Grapevine: A date to remember

The significance of Feb. 26, a Bank Hapoalim art exhibit helps combat AIDS, Silvan Shalom awarded Italy’s Order of Merit.

Grapevine AIDS week 311 (photo credit: Sivan Farag)
Grapevine AIDS week 311
(photo credit: Sivan Farag)
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26, is an important date in the country’s history. It marks the 31st anniversary of the presentation of credentials by Saad Murtada, Egypt’s first ambassador, to president Yitzhak Navon, and by Eliahu Ben-Elissar, our first ambassador to Egypt to president Anwar Sadat.
The embassy in Cairo opened on February 18, 1980. Three days later, the first Egyptian diplomats arrived here to open the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv. On the day prior to the presentation of credentials, defense minister Kamal Hassan Ali arrived for a five day official visit as guest of the IDF and the Defense Ministry.
February 26 is also the date on which his family will mark the 83rd birthday of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for five years following a stroke. It is also the 54th birthday of former cabinet minister and MK Tzachi Hanegbi and the 65th birthday of celebrated author, playwright and satirist Ephraim Sidon.
■ IT’S AMAZING what a little notoriety can do. There is always a huge turnout for the annual mega art exhibition and sale hosted by the top brass of Bank Hapoalim to assist in the campaign to combat AIDS. The turnout last Friday morning was even more crowded than usual, because it followed on the heels of media reports that police had recommended charging the bank’s CEO Zion Keinan and former chairman Danny Dankner with corruption and breach of trust. If anyone expected Keinan to be hiding in a corner, he wasn’t.
He was on hand together with current chairman Yair Seroussi to meet and greet the hundreds of invitees, as were the bank’s controlling shareholder Shari Arison, who told reporters that the bank was sound and strong, and Efrat Peled, chairwoman and CEO of Arison Investments.
The message they collectively conveyed was one of business as usual.
Keinan has no intention of resigning and for the time being the bank’s board of directors is standing behind him. Judging by the hugs and kisses from the who’s who of opinion makers, as well as the business and socialite communities, no one is going to ostracize him before he has his day in court – if it ever comes to that. Meanwhile the event attracted some 5,000 people who traipsed through the bank’s South Tel Aviv headquarters to view the 750 works of art on display.
The exhibition, which was held in memory of Leah Rabin, the first public figure to support the campaign against AIDS, raised NIS 1.3 million. Seroussi said that Bank Hapoalim was proud to host this fund-raiser for the seventh consecutive year. It was the obligation of an advanced and enlightened society to do all that is possible to fight disease, he said. As part of its volunteer activities, Bank Hapoalim has taken upon itself the social and cultural responsibility of contributing to the fight against AIDS with an annual high quality art exhibition, he added.
Keinan said that the bank has for several years developed a close connection with artists in every field as part of its commitment to giving back to the community and to society. Jonathan Karni, CEO of the AIDS Task Force, declared that the exhibition symbolized the spirit of giving, and expressed appreciation to the many artists who continue to donate their works year after year. Although Bank Hapoalim has been sponsoring the exhibition for seven years, this was the 12th exhibition of its kind to enable continued research into AIDS.
Among those spotted in the huge crowd were renowned architect Ron Arad, Labor MKs Isaac Herzog and Avishay Braverman, Dalia Rabin, Nochi and Orly Dankner, Idan Ofer, Eliezer Fishman, Ofer Nimrodi, Alfred Akirov, Reuven Adler, Moshe Teumim, Tzachi Hanegbi and his mother Geula Cohen, Yuli Tamir, Galia Albin and from the world of entertainment Erez Tal, Adi Ashkenazi, Maya Dagan and Guy Pines.
■ FOR FOREIGN Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whom the police have likewise recommended as a candidate for indictment, it was also business as usual toward the end of last week. He was seen lunching at the Space restaurant on Moshav Emunim near Ashdod with businessman Nadav Balila, who also happens to be its owner. The two ensconced themselves upstairs in the VIP lounge, and Lieberman’s bodyguards remained below and would not allow other customers into the area. When the two completed a leisurely meal, they came downstairs looking well sated.
■ BOTH PRESIDENT Shimon Peres and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat referred to modern communications technology at the opening this week of the 25th International Jerusalem Book Fair at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, which is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary. “We consider ourselves the People of the Book, but we have to admit that we are the people of the Facebook,” said Peres, adding that events in the Middle East were galvanized through modern communication technologies. Despite his admiration for the new tools and vehicles of communication, Peres indicated that it is still better to read a book than follow a Facebook.
Livnat, after praising the decision by Jerusalem Prize laureate Ian McEwan to come here, despite many pressures for him to do otherwise, said that modern technology encouraged us to communicate using shallow language. There were also electronic books, she acknowledged, but Kindle, no matter how convenient, will never be able to replace the traditional book, Livnat asserted. “There is no substitute for the smell of a book and the feel of the pages,” she said.
German publisher Dr. Stefan von Holtzbrinck, comparing the fair to those of other countries, said it was less commercial and more spiritual and cultural. In this respect, he paid tribute to its chairman and CEO Ze’ev Birger, who kept introducing new concepts that over time developed into traditions.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was proud of what he termed “the renaissance of art and culture” in Jerusalem, which he said was enabling more people to find a common denominator and was helping to promote tolerance and recognition.
McEwan, who was awarded the prize because his writings express the freedom of the individual in society, both referred to Palestinian freedom and was careful to acknowledge the suffering inflicted on Jews throughout history. Later, Peres seized both McEwan’s hands in an expression of appreciation and admiration, while Livnat spent a long time talking to the celebrated author.
■ FOR GUESTS attending the festive Friends of WIZO concert at the Ramat Gan residence of Italian Ambassador Luigi Mattiolo and his wife Stefania last Thursday night, it was a two-in-one event in that they also got to witness a first-time ceremony – the conferring of the title of Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy on Vice Premier and Minister for the Development of the Galilee and the Negev Silvan Shalom. This part of the evening was of special significance, because according to Mattiolo, who was acting on behalf of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, this was the highest distinction ever bestowed on an Israeli politician. Mattiolo had made the recommendation in recognition of Shalom’s ongoing efforts to enhance relations at all levels between Israel and Italy.
A phalanx of photographers was on hand to record the conferment for posterity, but the minister’s wife Judy Shalom Nir Mozes, a well known personality in her own right, leaped to her feet to personally capture the moment with the camera in her cellphone. When she was invited to get into the picture, she handed the phone to someone else in the front row and asked her to keep photographing.
As for WIZO, the Italian embassy has a long tradition of support for its endeavors on behalf of the younger generation, with a series of ambassadors opening the residence for WIZO events. Mattiolo noted that this was the third time that he and his wife were hosting a WIZO function.
Shalom also has a long history with WIZO. His mentor early in his political career was the late Yitzhak Modai, with whom Shalom worked when the latter was finance minister. Modai’s wife Michal, today an honorary life president of World WIZO, was formerly president of World WIZO and before that chairwoman of the World WIZO Executive.
The highlight of the concert that was arranged by Esther Mor, chairwoman of WIZO’s fund-raising department, who moderated the evening speaking in English, Hebrew and Italian, was child prodigy Vicky Gelman, 13, who is not only a superb violinist, but also modest and beautiful. Gelman had previously played at WIZO’s 90th anniversary celebration at the Knesset in January. She was accompanied on the piano by her father Yafim Gelman.
Other junior performers Ilyia Sherakov and Christian Manzur are students at the Tiberias Music Conservatory sponsored by WIZO UK. The talented adult performers, pianist Tanya Potapeyko and singer Maria Yoffe, delighted the audience with their operatic repertoire, and gave their services gratis.
■ HE DOESN’T really look like an athlete – but appearances are often deceptive. Kadima MK Nachman Shai, last Friday proved just how fit he is when he romped to the top of Masada ahead of fellow MKs Danny Danon, Yoel Hasson and Rachel Adatto, who are all younger than he is. Admittedly, Adatto is his junior by only seven months, but the other two are several years younger. Danon is 40 and Hasson 38. Shai is 64, but he works out regularly and runs 25 km.-30 km. every week.
The four legislators were among scores of runners who raced along the 2.5 km. snake path. Not only did Shai come in first among the MKs, but was also among the first 20 runners to hit the finish line. He came in 19th.
■ THERE’S A certain sense of snob value in being invited to a fashion show that’s launching a new season’s collection. For those who want to see and be seen, an invitation all but symbolizes the key to paradise. But after Castro’s launch of its new spring/summer collection this week, such invitations may be distributed in far more limited numbers, and many of those who used to get them will see the show from the armchair in their living room.
Castro entered into a deal with Ynet for live coverage of the show so that the whole country could get a much better view than from any seat in the Hangar 11 auditorium at the Tel Aviv Port.
Three generations of the Castro and Roter families were on hand, including Aharon and Lena Castro, who founded the company some 60 years ago; their daughter and son-in-law Eti and Gabi Roter, the joint CEOs; their grandson Ariel Roter, president and chairman; and his brothers Ron and Or. Also present were Shenkar College president Yuli Tamir, Yaron and Hadas Lichtenstein, Gideon and Dina Oberson, along with fellow fashion designers Sasson Kedem, Tamara Yuval Jones, Raziela Gershon, Yuval Caspin, Alon Livne and Dorin Frankfurt, actresses Keren Mor and Alma Zack, singer Ivri Lider and several other well-known faces. Strutting the catwalk were 50 male and female models led by Castro presenters Gal Gadot and Yonatan Wagman.
■ AS MOST Jewish travelers in need of a kosher meal or other assistance are aware, there is a Chabad presence in some of the most far-flung and off-the-beaten-track places. In Israel, Chabad is just about everywhere, including at last week’s chief of General Staff changing of the guard ceremony.
Almost immediately after taking office, Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz, aided by Chabad’s Rabbi Yaacov Globerman, director of its Yad B’yad philanthropic arm that provides food and clothing for the needy, changed the mezuza at the entrance to his office.
There may not have been anything wrong with the mezuza that was already there, but Chabad is very big on inspecting the condition of the mezuza when things go wrong, and with all the controversy surrounding the position, changing it was in the nature of an insurance policy.
■ VISITORS TO the Alrov Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem are often charmed by the sculptures that line both sides of the walkway. Children love touching them, climbing on them and posing with them for adoring parents. For all that the exhibits give passers-by an informal sense of art appreciation. Early this month, some 200 people crowded into the Eden Gallery in the mall for the launch of a new exhibition based on “Stories of the Bible.” The exhibition, which is spread throughout the length of the mall, was opened by Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat in the presence of mall owner Alfred Akirov and Belgian Ambassador Benedicte Frankinet, who came because three Belgian women were included among the 45 artists who collectively contributed some 150 items to the exhibition.
■ TWO POLISH-born performing artists who are the offspring of Holocaust survivors will receive life achievement awards from ACUM, the Association of Composers and Musicians, on February 28. Singer-songwriter Chava Alberstein, who was born in Szczecin in December 1947, and composer and singer Svika Pik, who was born in Wroclaw in October 1951, will be honored for their contributions to Israeli culture. Both have won other prizes in the past. Alberstein, who sings in both Hebrew and Yiddish and occasionally in English, frequently accompanies herself on guitar. Pik, who sometimes accompanies himself on piano or keyboard, has composed a number of songs for Eurovision contests, composed “Diva,” which in 1998 was sung by Dana International and was the winner.
In addition to his awards, Pik will soon be cast in a new role, that of father of the bride. His daughter Sharona (whose mother is lyricist Mirit Shem Or) is set to marry Daniel Federmann in June. The groom-tobe is the son of hotelier Mickey Federmann and his wife Liora. The wedding is scheduled to take place in the Federmann family home in Herzliya Pituah, adjacent to the Accadia Hotel, which is part of the Dan chain of which Mickey Federmann is chairman of the board.
■ THE MAIN reason for publicizing an upcoming Hadassah event almost three weeks before it takes place is to give anyone who might want to attend, but doesn’t have a pair of tennis shoes, the opportunity to borrow or buy by March 15. Nechama Hadassah, the Jerusalem-based English speaking chapter for younger women, is hosting basketball icon Tal Brody, who became a living legend as captain of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Brody, who is the country’s first ambassador of goodwill, and who is associated with a variety of charitable projects, will talk about “Aliya, Klita, Public Voluntary Service and How Basketball Contributed to Israel.”
Also present as special guests will be members of the Kadursal B’Ahava women’s basketball team from Tel Aviv. The event at the Masorati High School on Rehov Betar in North Talpiot is a fund-raiser with a participation fee of NIS 50. Only people wearing tennis shoes will be admitted.

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