Grapevine: Pass the humous to the Obamas

Among the more exclusive international clubs is the Club des Chefs des Chefs, whose members work for royal families.

Club des Chefs des Chefs 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Club des Chefs des Chefs 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Among the more exclusive international clubs is the Club des Chefs des Chefs, whose members work for royal families and heads of state. Each year, the club meets in a different country to sample the local cuisine and to engage in what is called “culinary diplomacy.”
Even though Israel does not have a presidential or prime ministerial chef, Shalom Kadosh, the long-time executive chef of the Leonardo Jerusalem Plaza hotel, is a member of the club because he, more than any other chef in the country, has prepared or supervised the preparation of dinners for visiting dignitaries and has won more international prizes for his cuisine than any of his colleagues.
Part of culinary diplomacy is sharing recipes and so-called secret ingredients with other members of the club – but although not with the media.
The club, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary, divided its time between Germany and France because the two countries were celebrating the 50th anniversary of their post-war reconciliation.
The co-hosts of this year’s meeting were Ulrich Kerz, who presides over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s kitchen, and Bernard Vaussion, who is currently pleasing the palate of French President François Hollande. Israel Radio’s Gideon Kutz, who is permanently stationed in Paris, though he travels throughout Europe and the Middle East, interviewed some of the chefs, including Kadosh and White House executive chef Chris Comerford, who was the only woman in the group.
Kadosh was very discreet and would not reveal the favorite foods of Israel’s presidents and prime ministers past or present, beyond saying that they liked their food fresh and properly prepared.
Comerford was a little more forthcoming, saying that the Obamas like fresh, healthy, non-fattening food.
When pressed by Kutz, she said that among the foods favored by America’s first family is humous with just a sprinkling of olive oil. Apparently they like it so much that they eat it nearly every day.
WHILE ALL the uproar is going on at the Israel Broadcasting Authority, where politics and personalities are in an endless clash, former Mabat News anchor Merav Miller, who is on maternity leave and unlikely to be returned to her former spot, is busy changing diapers. Miller and her husband, Eyal Sherman, are parents the second time around. Their first son, Yuval, was born two years ago, and their second son will officially be inducted into the faith today at a circumcision ceremony-cum-brunch attended mainly by relatives at the Nova banquet facilities at the Tel Aviv Port.
Miller will be going back to work at the IBA when her maternity leave is over, but has not yet been told what she will be doing.
THE IBA is shooting itself in the foot by attempting to “balance” Keren Neubach’s daily Seder Yom (“Agenda”) morning show by imposing a right-wing co-host on her. The so-called balancing act this week included journalists Menachem Ben, university lecturer and contributor to Makor Rishon Dr. Mordechai Kedar, and satirist Meir Uziel.
Several right-wingers approached by the IBA refused to participate in what is widely regarded as a witchhunt against Neubach, who is highly critical of the government’s social welfare policies – or rather the lack of them – and the bureaucracy to which people in need are subjected.
The upshot of the attempt to clip Neubach’s wings have been the daily demonstrations outside Israel Radio’s Tel Aviv studios, the cessation this Wednesday of the second hour of her program on instructions from the Jerusalem Journalists Association and a courageous stand by some of her colleagues who are now being sharply anti-government in the programs they anchor, and who are making a point of interviewing left-wing politicians on social issues as well as those right-wing politicians who have a social conscience and are not afraid to speak out.
Politicians from both sides of the spectrum are angry at what the IBA is doing to Neubach, a prize-winning journalist, and in the final analysis, with so many people on her side, including people who disagree with her politically, Neubach is likely to become the broadcast industry’s Joan of Arc.
ON THE subject of heartless bureaucracy, Yehoram Gaon, on his weekly program on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet last Friday, related the problems experienced by Israel Prize laureate Hanna Maron, who is still appearing on stage at age 88. In 1970, as the result of a terrorist attack in Munich Airport, she lost a leg and was fitted with a prosthesis.
A year later she was back on stage and screen and, despite her ordeal, remained a peace activist.
Every couple of years, Maron has to be fitted with a new artificial limb. For decades this was d o n e through a rehab institute w h i c h did all that was necessary, including the paperwork, as a matter of course. A couple of years ago, the law changed and Maron and others like her had to submit to special examinations via the National Insurance Institute to determine their eligibility for the services they sought. After all the years of putting on a brave front, Maron now wants to weep because of the callous attitude of the bureaucratic system. Quoting her, Gaon asked whether there could be any positive change in her condition. After all, a person without a limb remains a person without a limb. It can only get worse, not better. Lingering in the air is the question that if as famous a personality as Hanna Maron goes through this humiliation when all that needs to be done is to peruse her file, how much suffering is imposed on relatively anonymous people with no claim to fame?
WHEN SHE was a girl growing up in Lithuania, former state comptroller Miriam Ben-Porat, who died this week at age 94, dreamed of being a dancer. She may well have become a prima ballerina, but it is very fortunate that in the long run, her passion for law proved stronger than her love of dance. Otherwise she would not have been the first woman to sit on the bench of Israel’s Supreme Court, the first woman vice president of the Supreme Court, or the first and so far only female state comptroller. She was a great trail-blazer and a woman of extraordinary integrity and courage who swam against the tide in accordance with the dictates of her conscience and vigorously exposed corruption in politics and in other areas of society.
Notwithstanding her advanced age, Ben-Porat continued to lecture in Israel and abroad, to write frequently on legal matters and to attend important public events. Her last public appearance was early this month when she attended the swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset of current State Comptroller Joseph Shapira.
TENS OF millions of people around the world will be glued to their television sets to watch the opening of the Olympic Games this evening, with speculation still being voiced as to whether anything can possibly be more spectacular than the show that was put on by the Chinese in Beijing four years ago. Meanwhile, the British Embassy in Israel, in a move designed to promote a love for sport among children, is partnering with 20 organizations, local councils and municipalities to hold 20 children’s events on August 7 in communities across Israel.
“We want London 2012 to inspire a whole generation of children to open their eyes to the possibility of sport, the confidence it can inspire, and to shatter any imagined barriers of aspiration not only in the UK but here in Israel,” said British Ambassador Matthew Gould.
The embassy decided to embrace the challenge of celebrating the games in an inclusive and innovative way and chose Tuesday, August 7, as the day in which to have its mega sports event because this is the day on which Israel has one of its best chances of winning an Olympic medal in the men’s windsurfing finals. On that day, youngsters across the country, representing the overall mosaic of ethnic, national and religious backgrounds and affiliations, will compete in a variety of sports and will know at the end of their special day whether or not Israel has won a medal, and whether they have cause to celebrate more than their own individual triumphs. Embassy staff will be present at all the events and Gould and his wife, Celia, will try to get to as many as possible throughout the day.
POLITICAL PUNDITS have been arguing this week over how long it will take for Kadima to become history, whether Knesset elections will take place this year or next and whether there will be a political alliance between former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and Knesset wannabe Yair Lapid. In the midst of all this, Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee Silvan Shalom held a campaign meeting of Likud supporters in Ashkelon, and American immigrants Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz, who are standing for election in the Habayit Hayehudi primaries in the hope of eventually becoming MKs, held a parlor meeting at the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel’s Jerusalem headquarters.
Gimpel’s mother, Lynn, and several of her friends conducted an e-mail blitz to invite anyone and everyone they knew to at least come and listen, if not to sign up, though Lynn Gimpel conducted a rigorous sign-up campaign among those who did respond to the invitation.
The two would-be MKs are convinced that despite the odds they can make a difference and that despite Israel’s parliamentary system, in which the individual MK is not responsible to the voters who elected him (or her), they intend to be the representatives of those that put them into office. This includes Israel’s native English-speakers and Sabras who are firsttime voters and feel disconnected from the current national religious leadership.
The two young men, both ordained rabbis, whose platform is one of Jewish identity and Jewish education, were criticized for not mentioning national issues such as social justice, Iran and the environment – to which the reply was that the Torah has an answer for everything and that if people reconnect to their Jewish identity, they will find the answers. That doesn’t mean that they want all secularists to become religious. What they want is for all Jews in Israel to know about Jewish values, to respect each other and to treat each other as brothers. They are still idealistic enough to believe that they can make a difference.
AFTER 14 years at the helm of Magen David Adom UK, Eli Benson has stepped down and has handed over the reins to Daniel Burger, who has been the organization’s deputy CEO for the past 18 months. Burger, the former chief executive of Jewish Child’s Day, praised his predecessor for the way he had, “changed MDA UK beyond belief – transforming it into one of the UK’s leading Israel charities.”
Noting that he had a hard act to follow, Burger commented, “Eli Benson is one of the great fund-raisers in our community. It will be an honor to pick up where he has left off.”
MDA UK chairman Henry Ejdelbaum said that Benson had raised more than $50 million for MDA. Benson has left his post, but not the organization. He will take up the position of vice president and also assist with major donors.