Grapevine: The lion’s share of the pride

Breast cancer initiative comes here, Lau-Lavie family returns to Piotrokov and Terner folds his IAF wings.

By
July 6, 2010 22:34
Hadassah ladies.

Hadassah ladies 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

AMERICA IS widely recognized as the public relations capital of the world, but what works there does not necessarily enjoy the same success abroad. Yet for all that, Lone Star Communications, a Jerusalem-based PR firm made up entirely of transplanted Americans, has won the Israel Spokespersons and Public Relations Association Roaring Lion Award for the best campaign of the year. Not only that, but Lone Star reaped more awards than any other PR company, and went home with a pride of lions.

The campaign of the year award was for the March of the Living, which also ranked first in education, one of 16 categories in which the award was given. In the cultural category, Lone Star romped into first place with the US team in the World Maccabiah Games; in the international category with Canadian MP Irwin Cotler’s emergency initiative on the nuclearization of Iran; and in the political category its handling of the visit by US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

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The Lone Star team at the awards ceremony at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv was minus its CEO, Charley Levine, who was in the US mixing business with pleasure. Two of his children currently live there, and a third is visiting, so he took the opportunity to catch up with his family in addition to working out new strategies for American clients. He will return today, with a Nefesh B’Nefesh group for which he will be the spokesman.

■ MARKET WATCH CEO Avinoam Brueh, at the request of ISPRA, conducted an Israel image survey among the Israeli public, and found that close to 25 percent believe that PR professionals should be the ones to devise and present Israel’s public policy. Getting the government to accept this may not be as difficult as it seems.

Brueh is the brother of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

■ PROMINENT AMONG the guests at the annual American Independence Day celebrations hosted at his residence by the US ambassador are the president, the prime minister, members of the cabinet and MKs.

Conspicuous by his absence this year was Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who may have been reacting to the cold shoulder that he received from the US government during his recent visit to New York.

There were fewer guests mingling on the lawn than in past years, but the US embassy invited the whole world to the party, or at least to its Web site, where surfers could watch the proceedings live. Aware that security checks cause long delays in entering the grounds of the residence, many of the guests arrived well in advance of the time listed on the invitation and discovered that most of the food outlets had not yet been set up.

What was available in addition to Domino’s Pizza and McDonald’s burgers was a glatt kosher buffet provided by Rabbi Matityahu Cheshin, who is a familiar figure at diplomatic affairs, and was listed on the invitation as “haredi consul.” Cheshin and his wife Hinda also provided three huge hallot shaped to form the letters USA. The glatt kosher food was wolfed down very quickly – mostly by people who couldn’t care less about the Jewish dietary laws. Many of those who do care, and missed out, did not eat at all, because they did not realize that the trays of delicacies coming out of the kitchen were kosher and prepared by the Mazal Taleh kosher catering service. Leslie Cunningham, the wife of the ambassador, insists on kosher food whenever there’s a big affair to ensure that everyone present can eat.

The addresses during the official part of the ceremony were by Ambassador James Cunningham, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Cunningham greeted his guests in Hebrew in a somewhat strange pronunciation, but the applause indicated that he got A for effort. Acknowledging that America and Israel do not always see eye to eye, he said that differences are natural in any family, but the US would not waver in its support for Israel and its security: “America and Israel will face the challenges of the 21st century together as friends.”

Peres hailed America as “a lighthouse in the darkness, the greatest defender of freedom in the world,” and said that from the very first day, Israel had enjoyed the support of the American people, its democratic institutions and its president.

Netanyahu noted the way that America, as a defender of liberty, has met challenges to freedom, and “the difference America has made in rolling back totalitarian forces.”

America is still fighting for freedom and liberty and is keeping the enemies of freedom at bay, he said.

Moving on to the local scene, Netanyahu spoke of America’s assistance in helping Israel to negotiate peace. He lauded the enactment of American sanctions against Iran, saying “this is the strongest piece of legislation passed in targeting the regime in Iran.” On the peace front, Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet him face to face anywhere and at any time. “The only way to successfully complete peace negotiations is to begin them,” he said.

■ MI CASA su casa assumed more significant meaning this week when Hila Solomon, the vivacious proprietor of Spoons, a catering and events enterprise she runs out of her home in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, sponsored an informal breakfast meeting of women representing many sectors of society to introduce them to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a global initiative that brings together advocates, women who have triumphed over breast cancer, big time philanthropists, donors of modest means and dignitaries to find a cure. Solomon got involved because so many of her friends and acquaintances have breast cancer or have died from it and because she was misdiagnosed with it a year ago.

Other partners in Komen’s local activities are Hadassah and the Jerusalem Municipality.

Komen for the Cure was founded in 1982 by Nancy G. Brinker after her sister Susan, who was only in her 30s, lost her battle with breast cancer.

Nancy had promised Susan that she would do everything possible to find a cure for other victims. The organization founded by Brinker has become the world’s largest nonprofit of its kind, and distributes the money it raises to institutions engaged in fighting, curing and preventing breast cancer.

It partners with like-minded groups and the money that it raises in any state or country stays there and is disbursed.

So far it has invested more than $1.3 billion in genetic research and in fighting breast cancer. This is raised via an anti-cancer walk that attracts thousands of people and many sponsors.

This year, Israel will participate for the first time, with the Jerusalem walk or as it is officially known “race for the cure” scheduled for October 28. The whole of that week will be devoted to Komen with an international think tank of 80 experts in physics, nanotechnology, bio-engineering, imaging, oncology, etc.

gathering at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot to present proposals for the prevention of breast cancer and the development of innovative approaches in its treatment.

An Israel mission of dignitaries and large-scale donors will participate in collaborative launch events from October 25-29, and the new campus of the Israel Museum will be lit up in pink, as will the walls of the Old City.

Among the guests in Solomon’s garden were Komen’s global ambassador Hadassah Lieberman, Hadassah national president Nancy Falchuk, Leslie Cunningham, the wife of the US ambassador, who came even though it was July 4; Beverly Barkat, the wife of the mayor of Jerusalem; Rena Riger, the Komen representative here; and Nurit Elstein, the legal adviser to the Knesset.

Lieberman flew in last week and spent Shabbat in Jerusalem, while her husband, Senator Joe Lieberman, who arrived this week after visiting Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq, spent Shabbat in Baghdad.

■ AS IS customary on such occasions, the congregants threw candy at the bar mitzva boy at the conclusion of the reading of his Torah portion.

What was different on this occasion was that the boy was 84 years old, and that he was reenacting his bar mitzva on its 71st anniversary. He had originally celebrated in Krakow where his maternal grandfather was a prominent rabbi. He celebrated his second bar mitzva in Piotrokov Trybunalski, where his father Rabbi Moshe Haim Lau had been the chief rabbi, in the very synagogue in which his father had prayed. There are no Jews living in Piotrokov today, but Naftali Lau- Lavie, a former consul-general in New York and former executive vice chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, was surrounded by childhood friends along with first, second and third generation Holocaust survivors who had come to Piotrokov for a Shabbaton.

Also present were his wife, sons and daughters-in-law who were accompanying him on a journey of nostalgia which also took them to Slovakia where he was born, to Piotrokov where he spent his childhood and part of his adolescence and to other parts of Poland. Lau-Lavie, a Holocaust survivor, said that it was a tremendously emotional experience for him, because he could visualize so many of the past congregants, including his father, and could pinpoint where each of them had sat. The overwhelming majority had either been shot by the Nazis or taken to Treblinka. The synagogue is now used as a public library, but on the last Sabbath in June, it reverted to being a Jewish house of worship.

■ THE LAU-Lavie family later traveled to Krakow to attend the cantorial concert conducted by Jerusalemite Elli Jaffe and featuring the Jerusalem Great Synagogue Choir along with Cantors Ya’acov Motzen, Raphael Frieder, Ya’acov Lemmer and Chaim Louk, who sang to a full house at the large and ornate Temple Synagogue at the Krakow Festival of Jewish Culture. Later, at a reception at the Galicia Museum, the cantors together with Cantor Benzion Miller clowned at an impromptu jam session and proved to be an hysterical comedy act.

■ ISRAELIS TRAVELING abroad have not forgotten Gilad Schalit. At a memorial tribute concert for Shlomo Carlebach, who was one of the first international personalities to perform at the Krakow Festival of Jewish Culture, Miller included “V’shavu Banim” (And the sons will return) in his repertoire.

From all sides of the huge crowd in and around the courtyard of the Isaac Synagogue came the cry of Gilad Schalit! Gilad Schalit! “He will return,” declared Miller before he continued with the song.

In Israel, many celebrities have joined the Schalit freedom march, among them Bar Refaeli, Ninet Taib, Rita, Gilat Ankori, Zion Baruch and Estee Zackheim. Refaeli recruited her parents and some 50 friends and told Noam Schalit that although she usually refrains from involvement in anything political, she could not stand idly by in this instance.

■ ONE LAST item about Krakow.

Ambassador to Poland Zvi Rav-Ner took an active role in several events, but stood on the sidelines, his face beaming with pride, at the opening at the Galicia Museum of an exhibition of paintings by his wife Didi Rav-Ner, whose roots like his are in Poland. The exhibition headlined ‘The Colors of Yiddish” featured Yiddish texts that were incorporated into abstract impressions of the Polish countryside.

■ JUST AS the Jerusalem Great Synagogue Choir wowed audiences in Krakow, Ramatayim, another Jerusalem choir, enjoyed a successful tour of Britain. Directed by Richard Shavei Tzion, the choir performed six concerts in seven days and combined entertaining local Jewish communities with public policy outreach to many gentiles who attended its performances. Liverpool Lord Mayor Helen Williams declared after listening to the choir: “I was raised in Wales and have always said that the Welsh had the best male voice choirs – until tonight.”

The choir also participated in Shabbat services at London’s Finchley Synagogue, where it was hosted by Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Cantor Eli Sufrin. Choir members shared a stage with Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan and staunch defender of Israel’s military policies at the UN Human Rights Council, and Matthew Gould, incoming British ambassador to Israel, the first Jew to hold the position.

Excerpts of the choir’s joint performance with Birmingham’s Icknield Male Voice Choir were broadcast on the BBC. Other concert venues included Manchester and Southgate, where Ramatayim collaborated with Cantor Robert Brody.

■ AS THE country’s founding fathers discovered, the impossible takes longer. Twenty years ago, the phrase also had significance for the residents of East Germany. Dr. Lars Hansel, director of the Israel office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, at a 20th anniversary lecture on the reunification of Germany by Stanislaw Tilling, the prime minister of the free state of Saxony, said that as someone who had lived in communist East Germany where he had been denied freedom and human rights, he could not have imagined 25 years ago that he would be working here and organizing an event in Jerusalem to celebrate the 20th anniversary of German reunification.

“If someone had told me that this would happen, I would have thought they were mad,” he said. It was therefore very important to him, he said, to be able to greet the Prime Minister of the free and democratic state of Saxony, especially in view of the fact that East Germany did not recognize the state of Israel and had refused to sign any reparations agreements.

“After unity, we have liberty and freedom. Everything changed in Germany.

We turned into a different country and this impacted on our relations with Israel,” said German Ambassador Harald Kindermann. Avi Primor, president of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations which cohosted the event at the Konrad Adenauer Center in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, was present in a dual capacity. Primor is also a former ambassador to Germany, where he served from 1993-1999.

Before that he was ambassador to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg from 1987 to 1991.

■ LEGENDARY FLYING ace Ya’acov Terner, 75, folded his wings last Thursday in his final flight in the cockpit of an IAF plane. The flight at the Hatzerim base, southwest of Beersheba, where Terner created and was responsible for the Air Force Museum, was in tandem with the graduation ceremony of pilots who received their wings. The event was attended by President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who under the auspices of the Larger than Life organization brought several youngsters afflicted with cancer in his plane, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Ran Pecker, who is an even more famous flying ace than Terner. The new pilots observed the tradition of tossing their caps high in the air. The retiring pilot, who flew for 20 years past IAF retirement age, announced that he won’t actually stop flying, but will now fly civilian aircraft.

It just so happens that his son owns a private plane.

greerfc@gmail.com


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