Grapevine: Elections in the air

The campaign has already started – albeit unofficially.

PROF. NAVA BEN-ZVI 311 (photo credit: Courtesy Hadassah College)
(photo credit: Courtesy Hadassah College)
JERUSALEM’S MUNICIPAL elections may be two years away, but the campaign has already started – albeit unofficially. On Wednesday, Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur convened a special meeting of the Jerusalem Municipal Urban Planning & Environmental Committees and invited residents of Jerusalem to come hear about the developments that have taken place during the three years that the current administration has been in office as well as about projects that are in the pipelines. For this, the 49th meeting of the committees, the council chambers were more than three-quarters full. Following Tsur’s presentation those attending entered into round table discussions on accessibility in the public domain, waste management, affordable housing, sustainable transport and Jerusalem as a green Pilgrim city.
The idea was for people make suggestions on what needs improving, but Tsur seemed less interested in hearing about problems than in formulating a rosy vision for the future. She mentioned multiple times that committee meetings were never open to the public prior to the current administration.
When Mayor Nir Barkat showed up for the second half of the meeting, he took note of comments and complaints and wrote several of them down, talked about his policy of transparency and involvement in city planning and community projects and also mentioned that such meetings had never been open to the public. People with longer memories could tell a different story.
■ NOTHING LASTS forever, including leadership, as witnessed when long-time Middle East leaders have begun to fade out of the picture in recent weeks and months. Closer to home, Prof. Nava Ben-Zvi, who for the past 13 years has been the president of Hadassah College Jerusalem, tendered her resignation this week. A professor of chemistry who has won many prizes and who initiated many science- based learning projects in Israel and abroad, and who was among the founders of the Open University, Ben-Zvi also chairs the Education Ministry's committee on developing high school studies in science and technology and heads or is an executive member of various other Israeli and international high-powered educational committees.
During her period as college president, the student population has grown considerably and currently stands at 2,500. Under Ben-Zvi's guidance and encouragement, the college introduced new study courses in line with developing professions in Israel and the world at large, including health and environmental sciences, biotechnology, internet sciences, media, software and industrial design.Hadassah College chairman David Brodet, who is also chairman of Bank Leumi, will head the committee to seek a successor to Ben-Zvi.
■ JEWELRY DESIGNER and international businesswoman Aya Azrielant, who in 1999 was selected by a group of more than 75 international business organizations, women’s organizations and governmental agencies as one of the 50 leading women entrepreneurs in the world, is also an avid art collector. Born on Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan and a graduate of the University of Haifa, Azrielant went to New York to seek her fortune around 30 years ago and spent 20 years in the Big Apple.
A keen art collector, Azrielant did not always have the financial ability to buy all the works of art that appealed to her. As her jewelry designs gained her widespread recognition and she became more affluent, her art collection increased. Like other serious collectors she bought much more art than the walls in her house could accommodate, and many of the pieces she loved ended up in storage. It broke her heart that works of art that she loved were not out there being appreciated. This led to a new business venture, Aya-Art Warehouse, from which she sells directly from her collection to other collectors or potential collectors, cutting out the middleman. Items from Azrielant’s collection are available at G Mall in the Yoo building at 10 Nissim Aloni Street in Tel Aviv.
■ WITH ISRAEL increasingly looking toward Asia for strategic political alliances and new markets, it is important to cultivate Asia’s leaders of tomorrow. The Jerusalem-based Asia-Israel Center, under founder and executive- director Rebecca Zeffert, has launched an Israel-Asia Leaders Fellowship to supplement study programs forAsian students in Israeli universities. The first recipients of the fellowships are 12 students from China, India, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan who engaged in various levels of study in many different fields.
“These are Israel’s future partners in Asia,” says Zeffert. “As we embark on this ‘Asian Century,’ Israel needs to better prepare itself for a future in which its economic, diplomatic and cultural partners will not only lie in the West. If Israel is serious about building a shared future with countries in Asia, it needs to invest in these future Asian partners and leaders of Israel-Asia relations, and work with them to develop solutions to shared interests and challenges.”
■ ONE OF the most heart-warming projects of the US Holocaust Museum in Washington is an exhibition of 1,100 photos under the title “Do you remember me?” The exhibition is part of a last-ditch effort aimed at locating lost children of the Holocaust or, as the project organizers prefer to call them, displaced children.
Many child survivors, especially those who were babies or toddlers when their parents disappeared from their lives, have no knowledge of their true identities.
Most have learned to live with the identities that were given to them, but there are always those nagging question about who they really are, who their parents were and how, where and when their parents died.
The photographs are on display on the museum’s website, as are stories of some of the people who recognized themselves in the pictures or were recognized by others.
It could well be that people in some of the photographs who thought that they were completely alone in the world may discover relatives that they never knew existed. So far close to 200 of the children in the photographs have been identified, including some who live in Israel.
Another Holocaust-related project will take place closer to home. Over two days in mid-July, 1942, nearly one-third of the 42,000 Jews deported from France to death camps in Poland were rounded up.
This was the largest mass arrest in France. Some of the survivors of that round-up are arranging a 70th anniversary reunion to take place in July, 2012.
The reunion, which is being organized in conjunction with Yad Vashem, will include a trip to France to visit the places where Jews lived or went into hiding. For further details contact Sammy Green at (03) 699- 1221.