Two interesting book launches are coming up in Jerusalem and Herzliya in the near future, and they are literally worlds apart from each other in concept and content. The first, in the late morning of Friday, August 25, is yet another item of whimsy from the ever-creative mind of Barbara Shaw, who is best known for her giftwear and giftware, much of which has pithy expressions in Yiddish, to the great amusement of those who have even a smattering of Mamaloshen. Now she’s come up with a somewhat different idea, under the title of My Jerusalem Book, a unique illustrated book on Jerusalem, which she describes as her “latest labor of love.” The book is a travel diary, activity book and city guide all in one.
It is a new concept for a book on Jerusalem and a new, exciting adventure for Shaw. The innovative illustrations are the work of Bezalel graduate Shlomi Gorodesky.
The book will be of equal interest to both adults and children. In addition to the illustrations, it contains enjoyable to-do lists and fascinating facts about the city. There is also provision for one’s own stories, drawings and souvenirs, as well as comments, notes and tips from friends.
■ THE SECOND book launch, on September 5 at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, is a must for Hebrew-speakers with a zest for politics. Written by Prof. Dan Koren and Hilik Gutman, it has the tantalizing title The Governments of Israel: Their Wise and Stupid Decisions. Moreover, speakers will include ministers in former governments, among them Yossi Beilin, Isaac Herzog, Dan Meridor and Gideon Sa’ar, who were all cabinet secretaries before becoming ministers themselves.
In addition to the above and the two authors, other speakers will be former Supreme Court judge Elyakim Rubinstein, whose previous positions included that of attorney-general, and Prof. Boaz Ganor, the dean of IDC’s Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy.
It will be interesting to see if any members of the present administration will come to listen and learn. Koren is an expert on political science and public policy, and Gutman is a well-known Jerusalem-based lawyer, who contributes regularly to the print media and who has also dabbled in television dramas.
■ FEW PEOPLE have as great an influence on the Jewish world as Lynn Schusterman, who together with her late husband, Charles, established the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, which works collaboratively with other enterprises to support and operate high-quality education, identity development, leadership training and service programs designed to help young people cultivate their growth as individuals and as leaders.
The Schusterman Foundation’s work emphasizes efforts to improve public education in the United States, strengthen the global Jewish community and Israel, and enhance the quality of life in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is the hometown of the Schusterman family. The foundation, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, has offices in Tulsa, Washington, Atlanta, San Francisco and Jerusalem.
Among its many programs is the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists Program, which will bring 13 prominent Israeli artists for residencies at top universities across the United States for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Among the artists are director, writer, and co-creator of the hit HBO TV series In Treatment Nir Bergman, who will team-teach with award-winning documentary filmmaker David Ofek; Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Tamar Kay, whose The Mute’s House won international acclaim; and choreographer Roy Assaf, whose company will perform at New York’s Baryshnikov Arts Center during his tenure.
The Visiting Artists Program, which brings Israeli filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, writers and visual artists to leading universities and other cultural organizations in North America, is an initiative of the Israel Institute in Washington, DC.
Since its inception in 1983, the program has supported 83 residencies at colleges and universities across North America. To date, 93 artists have participated, among them a recipient of the Israel Prize; an Emmy nominee; numerous recipients of Israel’s highest literary awards; and many winners of multiple prestigious Israeli prizes, says Marge Goldwater, the program’s director.
In addition to the above-mentioned artists for the upcoming academic year, the list includes: theater artist Ati Citron, who directs the sign language laboratory at the University of Haifa; dancer Omri Drumlevich, who is a member of the Batsheva Dance Company; Victoria Hanna, who blends Middle Eastern music with rap and hip-hop; choreographer Ronit Ziv; filmmaker Or Sinai; composer Hana Ajiashvili; choreographer Rachel Erdos; author Ayelet Gundar- Goshen; and actor Roy Horovitz.
■ EVERY MEDICAL center has supporters who mostly give of their money, but some also give of their talents. Guy Cohen does something else. He swims to draw attention to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center in its quest to find a cure for Sudden Cardiac Death. He has a special reason. His six-yearold daughter Netta died from a sudden and unexplained cardiac incident on her first day at school in first grade. What should have been an exciting day for the Cohen family became a day of grief that Cohen does not want any other family to experience.
Last month Cohen participated in the third annual 20 Bridges Swim, a marathon eighthour swim around Manhattan. Cohen was sponsored by the American Friends of the Rambam Medical Center, whose national executive director, Richard S. Hirschhaut, said of him: “Guy Cohen personifies the unrelenting spirit of Rambam Medical Center to pursue scientific knowledge to help save lives. Having overcome great personal tragedy, Guy has channeled his energies toward the challenge of finding the cause and cure for Sudden Cardiac Death. As the inspiration for Rambam’s annual Swim from the Heart event, Guy’s efforts already have helped to fund breakthrough medical research. He is a true ambassador of healing and hope.”
Cohen says that if he could have prevented Netta’s death, he would have been willing to swim around the world. He has forged a unique relationship with Rambam, he says, because he knows that Rambam is doing “extraordinary work” in its quest to save children’s lives.
■ JUST PRIOR to this coming Rosh Hashana, Prof. Zvi Arad, the founding president of Netanya Academic College, will retire.
Actually, Arad, 75, a distinguished mathematician, has had a very good innings, considering that even judges have to step down at age 70.
Before founding the college in 1994 at the requests of Netanya mayors Yoel Alroy and Zvi Poleg, Arad held a number of academic positions. A graduate of Bar-Ilan University, he became a member of the BIU academic staff in 1968. During the late 1970s, he was a visiting scientist at the University of Chicago, and during the early 1980s was visiting professor at the University of Toronto. Over the years he held a variety of senior positions at BIU, including head of the mathematics and computer science department, dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, rector and president of the university. Together with Prof. Bernard Pinchuk he founded the Gelbart Institute, an international research institute named for well-known American mathematician Abe Gelbart, and the Emmy Noether Institute, better known as the Minerva Center for Academic Success.
Throughout his career, Arad has practiced academic diplomacy, initiating cooperation agreements with universities and other academic institutions in the former Soviet Union, the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, China and South Africa. In establishing the college, he was determined that it should become a greenhouse for ties between Israeli academics and those of other countries, particularly neighboring countries. He also dedicated himself to upgrading academic standards, not only at Netanya Academic College but also in the development of academic colleges in Safed, Ashkelon and the Jordan Valley.
■ MANY ISRAELI political activists, even those who are not on the left of the political spectrum, when they talk of the possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, almost unfailingly mention the possibility of a better future for the children of both sides.
Sometimes an aspect of that better future is so close that, unless one actually witnesses it, one doesn’t realize its significance.
At the Holon Cinematheque on August 8 and 29, The First Sea, a documentary by Austrian filmmaker Clara Trischler, illustrates the awe with which Palestinian children see the sea for the first time. Even though the sea is close to where they live, most have never been to the seaside. Trischler, who spent a year in the region, accompanied a group of Palestinian children and their mothers to the beach. The documentary looks at their world through children’s eyes. It has been shown at numerous international film festivals and has won several prizes.
■ AFRICAN-AMERICAN WRITER, the late Alex Haley’s book Roots, published 41 years ago, inspired millions of people around the globe to research their own family histories.
Projects of this kind also became classroom assignments, which often served as a generational bridge as children sought information from parents and grandparents. In this spirit, Beit Hatfutsot – the Museum of the Jewish People, 22 years ago, launched an annual international competition for roots and heritage stories under the title “My Family Story,” in memory of Manuel Hirsch Grosskopf, who was an Argentinean educator of Polish background.
This year’s competition encompassed 20,000 youth from 155 institutions in 28 countries. Altogether, there were 50 winners, two of whom met with Rivlin, who frequently tells the story of his own family, which came from Lithuania to Jerusalem in 1809, and proudly says that his grandchildren are ninth-generation Jerusalemites.
The two who met with the president in his office were Gabriel Yermiyahu Dessalenge, from Jerusalem, and Daniella Galicot, from San Diego. Dessalenge was very warmly greeted by members of the president’s staff and by the president himself. It just so happens that Gabriel’s mother has been working for years in the presidential archives, and some of the more veteran staff have known Gabriel since he was a tiny tot. He told the president about his great-great-grandfather who came to the Land of Israel from Ethiopia in the 19th century, which was exceptional in those days, as Ethiopian aliya did not begin in earnest till more than 100 years later.
Galicot came to Israel with her family to celebrate her brother’s bar mitzva. She told the president about her project, the Jewish holidays that appeal to her most, and the Jewish values that are part of her day-to-day life.