Grapevine: ‘Nachas’ and nosh

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

Simulation of the new David Geffen Auditorium (photo credit: HERZOG & DE MEURON; MANN-SHINAR ARCHITECTS EXECUTIVE ARCHITECT)
Simulation of the new David Geffen Auditorium

Relatives and close friends gathered on Thursday on the rooftop garden terrace of Naomi Leibler, the former president of World Emunah, for the marriage of her son Romy to Orly Gabbai. Because there were many people from Emunah and the Hazvi Israel congregation whom she would have invited under other circumstances, the mother of the groom decided to host a kiddush in her home rather than at the synagogue. 

As luck would have it, someone had interfered with the mechanism of the Shabbat elevator and the hostess and her guests had to walk up five flights. There were several septuagenarians and octogenarians among the guests, including synagogue stalwarts Bob and Toby Asch, who recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. 

Unlike some of the British- and American-born congregants of Hazvi Israel, whose native accents are discernible in their Hebrew, the groom read the haftarah without any trace of an Australian accent, though strangely enough, when he made Kiddush afterward in his mother’s home, the Australian accent came out very strongly.

In the synagogue, his mother, who occasionally gets annoyed with her children but is not in the habit of throwing things at them, happily joined with other congregants in flinging candies at the groom. In his thanks to her for hosting the sumptuous kiddush, the groom noted that this was the first function she had hosted since the death of his father in April, last year. 

His father, Isi Leibler, had been a long-time second-generation leader of Australian Jewry prior to his aliyah. For 20 years, following his move to Israel, he was a regular columnist for The Jerusalem Post, with a huge following. The Leiblers were extremely hospitable, not only hosting guests at their table for Shabbat and Jewish holidays but also during the week. 

Isi Leibler (credit: WIKIPEDIA)Isi Leibler (credit: WIKIPEDIA)

It was always a treat to sit among their guests, who included intellectuals, rabbis, lawyers, writers, community leaders from abroad, and more. The conversation was always exhilarating. In paying tribute to his bride, the groom said that it was part of Jewish tradition for a groom to feel like a king. He didn’t know if he would continue to feel that way, but he could not have chosen anyone more suitable to be his queen and to support him in his path in life. 

Orly, who in the late 1980s was a member of the administrative staff of the Post, said that while she was honored to be considered his queen, it was more important that they were friends. Their relationship had been built on an abiding friendship, she said, and this would be a significant component of their marriage.

She was also happy to have established a strong bond of affection with her mother-in-law and other members of the Leibler family, the youngest of whom, a baby, was being looked after by grandparents Tamara and Harry Grynberg. Tamara is the groom’s sister.

Hotel news

■ AFTER LESS than 18 months as operations manager at the King David Hotel, Jeremy Sheldon is moving on to something new. Sheldon took over from the iconic Sheldon Ritz when the latter took up the post of general manager at the Vert hotel, where he was given the green light to do just about anything he had ever dreamed of in terms of hotel management. The two had worked together for several years and are close friends. 

Sheldon left the King David Hotel after being offered the job of operations manager at the soon-to-be-opened M-Gallery Theatron Hotel, part of the Accor chain, one of the largest hotel chains in the world. The hotel, situated opposite the Jerusalem Theatre, will be a convenient home-away-from-home for thespians, orchestras and dance troupes, who will only have to cross the road for rehearsals and performances, thereby avoiding Jerusalem’s chaotic traffic. 

It will also be a boon to tourists who have come to attend a performance at the Jerusalem Theatre. One only hopes that with all the new hotels, and those still under construction, that incoming tourism figures will justify the investments. If not, the buildings can always be converted to studio apartments for Jerusalem’s burgeoning population.

National Library gets new English PR

■ AFTER NEARLY eight years at the National Library, where among other things he has been engaged in the institution’s English-language public relations, Zack Rotbart is moving on and waved goodbye this week to researchers, bookworms and other friends and acquaintances. Rotbart, whose official title was manager of global content and media relations, plans to continue writing on historical and cultural topics. But his new day job will be senior strategist at a boutique PR firm in Jerusalem, whose main focus is helping up-and-coming Israeli tech companies tell their stories.

Taking over at the National Library is Rachel Neiman, who is fluent in Hebrew and English. Neiman is no stranger to the National Library, where she has been a resource development associate in the fundraising and international relations department. She is an experienced media professional, having worked both as a journalist and public relations executive and as a community relations director for various companies. 

Before joining the National Library, she worked in executive capacities with various hi-tech companies, and while working for the Koteret PR Agency, she worked with Israeli start-ups securing coverage for them in various leading media outlets. As a journalist, she covered Israel’s ever-growing tech scene for LINK magazine, The Jerusalem Post, Israel 21c and Globes.

While technology is basically her subject, Neiman, who continues to write for Israel21c, reports on other subjects, such as Israeli pop culture and Israeli nostalgia. 

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

■ TWO PROMOTIONS have been announced by the management of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. Yotam Reshef has been promoted to vice president of education and community; and Nira Razmovich to vice president of operations and human resources.

“As the largest botanical garden in Israel and the Middle East, in the past year we expanded our array of activities in education, culture, art, leisure, nature and the environment, said Tom Amit, CEO of JBG. “Despite corona, we upgraded our relationship with the community on a variety of levels. By adding new areas to the array of courses and activities, we have leveraged the amazing connection between man and nature, which for us is critical. We have added important roles that were born as a result of the expansion of the activity.” This expansion policy has led to the above-mentioned promotions.

Until recently, Reshef, 36, was the manager of Habitus, JBG’s hub of urban sustainability. He will now manage three departments: education, courses and community and sustainability. An alumnus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Reshef has a BA in social work and an MA in business administration and nonprofit management. He has been working at JBG for four years.

Razmovich came to JBG seven years ago from the field of general accessibility, a field in which she worked for some six years. She has a BA in communications and social sciences from the Open University, and studied personality graphology at Ma’ain College. She said it is important to her that every worker in the kindergarten team can reach her regarding any issue, in operational terms and day-to-day employment aspects, as well as on personal levels.

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