Grapevine: Estate politics

Aguiar apparently owned properties in Yemin Moshe, Mamilla, the Jewish and Muslim Quarters of the Old City, the Mount of Olives and Hebron.

Matthew Gould 521 (photo credit: Ida Fry)
Matthew Gould 521
(photo credit: Ida Fry)
■ IT WAS known that the colorful and somewhat eccentric millionaire Guma Aguiar, who disappeared off the Miami coast in June, owned considerable property in Israel. But just how much he owned has only recently come to light.
In the legal wrangle between Aguiar’s mother, Ellen, and his wife, Jamie, over how his estate should be divided between them, Judge Mark Speiser named lawyer Tom Panza as a legal conservator of Aguiar’s financial assets.
In a report this week in Yediot Aharonot, it was disclosed that Aguiar’s representatives in Israel are trying to prevent both his wife and his mother from getting their hands on certain properties, some of which are considered to be in politically sensitive areas.
Aguiar apparently owned properties in Yemin Moshe, Mamilla, the Jewish and Muslim Quarters of the Old City, the Mount of Olives and Hebron. When in Israel, he lived in his house in Yemin Moshe. Fearful that these properties may fall into non-Jewish hands if they are awarded to Aguiar’s wife or mother, his Israel representatives have asked the state custodian to intervene. Panza’s appointment as conservator also covers these properties pending any legal requirements or challenges by the Israeli courts.
■ THE 10TH anniversary of the murder in Pakistan of journalist Daniel Pearl, who was also a talented violinist and who used both his pen and his music for the betterment of humankind, was commemorated in many countries, including Israel. The latter was a collaborative effort between the Charlotta Chorale of Tel Aviv, conducted by Eli Gefen, and the Jerusalem Journalists Association, chaired by Danny Zaken.
The organizer of the event was JAJ board member Tzipi Roman, who brought her husband, Ilan and many of her friends, including Yair and Dassi Stern, Hilik and Tammy Gutman, and Bruria Pressburger. Also seen in the audience were veteran broadcaster Daniel Pe’er and his wife.
Zaken read a moving letter from Daniel Pearl’s parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl, who live in Los Angles. In the letter they recalled that Daniel had celebrated his bar mitzva in Jerusalem and they were therefore glad to have his memory honored in Jerusalem. Daniel Pearl had recognized the ability of music to bridge differences among people, they wrote.
In the spirit of his love of music and commitment to dialogue, the Daniel Pearl Foundation launched the first Daniel Pearl World Music Day on October 10, 2002, which would have been his 39th birthday.
Using the power of music to promote tolerance and inspire respect for differences, Daniel Pearl World Music Days have grown to include more than 8,900 performances in 119 countries. This may have been one of the reasons that the choir performed in four languages – Hebrew, English, Russian and Japanese. It was only natural that the last of the 11 songs that were sung was “Jerusalem of Gold.”
■ IT’S NOT exactly in the line of nanotechnology, but Jerusalem’s newest museum enables people to understand how much information can be both stored and displayed in a very small space. Relatives, friends and some of the beneficiaries of the philanthropy of the late Maurice and Vivienne Wohl gathered at the Great Synagogue last week for the inauguration of the The Wohl Legacy Room, which contains much of the memorabilia of this remarkable couple who through their individual and joint charitable trusts did so much for society and individuals in need in Israel, their native England, Russia, and other parts of the world.
Their generosity was primarily directed toward Jewish projects in the fields of medicine, education, culture and social welfare, with particular concern for Holocaust survivors, and they gave to the non-Jewish community as well.
Maurice Wohl was a founder and president of the Great Synagogue, and during their frequent visits to Israel he and his wife made many friends among the congregants.
Because they spent so much time at the Great Synagogue and because it is most centrally located among all the many projects to which they contributed, they willed the establishment of their Legacy Room to the Great Synagogue, where modern technology enables visitors to see much of what they did and the honors they received on strategically placed video screens.
British Ambassador Matthew Gould was on hand for the official opening.
Even though the Wohls mingled with British high society, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, and in Israel with presidents, prime ministers, mayors, heads of medical and educational institutions and other prominent personalities, they were modest and approachable and often gave to individuals in need. Their motto, taken from the 89th Psalm, was, “The world is built with lovingkindness.” This was the compass of their lives.
While most museums in Israel and elsewhere in the world do not open before 10 or 11 a.m., the Wohl Legacy Room will be open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 12 noon from Sunday to Thursday.
It’s quite amazing to realize how much can be shown and seen in this small space.
■ THE BRITISH ambassador finds many reasons to visit Jerusalem, and during the week of Succot he visited Melabev’s state-of-the-art center for English speakers in Talpiot. Gould was greeted by Marsha Donshik, director of the center, Melabev CEO Motti Zelikovitch and fellow Brit Harry Sapir, who is chairman of Melabev’s board of directors and who has lived in Israel for much longer than in his native country. Gould spoke to the group members and explained what he does in Israel. He was surprised to learn that two of the people in the group had served in the British army during World War II. Both are in their late 80s. One arrived in England from Germany via the Kindertransport and subsequently served in the women’s army. The other British ex-serviceman was an air force navigator in India throughout the war.
Gould expressed great interest in what Melabev does for the elderly, especially those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and memory loss. While at the center he sat in on a music therapy session, visited the snoezeleon (multi-sensory room), and watched how the therapist used “Savion” – a Melabev innovation – a computer program for cognitive stimulation of people with dementia.
■ ALEH, ONE of Israel’s largest networks of facilities for children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities last week hosted a dedication ceremony to mark the establishment of its new special education school in Jerusalem.
Among the high-profile friends and supporters in attendance were Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, commander of the Israeli Air Force Major-General Amir Eshel and former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Gabi Ashkenazi. The new school will provide enhanced special education and rehabilitative programming tailored to each child’s needs.
At present, 73 special-needs children (ages three to 21) from the Jerusalem area are enrolled at the school. In addition to 11 state-of-the-art classrooms, the school includes a paramedical wing, a variety of treatment rooms, family quarters, an activity area and staff offices.
“The school was built on a separate floor, distanced from the living area, so that the ALEH children could learn in a different environment than their living quarters – so that they, too, could feel like they leave home for school every morning, just like other children.” said director-general Rabbi Yehuda Marmorstein. “Implementing the ‘normalization principle’ will significantly improve the quality of life of ALEH’s children,” he added.