Grapevine: Asia beckons

Sali Ariel, Yaakov Kirschen travel to Singapore, Gil Shohat conducts Holocaust memorial musical, Jabotinsky Institute hosts a tribute to Yitzhak Shamir.

By
September 13, 2011 22:12
Mekong River

mekong 311. (photo credit: Sara Manobla)

BY CURIOUS coincidence, both artist Sali Ariel and her cartoonist husband Yaakov Kirschen have been summoned to different parts of Asia for different reasons.

Ariel has been invited to Singapore where she will have an exhibition on November 18-20. Her good friend Rajul Mehta, who is also an artist and who became an art agent and dealer in Singapore, took some of Ariel’s paintings to see if they had any appeal to Singapore art lovers – and the upshot was that Ariel is now developing a new market for her Tel Aviv Bauhaus paintings and for her colorful depictions of flowers. One of her Bauhaus paintings appealed to the graphics editor of Lilith magazine, who purchased a copy of it to illustrate a story in the Spring issue.

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Ariel, who is a past president of the International Women’s Club and who is still active in the organization, held a two-day weekend exhibition of her works in her Tel Aviv studio, which is located in a public bomb shelter in a delightful secluded park off King George Street.

When she sent out the invitations – mainly to her IWC friends – Ariel did not imagine that her husband would invite 17 Chinese visitors (in Israel for a conference) to their home in Herzliya Pituah for a Friday night dinner.

Confident in her abilities to handle any crisis, he was sure that she could manage both the exhibition and the dinner.

And she did.

Before Ariel heads for Singapore, Kirschen will be traveling to China under the auspices of Signal – Sino-Israel Global Network and Academic Leadership – whose core mission is to establish a robust framework for the development of long-term academic alliances between China and Israel that will become the foundation for mutually beneficial and broad-based cooperation between the two nations. Kirschen is embarking on a project to teach the story of Jewish/Israeli civilization, culture and history to the Chinese through a series of graphic works based on his experience as a cartoonist. Kirschen has been invited to speak at a number of Chinese universities, and will be in China from October 17-30.

The Chinese are no less interested in Israel learning about China than they are about the people in China learning more about Israel. On Wednesday, September 14, Miao Deyu, political counselor and spokesman of the embassy of The People’s Republic of China to Israel, will be giving a press briefing on the recently released White Paper on China’s Peaceful Development. The White Paper deals with China’s unified multi-ethnic society; peaceful, cooperative and common development; China’s important contribution to the stability of the global economy; and the country’s role in safeguarding world peace. The White Paper also outlines China’s foreign policy.

THE BEST birthday present that Labor MK Isaac Herzog could have received would have been to win the Labor primaries this week. Unfortunately, that was not the gift that would make his 51st birthday on September 22 an even better celebration than his 50th birthday.

Still, he did far better than any of the polls indicated he would, and was flooded with congratulatory messages.

MK Shelly Yacimovich, who will face off against Amir Peretz next week in the contest for Labor leadership, is a former journalist with vast experience in both the print and electronic media, and in recent years, prior to entering politics, anchored her own radio and TV shows in which she interviewed some of the most influential people in the country. Whether her former colleagues consciously or subconsciously supported her is a matter of conjecture, although on election night, prior to the closure of the polling stations, Israel Radio’s Arye Golan, when interviewing Yacimovich remarked that it was difficult to grasp that a former colleague might become the next Labor leader.

Golan’s remark, though out of place, may have been innocent, but the fact of the matter is that Yacimovich has been getting more newspaper space and more air time than any other Labor politician, which served to give her an unfair advantage over other contestants.

However things changed a little on Tuesday after the first round of the elections when Yaron Dekel sought to interview both Peretz and Yacimovich.

Peretz agreed without any pre-conditions whereas Yacimovich would agree only if she could speak after Peretz. As a result she was not interviewed by Dekel. “We don’t allow anyone, regardless of who they may be, to dictate to us,” Dekel said.

IN THE late afternoon on election day, Israel Radio’s Yossi Hadar interviewed Kadima MK Dalia Itzik, who in her days in the Labor Party held three different ministerial portfolios and was head of Labor’s response team.

Hadar asked her who she favored to win the Labor Party elections. Itzik was very diplomatic in her reply, and very careful not say who it was that she wanted to win. In a subsequent conversation with political commentator Hanan Kristal, Hadar said that he hadn’t expected to receive an explicit answer from Itzik, but he felt that he had to ask the question. Kristal explained that Hadar had indeed received an answer. When Amir Peretz was elected chairman of the Labor Party several years ago, Itzik left together with Shimon Peres and joined Kadima. When Amram Mitzna was head of the Labor Party, Itzik was among those who made his life miserable. When Shulamit Aloni served as minister without portfolio in Golda Meir’s government, Golda made her life miserable, because in politics women have a tendency not to support each other. That left only one person that Itzik would favor, surmised Kristal – and that was Isaac Herzog.

WORLD WAR Two broke out in the month of Elul, and over a period of nearly six years claimed the lives of one third of the world Jewish population plus those of millions of non-Jews. Thus it was the most appropriate month in the Hebrew calendar for the performance of Kaddish – I am Here, an amazing musical work commissioned by Jan and Richard Cohen to mark the 25th anniversary of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College in New Hampshire.

It was performed last week in Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto Plaza, where the New Israeli Vocal Ensemble accompanied by the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra conductor Gil Shohat stood alongside Natan Rapaport’s imposing statue of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The production, featuring soloists Maria Jette, Adriana Zabala, Thomas Cooley and James Bohn, was performed to an audience that included Lawrence Siegel who wrote both the music and the libretto, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer, Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev, Polishborn Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz, Ravensbruck and Bergen Belsen Naomi Warren, who inspired the work and numerous other Holocaust survivors and supporters of Yad Vashem.

Rivlin noted that even though the Kaddish is a prayer recited for the dead, it is in fact a testament to life and continuity. A bilingual brochure that was distributed before the performance contained the full libretto in both Hebrew and English, and the text was also shown on three large screens, enabling the audience to focus on every word - which had in fact been taken from survivor testimony. In the finale, sung by all the soloists and the chorus following a section on the survivor’s return to Poland and to Auschwitz with her family, the lyrics resonated through every fiber of being of every Holocaust survivor in the audience. “And you wanted to kill me, And you wanted to get rid of me, But I survived, So here I am, Here I am, I am here! I survived. And look who is with me. Look who is with me.”

The audience rose as one to symbolically proclaim that centuries of persecution have failed to eradicate the Jewish people. We are here. We have survived. The sustained applause that followed was an affirmation of all the truths in Kaddish. It was not just one person’s story. For all the survivors present, it was their own story.

THE JABOTINSKY Institute is hosting a tribute to Israel’s seventh prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, who headed the 22nd, 23rd and 24th governments from 1986 to 1992, during which time one of the crises he dealt with was the Gulf War. Jabotinsky Institute director Yossi Ahimeir has a special place in his heart for Shamir, having served as director of the Prime Mionister’s Office for four years and prior to that as Shamir’s spokesman.

The tribute to be held on Thursday, September 15 will include reminiscences by Moshe Arens, who served as both foreign minister and defense minister during Shamir’s administrations; Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who served as justice minister under Shamir, Moshe Nissim, who was deputy prime minister and minister for industry and trade under Shamir, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who was legal advisor at the Foreign Ministry when Shamir was foreign minister and Brig.-Gen. Azriel Nevo, who was the Shamir’s military aide. Shamir, who will 96 next month, will not be able to attend. He has been ill for several years, and few people outside of his family have seen him. But many are still loyal to the man and his ideas, and some of them will be participating in the tribute.

FASHION SHOWS can often be frustrating because the models are so young and so painfully thin that women in the audience – other than those who are very slim – simply cannot picture themselves in any of the garments being paraded. But when Jackie Stapleton of the Tamar chapter of Hadassah Israel asked fashion designer Lea Toren if she would contribute some items from her collection for a fund-raising fashion show to benefit Hadassah’s Michaelson Institute for the Rehabilitation of Vision, Toren not only instantly agreed, but said that she would create individual designs to suit each of the models, including Stapleton. The other models were also members of the Tamar chapter and included Toby Beck, Pauline Clein, Marilyn Farber, Shoshana Gerstel, Marva Levine, Pamela Loval, Sandy Reichman, Beverly Rome, Sheba Skirball, Sara Tacher and Dorraine Gilbert Weiss, none of whom is under 50 and most of whom are over 60.

Utilizing a mix of fabrics and opting by and large for brilliant colors, clever layering and draping, Toren turned all her models into eye catchers. She also demonstrated how one basic outfit, with a simple variation in top, can take on a completely different appearance. In Levine’s case, it was a pair of cream colored culottes with a matching tank top and in the case of Gilbert-Weiss a long black sheath dress. On their own the culottes and tank top were sporty but smart. With a mushroom-hued maxi coat that was cut short in front, the outfit became dramatic.

With a floating chiffon top in a delicate floral print, the outfit was sophisticated and feminine. With a flocked evening poncho it became romantic.

Different effects were likewise achieved with Gilbert- Weiss. A fuchsia pink shawl tied around her shoulders and fastened with a pink rose in the same shade made the outfit very striking. A low-draped silver blouson made it look more like a hostess gown and a print top gave it a more casual appearance. Loval looked magnificent in a superbly cut bright yellow trapeze line coat with asymmetric fastening, but most of the models at one point or another wore something that reflected Toren’s penchant for purple.

The remarks from the audience were highly complimentary.

Everything they saw, they found to be wearable.

They were thrilled with the color plays and the way in which figure flaws were camouflaged by floating fabrics.

IN A moving ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, high-tech businessman David Wiernik was officially accredited Honorary Consul of Hungary in Israel. The ceremony was conducted in the presence of Hungary’s Ambassador to Israel Zoltan Szentgyorgyi, Israel’s Ambassador Designate to Hungary Ilan Mor, the Foreign Ministry’s Chief of Protocol Talya Lador-Fresher, Deputy Director General for Central Europe and Eurasia Pini Avivi, Gershon Zohar who heads the Foreign Ministry’s division for Central Europe and Wiernik’s wife Daniella, daughter Roni and business partner Kobi Halperin who came with his wife Nurit.

The role of an Honorary Consul is one of major importance in helping to enhance ties between two countries said Szentgyorgyi, who expressed every confidence that Wiernik would be of great assistance to him in making Hungary better known to Israelis. Wiernik, who spends a lot of time in Hungary, has already done a lot to improve the knowledge of Hungarians about Israel. His company Nav N Go, one of the leading providers of navigation solutions for the automotive, personal and wireless navigation industries, is headquartered in Budapest.

AS IF Channel 10 didn’t have enough problems with the resignations of senior editorial staff members Reudor Benziman, Ruti Yovel and Guy Zohar, it also has to overcome the problem of broadcasting on the Sabbath.

According to law, it has to broadcast its news programs either from Jerusalem or the capital’s immediate environs.

Initially it was thought that Channel 10, which is headquartered in Givatayim, would move its news operations to Jerusalem Capital Studios, but Channel 10 opted for the International Conference Cednter, which is around five minutes walk away from JCS.

But then the Jerusalem City Council, which is largely dominated by haredi representatives, protested that since the Jerusalem Municipality is a part owner of the International Conference Center, it cannot be used for anything work-related on the Sabbath, and Channel 10 will have to find other means of broadcasting on Friday nights and Saturdays. The fact that the nearby Israel Broadcasting Authority broadcasts 24/7 on both radio and television appears to be immaterial.

PEOPLE WAITING in the arrivals hall at Ben-Gurion International Airport must have wondered when they saw the large crowd dressed in typical haredi attire, which great rabbi had just landed. In fact the crowd was there to give a warm welcome home greeting to Yoel Zeev Goldstein, who after three years of incarceration in a Japanese prison, had been acquitted by a Japanese court and allowed to go home.

There was one problem still be overcome, and that was the fact that his visa which had been issued in early 2008, had expired. Goldstein remained under police supervision until he boarded the plane that brought him back to Israel.

Goldstein and two friends were imprisoned after a search of their luggage revealed that they were smuggling tens of thousands of ecstasy pills. The three young men thought that they were carrying antiquities given to them by yet another member of the haredi community.

While they were in prison, prominent rabbis in Israel and elsewhere, as well as other people of influence, used all the forces at their disposal to secure their release. This included the raising of funds to pay for the best possible lawyers.

One of the trio was transferred to Israel to complete his sentence and was the first to be released. Goldstein was the second, and on landing in Israel, asked all his relatives and friends to pray for Yaakov Yosef Gruenwald who is still behind bars in Japan. Although the people waiting to welcome Goldstein wanted to break out in song and dance as soon as they saw him, at the request of his immediate family, they kept themselves in check until around midnight when they got to his home turf in Mea Shearim where hundreds of people had gathered to make his arrival as joyous an occasion as possible. Rabbis delivered words of wisdom and people danced and sang.

The following day, Goldstein went to visit Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to thank him for his help in the presence of Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who was also reportedly involved in efforts to obtain his release. Other prominent Shas activists were present to hear Goldstein voice his appreciation and ask for a blessing.

“I prayed for you a lot,” said Yosef. On the same evening, Goldstein was feted by hundreds of merrymakers at Toldos Avraham Yitzhak House of Learning. Goldstein’s family and friends are now occupying themselves wait finding a suitable bride for him and hope that his stay in prison will not be regarded as a blemish on his character.

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