Grapevine: Hail to the Maple Leaf

Canada Day celebrations, Camp Simcha for cancer patients, and a diploma for Ramat Hasharon’s mayor.

FM Lieberman and Canadian Ambassador Paul Hunt 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
FM Lieberman and Canadian Ambassador Paul Hunt 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
■ CANADA’S PRIME Minister Stephen Harper, both in office and in the opposition, has demonstrated staunch support for Israel, and Canada Day proved to be a great opportunity for Israelis to show their appreciation for that country’s friendship.
It seems that national days have become flexible. The Russian National Day is June 12, but they celebrated on June 15. American Independence Day is on July 4, but they celebrated on June 30. Canada Day is July 1, but they celebrated on July 10. Be that as it may, a larger number of Israelis, Canadians – including a group of parliamentarians – and Canadian expats showed up on the patio of the Modern restaurant at the Israel Museum not only to celebrate Canada Day, but to witness Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Canadian Ambassador Paul Hunt sign the renewed Canada- Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation five-year accord.
Guests at the ceremony were welcomed by David M. Weinberg, director of the Israel Office of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, which was formerly known as the Canada-Israel Committee. He pointed out that not only were they celebrating Canada and Canada Day, they were doing so in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people and of the Jewish state. Among those Weinberg felt compelled to mention was CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel, who was the CEO of the Canada-Israel Committee for 20 years and who came to Israel especially for the occasion. So did several other Canadians, among them outgoing CIC chairman Moshe Ronen, who in praising Harper’s “principled stand” proudly declared, “Our prime minister talks the talk and does the walk. We thank him and applaud him.”
Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, who was chairman of the Israel Canada Parliamentary Friendship Association for 10 years, recalled having attended a conference in Ottowa on how to combat anti-Semitism. It was before the elections, and Harper had pledged that Canada would support Israel no matter what.
Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner, the current ICPFA chairman, envisioned CIJA as a bridge-builder between Israel and Canada, with a view to establishing an ever stronger relationship.
Hunt, who expressed his genuine delight at being present, proclaimed that the relationship between the two countries was “never closer, more robust and more promising.” The flourishing cooperation goes beyond both governments, he said, though at government level, Canada’s support for Israel can be seen at the UN, in its refusal to participate in the Durban II conference and the declaration by Harper that Canada would oppose any unfair treatment of Israel.
“Those who threaten the existence of the Jewish People are a threat to all of us,” said Hunt.
■ FEW THINGS are more contagious than joy and laughter, and few organizations know how to infect any situation with these elements more than Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha. This was evidenced last Shabbat, when Camp Simcha counselors, some from the US and England and others attending yeshivot in Jerusalem, accompanied a large group of cancer-stricken children to the Jerusalem Great Synagogue for a Friday night dinner that was even more sumptuous than the one served every month to lone soldiers. The table settings were also more impressive, but what was most impressive to Asher and Lenore Schapiro, Sir Ian and Lady Carmel Gainsford, Ella Jaffe, Zali Jaffe and Elli and Jacqueline Jaffe – who joined the meal along with a family that had hosted the youngsters in South Africa – was the interaction between the children and the counselors.
The mutual bonds of affection, the total informality, the spontaneity of singing and dancing and the pure joy of embracing life with laughter had to be experienced to be properly appreciated.
Head counselor Ari Dembitzer, who seems to be imbued with endless energy, set the tone, but no one was lagging behind in either energy or enthusiasm, and although some of them were terminally ill, the children kept having fun until close to midnight.
One of Chai Lifeline’s guiding principles is that seriously ill children need and deserve as happy and normal a childhood as possible. This, according to Dembitzer, is why he and his colleagues focus on the fun and not on the illness, and bring out the best in each child by boosting his or her popularity within the group through song, or through encouraging the youngsters to perform, to practice their oratory or to exercise their talents in other ways.
They also relieve the strain placed on the families of such children. Chai Lifeline has a range of creative and innovative programs and services that it provides to young patients and their families free of charge.
What’s important is that there is nothing patronizing in the way the counselors interact with the youngsters.It’s almost as if they were the same age as the children – just bigger.
■ IT’S NOT yet 100-percent certain that former Shas leader Arye Deri will return to politics, but if he does, he already has the blessing of Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, whom he escorted to the wedding of the latter’s granddaughter and with whom he sat at a table along with President Shimon Peres. Yosef indulges in light face-slapping as a sign of affection, and both Deri and Peres felt the warmth of his hand on their cheeks.
■ AFTER 46 years at Bank Leumi, Ze’ev Nahari, who held second place in the bank’s hierarchy after Galia Maor, decided the time had come to retire and went out with a bang at Reading 3, where members of the country’s banker community and captains of industry came to wish him well. Maor – who is herself past the retirement age for women – was there, of course, as were Shlomo Eliahu, David Brodet, Yona Fogel, Eli Jonas, Yossi Bahar, Ram Caspi, Yitzhak Tshuva, Tzaddik Bino and many others.
■ THERE WAS a time when pregnant women were terrified to make their conditions public in case they were dismissed from their jobs – even though it’s illegal to fire women who are expecting. In some cases, pregnant women are still afraid because they know they have bosses who will find a way to circumvent the law. However, if you’re a pregnant celebrity, it’s an altogether different ballgame.
Models and actresses Gal Gadot, Ronit Sela, Yael Goldman and Mili Avital are all swelling up for the best of reasons. All four were approached by Rami Lee, which produces maternity clothes, to be the presenters for the company’s next campaign.
Gadot, Sela and Goldman replied that they had other commitments and were therefore unavailable. Avital’s agent Zohar Jacobson initially said not at any price, and then seemingly relented and wanted to know what Rami Lee was paying. Rami Lee, for its part, wanted to know how much Avital wanted. At press time, no specific sum had been mentioned by either party, so the matter remains in limbo.
■ THE SURNAME rings a bell. When someone asks Tamara Aharoni whether she’s related to master chef Israel Aharoni, the reply is not only in the affirmative, but accompanied by the clarification: “He’s my father.”
Notwithstanding that he tastes everything he cooks, not to mention the many delicacies prepared by his colleagues, Aharoni manages to remain enviably slim. His daughter, however, has been chosen as the presenter for a subsidiary line to ml fashions, to be launched in August. The company specializes in larger sizes and is now aiming for a younger clientele with the launch of ml/LY. The new line was inspired by blogger and creative consultant to ml Yael Regev, working closely with ml’s veteran chief designer Esti Baruch and the ml design team. Aharoni will be more than a presenter. In September she will embark on a fashion design course with the Brifeld Academy in Amsterdam.
■ AS MAYOR of Ramat Hasharon, Itzik Rochberger frequently attends high school graduation ceremonies. But it came as a pleasant surprise to hear his own name when students were called to the stage by Romberg High School Principal Gili Melik to receive their graduation certificates.
It transpires that when Rochberger was a pupil at the school 38 years ago, he did not show up for the graduation ceremony because he was undergoing surgery in the hospital after having suffered a serious accident. It had never occurred to him to ask for the certificate afterward, but every school knows which of its graduates go on to great things, so once it was known that he was going to be in attendance, the powers-that-be decided to close a circle for him.