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ISRAEL'S fifth and eighth presidents, Yitzhak Navon and Moshe Katsav, were among the guests this week at the 90th birthday party for Israel's fourth president, Ephraim Katzir, who put an illustrious scientific career on hold to serve as president. Katzir was at Ben-Gurion Airport in November 1977 to greet Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat on his historic arrival in Israel, then drove with him to Jerusalem. One of Katzir's great regrets, he says, is what he sees as the decline of integrity and the spread of corruption in Israel, especially among politicians. The task of a public servant is to serve the public, not himself, Katzir said.
THE LAST in a series of 80th birthday parties was held last Friday night for Werner Loval, the Honorary Consul of Guatemala and co-founder of the Anglo Saxon Real estate network. The party took place at Jerusalem's Har-El synagogue, which Loval had also helped to found. Born in Bamberg, Germany, Loval escaped to England at 13 on a Kindertransport, and later lived in Ecuador and the US before making aliyah in 1954. Surprised that there was no movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel, Loval, together with a small group of like-minded friends, founded the Association for the Renewal of Religious Life in Israel, which eventually evolved into Har-El. Before the 1962 acquisition of the downtown Jerusalem building that serves as synagogue, school and community center, congregants met in private homes or hired halls. Loval, who has held the synagogue presidency and almost every position within the congregation, was roundly praised Friday by charismatic and erudite Rabbi Ada Zavidov, the spiritual leader of the congregation. Other speakers included Rabbi Richard Hirsh, a prominent figure in the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, IMPJ chairperson Paula Edelstein, chairman of the congregation Zvi Rosenthal and Har-El director Michael Adam, who all noted Loval's ability to delegate responsibility, his talent for encouraging people to get involved and his ability to implement his ideas. Before becoming a real estate guru, Loval had served for several years as an Israeli diplomat in the US and Latin America. Together with his four children and 11 grandchildren, Loval intends to celebrate the upcoming 70th birthday of his wife, Pamela, as well as the couple's 50th wedding anniversary. The party will take place at the King David Hotel, where the pair were married.
AT THE introduction to the annual President's Conference of the Israel Democracy Institute, IDI President Arye Carmon took the opportunity to pay tribute to Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, who will retire this year after celebrating his 70th birthday. "You didn't expect your round of farewells to start here," declared Carmon, as he extolled Barak's contribution to Israel's legal system. Before his appointment to the presidency of the Supreme Court eleven years ago, Barak had served as Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and as Attorney General. Among those attending the conference were Miriam Ben-Porat, a former Supreme Court justice and State Comptroller; former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar; Former Justice Minister and Finance Minister Dan Meridor; Arye Naor, a former cabinet secretary; former government ministers and MKs Moshe Arens, Yair Tsaban, Shaul Yahalom and Uzi Landau; and current MK Matan Vilnai, who left early to attend the first Knesset vote on the budget.
NOEMY BARUCH, the Costa Rican ambassador, and Suzana Gun de Hasenson, the ambassador from El Salvador, were among the very few diplomats who attended the Europe Day reception at the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. During the formal part of the evening, the pair sat next to each other and patiently listened to speeches about European-Israeli relations, with neither expecting to hear anything about her own country. Finally, near the end of the evening, Christian Embassy Executive Director Malcolm Hedding made a point of announcing that Costa Rica and El Salvador are the only countries with embassies in Jerusalem - the rest are in Tel Aviv - and the two ambassadors glowed partially in pride and partially in embarrassment to the sound of a thunderous ovation.
FORMER CZECH President Vaclav Havel will be in Israel next week to participate in the Annual General Meeting of the Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University. While in Israel, Havel, who has visited on previous occasions, will also receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa , as will fellow Czech Arnost Lustig, a Czech Jewish author who has been living in the US since the 1970s. Like Havel, a former playwright, Lustig has in the past been nominated for a Nobel Literature Prize (Havel has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize). Although the Nobel has eluded them, the two have received numerous other honors. Both men will also receive honorary doctorates from Western Michigan University at a ceremony scheduled to take place in Prague on June 3.
CYPRUS AMBASSADOR George Zodiates is gearing up to cheer for the 25-member Cyprus team arriving next week for the Israel Special Olympics. It will be the first time Cyprus participates in the Israeli Games, which will host 1,200 athletes as they compete in 12 sports. Zodiates will host a reception for Cyprus' team at his residence. The president of the Israel Special Olympics is Alex Giladi, who is also a member of the International Olympics Committee. The event will be attended by Bruce Pasternack, the President and CEO of Special Olympics International.
DIPLOMATS ARE often asked to provide their homes or support for special events and causes. Mary-Clare Adam-Murvitz, the Honorary Consul for Papua New Guinea, will donate both her support and the talents of her daughter, classical pianist Batya Murvitz, during a trip to Australia in August. The two will attend a wedding before continuing to Papua New Guinea, where Batya Murvitz will play at a benefit concert for a new hospital.
TEL AVIVIANS walking along Dov Hoss Street last Friday would have seen a large representation of Tel Aviv's living history in the courtyard of Dervish, a city landmark known for its exotic clothing, jewelry and artifacts from Asia, Africa and beyond. The occasion was the official launch of I Must Have Come Out of an Eggplant, a book by veteran freelance journalist Diana Lerner, whose byline has appeared in The Jerusalem Post for more than half a century and who has outlived several publications for which she used to write, including Davar and Al Hamishmar. She's also outlived some of the prominent people she's interviewed, among them Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, cosmetics queen Helena Rubinstein and Hollywood actor Jeff Chandler, each of whom is photographed with Lerner in the book. Among those who came to celebrate at Dervish were former subjects who had become Lerner's friends, as well as people she knew from the old country, among them social work expert Tzipi Saltzberg and Tzipporah Porath. Porath had attended Hunter College in New York with Lerner and compiled her experiences in the War of Independence Letters from Jerusalem 1947-48, a book still in demand. There was also Miriam Greenfield, whom Lerner had met on the boat to Palestine in 1947, and Ruthie Berman, with whom Lerner had lived in Beersheba during her initial stint as a new immigrant. Also present were celebrated caricaturist Friedl Stern, former fashion designer Rojy Ben Yosef, acclaimed jewelry designer Rachel Gera, Gottex founder Lea Gottlieb, Raya Jaglom, honorary president of the Women's International Zionist Organization, classical ballet teacher Rachel Talitman, and book publisher Murray Greenfield and his wife Hana. Greenfeld had rejected Lerner's manuscript but happily conceded that another publisher had better judgment. Several of Lerner's journalistic colleagues also came to wish her well, among them Judy Carr, Ruth Seligman, Pnina Peli and Batsheva Tsur, who came to celebrate even though she is nursing a broken leg. Dervish owners Doreen Bahiri and Miriam Mirvish, who last year celebrated the 40th anniversary of their business, were thrilled to honor Lerner, who had written about them many times. "She was the first one to write about us and introduce us to the Israeli public," said Mirvish. One of Lerner's nieces, Toby Atlas, had edited the book and remarked on Lerner's notoriously bad typing. "It's nearly as bad as her handwriting," Atlas joked.