OFFICIALLY, THE thirteenth annual Moreshet Yisrael Dinner was a tribute to Moreshet Yisrael president Hazzan Mordechai Goldstein and his good friend Rabbi David B. Rosen, who for the past 11 years has served as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston,Texas, the largest Conservative Synagogue in North America. Indeed Rosen came with several Texan congregants.
But it became perfectly clear after Rosen had delivered a brief address that the evening belonged to Goldstein, whose musical forte goes way beyond hazzanut, and covers the classics and Broadway.
Indeed violinist Nehama Rosler and keyboard instrumentalist Aleksander Zlotnikov presented an incredible musical potpourri which included the classics, Broadway, folk music, Israeli pop, and then some. Performing throughout the evening, they played loud enough to be heard but not too loud to disturb the flow of conversation.
Naturally, Goldstein also performed - singing first a humorous ditty about the renovations at Moreshet Yisrael, and then a duet "In my own life time" from The Rothschilds together with Barbara Spack, a long-time family friend from New Jersey, who is also a long-time Hadassah colleague of Goldstein's wife Barbara.
The Spack family also sang a musical tribute to Goldstein, but the musical star of the evening was Rabbi Abraham Feder, Rabbi Emeritus of Moreshet Yisrael who is also a trained cantor and whose choice of profession was Broadway's loss.
Simply oozing with rhythm, Feder gave a polished performance and had all the other guests singing along with him. His predecessor as Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Dr. Yosef Green, came in for special mention by Rosen, who recalled Green's great kindness to him when he was a young rabbinical student in Jerusalem.
Green had suggested to him that he might want to deliver a Dvar Torah on the weekly portion. Rosen had agreed, not knowing that he would have to speak in front of a group of leading Conservative rabbis who were visiting from America. He spent several days learning to read and translate the Torah portion, and it never occurred to him that he would also be called upon to provide interpretations.
Thus when the rabbis began asking him the meaning of one verse or another, he was completely at a loss. Green tactfully saved his dignity by interjecting and saying: "I think what David was trying to say..."
For Goldstein the occasion was the second honor from the Conservative Movement in less than a year. Last March he traveled to New York to receive an Honorary Doctorate in Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary. On both occasions, he had a spell in hospital prior to the grand event, and on both occasions, recovered in time to attend.
Goldstein's forebears were among the founders of the Denver Jewish community, with his maternal great grandparents traveling from the East coast of America to Colorado by horse and covered wagon. He and his children are living proof that fourth and fifth generation Americans do not necessarily assimilate out of the fold.
FAMILY AND friends of the late Moshe Murvitz, the former concertmaster of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, who passed away a year ago, gathered at the Buchman Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University to attend a memorial concert in his honor.
Maestro Zubin Mehta spoke movingly of his long years of friendship with Murvitz, whose daughter Batia Murvitz, an accomplished pianist, played the Schubert trio Op. 99 with Alexander Stark, assistant IPO concertmaster and Marcel Bergman, principal cellist.
Musicians who had studied under Murvitz also played. The concert concluded with the sublime second movement of Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" string quartet played by Alexander Stark, Elyakum Salzman, Miriam Hartman and Marcel Bergman - all principals of the IPO.
There were also a number of musicians in the audience as well as several diplomats, who are colleagues of Murvitz's widow Mary Clare Adam Murvitz, the honorary consul for Papua New Guinea. Among them were the ambassadors of Japan, Australia, Canada and Sweden and the Egyptian Charge d'Affaires.
SUCCESS IS apparently the secret of the elixir of youth judging by the appearance of Castro co-CEOs Eti and Gabi Roter who looked younger and slimmer than ever when the company unveiled its Spring-Summer collection for 2007 at the Tel Aviv Museum on Sunday morning.
The event was much more businesslike than in seasons past, when viewers only had to flash an invitation to be admitted. This time, the guest list was computerized, and simply holding an invitation card was not good enough. If one's name wasn't in the computer, one didn't get in.
Ran and Hila Rahav, who have been the Castro spokespeople for well over a decade, went around meeting and greeting everyone and ensuring that they had partaken of refreshments and were comfortably seated.
When Eti Roter, the daughter of Castro founders Aaron and Lena Castro, greeted her guests, she made special mention of the Rahavs in the most superlative of terms.
She also welcomed buyers from Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Thailand, Romania and Latvia, and wished everyone "a summer of love, passion and fashion."
The collection, which included both male and female apparel, was largely retro, with a new focus on dresses and waistlines. As for men, the male models made it clear that hair is in and skinheads are out.
Only two of the male models bore signs of having shaved their heads, but the re-growth was already obvious. One model had hair slightly longer than crew-cut, but the others had hair to the napes of their necks, to their shoulders and one even had hair half-way down his back. Notwithstanding the shaven head of Britney Spears, the female models sported long pony tails.
IT WAS a literary evening in every sense of the word when Toby Press publisher Matthew Miller and his wife Renee hosted writers, publishers, editors, agents, buyers, journalists and reviewers to dinner at the Coolinary Restaurant in Jerusalem's fast-growing restaurant district of Emek Refaim. In an attempt to keep the evening light and informal, Miller promised just one speech.
"It's only me for five minutes," he said, but he hadn't counted on the fact that as much as he wanted to heap praise on several of his guests, there were some who also wanted to heap praise on him, and who spontaneously rose to their feet to do so.
One of the people whom Miller lauded was American Jewish Book Council executive director Carolyn Hessel and her colleagues for their work in exposing many varieties of books for and by Jews. He was also especially pleased to see Amir Gutfreund, whose book Our Holocaust was selected by Barnes & Noble for their "Spring 2006 Discover Great New Writers Program."
Also present were Naomi Ragen, Aharon Appelfeld, Aharon Megged, Daniel Rogov, whose Guide to Israeli Wines was handed out to everyone as a souvenir, literary agent Deborah Harris, New York publisher Esther Margolis of Newmarket Press, plus some 30 others.
Nancy Ayalon, a buyer for Steimatzky, was happy to tell Appelfeld how much Steimatzky enjoys buying and selling his books. Miller noted that while appreciation of Israeli literature by American and British audiences is growing, "all works in translation have trouble penetrating the American and British markets." Israeli writers don't realize, he said, that American Jews have their own culture and may not really be interested in reading yet another Mossad thriller. "It ain't going to replace Tom Clancy."
Estherina Tartman, who may make history as the first woman to hold the portfolio of tourism minister, still volunteers for reserve duty as a major in the army. She taught herself to walk again after being bedridden for 10 months following a serious traffic accident.
She walks with a back brace she says, and recalls that at the beginning of her term as an MK, she still wore a neck brace. Knesset Speaker and Acting President Dalia Itzik was also in a serious traffic accident from which she painfully recovered, but Itzik, who even learned to dance again, is very careful about the height of the heels on her shoes, whereas Tartman's heels are almost as high as one can get - a factor that can only contribute to her constant pain, as even the healthiest woman who wears high heels can testify.
By the way, with regard to reserve duty in the army, Tartman is not the only MK who still volunteers. Almost every time that Labor Party Secretary-General MK Eitan Cabel is away from his post it's because he's doing reserve army duty. He holds the rank of sergeant-major.
PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert's ratings may be slipping in the polls, but one place he knew he could count on for support was at his school reunion.
Olmert put his problems on the back burner last weekend for his annual reunion with former classmates from the Binyamina elementary school. Notwithstanding a crowded agenda, Olmert cleared his desk to spend time with his friends at Kibbutz Beeri in the Negev.
The occasion allowed him to relax. After all, these were people who have been his friends since first grade and few know him better or longer. Like Olmert, the youngsters from Binyamina for the most part left what has become a bedroom community and settled in many parts of the country including Kibbutz Beeri, which is the home of Noah Levy, their former schoolmate.
They flocked in from all over, with Olmert making the journey from Jerusalem. The weather was perfect, and so lunch was cooked and served outside. Olmert, who's never been one for airs and graces, dropped the prime ministerial aura and became one of the guys, taking his turn at serving soup. The former classmates, now all in their early sixties, grew up in Nachlat Jabotinsky in Binyamina and maintained close contact throughout the years, regardless of changes in domicile or status. Eliezer Boim, the brother of Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Boim, said that it was hard on Olmert's friends to see how he is reviled daily by the media.
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSMAN and philanthropist Henri Zimand and his late wife Anda, who died of cancer, shared a most wonderful love story - one that did not end with her death in 2003 after a six year struggle with the disease that plagued her body but failed to rob her of her beauty or her radiant smile.
To keep her memory alive not only in his mind and those of his children, Zimand established the Anda's Spirit Philanthropies that support an extraordinary number and variety of causes in Israel and abroad. Most recently he linked her name in perpetuity with the Film Archive in the Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of Arts at Tel Aviv University. The archive came into being in 1973, with the launch of the TAU Film School, and was located in the university's central library.
At that time, the archive contained only 250 films. Today there are 15,000 incorporating every genre. The Israeli section of the archive includes films that were made for television as well as for the big screen, documentaries, feature films, television series and films made by students.
The huge collection now has examples of every kind of film making that can be used for teaching purposes. The archive also includes a small library of publications about films. The archive was a favorite place of film-crazy students, several of whom contributed to it as they made names for themselves in Israel's film and television industry.
Recently, the archive underwent major renovations and enlargement and was renamed the Anda Zimand Film Archive. Among those attending the unveiling ceremony of the plaque which reads, "The Anda Zimand Film Archive 'In Memory of My Heart'" - Henri Zimand, were TAU Rector Prof. Dany Leviatan, TAU director-general Prof. Gideon Langholz, TAU vice president Yehiel Ben Zvi, Dean of Arts Prof. Hana Naveh, Hillel Schocken, head of the Azrieli School of Architecture and Prof. Judd Neeman of the Department of Film and Television.
Zimand also created a memorial, multilingual Web site for his wife that serves not only to preserve her memory but to inspire others with life threatening illnesses to make the most of every day.
AS BUSY as he is with the alleged sexual offenses case involving his client President Moshe Katsav, attorney Zion Amir still finds time to party and was among the guests who last Saturday night congregated at the Ronit Farm - off the highway between Tel Aviv and Netanya -to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Youth Renewal Fund, a non-profit organization that provides supplemental education opportunities for disadvantaged Israeli youth.
Actually the function was a little late since YRF was established in 1989 - but hey, who's counting? It's all for a good cause. On Saturday night alone, guests contributed NIS 1.5 million.
Others in attendance besides Amir included YRF Executive Director Galit Toledano Harris, Leon Koffler who heads the SuperPharm chain, public relations experts Ran and Hila Rahav, advertising commercials queen Gimmel Yaffit, multi-media star Yair Lapid, and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Hulda'i. MC for the evening was television personality Oshrat Kotler and entertainment was provided by the Ethnix group who kept everyone's feet tapping till long into the night.
AT THE bar mitzva celebration for Shmuel Suna in Bet Shemesh, his father Hillel Suna, who heads the main Jerusalem branch of The Bank of Jerusalem gave him some sound advice: to always be positive, and to never miss an opportunity - to do a mitzva. Not too many bankers are engaged in the mitzva business but Suna and his wife Ronni have impressed on their children that every good deed brings its own reward. Shmuel, who has managed to amass a number of good deeds in his short life time, was rewarded by the large number of relatives who came from America to join in the festivities.
KOREAN AMBASSADOR Shin Kak-Soo hosted a cocktail reception at the Tel Aviv Hilton, in honor of Eitan Haber, who was recently installed as honorary consul general of the Republic of Korea.
Apparently Korea likes Israelis who have served in high places. Haber was bureau chief for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. His predecessor as honorary consul general was Arye Shumer, who served as director general of Beit Hanassi during the presidency of Ezer Weizman. For Haber it was the second big celebration in a matter of weeks. He had previously played host at a huge reception to celebrate the birth of a grandchild.
IT MAY have simply been coincidence, but there was something odd in the fact that the Knesset Budgets Committee began discussing the disbursement of NIS 1.5 million to pay for security, office expenses and the salary of former prime minister Ariel Sharon's driver on the day of Sharon's 79th birthday. Sharon has been in a coma since a month and a half before his 78th birthday. Although Sharon's birthday is officially listed as February 27, his family has always celebrated it on February 26. The discrepancy lies in the fact that Sharon was born in the middle of the night.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S day will come a week early this evening when noted British journalist Allison Pearson, author of the best-selling novel I Don't Know How She Does It, which grew out of a weekly series in The Daily Telegraph, addresses a large gathering of Israeli businesswomen and socialites at Cinema City.