Grapevine: Seeing Double

Multiple births on the rise; religious women showcase talent; Ralph Dobrin publishes book 'How to Avoid Armageddon'; German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes to Israel.

Angela Merkel 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Angela Merkel 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
■ MULTIPLE BIRTHS seem to be in fashion lately. It is amazing how many twin strollers one sees in the streets. In some families there are even two sets of twins. But in the family of Jerusalemites Gloria and Michael Broder, twins are not the exception but the norm. The Broders are grandparents to four sets of twins. The most recent set, a boy and a girl, were the products of their son Dovy and his wife Gila.
■ NOT SO long ago, it was considered a big deal if couples were able to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary. But as people begin to live longer, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of couples celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary. Several couples who are members of Hazvi Yisrael Congregation in Talbiyeh have been married longer than 50 years, among them Harold and Rene Ginsberg, originally from New York, who have just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Neither looks old enough to have been married that long. Both are straight-backed and fairly brisk walkers.
He has a glorious and powerful singing voice and is frequently asked to sing zemirot at someone’s Shabbat table, and she is impeccably groomed and in sync with the latest fashions. No one should wish them till 120 – because even then, they’ll still be young.
■ THE DATE for Yehuda Avner’s lecture at the Great Synagogue last Saturday night had been set up months in advance. Avner, a retired diplomat and the author of the best-selling book The Prime Ministers, was the personal adviser to five prime ministers.
It just so happened that his talk coincided with the massive change taking place in Egypt and one would have expected that most people – especially this audience, which by and large neither listens to the radio nor watches television on Shabbat – would have been glued to one or the other. But no, Avner attracted a full house of several hundred people, who at the end of his talk gave him a spontaneous standing ovation – which he richly deserved.
At the start Avner was somewhat concerned that there would be chatter amongst the audience, which would distract him from his address. “I hope you have the patience to listen,” he said, qualifying the remark with the explanation: “We Jews are big talkers but very bad listeners.”
To illustrate the point, Avner related one of his early experiences as ambassador to Australia. He had gone to synagogue services where someone told him that he was hosting a reception for the new Israeli ambassador. “Have you met him yet?” asked the man. “I am the new Israeli ambassador,” replied Avner, to which the retort was: “Come just the same.”
The moral of the story is that so many people are preoccupied with what they want to say that they pay little or no attention to what the person they’re talking to has to say. If we all stopped to listen, we might learn something.
■ OTHER THAN not listening, a common social no-no in Israel is bringing babies to synagogue, weddings, movies, concerts and so forth. However, the stars of the Women for Women Variety Show that will be held at Heichal Shlomo on Sunday, February 13, have stipulated that they do not want any babies in the audience.
Mistress of ceremonies will be Bassya Weiss, originally from Sydney, Australia, with singing soloist Deena Nouril, the Kol Shira Choir, concert pianist Dr. Gila Wittow, the Ron Shulamit Dance Ensemble, actress Joanna Weiss, Ayelet the Kosher Komic, plus other entertainers.
This is yet another event in which talented women whose religious lifestyle prevents them from performing in front of men can still find an outlet for their creativity by performing strictly for female audiences. For reservations and further information call Devora at 656-4595.
■ A SMALL group of Australian expatriates, including Rabbi Raymond Apple and his wife Marion, plus just over a handful of non-Aussies gathered for brunch at a Baka coffee shop last week to celebrate the bar mitzva of Itamar Belfer, the grandson of Rabbi Edward Belfer and his wife Frances. The boy, who lives in Bat Yam with his parents Simon and Rita Belfer and his sister Yasmin, had less than an hour earlier made the transition from boyhood to manhood at the Western Wall. He had to do an encore of that at his local synagogue in Bat Yam last Saturday to please his Israeli grandparents, and next week he’ll have a big party that will be attended not only by adults but also by his own friends.
■ FOR SOME 25-plus years, veteran South African immigrant Ralph Dobrin, known to his friends as Rafi, ran his own company publishing magazines, guides and maps for tourists from his Jerusalem office. His business crashed in 2000 when he was close to retirement age. Instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for himself, he began to devote much of his time to writing. Surfing the Internet, one can see that he’s been published by a number of magazines and newspapers.
It took him a while to get around to writing a book, to which he’s given the title How to Avoid Armageddon. It was accepted by Old Line Publishing and released late last month. Entirely secular in its approach, the book offers a guide to a pragmatic view of the world and a means of solving the Israeli-Arab conflict.
■ IT CAME as no surprise that signing of a joint declaration for the expansion of bilateral relations by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, took place in the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv on the day prior to the arrival of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or that Merkel stayed in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
While it’s true that the King David traditionally hosts heads of state, in recent years it has encountered competition from the more modern David Citadel Hotel. But as far as Germany is concerned, there is a special reason for utilizing the facilities of the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv flagships of the Dan Hotel chain.
Michael Federmann, who is chairman of the chain, heads the Israel Germany Chamber of Commerce, and both he and his late father – the legendary German-born Yekutiel X. Federmann, the cofounder with his brother Samuel Federmann of the Dan chain – have been singled out for awards by Germany in recognition of their efforts to enhance relations between Israel and Germany.
■ SOMETHING A little different from the usual klezmer-style concerts that are featured at Yung Yiddish will be on the playbill on Thursday, February 17, when German actress and dancer Anina Schiller and Jewish jazz musician Ofer Golani present their trilingual philosophical cabaret, which tells the stories of Frank Zappa, Albert Einstein, Plato, Primo Levi and Leonard Cohen. Schiller and Golani introduce multicultural humor and klezmo-jazz along with philo-kabbalistic enlightenment, and welcome audience participation.
For those who’ve never been to the YY cellar in the capital before, the address is Rehov Yirmiyahu 52.
■ IT’S COMMON knowledge that dyed-in-the-wool soccer fans will go more than that extra mile to prove their loyalty to their teams. Thus, it was to be expected that eager fans would not be deterred by wind and rain. Some 10,000 of them crowded into Teddy Stadium last Sunday night to watch the game between Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa. The heavy rain actually gave fans on both sides a better chance to show off their colors. Beitar’s bright yellow and black, which always stand out, were even more obvious this time in huge umbrellas, parkas, raincoats, sweaters and scarves. Many of the fans were carrying large yellow balloons and waving yellow pennants. Ditto Maccabi Haifa fans, with the difference that their color was green and not nearly as vivid as the ever-present yellow.
As much as the fans were yelling and the teams were running across the field to intercept the ball, the person for whom this was a very special night was new Beitar coach Roni Levy, for whom this was a great moment of truth in testing his ability to bring the team around. Well, Beitar didn’t lose, but it didn’t win either. Despite some admirable attempts from players on both sides, no one managed to score a goal, and the game ended in a 0:0 tie.