Grapevine: Professors didn’t do their homework

Raya Jaglom is an icon of Tel Aviv society and an honorary citizen of the city.

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May 19, 2015 20:49
Yehoram Gaon, Bar-Ilan U. President Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin a

(Left to right) Yehoram Gaon, Bar-Ilan U. President Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin and Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. (photo credit: YONI REIF)

 
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There were four generations of the Jaglom family present for the inauguration last week of the Raya and Josef Jaglom Auditorium at Tel Aviv University.

Raya Jaglom is an icon of Tel Aviv society and an honorary citizen of the city, a founder of the Tel Aviv Museum and a donor to the Eretz Israel Museum, the Israel Museum and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also serving on the board of governors of the latter two institutions. She is a former member of the Jewish Agency board of governors, a former executive member of the World Zionist Organization and the World Jewish Congress, and is best-known as the longest-serving president of World WIZO, a role she held for more than quarter of a century.

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Jaglom was also active in the struggle for Soviet Jewry. She holds an honorary doctorate from TAU, and is vice chair of the university’s board of governors and a former president of the Israel Friends of TAU – and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Always the epitome of elegance, Jaglom’s only concession to aging is that she now sits in a wheelchair, because she finds it difficult to walk, but she is still perfectly groomed and her exquisite taste in clothes remains undiminished. At 96, she remains beautiful and in full possession of her faculties. When she was 90, she was still walking briskly and running around from event to event.

Her late husband, Josef Jaglom, an international banker to whom she was married for 67 years, died in November 2007 at the age of 104. He provided both moral and financial support for her manifold communal activities.

At the inauguration of the splendid auditorium – which bears both their names, as well as their portraits on a plaque inside the entrance – Prof. Jacob Frenkel, chairman of the TAU board of governors; Prof.

Joseph Klafter, president of TAU; and Prof. Haim Ben-Shahar, a former president of TAU, spoke of Jaglom, focusing primarily on her various roles relating to the university.



There was also mention of her service before and during the War of Independence, her work with WIZO and the fact that she took a delegation of Zionist women to Moscow when Jews were still not permitted to leave Russia.

But there was no mention of anything else that she’s done in her extraordinary life, although Frenkel did refer to her obsession with building and the many kindergartens that were built by WIZO with money Jaglom raised in Israel and abroad.

A polyglot who is fluent in some half-dozen languages, she was always successful in connecting with influential and affluent people in Israel and in her travels around the world. But she was equally successful in bonding with society’s have-nots, and she and her husband provided many scholarships for young men and women who would have otherwise been unable to attain university degrees.

For many years, Jaglom had complained to a series of TAU presidents about the lack of proper facilities for the board of governors, for which she wanted to build a permanent home. Plans for an auditorium were drawn up and shelved time and again for a variety of reasons. When Klafter was appointed towards the end of 2009, Jaglom brought up the issue again and received an enthusiastic response, but TAU was undergoing a severe economic crisis at the time and the project again had to be put on hold. By the time the university was in a position to deal with new construction projects, Jaglom had spent her philanthropic budget.

“Haven’t you got a knipl?” asked Klafter.

A knipl is the Yiddish word for a small knot; the expression in relation to money goes back to the time when people didn’t trust banks. They would knot a few coins into a handkerchief and forget about them; the coins were to be used for a bridal dowry or an emergency situation. Jaglom said she didn’t have one.

When Jaglom came home following her meeting with Klafter, she discovered she did indeed have a knipl – and phoned Klafter to tell him so. She also told him that she still had the architectural plans for a board of governors auditorium. When she subsequently discussed this with her son Elan, his response was, “You’re not building it, I am.” He had been thinking about a way to memorialize his father, and this was exactly the kind of project Josef Jaglom would have wanted.

After she related this at the opening, Klafter declared a knipl campaign.

Before the gathering of the TAU board of governors in its new permanent meeting place adjacent to the impressive Senate rotunda, there was a trumpet fanfare by Raz Arad and Alon Melnik, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony performed by two of Jaglom’s great-grandchildren, Eitan and Yoav. Among other family members were Jaglom’s daughter Nurith Jaglom, a well-known jewelry designer, and several grandchildren including Daphna Jaglom and Roy Wimmer-Jaglom.

Known as an extraordinarily adept fund-raiser, Jaglom proved towards the end of the ceremony that she hasn’t lost her touch. Turning to Millie Phillips of Australia, who was to receive an honorary doctorate that night, Jaglom congratulated her, then told her that as Australian Jewry on the whole is quite affluent, it could do a lot more for TAU. She’d been to Australia, she said, and she knew what she was talking about.

The grand finale of the inauguration ceremony closed with a violin recital by Victoria Gelman, a student at TAU’s Buchmann- Mehta School of Music, who earned resounding applause for her interpretation of Prelude by Menachem Zur.

In addition to the Jaglom family, senior faculty, staff and members of the TAU board of governors, there was a large representation of Jaglom’s personal friends, among them Rabbanit Chaya-Ita Lau, the wife of the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, who is Jaglom’s neighbor and lives across the road from her; Rachel Dayan, the widow of defense minister and foreign minister Moshe Dayan; and Ziva Lahat, the widow of legendary Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat.

■ ONLY ONE thing marred the congenial atmosphere at the reception prior to the auditorium inauguration. Doctoral student Maya Shanetzky was a lone demonstrator in the reception hall, standing back from the crowd and holding up two banners, one which claimed that TAU doctoral students in the field of education do not receive any scholarships at all. The other stated that if Shanetzky suffers discrimination because she can’t get a scholarship, it is tantamount to discrimination against millions of children with ADHD.

A security guard asked Shanetzky to leave, saying it was a private event. He was very polite, presumably understanding that a university campus is not exactly a private place. Someone from the university’s senior administrative staff told Shanetzky that she could stand outside on the patio, but not inside. “Stay in the shadows,” she told her, intent more on compromise than on creating a fuss.

Shanetzky, who is gentle and soft-spoken, did not want to create a fuss either.

She just wanted to correct an injustice, saying that other universities do offer scholarships for the research she is doing and she can’t understand why TAU does not.

■ IT’S NOT certain whether firgun is a Hebrew word, taken from Yiddish farginen or the other way around, except that farginen – meaning to be gracious about someone else’s talents or good fortune – is related to fargenigen, enjoyment. But firgun was certainly the name of the game when the Ambassadors Club, headed by president Yitzhak Eldan, a former Foreign Ministry chief of protocol; and vice president Yoram Naor, who is also the chairman of SICA, the Association of Central American States, organized the presentation of citations to outgoing Ambassador of El Salvador Suzana Gun de Hasenson and Vered Swid, who directs the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The presentation ceremony at the ambassador’s residence in the capital took place on Jerusalem Day, and was attended by diplomats, businesspeople, relatives and personal friends of the honorees, as well as members of the Fourth Estate. The Foreign Ministry was well-represented by past and present officials, including Yael Banayan, long-retired but a former minister counselor and deputy director of the Protocol Department; Nitza Raz-Silbiger, the department’s current director ; Talya Lador-Fresher, who is winding up her role as chief of protocol and taking up the post of ambassador to Austria; Pini Avivi, the ministry’s former deputy director; and Modi Ephraim, deputy director-general for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Several past and present Latin American diplomats of varying ranks from ambassador downward were also in attendance, as was Henri Etoundi Essomba, dean of the Diplomatic Corps and ambassador of Cameroon.

Also seen in the crowd were Sara Allalouf, honorary consul of Latvia; Ruth Amit-Fogel, honorary consul of Paraguay; and senior representatives of Maccabi Health Fund and Etgar Strategic Services, which sponsored the event.

Gun de Hasenson, who is deputy dean of the Diplomatic Corps, is not only winding up her term at the end of the month, but is also retiring from a 40-year career in the Foreign Service, including just over 12 years as ambassador. She observed wryly that she had hosted a similar gathering in her garden with greater enthusiasm, in celebration of her appointment as ambassador.

More than a farewell, she said, this was an opportunity to say thank you to all those who had supported her along the way, including family, staff at the embassy and at home, her driver, diplomatic colleagues and the Foreign Ministry.

Essomba commented that it was never easy to say goodbye to a colleague, especially one who was also a friend and an outstanding professional with a diplomatic network that extended far beyond the Latin American countries. “Within the Diplomatic Corps, you’re one of my best friends,” he told her.

Efraim assured her she would always be welcome at the Foreign Ministry, where the work she had done to enhance Israel-El Salvador relations was greatly appreciated.

Swid, a former mayor of Netanya, came in for great praise from Amit-Fogel, who lauded her courage, leadership, determination and inner sense of justice, in her efforts to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and all the rights accruing to their job status. She also promoted the concept that without longer school days, women would not be able to pursue independent careers and assume senior positions.

Describing Swid as an active and fighting participant in various forums, Amit-Fogel emphasized that Swid firmly protects women’s rights and faithfully represents women’s interests. Swid in turn praised Amit-Fogel for her role in advancing the status of women in Israel, and likewise praised Gun de Hasenson as a role model for other women pursuing diplomatic careers.

“We’re all involved in empowering women,” she stressed.

One of the evening’s most poignant moments came when Swid invited her young niece Lilach to play the clarinet, and the melody she chose was Jerusalem of Gold. Well-wishers gathered on the lawn spontaneously joined in for the chorus.

The last word of the evening came from the ambassador’s husband, Dave Hasenson, who asserted: “She gave 40 years to the diplomatic service – the next 40 years are for me.”

■ THE NAME Zvi Mazel is usually associated with Egypt. Mazel and his wife, Michelle, were part of the first Israeli diplomatic mission to Cairo from 1980-1982, and returned to Egypt in 1996 for a fiveyear stint as ambassador. Since his retirement in 2004, he has been widely sought as a commentator on the Middle East in general and Israeli-Egyptian relations in particular.

But Egypt was not his only foreign posting.

Among the others was that of ambassador to Romania in 1989, where towards the end of that year, he witnessed the Romanian Revolution that resulted in the overthrow and execution of Nicolae Ceausescu, who Mazel describes as the last of the Eastern European dictators. Among the members of the Israel Embassy staff at that time was Tali Samesh, who was deputy chief of mission as well as the embassy’s spokeswoman, and is now ambassador- designate to Romania.

The Mazels hosted a brunch in her honor last Friday, where guests included Dr. Tzvika Berkowitz, the recently appointed honorary consul of Romania; Tsolag Momjian, honorary consul of Armenia; Josef Govrin, former ambassador to Romania; and Shmuel Meron, who served as deputy chief of mission under another ambassador in Romania.

Also present was Alexandria-born artist Camille Fox, who now lives in Australia, where her passion is painting the cosmopolitan Egypt of yesteryear. Fox is in Israel on a lecture tour and to present an exhibition of her paintings at Jerusalem’s Center for North African Jews.

In toasting Samesh, Mazel said she had missed out on the revolution because she had won a prize to do a special course for spokespersons in Geneva, and had left her husband and children, including a baby, in Romania. When the revolution erupted, nearly all the Israelis in Romania took shelter at the embassy, as did Palestinians – who came there because they were darkskinned.

Ceausescu’s Libyan security detail was all dark-complexioned, as a result of which dark-skinned people were attacked by the mob, and the safest place for a Palestinian was the Israel Embassy.

As it happened, it was Hanukka, and when Mazel lit the candles and everyone started singing Maoz Tzur, the Palestinians slipped away; this was already too much for them. Food was scarce and the embassy ran out of supplies, with the exception of a crate of apples that had been sent from Israel – and that’s what they lived on during the revolution, said Mazel.

■ TRADE MISSIONS are first and foremost designed to boost bilateral trade and investment, but beyond that they often win friends for Israel far beyond the scope of trade relations, especially among firsttime visitors – as was the case last week with an Australian trade mission led by Simon McKeon, chairman of AMP (a $200-billion pension fund) and CSIRO (one of the world’s largest research organizations).

McKeon had never been to Israel before, nor had some of the 30-plus people he brought with him – who came to investigate Israel’s innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization, and how the science and educational sectors interact with industry to invest in skill sets for future growth. The delegation was primarily interested in examining how Australia can potentially adopt some of Israel’s practices; it was equally interested in Israel’s strong focus on philanthropy, and how this works through Israel’s social ventures and corporate social responsibility sectors. Delegation members were extremely impressed by the quality of the speakers who addressed them, and by almost everything they saw when touring the country.

All such missions are very intensive and there is a lot to absorb in a short space of time, especially on the last night, a Friday – in which Australian trade missions are traditionally brought to Jerusalem and hosted at a highclass hotel by international lawyer and Jerusalem Great Synagogue vice president Zalli Jaffe.

Very often, the number of non- Jews in such delegations exceeds the number of Jews, and while many may have Jewish friends and business associates, few have ever attended a synagogue service unless invited to a bar mitzva or wedding.

Even then, few synagogue services can compare with the spiritually uplifting choral service of the Great Synagogue.

Afterwards at dinner, Jaffe explains certain Jewish customs, which he often illustrates with anecdotes and parables. Last Friday he also touched on Israeli- Arab and Jewish-Muslim relations, and emphasized that the extreme elements on both sides do not represent the majority, adding he knows many Muslims who are “beautiful people” in every sense of the word. He also implied that the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad have been distorted by extremists who have no respect for other faiths.

To illustrate, he told the tale of someone who had stolen a Torah scroll from a synagogue.

When Muhammad became aware of this, he was greatly perturbed and went in search of the thief. He found him, took the scroll from him and replaced it in the synagogue where it belonged.

McKeon said he was profoundly moved by his experience in Israel, wished peace for the nation now that he understood its importance, and voiced the desire to return on a private visit to explore the country further. A similar sentiment was voiced by another first-time visitor, Charles Zoi, an American telecommunications consultant with homes in Australia, New Zealand and the US, who wants to bring his family to Israel.

Zoi wondered how he could get to meet some of the Israelis who had addressed the group if he comes independent of a delegation.

When assured that Paul Israel, executive director of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, would be happy to assist him, Zoi was hesitant about bothering him. But when Israel himself confirmed the assurance, Zoi was ready to come back almost immediately, but realized he would have to wait for school vacations in order to bring his grandchildren.

■ IT WAS definitely reunion time at the annual Jerusalem Day dinner hosted by Dr.

Jürgen Bühler, executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

He welcomed his immediate predecessor, Rev. Malcolm Hedding, and Jan Willem van der Hoeven, the principal founder of the Christian Embassy, which was established after most diplomatic missions had left Jerusalem. Fellow founders Timothy and Martha King were also present.

Among others mingling on the lawns of the stately ICEJ estate, which was previously the Embassy of the Ivory Coast, were Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s international director for interreligious affairs and Israel’s chief liaison with the Vatican; Josh Reinstein, director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus; Robert Ilatov, the new chairman of KCAC; Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, director of Operation Life Shield, which in cooperation with ICEJ is building bomb shelters in the South; Merla and Merv Watson, the founders of the ICEJ’s spectacular Feast of Tabernacles; Mike Evans, who heads numerous associations and institutions including the Jerusalem Prayer Team, and is the initiator of the Friends of Zion Heritage Center; Shaya Ben-Yehuda, director of Yad Vashem’s international relations division; and Dr. Billy Wilson, the president of Oral Roberts University who has come to Israel as the president and global co-chair of Empowered21, whose five-day conference begins on May 20 at the Jerusalem Arena.

One of the largest-ever Christian gatherings in Jerusalem, the conference has attracted thousands of Evangelical Pentecostal Christians from some 60 countries, who came to the capital to celebrate Jerusalem Day, Shavuot and Pentecost. Wilson also sent some of his students in advance to help clean up the city and donate blood. Several of the conference members also participated in the ICEJ’s Jerusalem Day Festivities.

In deference to Jewish dietary laws, organizers of the event hired a kosher caterer whose enterprise is approved by the Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate.

■ IT ISN’T too often that Jerusalem Post Editor- in-Chief Steve Linde comes across someone from his hometown in Zimbabwe.

But at the ICEJ he came across Jeni Stables, a tour organizer and former head of ICEJ activities in his home country. These days she is busy organizing tours in conjunction with Sar-El, which specializes in Christian and Jewish roots tours.

■ HE MAY not have attained the academic heights of his father, who was a professor, but as of Monday night, people addressing President Reuven Rivlin can call him Dr.

Rivlin. Together with former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz and entertainer Yehoram Gaon among others, Rivlin was awarded an honorary doctorate from Bar- Ilan University.

greerfc@gmail.com GRAPEVINE • By GREER FAY CASHMAN RAYA JAGLOM with two of her grandchildren, Roy Wimmer-Jaglom and Daphna Jaglom, beneath the plaque of the Raya and Josef Jaglom Auditorium at Tel Aviv University. (Michal Ben Ami)

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