Grapevine: New guests for the New Year

It's hard to imagine people wcoming from Tel Aviv and Herzliya Pituah to J'lem for a New Year's party, but guests could hardly refuse.

Erel Margalit 521 (do not publish again) (photo credit: Flash 90)
Erel Margalit 521 (do not publish again)
(photo credit: Flash 90)
■ IT’S HARD to imagine that people would come from Tel Aviv, Herzliya Pituah, Ramat Hasharon, Ramat Gan and Kfar Shmaryahu to Jerusalem for New Year’s Eve! The traffic is usually in the other direction. But when Erel Margalit decided to combine his 50th birthday party with a New Year’s Eve party, his friends on the other side of the country could hardly refuse to come. Aside from anything else, it wouldn’t be good for business.
Margalit, who is on the Forbes Midas list, is the driving force behind JVP and has a thriving communications empire in the area once occupied by the old Jerusalem train station. A millionaire several times over, Margalit could easily do without gifts, and to save his guests the headache of trying to think what to give a man who already has everything on his 50th birthday, Margalit asked them instead to donate to a Jerusalem community project that each year underwrites the living expenses for young people engaged in civilian national service projects that benefit the children of the capital. Among the guests were 55 of the young volunteers working in the community project, along with former MK Haim Ramon and his wife Vered, Bezalel president Arnon Zuckerman, Moshe Gaon, Dedi Zucker, architect Maya Plesner, Ami Geniger and many others.
■ CHIEF OF General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who is traveling around the country to make his farewells before leaving office on February 11, last week spoke to students of Jerusalem’s High School for Sciences and Arts and focused on unrest in the Gaza strip and the ongoing captivity of Gilad Schalit.
“We will not allow a situation in which our citizens and towns are being fired at from a safe area. We did not lose the right to defend ourselves. During the next war, we will do everything we can to minimize injuries among civilians as we have done in the past,” said Ashkenazi.
In addressing the issue of rescue efforts for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, Ashkenazi declared: “As long as Gilad Schalit is in captivity and does not return home, our mission is not complete. The IDF will do everything possible to bring Gilad home.
Since we are the ones who sent him, we are committed to bringing him back. We put our people in danger in order to bring Gilad home, with many of our efforts conducted away from the public eye.”
■ CHAVA LEHMAN believed that, given the right environment and encouragement, special-needs children could be brought to realize their potential. In 1976 she founded Kisharon, which specializes in caring for and educating Jewish children and adults with a wide variety of disabilities. She devoted 26 years of her life to what became the Kisharon Day School in London. She kept her finger on the pulse of its operations until her retirement in 2002. After making aliya in 2006, she settled in Jerusalem and wrote a book, The Laughter and the Tears, which was published by Mazo Publishers and launched last month at the home of Cecily Davis, who was Lehman’s secretary and co-founder and who remains a close friend.
Parents of some of the youngsters who attended the Kisharon school and who now live in Israel were among those who came to buy the book and once again express thanks to the author for her vision and compassion, and especially for enabling people with disabilities to become more accepted in the Jewish community.
When Lehman first started with Kisharon, it was with three children in a house on Finchley Road. By the time she retired, there was a day school plus two senior centers for the children who had grown up.
These centers included workshops for developing skills such as bookbinding, bicycle repairs, etc., and there was also a residential house for men.
Among the people who helped Lehman get Kisharon off the ground was the inimitable “Lady J.,” who was officially Lady Amelie Jakobovits, the wife of the chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth.
■ YOUNGSTERS ARE subject to the influences around them and some unfortunately fall victim to drug and alcohol peddlers, pedophiles, thieves and other disreputable characters. Parents are often blind to warning signs, more often than not because they don’t really know how to recognize them. Kav L’Noar, which works with Anglo families, is familiar with the signs and at its conference at the Ramada Hotel on January 17 will seek to empower parents in the hope of rescuing more youngsters from trouble.
Although the event is of a religious nature with separate seating for men and women, it is to the advantage of all parents to come and get pointers from Rabbi Zev Leff, head of Yeshiva Gedolah Matityahu, Rabbi Zechariyah Greenwald, dean of the Me’ohr Teachers Seminary for Women and Dr. David Pelcovitz, professor of education and psychology at Yeshiva University, who will talk about awareness, education and prevention.