THE NAME of Madonna has been linked with those of a number of Israelis. There's been a rumored romantic entanglement, she's had Israeli bodyguards and personal friends, and now she'll be inadvertently pushing "Made in Israel" fashion. A mutual acquaintance of Madonna's and Tel Aviv based fashion designer Galit Levi, persuaded the material girl to visit Levi's studio. Madonna liked what she saw and placed an order. Now if Madonna gets enough compliments for Levi's creations, and tells people where she got them, Levi, who is already a favorite with Israeli celebrities, will make it really big time in the wider world.
ALTHOUGH IT'S almost two years past the thirtieth anniversary of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem, it will be the subject of one of the storytelling sessions at the 16th annual storytelling festival at the Givatayim Theater, from October 4 -10. GT Artistic Director Yossi Alfi, who conceived the festival and has been its guiding force from year to year, has lined up dozens of storytellers who will share anecdotes on some fifty-plus themes, several of which are related to ethnic groups, some to history-making events, others to Jewish tradition, Hebrew songs, professions, hobbies, marriage, etc. On the opening night, Alfi will be the moderator in a session devoted to the famous Sadat visit. His guests will include Israel's fifth president Yitzhak Navon, who subsequent to Sadat's visit to Israel, paid an official visit to Egypt; Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Yasser Reda; journalist Ehud Ya'ari, who together with Alex Giladi were the first two Israeli reporters to visit Egypt; Dan Patir who was media adviser to Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the time of the Sadat visit and beyond; Eliahu Nawi, who in the early years of the state was in charge of propaganda broadcasts to Arab states, and who later became a radio storyteller, a poet, lawyer, judge and politician who was a long-time mayor of Beersheba; Tamar Golan, a former diplomat who teaches African Studies at Ben-Gurion University; and Shlomo Gazit, who was the head of Israeli Military Intelligence from 1974-1978. For those with a penchant for political and military history, this event will be in a class of its own.
IN ROMAN times, Beit She'an was wine country. It continued to produce grapes and wine for several centuries afterwards, but the devastating Golan earthquake in 749 CE destroyed all of nature's bounty. Enter Yitzhak Weizman some twelve-and-a-half centuries later, and behold wine is again being produced in Beit She'an. Earlier this month, Weizman launched his boutique winery in the hope of restoring Beit She'an to some of its former glory. For some years, Weizman, a former acting mayor of Beit She'an, has been making wine as a hobby. It proved sufficiently popular among his relatives and friends for him to consider turning his hobby into a profession. He studied wine making in both Israel and France. He is not growing grapes as yet, but is bringing them to Beit She'an from different parts of the country, most notably from the Golan Heights and the Galilee.
WHILE LONG-time mayor of Ma'a lot Tarshisha Shlomo Buhbut, who currently heads the Union of Local Authorities is leading protest demonstrations against the government for allegedly ignoring the needs of communities in the north of the country, an American philanthropist has taken up at least part of the gauntlet thrown down by Buhbut. Harold Grinspoon who founded the award-winning PJ (pajama) Library that each month sends 52,000 children's books with Jewish themes to families in more than 110 communities across the United States, will supply more than 3,000 Israeli kindergartners living in the north of the country with a new book each month as a gift to take home and read with their families. The Israeli version of his project is called Sifriyat Pijama. The stories in the books are about Jewish values that are also universal. "The core of each story can be viewed through a universal lens," explains Galina Vromen who heads the Harold Grinspoon Foundation's operations in Israel. Grinspoon decided to expand his project because "I have a passion for the Jewish people and a passion for Israel. I think it is important for children in both America and Israel to learn about Jewish values. It just seemed right that children in Israel should also benefit from the program." Grinspoon would like to be able to offer books to children in other age groups, but cannot bear the burden of responsibility alone. He is looking for partners to join him in the project, and notes that if there are long-term guarantees for the purchase and distribution of books, the prices will come down as they always do for bulk purchases, and increasing numbers of children will be able to benefit from new reading experiences. Books will initially be distributed in Afula, Gilboa and Upper Nazareth as well as in the Tali kindergartens through co-funding from the Moriah Foundation.