THE PERIOD 2007-2009 appears to be one of milestone celebrations and commemorations, though not everyone is aware of what they signify. For instance there is a Kibbutz Netiv Halamed-Heh and a street in Jerusalem named Halamed Heh, and other memorials with the same title. According to the Hebrew media, few people from today's generation know that this week marked the 60th anniversary of the fall in battle of the heroic under-equipped convoy of 35 (the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew letters "lamed-heh") heroic men who paid the supreme sacrifice while on a mission to defend the isolated kibbutzim in the Etzion Bloc. To create greater awareness, the route of these brave young warriors was recently retraced by large groups of high-school students. At the opening of its world conference at the Tel Aviv Hilton this week, the Women's International Zionist Organization, which is celebrating its 88th anniversary this year, made a point of mentioning its own anniversary, the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the upcoming 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in the presence of President Shimon Peres and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. Only a couple of months back we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine. Next year, Tel Aviv, the first modern Hebrew city, will celebrate its centenary, but before that happens, Beit Hatefutsoth, the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, located on the campus of Tel Aviv University, will celebrate its 30th anniversary. And so the list goes on. In Israel, there's always a reason to celebrate or commemorate.
ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY celebration that was launched last Friday was the 50th anniversary of the Harel Reform Congregation in Jerusalem, the pioneer congregation of the Reform movement in Israel.
According to Werner Loval, one of the founders of Harel, the jubilee celebrations will continue throughout the year ahead. They began with a festive Shabbat service and a gala dinner attended by a large number of congregants as well as visitors from other congregations and guests from abroad. One of the highlights will be an international conference on Progressive Judaism scheduled to be held at Kibbutz Ga'ash in May, at which time participants will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state.
MAY WILL be chock-full of festivities related to Israel's 60th Independence Day. It will also provide an opportunity for current and former members of Zionist youth movements to get together and reminisce, as well as to explore their Zionist identities. One of the groups planning such a reunion is Betar of South Africa, and the venue naturally enough is Jabotinsky Park at Shuni, near Binyamina.
Over the years South African Betarim have held small reunions usually geared to specific age groups. But now the idea is to get all South Africans who were ever associated with Betar to come together in Israel. More than 50 former Betarim who live abroad have confirmed their attendance, and many participants will be thrilled to renew acquaintance with Yehiel and Esther Kadishai who were Betar shlihim to South Africa in the 1950s.
Yehiel Kadishai went on to become the bureau chief of the Prime Minister's Office under Menachem Begin. Also attending will be Jewish Agency chairman Zeev Bielski, the former mayor of Ra'anana, who as an aliya shaliah in South Africa met his wife Caron. Bielski and Kadishai will be among the speakers at the event as will Harry Hurwitz, the driving force behind the Begin Heritage Center.
The reunion will offer more than a trip down memory lane. Several other events have been planned around it from May 1- 8, with the reunion itself scheduled for May 4.
YOU SEE him here, you see him there, you see him everywhere. No, it's not the Scarlet Pimpernel. It's business tycoon, philanthropist and budding politician Arkadi Gaydamak, who this week drew media attention as the lone spectator when his Betar Jerusalem soccer team was defeated by Sakhnin.
Gaydamak had a few choice words to say in criticism of the Israel Football Association's tribunal, which decided that the Betar-Sakhnin match would be played in an empty stadium to penalize Betar fans who had previously shouted racist slurs at Sakhnin players.
In Gaydamak's view the penalty had been imposed on the Betar team rather than its supporters. Although he was a lone figure in the stands, he was certainly not alone at a reception by UniCredit, which this week established a presence in Israel.
Gaydamak, together with his new chief operator Uri Shani, was among the cream of Israel's business community who gathered at a reception hosted by UniCredit at Arca on the Tel Aviv Port. The two were seen chatting with Sergio Ermotti, deputy CEO of the UniCredit Group. The occasion also gave invitees an opportunity to meet with and listen to Lech Walesa, the first democratically elected president of Poland.
MANY OF the residents of Palace, the upscale retirement facility in Tel Aviv, were once members of the city's high society and today can be regarded as the high society of the third age. Most of them are active in various organizations, still like to socialize and are extremely conscious of their appearance. With this in mind, veteran fashion designer Shoshana Ben-Tzur, who has dressed most of the wives of the presidents of Israel and who caters to a large number of members of the diplomatic community, has organized a fashion show with residents as models.
The show, in the Palace events hall at 18 Rehov Weizmann, will take place on January 18 at 5:30 p.m. with the participation of both male and female residents. All the models will be septuagenarians and octogenarians who have been trained by international model Hani Perry, who at 50-plus continues to model not only for Ben Tzur but for other designers, proving that a sexy woman remains sexy regardless of her age.
ISRAEL'S REPUTATION for advancements in medicine and medical equipment is so widespread that many high-ranking visitors from abroad make it a point to visit at least one medical center during their stay in Israel. Former governor of Alabama Forrest (Fob) James and his wife Bobbie chose to visit the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon where they were briefed by director Dr. Shimon Scharf, who introduced them to new developments in treatments for various life threatening illnesses as well as to the myriad activities in which the Barzilai Medical Center is engaged.
James, a two-term governor and proven friend of Israel, was particularly interested in treatments given to victims of Kassam rocket attacks. The former governor and his wife toured the children's ward and the emergency ward and expressed admiration for the way in which the hospital functions. James pledged to support the medical center in any way possible in his home state.
NOT ALL famous people travel with an entourage. Thus when internationally celebrated Croatian pianist Ivo Pogarelic came to Israel to perform at the Israel Jazz Festival and checked in at the Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel & Towers, he arrived unaccompanied and was in need of little orientation to get his bearings. To make it easy for him, the hotel's general manager Jean-Louis Ripoche presented him with a Tel Aviv city guide.