Grapevine: Bye-bye Shuki Zikri, hello Marcel Reboh

At end of last year, his clients were shocked to learn that hairdresser Shuki Zikri, and brother, Mike, had flown the coop.

HAIRDRESSER MARCEL Reboh with Paris Hilton (photo credit: Refael Reboh)
HAIRDRESSER MARCEL Reboh with Paris Hilton
(photo credit: Refael Reboh)
Toward the end of last year, his clients were shocked to learn that celebrity hairdresser Shuki Zikri and his brother, Mike, had flown the coop. Zikri had gotten in over his head financially, and the debts kept piling up till they reached something in the realm of NIS 10 million, much of which was owed to the grey market. Fearful after receiving threats to his life, Zikri and his brother fled to the United States and headquartered themselves in Miami.
Meanwhile, brothers Marcel and Gabriel Reboh who, together with a large number of their siblings and their parents, left Israel after the Six Day War in which another brother, Eli, who was a soldier in the Engineering Corps, was killed, came from Miami to Israel as the first members of their family to return home.
Just as the Zikri brothers had set up a chain of top-notch hairdressing salons across Israel, so the Reboh siblings, starting in 1978 in Montreal, had set up a chain of luxury hairdressing salons under the name of Femme Coiffure in Canada and the US. Each of the many siblings took charge of a different salon. Between them they had studied at leading hairdressing academies and salons in London, Paris, Milan and New York, in addition to which whenever one of them learned or developed something new, it was shared with all the other siblings to ensure that the high standards they had set for themselves were maintained. Now two of them are back in Israel and are getting ready to open salons in Mamilla in Jerusalem and in either Dizengoff or Hayarkon Streets in Tel Aviv.
They haven’t come to take anything away from anyone else. “Israel has excellent hairdressers and we just want to enhance the profession,” said Gabriel as he and Marcel sat in the coffee lounge of one of Jerusalem’s major hotels. In fact, he thinks that all Israeli hairdressers who have made the big-time abroad should come home to help make Israel the beauty capital of the world.
Why do the Reboh brothers need to be in Israel if their family-run business is so successful abroad? Because both Marcel and Gabriel have become more religiously observant over the years, a factor that prompted them to return to the Jewish homeland.
When their father died in Montreal, they brought him to Jerusalem for burial. Their brother, Eli, is buried in the military cemetery on Mount Herzl.. When Eli died, he had three other brothers in the army. Their mother could not bear the fear of losing another son, which is why the family, who initially came to Israel from Morocco in 1962, moved to Canada. “We got strong in North America and now we want to share what know,” said Gabriel.
Talent is an important component of success, but luck also plays a significant role.
Marcel Reboh candidly admits that he owes a large part of his success to American television personality Barbara Walters.
The famous broadcast journalist was in Canada to deliver a speech at an important event and needed to have her hair done. Someone recommended that she go to Reboh’s salon and she was so pleased with the result that she began to send her friends to him. Many of her friends were no less famous, and they in turn sent other friends who were equally famous. Some of them actually flew him from Montreal to New York, Los Angeles and Miami because they specifically wanted him to style their hair.
Sarah Ferguson, the former daughter-in-law of the queen of England, actually flew him to London.
Thus Marcel Reboh became the hairdresser to the stars, the rich and the famous. Like Shuki Zikri in Israel, he took care of the hairdressing needs of topline fashion models, film stars and socialites. Reboh’s clients have included Paris Hilton, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, Sophia Loren, Lauren Bacall, Joan Rivers, Candice Bergen, Mary Tyler Moore, Uma Thurman, Claudia Schiffer and Ivana Trump, just to name a few. And he has plenty of photographs as proof.
Despite their close relationship with people whose names are so frequently in the news, the Reboh brothers are surprisingly modest and soft-spoken.
They believe there is enormous potential in Israel that is not necessarily related to hi-tech, and they want to contribute to it by training talented young Israelis who will work in their salons. They also want to help cancer patients who suffer not only from illness but from loss of image due to hair loss that often results from chemotherapy.
Their initial experiences in Israel while searching for suitable locations for their premises have been extremely positive.
“Everyone has been so helpful,” the brothers said several times. “People in Israel are just so nice.”
■ TALKING OF nice, unlike most other soldiers of the IDF who were taken prisoner and spent a long time in captivity, Gilad Schalit has not faded into obscurity. People who were in any way involved in trying to secure his freedom continue to demonstrate how much they care, especially when it comes to basketball, his favorite sport. An avid Maccabi Tel Aviv fan, he was among the spectators at the Euroleague match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Barcelona in January and got to meet some of Maccabi’s players. In February, thanks to a generous gift that emanated from Jerusalem, he went to Orlando to watch the NBA All Stars and got to meet Omri Casspi, who was just as excited to meet Schalit as Schalit was to meet the famous hoopster. This past weekend, Schalit stopped being a spectator and became a player when Tal Brody, arguably the most famous name in the annals of Israeli basketball, brought a group of Maccabi Tel Aviv veterans to Mitzpe Hila, where Schalit lives, to play against a Mitzpe Hila team that included Schalit, who was very excited to meet some of his heroes, including Doron Jamchy, who gave him a big hug. Brody, 68, didn’t play.
Instead he took the role of referee. Schalit scored four points in a game that ended in a 43-43 tie, and each time he scored a basket, the crowd roared with delight.
■ STORIES ABOUND with regard to Jewish volunteers from Palestine who fought alongside the British in World War Two, but we are far less familiar with stories of Jewish volunteers from Palestine who fought in the Spanish Civil War. Visitors to the Eretz Israel Museum over the next few weeks have an opportunity to learn a little more about this chapter in the lives of the people in the pre-state yishuv when they view the exhibition “From here to Madrid,” which officially opens on Thursday, May 17 with the participation of Israel’s fifth president, Yitzhak Navon, Spanish Ambassador Alvaro Iranzo, museum chairman Dov Tamari and museum director-general Ilan Cohen.
The exhibition is part of a multi-national cultural smorgasbord that is currently sweeping across Israel. While it is par for the course for Japan and Korea – which are this year celebrating the respective 60th and 50th anniversaries of their diplomatic ties with Israel – to host numerous cultural events and a variety of conferences and symposia, and for India and China – which are each celebrating the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Israel – to do the same, heads of other embassies whose countries have no milestones to mark this year vis-a-vis Israel are increasingly getting in on the act.
This week saw the opening at the Bauhaus Center in Tel Aviv of a Czech Exhibition on the conservation and renovation of the Villa Tigendhat in Brno by Ivan Wahla and Tomas Rusin, which was accompanied by a lecture by Zdenek Lukes. The French Institute, supported by the French embassy, hosts an incredible volume and variety of cultural events in all spheres of the arts.
Various embassies are taking advantage of Agrotech to host cocktail receptions and luncheons as backdrops for seminars that will promote the agricultural products of their countries.
Australian Ambassador Andrea Faulkner this week hosted a performance of the Bridge Project with artists Ittai Shaked of Israel, Andy Busutti of Australia and Umit Ceyhan of Turkey together with guest artists Shlomo Bar and Ilan Ben Ami, who have long been building musical bridges.
Cyprus Ambassador Dimtris Hayzyargyrou will attend a festive musical show, “From Cyprus with Love,” which will be performed in Israel one night only in Tel Aviv on May 23. The show features 55 members of the Diastasis Cypriot musical group, comprising choir, musicians and dancers plus soloist Kostas Hadjichristodoulou, who is one of the most popular singers in his country, along with renowned Cypriot director and composer Vasos Argyrides.
■ ON THE other hand, the multi-national Diplomatic Spouses Club focuses on learning more about Israel and supporting worthwhile projects, especially those that are based on coexistence. The Israel branch of club is currently focused on the Mifneh project at the Multicultural Center for the Arts in the Jezreel Valley, where talented Jewish and Arab youngsters learn from an early age how to live in harmony in more ways than one.
The project is the brainchild of Zubin Mehta. The center reaches out to some 3,500 students who are members of performing orchestras, choirs and dance troupes. The center is supported by Mehta, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Tel Aviv University, the Arab Israel Bank, Bank Leumi and other generous donors who believe in the power of music as an effective tool in the promotion of peace. The youngsters perform together throughout Israel and around the world, and prove through their harmonious relationship that coexistence is possible and peace is attainable. Their concert at the Weil Auditorium in Kfar Shmaryahu last week featuring the Shani Girls Choir, the Lauda Ensemble and the String Orchestra was sold out, with diplomats joining their diplomatic spouses, among them US Ambassador Dan Shapiro. British Ambassador Matthew Gould was unable to attend, but his wife, Celia, was there. Also in the audience were Jezreel Valley Music Center director Uri Ben-David and outgoing Bank Leumi CEO Galia Maor, whose seven-digit severance package from the bank keeps growing. Toward the end of the evening, when an Arab and a Jewish singer got together for a duet and sang “Imagine,” which has become a quasi-anthem for coexistence and peace, there was hardly a dry eye in the house.
■ THE NATION’S top pop stars are known for the many benefit concerts they give for a variety of good causes. Now it’s the turn of the golfers who, in cooperation with Ezra Lamarpe founding director Rabbi Elimelech Firer, are organizing a super fund-raising tournament at the Caesarea Golf Club on Monday, May 21 in support of autistic youth. Among the players who have signed up are Reuma Weizman, the widow of Israel’s seventh president, who is a very enthusiastic golfer, former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former international soccer star Haim Revivo and philanthropist and businessman Eitan Wertheimer.
■ NUMEROUS ENGLISH SPEAKERS will gather at the Knesset on Thursday, May 17 for a pre-Jerusalem Day event organized by the English-speaking division of Am Shalem, the movement led by MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem.
Speakers will include Amsalem, Yishai Fleisher, Michael Freund, secular Hebrew University student leader Tal Bar-On, and popular religious-Zionist scholar Shani Taragin. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin may also attend, but chances are that he will prefer to address the gathering in Hebrew, although he’s quite capable of doing so in English.
■ THE INFLUENCE of Jews in prominent positions is something that fascinates the media, academics and, of course, anti-Semites. It would be interesting to conduct a poll among Jews and non- Jews as to who was the most influential Jew of all time. The answer is obvious – though not all Christians would be prepared to regard Jesus as Jewish, and certainly many Orthodox Jews would disclaim him. But in a more contemporary period it would appear that Albert Einstein is high on the list, given the amount of attention he still gets well over half a century after his death.
Einstein was one of the key topics at the Limmud FSU gathering at Princeton University this past weekend. Limmud FSU conferences are a form of outreach designed to bring young Jews who are living in or were born in the former Soviet Union closer to Jewish community life. Lectures and workshops conducted in Russian, English and Hebrew provide them with the opportunity to learn about a large range of Jewish subjects and to become involved in Jewish community activities. Jerusalem Post Editor- in-Chief Steve Linde attended the Princeton confab and, like other participants, wore a garish Einstein tie and didn’t remove it when other subjects such as Jewish philanthropy, the impact of the Iranian threat on Israel, the Arab Spring and its repercussions vis-à-vis Israel and the Israeli economy were being discussed.
■ DRAGON BOAT Israel (DBI) is a joint Canada-Israel initiative to introduce the sport of dragon boat racing to Israel, with the goal of bringing people to the northern region of Israel for an exciting, team-focused event that builds community, supports Israeli charities, fosters cultural awareness and promotes tourism. Supported by the Jewish Federation of Canada, Dragon Boat Israel will on May 17 and 18 have 40 teams participating in this first annual event at Ma’agan Holiday Resort in the Galilee.
Half the teams will be from Israel and the other half international. Of particular interest among the contestants are the special common denominator teams comprising 8 teams of breast cancer survivors, a team of blind paddlers from the Israel Guide Dog Center and 2 teams of victims of terror.
Nearly 1,000 paddlers from Canada, the US, Holland, Australia and Taiwan will be arriving in Israel to join the contest and tour the country.
Canadian Ambassador Paul Hunt will be on hand for the inaugural event, as will Dragon Boat Israel founder and chairwoman of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa Debbie Halton-Weiss, chair of the Upper Galilee Regional Council Aharon Valency and mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council Yossi Vardi.
■ AS THE long-term director of public relations at the Tel Aviv Hilton, Motti Verses has met an extraordinary collection of the human mosaic from many countries and many walks of life, but never before last week has the hotel been overrun by some 200 senior police officers from 49 countries who were in Israel to attend the 41st European Regional Conference of Interpol.
It was the first time that Israel had been chosen as the venue for the international organization of crime-busters, something that Israel’s Police Chief Yohanan Danino, who appeared in full dress uniform, said was a great honor both for the country and for the Israel Police Force. The work of Interpol transcends diplomacy to the extent that countries that do not have diplomatic relations with each other nonetheless cooperate on Interpol issues.
■ THE BOOK of Ecclesiastes, or Kohelet as it is known in Hebrew, tells us that there is nothing new under the sun and that what has been will be again and what has been done will be done again. In the intrigues and duplicity that have accompanied the drawn-out stops and starts in the peace process that aims to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we see a reflection of what led to the Balfour Declaration which, according to historian Prof. Jonathan Schneer of the Georgia Institute of Technology, almost missed out on making its historical impact. In his recent book, The Balfour Declaration, Schneer, formerly of Yale University and a visiting fellow at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, delves into the intrigues, betrayals and personalities behind the document that spurred the creation of the State of Israel and illustrates how it nearly didn’t happen.
At a meeting at the Weil Auditorium in Kfar Shmaryahu, co-hosted by ESRA (the English Speaking Residents Association) and IBCA (Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association), Schneer introduced his audience to the personalities of the day, not merely by name, but by projecting their faces onto a large screen as he talked about them and discussed the various strategies used by the British in their efforts to spread the power and influence of the Empire and to diminish that of the Turks in the Middle East in the face of Turkey’s alliance with Germany. Arabs and Jews alike were deliberately given false impressions and fed with vaguely-worded promises that left themselves open to polarized interpretations, depending on who was interpreting what.
Of course not all the British negotiators, politicians and military officers were villains.
Some were people of integrity.
Schneer quoted British Army officer T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, who wrote of the Arabs: “We are getting them to fight for us in a lie, and I can’t stand it.” The British also lied to each other to the extent that, according to Schneer, “The prime minister [David Lloyd George] was prepared to double-cross the Arabs, the Zionists and his own foreign secretary to gain a separate peace agreement with Turkey.”
Then again, the Zionists, including Chaim Weizmann, who many years later became the first president of Israel, were not exactly truthful either. Schneer believes that the Balfour Declaration came about as a result of Weizmann’s bluff. When all the usual anti-Semitic arguments about the powerful subterranean influence of Jews were put to Weizmann, instead of refuting them, he confirmed them. Convinced that the Jews were much more powerful than was actually the case, the British needed them on their side, and the clincher was the Balfour Declaration.
But long before that, the British had promised Grand Sharif Hussein a kingdom that he presumed included Palestine.
Subsequently when the Zionists began making headway with the British, they were given the impression that Palestine would be theirs.
So the British, who in a sense sowed the seeds of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, while currently urging a peace agreement, are still involved with the intrigues that are guaranteeing the continuity of the conflict.
Schneer was introduced to the audience by Viscount David Samuel, who said that he had found Schneer’s book to be fascinating. Former IBCA chairman Austen Science said that there was no one more appropriate than Samuel to perform the introduction.
Samuel is the grandson of Viscount Herbert Samuel, who as early as 1915 was a proponent for a home for the Jewish People in Palestine and who, in July 1920, became the first British high commissioner in Palestine, a position that he held for five years.
Samuel, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his grandfather, quoted an anecdote that his grandfather had related to him on more than one occasion. His grandfather had been sitting in the lounge of the House of Lords, where the peers of the realm went to read when speeches got too boring, when someone came up to him and said: “Herbert, something terrible has happened to me. I dreamt I was speaking in the House of Lords and woke up and found that I was.”
■ AFTER HE was filmed “losing it” with a Danish ISM activist who he struck in the face with his rifle, it seemed as though Lt.
Col. Shalom Eisner’s military career was over. In fact, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz made it very clear that there was room for such behavior in the IDF. A lot of people, both military and civilian, came to Eisner’s defense. Whether it was this or the knowledge that Eisner is a good soldier who has already made important contributions to the IDF and has more to make if given the chance, Gantz decided at the end of last week not to give him his marching orders but to appoint him as deputy-commander of the Tactical Training Center in Tzeilim. This is a demotion of sorts, but Eisner was permitted to retain his rank.
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