Grapevine: Kobi Oz sings ‘mama loshen’

Yiddish everywhere, a women-only concert raises funds for the families of Carmel fire victims, a Lebanese conductor’s Jaffa leanings, and three good girls go to the air force.

GIVEN HIS background, musical and otherwise, it comes as something of a surprise to learn that Kobi Oz has performed in Yiddish. It was a guest appearance with the Trio Carpion – Avishai Fisz, accordion and vocals, Gershon Waiserfirer, baritone and oud, and Daniel Hoffman, violin – who tonight are celebrating the release of their CD, Trio Carpion at the Black Sea. The trio invited Oz to join them in singing his Eurovision song “Push the Button,” which Fisz translated into Yiddish. The Yiddish version is on the CD.
The Trio Carpion has just returned from its second successful European tour. The band’s repertoire is based on Eastern European Jewish folksongs, Romanian love ballads, a little Greek, Turkish and, of course, some Hebrew. The CD will be released at their concert, which begins at 9 p.m. at the Inbal Center in Tel Aviv.
■ AMONG OTHER goodies for Yiddish aficionados is Yiddish a Mechayeh, the title of the annual Yiddish Festival at the Dead Sea to be held at the Leonardo Club Hotel, January 23-26. It will include stand-up comedy, satire, storytelling, movies, community singing, klezmer concerts, lectures and dramatic performances by the stalwarts of Yiddish theater, folklore and culture, such as Ya’acov Budo, Gadi Yagil, Mendy Cahan, Paulina Belilovsky, Yisrael Yitzhaki, Yoni Eilat, Shaul Meizlish, Shmuel Heilman and Aharon Efroni. The event will include highlights from 60 years of Yiddish theater here.
Even before then, there is an opportunity to delve into the nostalgia of Yiddish songs, enjoy the aroma of delicacies from grandma’s kitchen and hear culinary tales about the secrets of our grandmothers and great grandmothers. The event in question will take place at Beit Sholem Aleichem, 4 Rehov Berkowitz, Tel Aviv, at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday, January 13. Food tastings will be conducted by chef and food researcher Shmil Holland, who will share his culinary anecdotes in Hebrew.
Meanwhile, for Yiddish lovers in Netanya, tonight is the night for “Our Tune, Their Song,” presented by Mendy Cahan and Paulina Belilovsky at the David Chess Center, 12 Rehov Tchernikovsky.
■ HUMAN RIGHTS activist and former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, who owns a house in Jerusalem and is an increasingly frequent visitor, also likes to listen to other lecturers.
Cotler showed up at Beit Avi Chai last week to hear noted historian Sir Martin Gilbert address the Israel Branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England.
There had been minimal advertising, but the auditorium was packed well before starting time. Even though it was not a Beit Avi Chai event per se, its staff knocked themselves out trying to make sure that all those who came got a seat.
The first two rows were reserved for special guests and those who were there at Sir Martin’s invitation.
Several who didn’t fall into either category took the reserved seats anyway.
Thus when Cotler arrived, there was no seat available. The matter was sorted out by one of the organizers, and Cotler characteristically made no fuss.
A few nights later he was at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue to listen to Jonathan Spyer talk about Islamization and Israel. Here, Cotler was warmly welcomed by synagogue chairman Asher Shapiro.
Back to Sir Martin: Amazing as it sounded, he said that it was the first time that he had addressed the JHS either in Britain or here. It should be noted that the JHS was founded in 1893, and that a great deal of Sir Martin’s research has to do with Jewish Britain and Britain’s relations with Israel before and since the founding of the state. Actually, when all’s said and done, WikiLeaks may come in second in competing with Sir Martin on revelations of historic and political significance. His historical review of the period from just before the Balfour Declaration to the creation of the state, with quotes from various documents he had found, was both illuminating and riveting.
■ FOR ALL the anti-Israel sentiment emanating from Turkey, there are also positive aspects, such as the visit by a group of senior Turkish journalists who, as guests of the Jewish National Fund, went to the Carmel and planted new trees. JNF chairman Efi Stenzler sees this as a continuation of the assistance provided by Turkey in putting out the raging fires which destroyed so much of the forest.
For the Turkish visitors there was special symbolism in the tree planting ceremony: It was conducted in the Ataturk Forest named for Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey.
■ AT THE other end of the country, but not on the same day, Stenzler welcomed shopping mall developer and philanthropist David Azrieli and his daughter Dana, who attended the cornerstone laying for the urban Azrieli park in Sderot, in the vicinity of the Sderot Cinematheque.
Also on hand to celebrate the occasion was Mayor David Buskila.
■ HONORARY PRESIDENT of World WIZO Raya Jaglom has a granddaughter studying in New York, who came home for a brief vacation. When Jaglom asked what she could buy her as a New Year’s gift, she replied: “Trees for the Carmel Forest.” Jaglom was thrilled to see that she has inherited her Zionist genes. The fact that the young woman preferred to divert her gift to Israel prompted Jaglom to buy a hundred trees in her name.
■ WHILE MANY people are making strenuous efforts to rehabilitate the Carmel Forest, others are focused on the grieving families of the 44 people who perished in the fires. Among those who are raising money for these families are the Chesed Fund of Baltimore, Maryland, Staiman Media Israel and the Israel Region of the International Young Israel Movement, which all joined forces for a women only benefit concert for the bereaved families at Jerusalem’s Heichal Shlomo.
The concert featured Ayalat Hashachar, a three-member internationally acclaimed women’s band from Baltimore. The band, which came here to perform in a voluntary capacity, was able to do this thanks to the generosity of Frank and Danielle Sarah Storch of the Chesed Fund.
The bereaved families have also been adopted by the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization, whose chairwoman Nava Shoham Solan movingly related how a person’s life can change completely with a knock on the door.
Rebbetzin Mimi Jankovitz of the Ahavas Yisrael organization spoke of the importance of turning negative feelings around and letting them go. The world is full of needless hatred and resentment, she said, and rather than let those feelings fester and break up friendships, it was more important to focus on the relationship.
Ayelet Hashachar has a keen following here. Its bewigged members, Lisa Aronson Friedman, Shalomis Koffler Weinreb and Stephanie Rabinowitz, are all trained, professional musicians who did not always lead a Torah observant lifestyle. Friedman, on keyboard and vocals, is a classically trained pianist; Weinreb, on guitar, percussion and vocals, is also a composer and has been a professional musician all her adult life; and Rabinowitz, vocals and guitar, worked in theater in New York City and Baltimore. The trio teamed up about a decade ago. They perform their own music to verses from Psalms and various biblical passages.
■ NOT EVERY woman who wears a wig is religious. Some wear them due to loss of hair when undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from illnesses other than cancer.
Eli Cohen, one of the country’s leading wig makers, was just a regular hairdresser when a female relative began to suffer from serious hair loss. In response, he began to study how to implant hair and to weave hair pieces into natural hair. It was inevitable that he would move on to wig making.
But it’s not all business for him. Once a week, he leaves his Ramat Gan salon and visits cancer patients at Ichilov Hospital, where he gives his services gratis. He is also a member of One in Nine and other organizations dedicated to women with cancer. Since opening his Jerusalem salon some years back, he has also done for cancer patients at Shaare Zedek what he does at Ichilov, and has joined Tishkofet, which helps people cope with life-threatening illnesses.
At a brunch at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel last week, Cohen used professional models to show off his latest wigs. Among the women sitting at the tables were some who wear wigs for religious reasons and some for medical reasons. Also on hand were Esther Ben-Dayan and Alyn Smadja, who run his Jerusalem salon at the King Solomon Hotel and style wigs to suit the wearer. Cohen’s empathy is not reserved solely for cancer patients.
Among the employees at his Ramat Gan salon are two with disabilities who are treated like everyone else on staff and receive full wages. Cohen’s philosophy is that the world will be a better place if everyone tries to make the people around them feel good.
■ WHAT MAKES a citizen of the world? If it depends on the number of places he calls home, the appellation would definitely apply to Lebanese Armenian conductor George Pehlivanian, who for 20 years has been coming here on an almost annual basis and plans to buy an apartment on Jaffa’s Andromeda Hill so that he can look out on both the old city and the sea. When he’s not living in Jaffa, he lives in Los Angeles, Lublijana or Paris. Currently he’s in Jaffa, gazing out, whenever time permits, at his beloved Mediterranean.
He’s traveled extensively to conduct some of the world’s major orchestras, but says that he feels entirely at home here.
In some respects it even reminds him of Beirut, where he hasn’t lived for a very long time. In the course of his frequent visits, Pehlivanian has made some very close friends and delights in each reunion. The first time that he came, it was to conduct the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
■ LEADING BUSINESSMAN Dov Lautman, though confined to a wheelchair and almost totally paralyzed by ALS, does not let anything stop him from getting around. He attends concerts, plays, conferences and private parties, and this week was at the Tel Aviv Hilton to attend the dinner of the University of Haifa’s Business Leaders Forum, which presented him with an award in recognition of his notable contribution to the enhancement of the country’s image and prestige.
Lautman, who is an Israel Prize laureate, added this latest award to his many trophies.
The founder of Delta Galil Industries, Lautman was actively engaged in many public and volunteer activities and made an enormous contribution toward the advancement of education and cultural diversity.
■ LESS THAN a month after the Tel Aviv Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 90th anniversary, now comes the turn of the Manufacturers Association, which will celebrate its 90th on January 13 at the Tel Aviv Hilton with the participation of its president, Shraga Brosh, and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.
The 11 new members on the 21-member executive of the Tel Aviv Chamber of Commerce participated in their first meeting this week. Among them were Arye Zeif, Reuven Schlissel and Oren Shachor, who come not only with extensive business experience, but have also been active in the MA and in the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.
■ TORAH SCROLLS have been donated by different individuals and organizations to various IDF units and bases, and while at least one or two senior officers are present at Torah dedication ceremonies, it is rare for the chief of General Staff to be one of them. Last week it was different because the scroll presented to the Rabin Camp was dedicated to the well-being of all IDF soldiers, particularly those kidnapped or missing in action. The nature of the dedication was reason in itself for Gabi Ashkenazi to attend the ceremony and to participate in the writing of the final letters in the scroll. Celebrity Rabbi Ya’acov Ifergen, otherwise known as the X Ray, was also present.
■ THEIR SURNAMES remain classified, but Stav, Danielle and Noa are three female flyers who received their wings last week at the Hatzerim Air Force Base near Beersheba. The graduation ceremony of the 161st IAF pilot course was attended by President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan. Because this was Ashkenazi’s final IAF graduation ceremony before he leaves office next month, the young pilots paid tribute to him by spelling out his name in the parade formation.
Peres expressed pride that there were three women among the graduates.
“Who knows?” he said to the men.
“Maybe they’ll be better than you are.”
Borrowing from a chauvinistic quip by the country’s seventh president, Ezer Weizman, who said: “The good boys to the air force, the good girls to the pilots,” Peres commented: “Now we can say the good girls to the air force.” One of the women is a fighter pilot, another a navigator and the third a helicopter pilot.
They’ve come a long way since South African immigrant Alice Miller asked Weizman, a former air force head, to help her get into the pilot’s course. Weizman famously and outrageously told her to go and knit socks. Miller subsequently petitioned the High Court of Justice and won her case, but was unable to do the course because she failed her medical test. However, the landmark judicial ruling paved the way for Lt. Roni Zuckerman of Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot to receive her wings in 2001 and become a fighter pilot. Zuckerman is the granddaughter of Warsaw Ghetto fighters Zvia Lubetkin and Yitzhak Zuckerman, better known as Antek. The first woman pilot in the IAF, Yael Rom of Haifa, received her wings in 1951, but after that the course was closed to women for more than 40 years because it was decided by the powers-that-be that they were too fragile.
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