frightening.
In the week prior to Rosh Hashana, an El Al flight that was supposed to bring 207 immigrants from Ukraine to Israel was delayed for three days due to the record number of flights to Uman. There was simply no plane available to bring the immigrants from Ukraine. The immigrants were stuck in Kiev with their luggage, their children, and in some cases their dogs.
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which brings immigrants from countries of distress to Israel, placed the immigrants in hotels and ensured that they had food and funds for elementary expenses.
But every cloud has a silver lining, and after negotiations with El Al, each of the immigrants received a onetime compensation of $200, in recognition of the importance of immigration to Israel. The $200 was in addition to the grant that each immigrant receives from the IFCJ, whose president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, commended El Al for its positive attitude toward the immigrants. Yehudit Grisaro, El Al’s customer service manager, returned the complement, saying that the IFCJ had been instrumental in helping El Al to improve its service.
The Podlianski family, which was among the many that had been stranded, said that IFCJ had been with them all the way and had continued to look out for them, even after their arrival in Israel.
■ JABOTINSKY INSTITUTE director Yossi Ahimeir recently invited Anu Saarela, the ambassador of Finland, to visit the institute, and timed the visit to coincide with the 110th anniversary of the Helsingfors Program as laid down by Jabotinsky at the 1906 Congress of Russian Zionists held in Helsingfors, which was the original name for Helsinki, as it is called in Swedish. At the time, Jabotinsky called for the autonomy of Russia’s Jewish populations.
In the same week of Saarela’s visit, Finland celebrated the 99th anniversary of its independence, and Ahimeir took the opportunity to congratulate the ambassador.
On the previous day, Ahimeir had welcomed the new Latvian ambassador, Elita Gavele, and had surprised her by greeting her in Latvian. He then explained that his wife is Latvian and that he has picked up several Latvian expressions from her. Ahimeir also told her that it was in the Latvian capital that Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement, had been established in 1923. Gavele later wrote in the institute’s guest book that it had been a wonderful opportunity for her to make contact with the legacy of Jabotinsky and that she looked forward to joint projects between Tel Aviv and Riga.
■ AT THE beginning of last week, President Reuven Rivlin met with social justice activists Vicki Knafo and the people who marched with her from Caesarea to Jerusalem – Avi Dabush, Dina Dayan and Eli Buskila.
In 2003, Knafo led a much larger group of single mothers who marched from Mitzpe Ramon to Jerusalem to protest the discriminatory government practices to which single mothers were subjected. This year, her protest was on behalf of the disabled and senior citizens whose pensions keep them permanently below the poverty line, forcing them to sacrifice the heating of their apartments and making them choose between food and medications.
The president, who has a more sympathetic ear than does the government, told Knafo that she is an inspiration and that her cause is justified. Dabush said that he had detected a positive change in attitude on the part of the public and even in some government quarters.
■ WHEN IT first became public that Gil Sheffer, a former aide to the prime minister, Amnon Cohen, a former Shas MK and Nissan Slomiansky, a Bayit Yehudi MK, were all suspected of sex-related offenses, there was an initial ban on publishing their names or showing their faces in the media. However, the ban did not extend to their bodies, which in each case were shown in local tabloids.
Anyone who knew them would have easily recognized them. The outline of Sheffer’s head was recognizable, as was his physique.
Cohen was the only Shas MK who didn’t dress like a Shasnik, meaning that he didn’t wear a dark suit; and Slomiansky’s physique and preference for white, open-necked shirts with the sleeves slightly rolled up was a total giveaway.
Under the circumstances, the rule should be to ban all photographs of suspects until it is permitted to publish their names, or to publish their names immediately, along with a full-face photograph. To simply ban publication of their names and faces but to allow photographs of their bodies is an exercise in stupidity.
■ BARKAN WINERY CEO Gilles Assouline has announced that chief wine-maker Ed Salzberg, who has spent some four decades in Israel’s wine industry, is retiring. Assouline described Salzberg as the backbone of Barkan, and credited him with being largely responsible for the company’s success.
The company’s new chief wine-maker is Ido Levinson, 38, who has an enviable reputation in the industry and who trained in Italy, France and Australia. Levinson who was previously chief wine-maker for Recanati, also teaches wine appreciation and tasting at high-class restaurants around the email@example.com