GRAPEVINE: A dream come true

Why would anyone hand over his CEO position to a nine year old boy?

Guy Kleiman, Nitai, Denise Bar-Aharon. (photo credit: YARIV DAGAN)
Guy Kleiman, Nitai, Denise Bar-Aharon.
(photo credit: YARIV DAGAN)
Less than four months after taking up his position as CEO of the Ritz Carlton at the Herzliya Marina, Guy Kleiman, who was the founding general manager of the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem, ceded his job to a nine-year-old boy. Well, not exactly.
It was only for a day. The boy is Nitai, who is suffering from a life-threatening illness. As long as anyone in his family can remember, Nitai wanted to be a hotel manager.
Nitai and his dream came to the attention of Make-A-Wish Israel, and it was actually one of the easier dreams to convert to reality.
Kleiman and his team were more than happy to oblige, as was Adi Strauss, one of the owners of the hotel.
Nitai arrived at the hotel with his family and was given a VIP welcome. On the day that he took over from Kleiman, he arrived at a staff meeting dressed in a suit, to which was pinned a badge bearing his name. He also had business cards and other surprises.
He helped to formulate the summer menu for the children of the hotel, and accompanied the chef to the kitchen and even helped to prepare the pizza. It was a real fun day, and Denise Bar-Aharon, founder and CEO of Make-A-Wish Israel, and Strauss enjoyed it nearly as much as Nitai.
■ A FUND-RAISER for IDF Widows and Orphans was also utilized to say thank you to several generous supporters, among them British expat brothers Aron and Jamie Lazarus, who provided a night of soccer trivia quizzes, raffles, exciting prizes and lots of banter. The two received special certificates of appreciation from Yuval Lipkin, CEO of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization.
■ ALTHOUGH EVERYONE was asked to wear white to the funeral of Amir Fryszer Guttman, composer, singer and musician Svika Pick stood out in the crowd, wearing his signature black. He also wore black the following day at the engagement party at the Dan Accadia Hotel of his daughter Daniella and Hollywood film director Quentin Tarantino. Daniella wore white, and her fiancé wore a white shirt, so the father of the bride-to-be once again stood out in the crowd.
■ THANKS TO organizations such as Nefesh B’Nefesh, Birthright, the Lone Soldiers Association and of course the various Zionist youth groups, the number of native English-speakers living in Israel is increasing; and even if they learn to speak Hebrew fluently, they are always drawn to English-language cultural events, be they fund-raisers or culture for culture’s sake.
Jerusalem’s Beit Avi Chai – which was founded by an American-born philanthropist, the late Zalman Bernstein, who was better known in New York financial circles as Sanford Bernstein – in its first few years focused almost entirely on Hebrew, though it did have an annual drama marathon in English. Under current director David Rozenson, who is not actually a native English-speaker, but nonetheless speaks English with an American accent, there is a realization that if the English-language cultural events are sufficiently interesting, English-speaking audiences will flock.
Rozenson, who was born in Saint Petersburg, moved to the US with his parents and sister in 1978, and then returned to Russia in 2000, where he was headquartered in Moscow, from where he initiated and oversaw Beit Avi Chai’s philanthropic and Jewish awareness activities in the FSU.
He moved to Jerusalem less than five years ago, and in consultation with his team has expanded Beit Avi Chai’s activities to include as much as possible of the diversity of Jewish culture.
As far as programs in English are concerned, quite a few are coming up. The first of these will be on Tuesday, August 8, by way of a conversation between Jerusalem Post Editor- in-Chief Yaakov Katz and Prof. Ruth R.
Wisse, who was his teacher at Harvard University.
Under the heading of “Jews, Power and Presidents,” they will discuss whether Jewish survival is predicated on endless antisemitism, and how Jews get to figure so prominently in the world’s imagination and politics.
Other programs coming up for English-speakers include: a Cantorial Concert featuring cantors Colin Shochat and Avremi Kirshenbaum, with professors Avigdor Shinan and Shlomit Elitzur commenting in Hebrew; world-famous sexologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer talking about sexuality in the Jewish tradition; columnist and international public speaker Melanie Phillips, who will relate to the upcoming centennial of the Belfour Declaration, in a program organized in conjunction with the Israel Branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England; Rabbi Chaim Brovender, who will deliver a pre-Rosh Hashana lecture; and, immediately following the High Holy Day season, a series focusing on the Book of Genesis with the ever-popular Dr. Aviva Zornberg.
■ KNESSET MEMBER Nava Boker is a great defender of human dignity, as officials of soccer clubs that exploit promising young players and their parents are about to learn.
Boker is angry at those soccer clubs that don’t use certain players, but refuse to release them from their contracts unless they pay a fine for leaving the club. What this means in essence is that older players who have lost some of their agility are left on the bench instead of spending the twilight of their careers with a lower-ranking club that at least lets them play the game; and young players who are left on the bench and not given the chance to develop their talents are more or less held for ransom. Because these youngsters were minors when they joined the club, their parents had to sign for them, and naively believed that they were signing for a future star player. When that didn’t work out and the youngsters wanted to move to another club where they thought they might have better chances to get out on the field, they were told that they could leave only if they pay up.
Interviewed on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet, Boker said that it’s time that an end was put to the ongoing humiliation of these players.
She wants to change the sports law to ensure that no player is exploited or humiliated. It’s to be hoped that Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev will not think that Boker is trespassing on her turf and will work shoulder to shoulder with her in the quest for fair play.
■ THOUGH WELL-MEANING, Knesset members are not always as effective as the media in solving problems.
With the start of the new school year only a little over a month away, parents of young children with allergies or special needs are becoming increasingly worried about the care that these kids will receive in the event that something untoward happens to them.
A child under the age of five cannot be expected to be overly careful about food that he or she may consume in kindergarten.
There are children who are lactose intolerant or allergic to nuts, or who cannot digest certain foods, and provision has to be made for them, but neither the Health Ministry nor the Education Ministry, nor for that matter the education departments of local authorities, are willing to take the responsibility.
Similarly, children who are lame or confined to wheelchairs, but who can otherwise function perfectly well, are either not admitted to certain kindergartens or elementary schools, or if they are and their parents ask for a ramp to be provided so that they can mount the two or three steps that will give them access to the building, more often than not, they are refused.
These and other complaints have been brought to the attention of Gili Tamir, a qualified social worker who knows a thing or two about the law and how to implement it. Tamir has a daily radio program at 3 p.m.
on Kan Reshet Bet called Zeh Magia Lachem (It’s owing to you), in which she deals with a plethora of social welfare problems. This past week, the focus has been on children.
Tamir not only dispenses advice, but if she hears that the people with the problems have tried numerous resources without success, she takes up the cause herself, and often gets the desired response. She’s also keen to help Holocaust survivors who for some odd reason are unaware of their rights and have never tried to claim their entitlements.
She can be reached at 072-215-3131 and will return the call soon after callers leave their details. She can also be reached on Facebook at GiliTamirReshetBet/.
Taking into account that people at work may not be able to hear her program in the afternoon, Kan rebroadcasts it at 2 a.m.