(photo credit: BENNY GAM ZU LETOVA)
■ Borrowing from the slogan of its host city, Tel Aviv, the 16th World Congress of Bukharan Jews under the title of “the community that never stops,” headed and sponsored by international businessman Lev Leviev, convened at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv this week with the participation of the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Interior Minister Arye Deri, who brought his wife, Yaffa.
Leviev, who is both a Chabadnik and a world-renowned diamond merchant, said that the Lubavitcher Rebbe regarded each Jew as a diamond and as a complete world, and in consideration of this concept asked people to work not only for themselves but for all the people of Israel (including Jews around the world). This is what characterizes the Bukharan community, said Leviev, adding that he is proud to be part of it.
Many people, he added, are not aware of the importance of mutual responsibility that is part of Jewish tradition, but because the Bukharan community is aware and practices this tradition, it continues in its ability to contribute and to influence. Leviev has said on many occasions that the more he gives away, the more his wealth accumulates. His philanthropy is legend. Leviev is also the founder and president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Commonwealth of Independent States of the former Soviet Union, which he supports financially, especially during Passover and Rosh Hashana. In addition, he visits the individual communities quite frequently.
■ THE TEL Aviv Museum of Art will be the venue for an Israel culture conference on Sunday, March 6. Understandably, Regev will be one of the first speakers.
The conference will deal less with culture per se and more with culture being independent of political pressure with regard to budgetary allocations; the future of television and cinema in Israel vis-à-vis the Internet; the war over freedom of expression; and other related subjects.
Among the well-known personalities listed as speakers are Tzipi Pines, the director of Beit Lessin; Oded Kotler, actor and director; Yossi Warshawski, the CEO of Channel 10; Katriel Schory, who heads the Israel Film Fund; Mira Awad, actress and singer; lawyer Eli Zohar, who in addition to being the legal counsel of former prime minister Ehud Olmert is chairman of the Gesher Theater; Noam Semel, the director of the Cameri Theater; Nava Dissenchik, the former director of the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center and currently the cultural consultant to the Jerusalem Municipality; and singer Ahinoam Nini.
■ ALLEGATIONS THAT the foreign press in Israel is biased in its reporting on issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prompted the Tel Aviv International Salon to host a debate on the subject on Tuesday.
Michele Chabin, a former member of The Jerusalem Post editorial staff and a longtime foreign correspondent, was somewhat surprised, as were other people who report for foreign media, that no member of the Foreign Press Association was listed among the speakers. Using Facebook as a vehicle of communication, Chabin asked the organizers why there was not at least one foreign journalist on the panel. She waited several days for an answer, and even offered to sit on the panel herself. She was informed that quite a few FPA members had been approached, but for various reasons had declined. As for Chabin’s offer, she was told that she could bring a question for the panel to the event. That of course was no guarantee that the moderator would respond to her raised hand during question time. Nor did it provide a satisfactory solution to her complaint.
■ THE SOCIETY for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites will host an all-day international conference on Management, Conservation and Maintenance of Heritage Sites at Habima Theater in Tel Aviv on Monday, March 14. Keynote speakers will be Philip Heylen, deputy mayor of Antwerp; architect Joris Nauwlaerts, who manages the preservation of the World Heritage site in Bruges, Belgium; and Paulo Lourenco, an engineering expert on strengthening the foundations of buildings to withstand earthquakes.
Too many heritage sites in Israel have been destroyed by property developers, and even now when there is greater control over such travesties, the inside of a historic building is gutted and only the exterior shell remains. Alternately, a residential or commercial or multipurpose building complex is constructed around the heritage site, dwarfing it or in some other way detracting from its importance.