Grapevine: Long live the nonagenarians!

The VIP visitor for Hanukka was US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, who joined in the candle lighting ceremony at Shalva-Beit Nachshon.

US envoy Dan Shapiro, Shalva Youngsters_311 (photo credit: Shalva)
US envoy Dan Shapiro, Shalva Youngsters_311
(photo credit: Shalva)
AGE IS not a deterrent for some people, such as Ralph Goldman, 97, who is best known for the years of sterling service that he gave to the JDC and philanthropist Fred Worms, 91, longtime mover and shaker in the Maccabi World Union and B’nai B’rith of Great Britain and Ireland.
The two, who now live in Jerusalem, were among the many guests attending the recent annual tribute dinner in honor of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. There may have been other nonagenarians in the room at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel, and there were certainly a lot of octogenarians, many of whom are frequently seen at benefit events. Goldman, sporting his signature bowtie, proved that one can teach an old dog new tricks. He had no trouble in expertly operating his smart phone. He also gets onto his exercise bike nearly every morning.
The guest speaker at the dinner was Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaacov Amidror, the national security adviser to the prime minister and chairman of the National Security Council. Amidror, who shared a table with Ron Dermer, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and a talented speech writer, said that had he known that Dermer would be attending, he might have thought twice about accepting the speaking engagement.
Amidror is a great admirer of Dermer’s and even though he was speaking in jocular fashion, it was obvious that he felt just a tiny drop ill-at-ease with such a gifted wordsmith listening to him. Giving a speech in Dermer’s presence, he said, was like talking about a flood in Jerusalem with Noah sitting in the audience. The main thrust of Amidror’s address was Israel’s geographic, demographic, political and other asymmetric relationships to its surroundings.
Relating to Israel’s victories in war despite the asymmetric relationship in the size of Israel’s army and the combined forces of the enemy, Amidror said: “We can win a hundred wars, yet we won’t change the Middle East; but if we lose only one war that will mean the end of the State of Israel.”
■ IT IS not only newspapers and magazines that select a person of the year. In Israel, the Netanya Academic College has also gotten in on the act and has chosen Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom as Real Estate Man of the Year. The title will be conferred on Shalom at a special ceremony on Tuesday January 3 at the NAC’s Real Estate Convention, which will be held at the Leonardo Hotel in Ramat Gan. Shalom was selected for the honor in recognition of his support for important projects in the Galilee and the Negev such as the School for Medicine in Safed and the airport in the Negev.
■ SHALVA-BEIT NACHSHON, the Jerusalem-based facility that helps children with physical and mental disabilities to realize their potentials, keeps attracting important figures. Not so long ago, opposition leader Tzipi Livni joined the youngsters by playing the drums in a jam session.
The VIP visitor for Hanukka was US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, who joined in the candle lighting ceremony and distributed chocolate coins. Himself a father of young children, Shapiro got on famously with the Shalva youngsters and joined them in the singing of Hanukka songs to the accompaniment of the enthusiastic musicians in the Shalva Band. Prior to joining in the holiday celebrations, Shapiro took a tour of the center, and met with Shalva’s founder and director Kalman Samuels and with Esther Wachsman, the mother of murdered Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman for whom the center is named.
WHILE IT’S true that people will sometimes travel overseas to hear a concert by a star performer, it’s still a comparative rarity. Admittedly, there have been special overseas guests attending the 75th anniversary performances of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, but one hardly expects someone from abroad, much less a state premier to come to Israel to attend a concert by young musicians. However that’s what Christine Lieberknecht, premier of the German state of Thuringia, did this week. Accompanied by a small delegation, Lieberknecht, whose visit concludes today, was invited to listen to performances by Jerusalem-Weimar Philharmonic Orchestra.
Aside from the concerts, the purpose of her visit was to enhance the German-Israeli dialogue, to strengthen the ties between the two countries that are rooted in Holocaust memories, and to celebrate the fact that despite the grim past, Germany and Israel have succeeded in creating joint educational and cultural projects beyond anything related to politics or economics.
Weimar, which is historically associated with the rise of Nazism, is located in Thuringia. Aside from the dark and notorious chapters of its past, it has several claims to fame, notably that it was the seat of the signing of Germany’s first democratic constitution in the aftermath of World War I and it was also the home of great writers and artists such as Goethe and Schiller as well as the birthplace of the Bauhaus movement. The Jerusalem-Weimar orchestra is a collaborative effort between students of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and Weimar’s Liszt School of Music. Presumably some of the antecedents of the Weimar musicians were Nazis, while some of the forebears of the Jerusalem musicians were Holocaust victims or survivors. Yet the descendants of both the Nazis and the Holocaust survivors, though mindful of the past, have managed to overcome and to harmonize.
■ NO ONE seems to be immune to the burning haredi-secular controversy. People from both sides are calling in to radio talk shows to express their opinions or to explain that not only don’t haredi women mind sitting in the back of the bus, they actually prefer to do so. But even when one defies the rules that haredim set within their own communities, the outcome is not always negative. Case in point is that of governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer who on Wednesday told Channel 1’s economics reporter Yair Weinreb of an experience that he had on Succot when invited to visit someone in a haredi Jerusalem neighborhood. His wife was expected to walk on one side of the street and he on the other. As far as Fischer was concerned this was not acceptable, so he and his wife walked together in the middle of the street. Despite the fact that they were not supposed to walk together, they emerged unharmed. The moral of the story is that the best path is always to take the middle of the road.
Correction: The photograph of Nava Barak and Shalom Zinger that appeared in Wednesday’s “Grapevine” was taken by Israel Sun.
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