British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey.
(photo credit: MICHAL ROCHE – BEN AMI)
MANY PEOPLE thought it was a nice gesture on the part of British Ambassador David Quarrey to put up a succa at his residence. Moreover, the ambassador – who is not Jewish – also hosted visitors in the succa, including a 30-member group of British Bnei Akiva youth who are in Israel on a gap-year program. Their succa visit was indicative of changing attitudes in Britain’s Jewish community. Bnei Akiva is a religious-Zionist movement and Quarrey is openly gay and brought his partner, Aldo Henriquez, with him to Israel.
As a matter of fact, hardly anyone raises an eyebrow over the same-sex relationship – which proves how far people have come in “live and let live” philosophies.
■ MANY OF Israel’s founding fathers have been forgotten by the nation at large – or never been heard of. It would be interesting to conduct a random survey to ask people if they knew anything about Dr. Yohanan Bader; chances are that very few would know that he was one of the leaders of Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionist movement and among the founders of Herut, the forerunner of Likud. His was considered to be one of the most brilliant minds in the Knesset, so much so that even David Ben-Gurion had a grudging respect for him.
A film about Bader will be shown at the Jabotinsky Museum on King George Street, Tel Aviv, on Thursday, October 22. Filmmaker Hadas Levy will be among the speakers, who will include MK Bennie Begin and Revisionist stalwart Rachel Kremmerman, whose fathers were colleagues of Bader and frequently turned to him for advice.
■ JUST BEFORE Simhat Torah, several congregations throughout Israel received new Torah scrolls – most of which were dedicated in memory of loved ones of the donors.
Among the dedications made in honor of living people was a scroll donated by Dr. Alexander Blinki of the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus, Petah Tikva.
Physicians are no less prone to illness than are their patients, and Blinki suffered from a kidney disease that impeded his ability to function and threatened his life. A year ago, he learned that he was living on borrowed time and that he was desperately in need of a kidney transplant. Fortunately, donor Menachem Ben-Shahar of Pnei Kedem had a matching kidney. The transplant was a success and Blinki, in a gesture of appreciation, decided to donate a Torah scroll in Ben-Shahar’s honor, to the synagogue the donor attends.
Also present at the event, which was simultaneously a celebration of life, were other donors and recipients of kidneys as well as Rabbi Yeshayahu Haber, who heads the Gift of Life organization. Haber said that over the past six years, Gift of Life had been instrumental in facilitating 230 kidney transplants.
Blinki said that as someone who is in the business of saving lives, he has a deeper understanding than most other kidney recipients of the significance of the gift he had received.
■ IN SAFED, Hannah Lustig, one of the founders of the Hungarian Jewish Heritage Museum, is rejoicing over a relatively recent gift to the museum – a collection of miniature Torah mantles, plus a miniature handwritten Torah scroll. These were originally the work and collection of Hungarian Holocaust survivor Imre Barbie, whose parents and first wife were victims of the Holocaust.
In 1948 Barbie and his second wife emigrated from Hungary to America and settled in New York, where his wife had relatives. Barbie found work as an employee of the city of New York, and before every Jewish holiday produced an exquisitely handembroidered miniature Torah mantle in memory of members of his family who had perished in the Holocaust. After Barbie’s death in 1968, his widow gave the collection to her relative Marie Caine, who more than a decade later brought her son to Israel for his bar mitzva. The boy announced that he wanted to stay, and while Caine did not oppose the idea, she suggested that he should complete his high-school studies in the US. He followed her advice, and immediately after graduating from high school settled in Israel.
Not long afterward, Caine’s mother did the same, and Caine and her husband came on aliya. In the interim her husband died, and her son temporarily returned to the US to further his studies; Caine also has a daughter living in the US. Not knowing what the future holds for her progeny and doubtful they would be as emotionally attached to the collection as she is – partly because she knew Barbie when she was a child – Caine decided to give the collection to the Hungarian Jewish Heritage Museum, in the knowledge that it would be preserved and would have a permanent home.
The collection was put on display for the first time this month in a gallery specifically dedicated to Jewish ritual objects and the rabbis of Hungary.
■ USUALLY BICKERING in the Israeli version of the American sitcom Golden Girls, Hana Laszlo and Rivka Michaeli literally fell into each other’s arms at the premiere at Cinema City Glilot of The End of the Age of Innocence, in which Laszlo is one of the stars. Laszlo is also publicizing the film in frequently aired radio commercials.