Grapevine: Presidential presence

Shimon Peres honors presidents of Jewish organizations; Avigdor Lieberman travels to Kishinev, Moldova to visit ORT schools.

Shimon Peres congratulates311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Shimon Peres congratulates311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
THERE WAS a glut of presidents at the President’s Residence this week when President Shimon Peres hosted members of the National Board of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.
Peres was honoring outgoing national president Nancy Falchuk and welcoming incoming national president Marcie Natan at a changing of the guards reception.
Also present were past national presidents Bonnie Lipton and Marlene Post, as well as Miki Schulman, who will chair the National Convention that will take place in Jerusalem next year to mark Hadassah’s 100th anniversary, and national board member Judy Swartz, who is a long-standing donor to Hadassah and chairwoman of its Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower campaign.
The tower will be officially inaugurated during the centenary celebrations. There was also a changing of the guards representation among the Israelis attending in the personas of outgoing Director General of the Hadassah Medical Center Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef and his successor Prof. Ehud Kokia. Peres said that Hadassah, at almost 100, made him feel young, because he was only 88. Peres was full of praise for what Hadassah has done in its decades of service to Israel and the Jewish People.
Falchuk, who praised Peres for his vision of Israel as a bridge to nations, said that Hadassah had helped to fulfill this vision. She also noted that after the government, Hadassah was the largest employer in Israel. The implication was that Hadassah not only contributes to the health of the nation but also to the economy.
MORE THAN 80 people participated in the Society of Polish American Travel Agents (SPATA)’s 53rd annual convention in Israel this week. Each year SPATA organizes an international convention and this year came to Israel for the first time, touring the length and bredth of the country. The convention opened in Jerusalem with an ecumenical and tri-national dinner sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, represented by director-general Noaz Bar-Nir, and with the participation of Polish Ambassador Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska.
The dinner began with prayers by an Orthodox rabbi and a Catholic priest and the national anthems of Israel, the United States and Poland, and continued with a keynote address by Dr. Laurence Weinbaum, executive director of the Israel office of the World Jewish Congress. Outside of Jerusalem, the Polish ambassador, who makes no secret of her own fondness for Israel, hosted a reception at her residence in Kfar Shmaryahu for the SPATA people, who were all enthusiastic about what they had seen and heard.
DURING A recent visit to Kishinev in Moldova where he was born, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the second day of the new school year visited the Rambam and Herzl schools operated by ORT.
Lieberman was accompanied by a delegation that included Israeli Ambassador to Moldova Oren David, Foreign Ministry staff members Lia Shemtov, who chairs the Knesset subcommittee on immigrant absorption and the deputy mayors of Migdal Ha’emek and Nahariya. There are 320 students at the ORT Rambam School and close to 400 students at the ORT Herzl School. Both schools welcomed the delegation with Hebrew songs and a prominent display of Israeli flags at both schools.
At the Rambam school, the delegation, in addition to sitting in briefly on a Hebrew lesson, was escorted around the school’s Holocaust museum, which tells the story of a centuries-old Jewish community that was almost totally destroyed.
Lieberman, who was raised under the Communist regime, was impressed with the visible changes in the school system –especially at the Herzl Technology Lyceum where students are taught state-of-the art information technology subjects.
Here he also sat in on a Hebrew lesson and said that when he was at school, the learning opportunities that are available today did not exist. The study of Hebrew and other languages is now not only possible, but is encouraged. As for technology, it has made giant strides since Lieberman left Moldova in 1978. The Kishinev Jewish community is strongly connected to Israel.
IT’S NOT certain that Alexander Zvielli is the oldest person to ever apply to the Government Press Office to have his press card renewed, but he’s probably the most mentally and physically agile of nonagenarians to do so. Zvielli, who celebrated his 90th birthday this year, continues to come to work at The Jerusalem Post on a daily basis, and took to the computer like a duck to water. But this may be because printing methods are in his genes. His father owned a printing press in Warsaw and printed the works of leading Yiddish writers including Isaac Bashevis Singer who went on to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
Zvielli has worked for the Post for almost 66 years and knows its history and the history of the nation in encyclopedic detail. No-one alive today can better tell the story of the paper, and there’s little doubt that he will be the one assigned to do so when the Post celebrates its 80th anniversary in December 2012.
AS MOVING a composition as it is, “Amazing Grace” is generally not part of the repertoire of Israeli singers. Among the exceptions is David D’Or who accompanied by the New York Symphony Orchestra, sang it last Saturday at the United Nations General Assembly’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack by terrorists.