IT WAS practically a Jerusalem Post wedding at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel this week.
The bride was Judy Montagu, a senior columnist for the Post. The officiator was
Matthew Wagner, the paper’s editorial writer, who also happens to be an ordained
rabbi; the photographer was the paper’s staff photographer, Marc Israel Sellem;
and several past and present members of the editorial staff were among the
For the bride, it was the second time around, but for the groom,
Sheldon Fossaner, a retired high school teacher from Winnipeg, Canada, who
confessed to being 67 years old, it was the first time Cupid’s arrow had hit its
target to the extent that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with
Montagu was born in Scotland and raised in England; the two met
in Israel. One of the bride’s oldest friends, Wendy Elliman, who has known the
new Mrs. Fossaner for 40 years, said she had never seen her looking
The bride was escorted to the canopy by her brother Leonard
Lowy, a London-based lawyer who flew in with his wife and two of their children
for the occasion, and her 25-year-old daughter Avital Montagu, whom veterans of
the Post remember from when her mother brought her to work as a tiny
Although the groom had several close friends in attendance – in
particular the Alon, Jona and Kimche families, each of whom he has known for 30
years – he had only one relative, Ari Eisenberg, who acted as master of
ceremonies and also did a masterful job of singing the last of the blessings
under the bridal canopy.
Aside from Post people, relatives and personal
friends, there was a sizable representation from the Jerusalem Scrabble Club,
where the bride spends her Tuesday evenings.
Wagner said how honored he
was to have been asked to officiate, and lauded the bride for her elegant prose
and her insight into the human condition. He also explained each facet of the
wedding ceremony, not only for the sake of the bride and groom, but also for
their guests, who basked in the general aura of happiness that radiated in all
directions. Wagner also took the trouble, when reading the marriage contract in
Aramaic, to translate the most relevant sections into English. Most women,
particularly those past middle age, who get married a second time choose not to
wear a wedding gown, but Montagu, mindful of the fact that this was Fossaner’s
first wedding, wore an ankle-length, highnecked, long-sleeved gown of
cream-colored lace, as well as a bridal veil. If only half the good wishes that
the constantly smiling couple received come true, they’ll be sitting on cloud
nine for quite some time.
■ ANYONE WHO visited the newly expanded and
refurbished World Center of North African Jews in Jerusalem last week would not
have believed it would be ready in time for the gala grand opening on Sunday.
But it was, and it exceeded expectations. Andalusian music wafted in the
background. Waiters and waitresses walked around with trays of North African
delicacies, and Chaim Cohen, the chairman of the center, who had spent countless
days and nights overseeing the work and the installations, received compliments
and joyous embraces from all sides.
The hundreds of guests, largely of
Moroccan background, came from Israel and abroad, and although most people were
wearing formal or semi-formal attire, the effortless élan of the non-Israelis
put a new definition on elegance. However, the person who drew the most
attention was visiting Moroccan intellectual Minial Abdelillah, who came in
traditional Moroccan garb and had people coming up to him all the time to chat
in French. Among the few non-North Africans present was President Shimon Peres,
who was pleased to see one of his predecessors in office, friend and former
political ally Yitzhak Navon – the country’s fifth president, and the honorary
president of the center. Though born in Jerusalem, Navon is of Moroccan
Also present were Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar; Housing and
Construction Minister Ariel Attias; former minister Aryeh Deri, who is
contemplating a political comeback; Daniel Amar, one of the contributors to the
project and the son of David Amar, for whom the center is now named; chairman of
the Union of Local Authorities Shlomo Buhbut; Ikke Kedem, a former prominent
figure in the Jerusalem Municipality; Miriam Bonfil, the former head of Naamat
in Jerusalem; Shula Zaken, who was former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s bureau
chief for decades in the various positions he held; MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem; and
many other well-known figures.
The ceremony was held in the garden patio;
registration was in the lobby of the next-door premises of the King David
apartments, which have been under construction for some five or six years. This
was the first time the building that overlooks the garden courtyard of the
center was open to the public.
Interestingly its publicity brochures were
in only one language – French.
■ WHILE PERES was in Rome last week
celebrating Republic Day and the 150th anniversary of the reunification of
Italy, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who was acting president, joined in the
local celebrations at the Ramat Gan residence of Italian Ambassador Luigi
Mattiolo. Also among the hundreds of people on the lawn were government
ministers Bennie Begin, Gilad Erdan, Orit Noked and Silvan Shalom, who is a
However the minister representing the government on this
historic occasion was Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar. Mattiolo underscored that
Italy was celebrating both its 66th National Day and 150th year of
Citing various areas of cooperation between Italy and
Israel, Mattiolo thanked Sa’ar for making it possible for hundreds of Italian
students studying in Israel to do their bagrut (matriculation) exams in Italian.
He also noted that Italy was Israel’s best scientific partner in
Both Mattiolo and Sa’ar mentioned the upcoming government-
to-government summit in Rome next week, to be headed by prime ministers Silvio
Berlusconi and Binyamin Netanyahu. Mattiolo and Sa’ar also referred to the
influence of the Italian resurgence on the birth of the Zionist movement. Sa’ar
began his address in halting Italian, struggling valiantly with the
pronunciation, but not quite getting there. When he switched to English, it was
easier for him, but toward the end, he decided to complete his address in
Italian – to the approval of the crowd and cries of “Bravo! Bravo!” ■ TEL AVIV
is generally acknowledged as Israel’s communications capital. Channel 10 is in
Givatayim, and Educational Television is in Tel Aviv. There are also several
radio stations, including Army Radio in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and the overwhelming
majority of advertising and public relations agencies are located in the
Yet at the annual Roaring Lion awards, given by the Israel Public
Relations Association (ISPRA) for the best PR campaigns, two campaigns launched
in Jerusalem won for the best international campaign and the best overall
campaign. What made the victory even sweeter for Lone Star Communications,
headed by Charley Levine, and for Avital Baer, director of media and public
relations at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, was that the awards
at Bar-Ilan University’s Wohl Center were announced on the night of Jerusalem
Lone Star collected its award for its campaign on Shyne, the
Belize-born rapper who decided to take on the faith of his Jewish grandmother
and became a Belz Hassid, and the Israel Academy of Sciences for its campaign on
the Dead Sea Deep Drilling Project.
Shyne accompanied Levine on stage for
the presentation, and when former Foreign Ministry chief of protocol Itzhak
Eldan made the error of referring to Shyne as the son of his estranged father
Dean Barrow, the prime minister of Belize, Shyne asserted: “No, I’m the son of
Charley Levine. I couldn’t exist without Charley Levine.”
Baer refused to
accept the sole credit for the Dead Sea campaign, and named a whole slew of
people, including members of the Academy of Sciences, without whom the campaign
would have been impossible. She also tried to persuade Itzhak Rabihiya, who owns
his own PR agency in Jerusalem but often works with her, and who was involved in
the Dead Sea campaign, to join her on stage.
But Rabihiya, believing that
Baer deserved her moment of glory unencumbered, remained in his seat.
THE OCCASION was also a swan song for ISPRA’s longserving and popular chairwoman
Silvia Beit-Halachmy, who is spokeswoman of Israel Aircraft Industries
Many of her ISPRA colleagues came to the stage to thank her, to
speak highly of her and to try to dissuade her from stepping down.
first was Ran Rahav, who was in a hurry because he had to run off to the Tshuva
wedding in the Ben Shemen Forest. He got there in time to hear Paul Anka,
Yitzhak Tshuva’s favorite singer, who had hitched a ride to Israel on the
private plane of media mogul Haim Saban.
■ RESTITUTION OF Jewish property
in Central Europe has been a contentious issue for almost 60 years, and still
remains unresolved. While there have been communities and individuals in
different parts of Europe who have been able to either reclaim properties or
receive compensation for properties confiscated by the Nazi and later communist
regimes, the overwhelming majority have not.
Interest remains high among
those still fighting for restitution, as well as among representatives of
countries in which claims are being made. Evidence of this interest could be
seen last week at Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem, where The Israel Council on
Foreign Relations hosted a panel discussion on the ongoing challenge.
fact that so many people not only came on time, but came early, spoke volumes.
Also sitting in the packed conference hall were representatives of the embassies
of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Russia and Serbia.
Director Laurence Weinbaum acknowledged the presence of the chairman of the
(Research) Institute of the World Jewish Congress, retired diplomat Mordechai
Palzur, who was the first Israeli diplomat to serve behind the Iron Curtain
following the long break in relations after the Six Day War. Palzur was
appointed to Warsaw in 1986, and paved the way for the resumption of diplomatic
relations not only with Poland, but the whole of Central
Returning to the looting and confiscating of Jewish-owned
property, Weinbaum said it had to be recognized that the Holocaust did not take
place in a vacuum. The Germans encouraged looting by locals, he noted, and thus
a large number of people benefitted from seizing the homes and personal
belongings of Jews.
While R&R to most people stands for rest and
recreation, to Prof. Raphael Vago, senior lecturer in Modern East European
history at Tel Aviv University, it means Robbery and Restitution. Countless
people inhabit Jewish properties, and nobody asks what was there before, he
said, adding that there had been a conspiracy of silence during the communist
regime, which confirmed that no property was sacred and all property was theft.
There were great expectations of a change of attitude with the fall of communism
20 years ago, he recalled, but those anticipations drowned in the well of
David Peleg, a former Israeli ambassador to Poland who is
now executive director of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, said he saw
the matter of restitution as a mission. During the five years he spent as
ambassador in Poland, he said, he saw himself not only as the representative of
the State of Israel, but of the 3.5 million Polish Jews murdered on Polish soil.
Peleg took a lot of flak during the somewhat stormy question-and-answer period,
with angry members of the audience accusing the WJRO of accomplishing very
little, and blaming the government for failing to take up the issue in a more
■ PENN ALUMNI in Israel who want to see some of their
old friends or are keen to make new ones among Penn alumni living here, ought
make it their business to participate the third Penn Israel Regatta-Ivy League
Yacht Race on June 23. This year, eight boats are competing, including a Penn
and Wharton boat. All boats will have champagne on board, and sailing will
continue until sunset, which will be the latest for this year. No prior yachting
experience is required, as each yacht will have a professional
For those who want a more leisurely sunset cruise, there is
limited space on an observer boat with hammock- style deck in the front, living
room seating in the cabin and back deck. Spouses and significant others are also
invited. Following the regatta there will be a gala kosher dinner at the Sa Gal
Yachting Club at the south end of the Herzliya Marina. Reservations should be
made with Carmel Gerber (email@example.com) or Yarom Arad (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Further information is available from Alexandra Levite (AlexLevite@gmail.com) or
on the Penn site, www.pennclubofisrael.ning.com.
■ TRAVELERS WHO make a
point of visiting sites of Jewish interest when they vacation abroad can now add
the Jewish Museum of Moscow to places they should see. The museum, which opened
only three weeks ago, is a private venture and was founded by Sergei Ustinov,
the vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress.
Exhibits in the museum
cover a 200-year period of history, from the late 18th century onward. Entry is
free of charge because Ustinov wants as many people as possible to see this
documentation of Russian Jewish life. Among the Israelis who have already seen
it is Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who was in Moscow at the time of the
Escorted by Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, Yishai visited
several religious institutions to see for himself the miracle of resurgent
Jewish life in Moscow. The credit goes largely to the efforts of Chabad, which,
despite the dangers involved, continued to operate under the communist yoke and
to conduct clandestine classes for those Jews hungry for knowledge. Much of
Chabad’s work in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union is supported
by Israeli business tycoon Lev Leviev.
■ BANK HAPOALIM chairman Yair
Seroussi is currently in mourning for his father, Rephael Seroussi, who passed
away this week. Last week, before the tragedy befell his family, Seroussi, at a
hi-tech conference at Jerusalem’s International Conference Center, hosted
Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon and his Indian counterpart Schri Sachin
Pilot who also carries the Information Technology portfolio.
introduced his Indian guest to the new technologies employed by Bank
■ THE LATE Sammy Ofer was not the only billionaire to adopt a
unit of the Israel Navy and to help young navy personnel in their studies and
their careers. Stef Wertheimer, one of the pioneers of the country’s industrial
zones, has also got a soft spot for the navy: He is the chief sponsor of its new
Tzur Yam School of Technology in Haifa, which, following a successful three-year
pilot project, has been recognized as an official educational
The school currently has 100 students, eight of them women.
Next year’s intake will be in excess of 120 students.
Speaking at the
inauguration of the school’s new building, Wertheimer emphasized the growing
need for top-grade professionals in all spheres of industry. When there’s a
deficit in human resources, he said, it forces industrial enterprises to
outsource their production abroad, and this can severely harm Israel’s economy
and make it reliant on the manpower of other countries. In the long run, this
could also result in the transfer of Israeli industrial concerns to countries
where they can best be serviced. To prevent both these things from happening, he
said, he had dreamed up a naval school of technology.
Ben-Yehuda, deputy commander of the navy, thanked Wertheimer for his initiative
and his cooperation.
Last week, Wertheimer received the University of
Haifa’s Outstanding Leadership Award at the 39th meeting of the university’s
board of governors in recognition of his longstanding contribution to the
economy, society and security of the State of Israel.email@example.com