YEDIOT AHARONOT'S political correspondent Shimon Shiffer has enjoyed a special relationship with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for several years. In an interview with Channel Two's Dana Weiss, Shiffer talked about their daily telephone conversations, many of which resulted from the prime minister calling him and not the other way around. Forced by security considerations to be isolated from the public and from the country's nature spots so dear to his heart, Sharon always wanted to know minute details about Shiffer's immediate environment. What was on the menu in the restaurant? What were people talking about on a picnic?
AFTER THE initial dire speculations with regard to Sharon, the electronic media took itself in hand and went looking for optimistic stories about people who had suffered brain injuries and recovered. One of the initial sources was Government Press Office photographer Moshe Milner, who has been photographing Sharon since 1967. Milner told Channel Two that his mother, at age 80, had a nasty fall in which she cracked her head. The ensuing condition and treatment had been very similar to those of Sharon. Yet despite her age and the severity of her illness, she made a complete recovery.
Like many other people interviewed about their connections with Sharon, Milner also contributed to the growing wealth of information about the soft and caring side of modern Israel's most famous warrior. He recalled that for a brief time, the Ministry of Defense had employed a photographer by the name of Itzhak Ismar who died of diabetes. Sharon was the only senior official who attended the funeral.
THE HEADLINE in Hashavua B'Yerushalayim, one of the weekly religious tabloids published in the capital, trumpeted: "Zvi Mazel wants to be a member of Knesset." The retired diplomat, who was Israel's ambassador to Romania, Egypt and most recently Sweden (where he garnered international headlines for dismantling a pro-terrorist art installation) has never spoken to Gabriel Bloch, whose byline appeared on the aforementioned item. He did, however, speak to one of the government ministers who defected to Kadima, and mentioned in passing that he would like to be involved in foreign policy strategy. What the minister in question chose to tell Bloch may have been an altogether different story. Suffice it to say that it is doubtful that Mazel's name will be on Kadima's Knesset list.
ASIDE FROM Hadassah Medical Center Director Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef, the physician who appeared most frequently on the electronic media over the past week and a half was Prof. Yonatan Halevy, director of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center. At times, Halevy sounded like an unofficial spokesman for Hadassah, especially when interviewers attempted to get him to disagree with the treatment Hadassah was administering to Prime Minister Sharon.
On the evening that Sharon was taken to hospital, Halevy was endlessly interviewed on Channel One by Uri Levy, who kept interrupting him to ask needless questions. Halevy, a gifted and articulate communicator who easily translates the most complicated medical data into laymen's terms, was doing exactly that, and required no prodding. But Levy wouldn't let it be. It is to Halevy's credit that he maintained his equanimity. All that talking on television and radio did not affect his voice, and last Shabbat he read the Torah portion of the week at the Hazvi Yisrael synagogue where he is a regular congregant.
His admirers say of him that among physicians, he is the best reader and among Torah readers, he is the best physician. If that sounds like a backhanded compliment - it's not. It is quite astonishing to realize just how many excellent Torah readers there are among religiously observant physicians; in addition to which there are quite a few physicians who've strayed from religion, but who can still do a sterling job of leading prayer services.
THE IMPRESSIVE Rishpon residence of Korean ambassador Kyungtark Park will today be transformed into an art gallery where the ambassador's wife Jaesoon Kang will open an exhibit of her paintings. A highly talented artist who has previously exhibited in Seoul, New York and Washington, DC, she has been moving around in local art circles and is frequently seen at the exhibitions of other artists. Now her Israeli colleagues will have an opportunity to see her work.
FOR A long time some years ago, the very personable and sensitive Noam Rozenman of Jerusalem was unable to walk, and had to learn all over again after his leg was shattered in a terrorist bomb explosion in the capital's Ben Yehuda mall. But last week Rozenman, son of Elana and Zvi Rozenman, danced non-stop for several hours - and he had good reason. It was the night of his wedding to Chaya Libi Hagans, daughter of Sara and the late Avraham Hagans.
Their relatives and friends were so happy for them that one of them even blew a long, curly, Yemenite-style shofar under the bridal canopy. Between them, the young couple and their parents move in many diverse circles, so the guest list included hippies and conservatives, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, haredim, moderately religious and non-religious, right-wing and left-wing, Jews, Christians and Muslims, Peace Corps alumni, people of African, Asian and European ethnicity - and then some.
The officiating rabbi was Yosef Hadane, chief rabbi of Israel's Ethiopian community.
"It's like Meshiach times," the ecstatic mother of the groom exclaimed. The bride, who was born in the capital's Sanhedria neighborhood, is the daughter of Afro-Americans who were brought into Judaism by the late Rabbi Eli Haim Carlebach, twin brother of the singing rabbi, the late Shlomo Carlebach, whose music was very much part of the wedding festivities.
In fact, the bride is named after Chaya Libi Pessya Carlebach, the mother of Eli Haim and Shlomo.
Though males and females were separated from each other during the dancing, the multi-religious, multi-ethnic ambience prevailed on both sides of the dividing screen. Many of the guests had been with the Rozenman family during the agonizing period in which Noam's life hung in the balance - and they were pleased to be able to celebrate his wedding and witness the extent of his recovery.
THE DIVORCE of entertainment personality Tzvika Hadar from his wife Kochavit has for months been fodder for the gossip columnists, especially those who wanted to prick the balloon of Hadar's "good guy" image. Hadar has been a somewhat over-exposed guest in the nation's living rooms via screenings, promos and reruns of A Star is Born and Born to Dance - from which he is obviously earning big bucks, if the amicable divorce agreement he reached with his ex is any indicator. Kochavit Hadar will keep the family's luxury villa in Tel Baruch, in addition to a monthly alimony of NIS 40,000. And of course, no one knows just how much Zvika Hadar, who's a devoted Dad, will spend on his kids when it's his turn to pick them up from school and take them out for the rest of the day.
LIKUD Knesset member Inbal Gavrieli, who had a really tough time proving that she was a serious politician, has put her wedding plans on hold until after the elections and is fighting to retain her Knesset seat. Given Likud's low rating in the polls, and her own low rating in a pre-primaries survey commissioned by Likud, it's doubtful that she'll get a Knesset encore, but the consolation prize is Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer player Liran Stauber. After their romance went through a stormy patch, the couple kissed, made up and decided they were definitely made for each other.
WHILE MANY observant Jews in England and other parts of Europe are now wary of wearing a kippa in the street lest they be attacked by Muslim extremists, Israel's Russian-born, Haifa-bred undefeated heavyweight boxer Roman Greenberg, who is currently living in London, makes a point of sporting a very large Star of David on his boxing trunks. Given his record, not too many people would want to mess with him.
But Greenberg is not the first boxing champion to adorn his trunks in this manner. In 1933, Nebraska-born Max Baer, son of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, wore trunks emblazoned with a Star of David when he fought and defeated European champion Max Schmeling, erroneously regarded as the boxing representative of the Nazi party. Even though he hobnobbed with the Nazi elite, including Hitler and Goebbels, Schmeling steadfastly refused to join the party - something for which Hitler never forgave him.
Schmeling, who died a year ago at age 99, actually saved two Jewish boys during Kristallnacht. He hid Henry and Werner Lewin in his apartment at the Excelsior Hotel in Berlin. The desk clerk was told that Schmeling was ill and could not receive visitors. Schmeling later helped the boys leave Germany and they wound up in the United States, where Henry Lewin became a prominent hotel owner. Following his defeat by Joe Lewis, Schmeling fell out of favor with Hitler, was drafted into the German army and sent on suicide missions to the front.
Although he would have benefited after the war from talking about what he did for the Lewin boys, he remained silent, and it was only after they tracked him down and invited him to Las Vegas in 1989 that the story became public.
JEWELRY AND clothing designer Michal Negrin, who has inspired copycats around the world but continues to stand out with her signature style, is favored by celebrities at home and abroad. Britney Spears, whose 16-month marriage to Kevin Federline is reportedly far from rosy, consoled herself last month with a $30,000 purchase from Negrin's Manhattan store. Other headline names appearing on Negrin's client list include Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman and Jane Seymour. Among the local aficionados for the romantic, eye-catching designs of the ex-kibbutznik who inter alia is a grand-niece of Israel's founding premier, David Ben-Gurion, is Ruthie Blum, Jerusalem Post columnist and features editor. Blum feels undressed if she's not wearing one of her many pairs of Michal Negrin dangling earrings - and more often than not she also wears a Michal Negrin necklace to match.