Grapevine August 18, 2019: Courting young English-speaking voters

A roundup of news from around Israel.

August 17, 2019 19:35
Grapevine August 18, 2019: Courting young English-speaking voters

Time magazine featured Benjamin Netanyahu on its cover in July, as he became the country’s longest-serving prime minister. (photo credit: COURTESY TIME MAGAZINE)

With the Knesset elections now less than a month away, parties are busy courting votes even from those whom they may have previously ignored. People can give a particular politician high approval rate, but not necessarily vote for him or her. Last week, Kan 11’s Yoram Dekel took a market stroll with Yemina’s Ayelet Shaked. Almost everyone was eager to shake her hand and wish her well, but after she left, the overwhelming majority said they would vote for Likud. Shaked was overrated in the April elections, and later failed to pass the electoral threshold. She is being even more overrated in the current election frenzy, but this is no guarantee that the MK who has brains as well as beauty is going to do well in the elections.

Most political pundits are predicting that Blue and White will break up after the elections, regardless of whether or not the party wins, because Yair Lapid is regarded as a political liability. It’s also not certain that the three former chiefs of staff can continue to live in harmony. Meanwhile, one of them, MK and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, will court young English-speakers in an address on Monday, August 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Carlton Esperanto Bar on the Tel Aviv beachfront. The event is open to people ages 18-36. Attendees will be asked to show their ID cards.

■ PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet on Monday in Kiev with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a rumored attempt to settle the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Israel has good relations with both Moscow and Kiev and has not taken a stance in the conflict. Netanyahu might therefore by regarded by both sides as an honest broker. Rumor likewise has it that he will also make a bid for Ukraine to move its embassy to Jerusalem. Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov has said more than once that Russia has no intention of moving its embassy to the capital. Nonetheless, soon after his arrival in Israel just over a year ago, Viktorov hosted his country’s National Day reception in Sergei’s Courtyard in Jerusalem, in a game of brinkmanship with US Ambassador David Friedman who hosted the American Independence Day Festivities in Jerusalem this year.

Sergei’s Courtyard will again focus attention on Russia with the official opening on September 6 of the Art and Dolls Expo. Russian Doll Collectors Club president Svetlana Pchelnikova helps to organize the International Doll Salon which has been held in Moscow for the past decade. The exhibition of some 130 dolls will be on display from September 5-15. The doll-makers are mainly but not only Russian, and include artists from Israel, England, and elsewhere.

Some of the dolls are classic, some female with beautiful faces and period costumes. Others may be male, sometimes with caricatures of famous people, and sometimes golliwogs or clowns.

Pchelnikova, who actually looks like a doll come to life, started doll-making as a form of therapy after a serious car accident. Her mother brought some playdough to the hospital to help her regain her motor skills, and Pchelnikova began making dolls.

Her therapy-cum-hobby became a large scale charitable endeavor. Her friends would buy the dolls she made and then ask her to give the doll to a needy child. Needy did not necessarily mean poor. It also meant sick.

In 2007, she began a doll parade for children. She would design the basic models for dolls and the finishing touches would be created by celebrities. These dolls would then be auctioned, and the person buying the doll would give it to a sick child. The money paid for the doll would help pay the child’s medical expenses. One of her creations, Astro Doll, has even been on the International Space Station.

■ WHEN A couple breaks their engagement less than a month before the wedding, the situation can be tragic if one of them is still in love with the other, or it can be fortunate in realizing that they were not really meant for each other. The only problem in the latter case is that hotels and banquet halls demand compensation for cancellation. Here’s where social media develops a very positive role.

Last Tuesday, Avinoam Hersh shared on Facebook that his friend Batya Arad had published the story of a couple who had planned to be married this week at the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria. However when they canceled the wedding, the parents of the couple, realizing that they would still have to pay for the reception, decided they couldn’t let a perfectly good wedding reception go to waste, and said that they would be willing to sponsor the cost of the wedding for a couple with minimal financial resources.

Arad was inundated with phone calls, not only from prospective beneficiaries but also from people who wanted to be part of such a project and wanted to help. Finally, after much checking and soul-searching, a suitable young couple from Shvut Rachel, a settlement 45 kilometers north of Jerusalem, was chosen. Their families simply cannot afford more than the simplest of weddings, and this unexpected gift was a wonderful way to set them off on their journey through life together.

The new bride and groom are recent immigrants from South America. The bride’s brother is serving as a Lone Soldier in a combat unit. A meeting was then held between the Israeli representatives of the parents of the first couple and the newly chosen couple about to be married. The latter were still in shock that this was happening. They simply could not believe their good fortune. The bride then shyly said that her sister, who is due to get married in a few weeks’ time in a very modest ceremony in South America, had telephoned to say she would be unable to come to Israel for the wedding in Jerusalem because she simply didn’t have the money. Thanks to some of the good people who wanted to participate in the Jerusalem wedding, money was instantly contributed to cover the cost of a round-trip ticket for the sister.

Next was a meeting with Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria general manager Avner On and the hotel’s banqueting manager to finalize details. The two were sorry that the original wedding had been canceled, but they were pleased that something akin to a Cinderella story was taking place in their hotel and that they could be part of it. The wedding gift also includes the Nismacha Band, plus some 20 young men who will entertain the bride and groom in the traditional custom of the religiously observant.

The parents of the original bride and groom are to be commended for their generosity of spirit for turning lemons into lemonade.

Everyone who responded with offers to help should bear in mind that there are many other economically strapped young couples who would be delighted to have their weddings upgraded. It’s nice to know that with all the rapid changes that we are experiencing in this digital age, one old-fashioned piece of goodwill remains. All the world loves a wedding.

■ THE JERUSALEM Dan Hotel, formerly the Hyatt on Mount Scopus, is adding a new attraction to its facilities: a German-style beer garden on the hotel’s terrace, which has a panoramic view of the capital. In addition to a wide range of beers, patrons will be able to dine from a German-inspired menu devised by the hotel’s chef, Tzachi Ben-Shabat, such as veal schnitzel, hand-made veal sausages, chicken breast stuffed with corn, corned beef sandwiches and hamburgers made from high-quality minced entrecote

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