Grapevine: A function of dignity

IRINEOS I was stripped of his duties, yet is still recognized by Israeli authorities as the patriarch.

Irineos I 88 (photo credit: )
Irineos I 88
(photo credit: )
NOTWITHSTANDING THE fact that President Moshe Katsav was on a state visit to Greece last week, and that Greece recognizes Theophilos III as the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, his predecessor, Irineos I - who was ousted and stripped of his duties in May, 2005, following a scandal about the sale of church property to Jewish investors - continues to be recognized by the Israeli authorities as the patriarch. Theophilos, who was enthroned in November last year at a ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that was attended by Greek dignitaries, including the president of Greece, was slighted by Beit Hanassi last December, when the invitation to the president's traditional Chistmas-New Year reception for Christian clergy ignored his new title and addressed him merely as bishop. He boycotted the reception, but Irineos was there in full glory and was photographed in a tete-a-tete with Katsav. Irineos was back at Beit Hanassi on Monday morning as the representative of the Greek Orthodox Church in the line-up of dignitaries who had been invited to greet visiting Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga. He was warmly embraced by the president's military adjutant Brig. Gen. Shimon Hefetz, who kissed him on both cheeks. Needless to say, Theophilos, who has petitioned the Supreme Court for official recognition, was not there. REPRESENTING THE Knesset at the reception was Shas MK Nissim Dahan, the deputy speaker and former health minister. Dahan, who is not running for reelection, was at the top of the receiving line alongside Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and did not put out his hand to the Latvian president. Later, on the evening of the same day, at the state dinner for the Latvian president, guests filed past and shook her hand. Business tycoon Lev Leviev, who is a Chabadnik, kept his hands at his side, as did several other Orthodox male guests. Vike-Freiberga had obviously been primed that this would happen, and cleverly kept her hand in such a position as to not quite be stretched out, but to slide forward to shake hands with anyone who was ready to shake hands with her. WHEN HEADS of state are accompanied by their spouses on official visits, the spouse of the head of the host country that of the visitor retire to private quarters while the two dignitaries are engaged in closed-door talks. Usually, the dignitaries are men and the spouses women. This time it was a little different. While the president of Israel and the president of Latvia discussed global, regional and binational affairs, Gila Katsav, the wife of Israel's president, entertained Prof. Imants Freiberg, the husband of Latvia's president. GUESTS AT the state dinner in the evening included: diplomatic corps dean Cameroon Ambassador Henri Etoundi Essomba; the ambassadors of the Baltic countries; US Ambassador Richard Jones; British Ambassador Simon McDonald; Austrian Ambassador Kurt Hengl; Swedish Ambassador Robert Rydberg; Israel's first ambassador to Latvia, Tovah Herzl (who, only a few years prior to her appointment, had been the Beit Hanassi spokesperson); Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Mark Sofer (who heads the East-European desk); MK and former diplomat Colette Avital; Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer; banker, real estate developer, former MK and former Israel ambassador to the US, Zalman Shoval; former foreign minister Moshe Arens (who, the following day, chaired an event in which the Latvian president addressed the Israel Council on Foreign Relations); former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy; and Supreme Court President Aharon Barak and his wife, Justice Elisheva Barak, who heads the National Labor Court. ONE OTHER guest at the dinner who excited the attention of journalists who regularly cover events at Beit Hanassi was communications and public relations consultant Anat Shor, who is tipped to become the president's external communications adviser. Journalists discussed among themselves why such a position would be necessary when the president - who already receives considerable media coverage - has just over 15 months left of his seven-year term. The conclusion drawn was that the president (although he will not say so openly while still in office) wants to return to the political arena and possibly run for prime minister. STRAWBERRY FIELDS forever? As everyone knows, strawberries are in season. Official guests to Israel find strawberries in one form or another as part of almost every meal. When the Latvian delegation arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday night, there were huge platters of strawberries on a fruit and wine buffet which had been set up in the lobby of their hotel. Considering the number of times that the platters had to be replenished, the strawberries were obviously high quality and tasty. Inara Eihenbaums, the charming and gregarious wife of the Latvian ambassador, spoke very favorably about Israeli strawberries, and expressed the wish that instead of having to buy them in the supermarket or at a fruit stall, she would love to pick them herself. Eihenbaums, who grew up on a strawberry farm, knows a lot about strawberries, and she'd love to get to them at ground level. She also knows a lot about mushrooms. PRODUCT DESIGNER and curator Michael Marriott, along with illustrator David Hughes, will be among several British artists and designers joining Israelis (such as graphic designer Tal Drori, fashion designer Maya Negri and handbag designers Gal Feldman and Yael Rosen) at the 10th Shenkar Festi-Vital, a design happening focusing on many fields of design, that will be on view at the Tel Aviv Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, February 23 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Festi-Vital is being held in conjunction with the British Bi-Arts Council, and brings together leading Israeli and British designers to conduct workshops with Shenkar students, to give lectures in their respective fields and to present their works to the Israeli public. This year's Festi-Vital focuses on graphic design and its relationship to the wider design community. AFTER ALL the media hype about the replacement by teenager Esti Ginsburg of Fox model Yael Bar Zohar, who has led the company's sizzling advertising campaigns for the past four years, Israeli householders this week received their last Fox catalogue in which YBZ, cavorting in Brazil, is the star. She appears on the cover and inside in a variety of rather revealing outfits and on the face of a NIS50 Smart Card voucher. The matter of the provocative nature of such ads was raised at a press conference last year, when Fox and its advertising agency, Zarmon Goldman, presented the previous catalogue at a gala event in Tel Aviv. Zarmon Goldman specializes in sexy, often outrageous and deliberately jarring advertising to make people sit up and take notice. The bottom line is that if it's sexy it sells. Proof of the pudding is the Fox success story. A CENTENARY birthday is always a very special occasion, but more so when the rabbi who performed the wedding for the "birthday boy" and his bride can be reunited with them at the groom's 100th birthday. That's what happened when Henry Moskowitz, who owns the Prima chain of hotels in Israel, in addition to other properties in Jerusalem and New York, celebrated the end of his 10th decade. The festivities, naturally enough, were held in one of the hotels in the chain, the Prima Royale in Jerusalem. Among the many guests who came to congratulate Moskowitz and his wife, Rosa, was Rabbi Jerry Robbins, who, as a wartime chaplain in Germany, had officiated at the couple's wedding in Bad Neuheim in 1949. Other guests included the couple's three sons and a daughter, grandchildren, great grandchildren and other relatives from New York and Israel, along with Rabbis Shear Yashuv Cohen and Menachem Porush, Cantor Chaim Adler and Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky.