■ After incoming US Ambassador David Friedman was sworn in last week, his predecessor Dan Shapiro, who left office January 20 but didn’t leave Israel, tweeted “Congratulations to David Friedman on being sworn in as US ambassador to Israel. He now has the best job in the world and I wish him success.”
Shapiro’s wife, Julie Fisher, also tweeted a congratulatory message in which she wrote: “Congratulations to the next US ambassador to Israel on the honor and privilege to represent our great nation to our greatest ally.” It’s what’s known as class.
It was announced in mid-March that Shapiro had been appointed senior adviser to Ion Asset Management, a hedge fund founded in 2006 by Jonathan Half and Stephen Levey, which focuses on Israeli and Israel-related securities.
Shapiro will advise Ion on key geopolitical issues relating to its funds and portfolio companies. Shapiro and his family, who opted to stay in Israel until at least the end of the school year, are enjoying a normal lifestyle after five years of being surrounded by bodyguards. Since becoming a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, Shapiro is not discounting the possibility that they may stay in Israel for a longer period than originally planned.
■ IN THE second week of January this year, Eran Neuman, the head of the School of Architecture at Tel Aviv University, was appointed director of the Israel Museum, succeeding James Snyder who after 20 years of building up the prestige of the museum went on to the newly created position of international president. Neuman, who took up his position at the beginning of February, was barely in office before deciding that his calling was really in academia and not in the museum world, and announced that he is returning to TAU. His resignation immediately sparked speculation as to whether it was prompted by the fact that Snyder’s impact on the museum was too close for comfort. It took nine months of searching before the museum’s Board of Directors unanimously elected Neuman. Until another suitable candidate is found, deputy director Ayelet Shiloh Tamir will fill the post. Hopefully, the gestation period, will not take as long, the second time around.
■ ON THE subject of gestation, supermodel Bar Refaeli has another bun in the oven, who will be a close-in-age sibling to Refaeli’s daughter, Liv, who was born in August last year. Refaeli is almost four months pregnant meaning that when the baby is born, God willing, the age difference between the siblings will be just over a year.
Refaeli and her husband, Adi Ezra, have said that they would like to have a lot of children as close as possible to each other in age.
■ AMERICAN RADIO personality Dennis Prager, the keynote speaker at the ninth annual gala dinner of the Israeli American Council in Los Angeles toward the end of March, was aware that there were mixed feelings in the audience with regard to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Prager prefaced his address by saying that there are people who support Netanyahu and people who oppose him. It should be totally irrelevant to Jews anywhere in the world who the prime minister of Israel happens to be, declared Prager. “I support Israel, not prime ministers,” he said. “Who am I to tell Israelis how to vote? I support Israel when there is a left-wing prime minister and I support Israel when there is a right-wing prime minister. If you want to critique,” he suggested to Bibi-bashers, “make aliya. From the US you give support to Israel.”
■ APRIL 7 is an important day in the life of former basketball star Tal Brody in that it marks the 40th anniversary of his famous declaration after Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Russia’s CSKA Moscow to win the European Cup. Several of the players on the Russian team had been on the team when it beat the US in the 1972 Olympics.
It was laughable to think that Maccabi could come out on top. But it did, in yet another example of the David and Goliath syndrome. And Brody, who was Maccabi’s captain, in an ecstatic victory declaration in heavily accented Hebrew, shouted “we are on the map, and we will stay on the map.” It was five years after the Munich massacre in which 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team had been murdered by Black September, and four years after the Yom Kippur War in which 2,656 soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice and 9,000 civilian and military personnel were wounded.
The nation desperately needed a reason to rejoice – and the American-born Brody and his team gave it to them. Two days ahead of the 40th anniversary of that triumph, Bar-Ilan University announced that Brody will receive an honorary doctorate on Tuesday May 6 within the framework of the 62nd meeting of the university’s Board of Governors.
He will be in extremely illustrious company.
Other recipients will be French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Moshe Amar, Nobel Prize laureate Prof.
Avram Hershko, British businessman and philanthropist Dr. David Dangoor, National Chairwoman of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Nily Falic, cryptography expert Prof. Shafi (Shafrira) Goldwasser, actress Devora (Halter) Kedar, Magen David Adom, Israel’s largest national emergency medical service, and US attorney Henry Sherman.
Brody, who is also a goodwill ambassador, has been reminded a lot lately of that April 1977 victory. He is the focal point of a documentary about that sensational season, appropriately titled On the Map. The film, which premiered last year, is being shown at Jewish film festivals across America. Brody was in Boulder, Colorado, for the screening at the March opening of the Jewish Film Festival at the Boulder Jewish Community Center. The event was advertised as “Hoops and Hot Dogs with Tal Brody.”
■ ENERGY MINISTER Yuval Steinitz this week paid his first visit to the innovative Afcon wind farms in Gilboa in the Galilee, where wind turbines are used to generate energy. Steinitz also visited the adjoining Shlomo Shmeltzer visitors center, which was built as a multi-million shekel investment in memory of Shmeltzer, who was Afcon’s controlling shareholder. The center, which will be open during the intermediate days of Passover, provides a fascinating and enriching learning experience on various aspects of energy and quality of the environment. Steinitz was accompanied by Dr. Assaf Eilat, chairman of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, and members of Afcon’s executive.
■ THE IRANI family, which owns the Israel franchise for the Factory 54 fashion chain, celebrated this week the opening of its newest stores in the Gindi TLV Fashion Mall. Though used during the construction period for gala Israel Fashion Weeks, the mall, which is one of the most glamorous places in Tel Aviv, was only recently completed, and most of its stores are now operating.
Businesspeople, representatives of the fashion industry and celebrities were among the 500 guests at the festive opening of the Factory 54 Women, Factory 54 Men and Factory 54 Shoes, as well as the brand name shops of Calvin Klein, Armani Exchange, Boss, Juicy Couture, Michael Kors and Rag and Bone. The Factory 54 stores offer several other international brand name creations. The Gindi family, which built the mall, was well represented by Moshe Gindi, Manor and Bat El Gindi, and Kfir Gindi. Also in attendance were Irit Federmann, Bar Refaeli, Rotem Sela, Yael Goldman and her husband, Ori Pfeffer, Sandra Ringler who is the stylist for Sara Netanyahu, celebrity chef Israel Aharoni, Esti Plotkin, Batsheva Bublil, and many other well-known personalities.
■ INDIAN PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi is expected to make a historic visit to Israel in July in the framework of the 25th anniversary celebrations of diplomatic ties between India and Israel. He will be the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, just as President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit in October 2015 was the first by an Indian president. This in turn was followed in November 2016 by President Reuven Rivlin’s state visit to India.
Even before Modi’s arrival, three Indian Navy ships will be making a port call at Haifa from May 9-17 as a goodwill visit as part of the navy’s annual Overseas Deployment of the Western Fleet. The visit will be one of several events marking the anniversary celebrations. The three ships from the Western Fleet are the INS Mumbai (destroyer), INS Trishul (frigate) and INS Aditya (tanker). The fleet commander will be on board the Mumbai.
In the course of the visit the Indian crew will be interacting with personnel of the Israeli Navy and there will be exchange visits, sports activities and courtesy calls.
The crew will also visit various areas of cultural and historical interest in Israel.firstname.lastname@example.org