Grapevine May 5, 2019: Eurovision

A round up of news from around Israel.

May 5, 2019 01:52
A PROJECTION of the Eurovision stage that is currently under construction

A PROJECTION of the Eurovision stage that is currently under construction. (photo credit: KAN)

Tel Aviv’s slogan of “the city that never stops” will be enhanced this month, not only by Eurovision per se, but also by all the Eurovision parties before and after the contest. Ambassadors representing most of the participating countries are hosting parties for their contestants at their residences and at other venues in Tel Aviv and Herzliya Pituah. The time factor has caused some serious overlapping, with two and more parties on the same date and at more or less the same time.

Australian Ambassador Chris Cannan has even gone so far as to overlap with Independence Day festivities, and is hosting a party for Kate Miller-Heidke, who is arguably traveling the longest distance from among all the competitors. Australia is not exactly Europe – neither is Israel, for that matter, but both countries have large sectors of population of European background.

■ ALSO PARTYING on May 9 will be the movers and shakers of United Israel Appeal, whose annual world conference is being held this week at the Tel Aviv Hilton, where the organization will also celebrate a changing of the guard.

In October last year UIA got a new chairman in the person of Sam Grunwerg, who prematurely wound up his tenure as Israel’s consul-general in Los Angeles, and now the organization is getting a new chairman to head the UIA World Board of Trustees.

Canada’s David Koschitzky has completed a five-year term, and his successor is Steven Lowy, the son of Sir Frank Lowy, a Holocaust survivor who became one of the wealthiest people in Australia.

The senior Lowy, who for years has been an extraordinarily generous contributor to UIA and other projects, made aliyah at the end of 2018. The 88-year-old billionaire remains active and devotes much of his time to the Institute for National Security Studies. He is chairman of the INSS board of directors, a position that he also held before making aliyah.

This was actually the second time that he made aliyah. He came to Israel after the Second World War and fought in the War of Independence. The austere economic situation prompted him to seek his fortune elsewhere, and he found it by traveling as far south as he could go.

■ IT’S NO secret that in the years that Abba Eban served in Washington, he met frequently with fellow diplomats from Arab countries, but such meetings were clandestine and never out in the open. Many ambassadors to Israel who would like to see progress in the peace process lament the fact that there have been no high-level meetings between Israel and the Palestinians in a very long time. However, diplomats outside of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are setting an example by dialoguing with each other.

On Sunday, at the Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney, Israel Ambassador Mark Sofer and Izzat Abdulhadi, head of the General Delegation of Palestine, will have a discussion that will hopefully be a significant stepping-stone toward an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The conversation will be moderated by Rabbi Jeffrey Kamin, who regards the event as a historic opportunity to begin to work out the problems, because each side has undertaken to respect the other and listen to the other.

There doesn’t seem to be much chance of that conversation being emulated by Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas – but one never knows. Stranger things have happened.

■ ALTHOUGH JERUSALEM Day is not till June 9, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is getting in early and ICEJ president Dr. Jürgen Bühler has sent out invitations for May 16. Recipients should carefully check the address listed. It’s not the same as in previous years. What is the same is the assurance of kosher catering. The ICEJ always
makes sure that its guests will be able to eat at its table.

■ IN SOME parts of Europe, outside certain buildings, there are small metal plaques on the pavement, mini monuments to Jews who once lived there and died a premature death at the hands of the Nazis. For Jewish visitors to these towns and cities, it is heartwarming to know that leaders of local municipalities care enough to commemorate the Jews who once lived in their midst, and in so doing publicly testify to their abhorrence of antisemitism.

A similar gesture on a somewhat more collective and grander scale is currently under way in Czestochowa, Poland, according to Alon Goldman, chairman of the Association of Czestochowa Jews in Israel and vice president of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their Descendants.

A building at 14 Aleja Tadeusza Kosciuszki in Czestochowa was inherited by a gentleman by the name of Mariusz Etryk, whose aunt Czeslawa Sedzielewska told him stories about the Jewish tenants who had lived there up till the outbreak of the Second World War in September, 1939. Etryk decided to do something to commemorate these Jews. He made inquiries about contacting Jewish people with roots in Czestochowa and was referred to Goldman. They met in Tel Aviv last month. Etryk came with a list of names of Jews who had lived in the building, and from various other prewar data in his possession had discovered exactly who lived in which apartment and even what professions they practiced. Among them were engineers, doctors and lawyers. Together with Goldman, he made further inquiries, which indicated that some of the residents had perished in Czestochowa, some had been murdered in Treblinka, and some had survived the Holocaust.

For instance, engineer Henryk Feiner, his wife Fajga (Franka) and their son Riszard did not survive. But it’s possible that they and other people whose names are on the list have relatives in Israel or elsewhere in the world who might be able to provide additional information, and who may want to attend a dedication ceremony that Etryk is planning in memory of the Jewish residents of his building.

The other names are Dr. Adam (Hersz Abraham) and Dr. Gitta (née Aidelman) Konarski; engineer Ludwik Tencer; Natalia (née Rotlevi) Librowicz and Dr. Marek Mordka; Dr. Maksymilian Berlin; Dr. Adam Borkowski; Jerzy (Abram Izrael) and Mala (née Brandowicz) Orenstein; Tadeusz Koss; Dora Rotmil; Prof. Zyskind Brandewicz; engineer Solomon Markowicz; Ita Ruchla and Jakub Lewit; Dr. Miriam and Dr. Moshe (Henryk) Hallerman.

Relatives of any of the above or anyone else who has additional information are asked to contact Goldman at

■ BLOOD WILL tell. In addition to the editorial that appeared in The New York Times acknowledging its dangerous error in publishing antisemitic imagery, the editor who gave the green light to publishing the offensive cartoon in the paper’s international edition has been disciplined, and the contract with the syndicate that distributes the cartoonist’s work has been canceled. Moreover, the paper’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, has sent a message to employees informing them that training on bias issues, with a particular focus on antisemitism, will be upgraded. Sulzberger wrote that although he had been assured that no malice had been intended, publication of the cartoon without proper oversight caused the NYT to fall short of its standards. Though no longer practicing any religion, and not Jewish by halachic standards, Sulzberger never denies his Jewish origins. He is a fifth-generation descendant of Adolph Ochs, who bought the paper in 1896. When Ochs died, the paper was taken over by his son-in-law Arthur Hays Sulzberger, an anti-Zionist Reform Jew, whose family was engaged in Jewish philanthropy. From personal experience, he knew what antisemitism was about, but was careful to ensure that the paper would not be perceived as too Jewish – this despite the fact that so many members of its editorial staff were and are Jewish.

Even though Sulzberger men have in successive generations married non-Jewish women, the Jewish gene is not forgotten, and the irony is that a halachicly Jewish Sulzberger did not take up the Jewish cause during the Second World War, but a Sulzberger who is halachically out of the tribe is now focusing on fighting antisemitism.

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