Grapevine: 100-plus

This week's social news.

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October 12, 2017 21:51
Frankfurt Mayor Uwe Becker, Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Isaccharoff, and journalist Claudia

Frankfurt Mayor Uwe Becker, Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Isaccharoff, and journalist Claudia Korenke. (photo credit: TWITTER)

It’s not every day that one gets to meet a female artist who makes no secret of her age, maybe because she’s lived such a long life.

Despite the increase in the number of people who are living longer, it’s still quite an achievement to pass the triple- digit line, which is what Polish-born Tova Berlinski has done. Now aged 102, she is having a retrospective exhibition of her art, though the gallery prefers to call it a tribute exhibition. It opens today, Friday at 10 a.m. at the Artspace Gallery, 5 Hatzfira Street, Jerusalem. Berlinski is scheduled to arrive at 12 noon and will spend an hour talking to people who come to see her art. The exhibition will remain on view on Saturday, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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Berlinski was born in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) in 1915, and immigrated to what was then Palestine in 1938, only two years before the Nazis established their largest concentration and extermination camp in her hometown. She was an actress with the Cameri Theater, and studied art at the Bezalel Academy. Her work has been shown at the Israel Museum, the Herzliya Museum of Art and in many group and solo exhibits in Israel and abroad. She was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 1963, and the Mordechai Ish-Shalom prize in 2000 in recognition of her life’s work and her unique contribution to art.

■ IN APPRECIATION of the generosity of Israeli-American businessman and philanthropist Yossi Peleg-Bilig, who has been particularly generous where Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue is concerned, the synagogue’s choir master, Elli Jaffe and his wife, Jacqueline, hosted a buffet luncheon for him last Saturday in the sukka in their apartment.

Fortunately, the balcony leads straight from the lounge-dining room, but the sukka was not large enough to accommodate the female guests – and even the males ate in rotation in the sukka because there were just too many people, in addition to which fresh platters of food kept appearing on the table.

Despite the hot weather, what needed replenishing most was the cholent. Yair Stern, CEO of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, which is one of many orchestras conducted by Jaffe, was one of only two men who came bareheaded, but nonetheless, albeit in jest, asked Jacqueline Jaffe if the spread was kosher.

Peleg-Bilig, who is on a frequent commute between the US and Israel, with homes in both countries, is a graduate of Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

He served for five years as the senior electronics engineer for the research center of the Israeli intelligence services and then served as the scientist for that department in the US. He worked at the Israeli consulate in New York, while continuing his studies for an MSc degree in electrical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

In 1977, Peleg-Bilig was awarded the Israel Defense Prize and was sent many times to Iran during a period when relations between Iran and Israel were very close, and was assigned to help Iran develop its technological defense capabilities.

Despite the fact that the two countries were so friendly toward each other, Peleg-Bilig had strong misgivings about sharing Israel’s know-how with a Muslim country. “What if they turn against us one day?” he asked Aharon Yariv, who was then information minister and one of Israel’s leading negotiators with representatives of the Arab world.

Yariv told him that Iran was supplying Israel with vital information about activities in the region, and therefore Israel had to reciprocate. Unfortunately, Peleg-Bilig’s concerns were not misplaced. He had been correct in his fears for the future, he told the assembled guests.

■ EVERY COUPLE of years there is an international conference of Jewish journalists in Jerusalem where most of the participants either edit or write for Jewish publications. However, on Sunday, October 15, there will be a Christian Media Summit at the Israel Museum, where participants will be addressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will also participate in a Q&A session.

■ BEING A political pundit is always dangerous because it is so easy to be wrong – especially in Israel where situations change so rapidly. Netanyahu will in the near future again be questioned with regard to the corruption cases in which he is suspected of being involved.

There are many Israelis who found him guilty even though none of the cases has yet been brought to court, and there are many others who believe that he is not guilty. It has already been determined by the legal authorities that some of the suspicions are unfounded, but even so, there are prophets of doom who are predicting the imminent demise of Netanyahu’s political career. For some years now, there have been suspicions about the prime minister and he has been subjected to lengthy interrogations – but so far he has proved to be a Teflon man. Nothing sticks.

Time will tell whether he will continue to be a Teflon man, but meanwhile Amit Segal, the chief political correspondent and commentator for Channel 2, will next week give a briefing on his take of Israel’s current political situation. The event will be held in the lounge of the Jerusalem Press Club on Tuesday, October 17, at 10 a.m. His briefing will touch on the investigations, along with possible scenarios in the event that the prime minister has outworn his Teflon, and will also relate to security issues, along with various other issues concerning politicians on both the Left and the Right. Segal also writes a weekly political column for Makor Rishon and hosts a weekly talk show on Army Radio.

He has law and political science degrees from the Hebrew University and University College of London.

■ ALSO TAKING place in the Jerusalem Press Club lounge is one of the sessions of the Naming the Sacred Conference, which will be co-hosted by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Elijah Interfaith Institute, UNITWIN Network in Global Pharmacy Education Development, and Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII (FSCIRE).

The session dealing with UNESCO resolutions on Israel will be held on Thursday, October 19, at 11 a.m. The main thrust will be the controversial resolution on Jerusalem.

In addition to Alexander Brakel, director of KAS Israel, speakers will include Steve Shankman, UNESCO Chair for Transcultural Studies, Interreligious Dialogue, and Peace, University of Oregon; Paul Morris, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; Alon Goshen- Gottstein, conference co-organizer, Elijah Interfaith Institute, Jerusalem; and Alberto Melloni, conference co-organizer, FSCIRE, Bologna.

Anyone wishing to attend one or both of these events should register not later than this coming Sunday at the following email address: info@ jerusalempressclub.com

It is also advisable to check on the morning of the event whether there have been changes. Sometimes an event is postponed or canceled, and this is very frustrating for people making the effort to attend, if they have not been notified in advance.

■ PREDICTIONS THAT traditional libraries would become obsolete in a digital era, as people increasingly read e-books on Kindle and other devices seem to be premature. The allure of the printed page has not yet disappeared, nor has the desire to have the writer of a book affix his or her signature plus a few words of dedication to the purchaser.

Thus, in recent weeks, there has been a glut of book launches by authors living in Israel. In addition to books by Hebrew writers, there have been quite a few in English, Russian, French and other languages. Coming up on Thursday, October 19, at 7:30 p.m. at AACI headquarters, 37 Pierre Koenig, Poale Zedek, Jerusalem, is Brian Blum’s new book, Totaled, which tells the story of the rise and fall of Better Place, suffering a billion-dollar crash after its founder and onetime wunderkind, Shai Agassi, whose battery-operated electric cars could guarantee that there would be no carbon emissions to pollute the air, discovered that he was ahead of his time and that Israel was not ready for him. Moreover, he couldn’t fight Big Auto and Big Oil.

■ TURKISH AMBASSADOR Kemal Okem has a very busy time ahead of him. On October 29, he will be hosting a reception marking the 94th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, and on October 31, he will be attending the mega event marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba. The Turkish national day reception has always been a huge affair, with, at its peak, somewhere in the range of a thousand guests who were easily accommodated on the back lawn of the Turkish residence. This will be Okem’s first Turkish national day reception since presenting his credentials in December 2016.

As important as this event is, there is in a sense greater significance in the event on the last day of the month, because it demonstrates the ability of the victors to honor the vanquished, and of former enemies to become friends. On December 31, the Ottoman forces were defeated by the Australian and New Zealand Light Horse Regiments. Nonetheless, Australia and New Zealand have made their peace with Turkey and established friendly diplomatic relations, which soured somewhat in June of this year when the Turkish government defaced and partially destroyed an Anzac monument to the Australian and New Zealand forces who were decimated by the strategically placed members of the Ottoman Army shortly after their ill-fated landing in Gallipoli.

The text inscribed on the monument in Anzac Cove is believed to have been written by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of the Turkish Republic. The original text, which can also be found on monuments in Australia and New Zealand read: ‘Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives – you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets. You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.

After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.

Following objections from both Australia and New Zealand, Turkey undertook to restore the monument, but with an amendment to the text.

■ ISRAEL’S MAN in Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, though stationed in Berlin, is gradually getting to know leading figures in other parts of the country, and was recently in Frankfurt to meet with the city’s mayor and treasurer Uwe Becker and journalist and public relations consultant Claudia Korenke, who he says, are “great friends of Israel from a great city.”

Jews have lived in Frankfurt longer than anywhere else in Germany, with a history of close to 900 years. The Jewish Museum in Frankfurt is the oldest independent Jewish Museum in Germany, and was opened on November 9, 1988, by then-chancellor Helmut Kohl to mark the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, which was the precursor to the Holocaust.

greerfc@gmail.com


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