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AFTER ALMOST 40 years at the helm of the Council for a Beautiful Israel (CBI), Aura Herzog is stepping out of the limelight. Although she is retiring from the international presidency of the Council, her name will be linked in perpetuity with CBI at a festive ceremony on September 10, and the name of her successor will be announced.
The daughter of a prominent Jewish family, the Egyptian-born Aura Ambache married Chaim Herzog in 1947 and became an international personality in her own right, in addition to being the wife of the head of Israel's Military Intelligence, Israel's defense attache in Washington, the military governor of the West Bank, the Israel ambassador to the United Nations, a member of Knesset and the sixth president of Israel.
She served as a lieutenant in the IDF's scientific warfare unit in the War of Independence, was the initiator of Israel's annual Bible Quiz, sits on the Board of Trustees of the Tel Aviv Museum, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Israel Museum. She heads the Association of Friends of Schneider Hospital, is in one way or another involved with numerous other organizations, and is also an author, an expert on social etiquette and a former newspaper columnist.
She founded the CBI in 1968 at the behest of the Interior Committee of the Knesset and, working in cooperation with government and public bodies, Aura has been instrumental in promoting environmental awareness and the need to protect and preserve Israel's natural beauty and historical sites.
Of her four children Yoel, Michael, Isaac and Ronit, Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog seems to have followed most closely in the footsteps of his parents. Brig.-Gen. Michael Herzog has to a certain extent followed in his father's footsteps, and though not as well known as his younger brother, has appeared as a speaker on distinguished forums in the US and Israel. The Herzog siblings have presented Aura Herzog with several grandchildren, some of whom are bound to follow the family tradition of community service.
THE EGYPTIAN Revolution Day reception hosted toward the end of last week by Ambassador Muhammad Assam Ibrahim was so low-key that with the exception of Shimon Shamir, a personal friend of the ambassador, none of the previous Israeli ambassadors to Egypt received invitations.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her predecessor Silvan Shalom stopped by to pay their respects, as did a handful of other Israeli politicians, but the event was on a much smaller scale than in the past.
Revolution Day celebrations in Turkey made media headlines when George Siam, Lebanon's Ambassador to Ankara, left the reception of Egyptian Ambassador Omer Metvally after he spotted Israeli Ambassador Pinhas Avivi. The abrupt departure was widely reported in Turkey, but Siam subsequently clarified in a letter to the editor that he could not be under the same roof with the Israeli ambassador, although he understood that Metvally would invite the representatives of all countries with which Egypt has diplomatic relations. Plus, the invitations were issued before the current conflict on the Israel-Lebanon border.
ALONG WITH all the other entertainment groups and individual entertainers that have brought a little cheer to people living in the north are members of the Yiddishpiel theater company, several of whom hail from the former Soviet Union and perform in Russian and Hebrew as well as in Yiddish. The group has focused primarily on performing in Karmiel and Afula, where there are large concentrations of Russian-speaking immigrants, but said they would go anywhere they were requested.
On August 22 and 29, however, they are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on the roof of one of the Azrieli towers with featured artist Montreal opera singer Sharon Azrieli, who has performed in concerts around the globe with some of the world's major symphony orchestras. Yiddishpiel director Shmuel Atzmon heard Azrieli sing in Yiddish a year ago, and said she must come and sing with Yiddishpiel as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
Is there a connection between her and the Azrieli Towers? Absolutely. Along with many of Israel's shopping malls, the towers were conceived, designed and developed by her father, internationally acclaimed architect, builder and property developer David Azrieli.
WHEN TIBERIAS-born film maker Shemi Zarhin was in his hometown to shoot his movie Aviva My Love, the story about a hotel employee who dreams of becoming a great writer, he promised the mayor of the city, Zohar Oved, that the premiere would be in Tiberias. In the interim, Zarhin won the award for the best screen writer at the recent International Film Festival in Jerusalem, which added an extra touch of glamor to the anticipated premiere. Though he had originally intended for the premiere to be a gala event, the security situation put a spoke in his wheel. Zarhin ended up having his premiere in the bomb shelter which had been used as a dressing-room-cum-canteen by members of his cast and film crew.