Grapevine: The energetic Quint

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

Rabbi Emanuel and Rena Quint (photo credit: SHARON ALTSHUL)
Rabbi Emanuel and Rena Quint
(photo credit: SHARON ALTSHUL)

If you followed the television broadcasts of President Joe Biden’s visit to Jerusalem in July, you probably would have noticed his meeting with two Holocaust survivors, one of whom was the articulate Rena Quint. During the pandemic, Quint was frequently on local and international Zoom gatherings; she often hosts Jewish and non-Jewish groups at her home, speaks in other people’s homes and talks to groups at Yad Vashem

Now in her mid-eighties, Quint is bursting with energy. Last Friday, she was at Yad Vashem to address a representative group from the Young Presidents Organization, a global group of young leaders comprising 29,000 chief executives from 130 countries. She then hosted some 30 regional presidents of the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America, who had arrived in Israel prior to this week’s Hadassah National Convention. The Friday night dinner was in the framework of the Shabbat of a Lifetime project, which Quint has been hosting for several years.

Shabbat of a Lifetime, created by Jewish educators who were interested in giving the Shabbat experience to Jewish and non-Jewish individuals and groups visiting Jerusalem, has a network of more than 200 hosts. The following day, Quint hosted two more groups – one at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and another at 8 p.m.

She told her Hadassah guests that she had hosted groups in which none of the participants had previously met a Holocaust survivor, nor did they know much if anything about the Holocaust. But there had also been people who were well informed. As for Shabbat of a Lifetime, she had hosted Jews who could not read Hebrew and were so assimilated that they knew nothing about Shabbat.

As for Hadassah, the group ranged from cultural Jews to Jews who had grown up in small towns in which there were maybe three or four Jewish families, to Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn where neighbors included the full spectrum of Jewish identity and observance. Quint asked each of her guests at her table to stand up and say something about herself. In several cases where women had been totally secular, they relayed that through Hadassah, they had reclaimed their Jewish and Zionist identities and their empowerment as women.

 US President Joe Biden meets with holocaust survivors Dr. Gita Cycowicz and Rena Quint during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, July 13, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN) US President Joe Biden meets with holocaust survivors Dr. Gita Cycowicz and Rena Quint during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, July 13, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

Quint will be hosting another Hadassah group, this time the local Hadassah Nachama-Tamar Chapter, at her home on December 29.

Having lost all her immediate family during the war, Quint is not alone. Her three-generation progeny now number in the range of 70. Quint, who has also experienced tragedy in her adult life, nonetheless lives life to the fullest. If she was spared, she says, then she must help others as she was helped to survive, and she must make the most of her life.

■ SENIOR STAFF of the Leonardo Plaza Hotel, regardless of whether they voted for Likud or not, love Likud leader and prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who conducted his negotiations for the formation of a government in one of the hotel’s suites. As a result, the hotel, part of the Fattal Group, received considerable free publicity in both print and electronic media. 

Even when the name of the hotel was not mentioned, photographs of Netanyahu and delegations arriving or departing were often taken from an angle that showed the street-level staircase leading to the entrance of the hotel, which is well below street level. Anyone who has ever been there could not fail to recognize it.

The hotel’s veteran executive chef, Shalom Kadosh, who is also executive chef of the Fattal Group’s hotels in Israel, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the upcoming 12th conference of the Restaurants Association on Wednesday, November 23, at Expo Tel Aviv. 

Kadosh, who for more than 40 years has catered to monarchs, heads of state and heads of government, has also led Israeli teams in international culinary competitions. The award will be presented to him by celebrity chef Haim Cohen and Gil Stier, CEO of the Stier Marketing Organization.

Yiddish-speaking Ella

■ RELIGIOUS ASHKENAZI guests who used to frequent the Jerusalem Gate Hotel at the entrance to the city and right next door to a major shopping mall were thrilled to be able to converse in Yiddish with Ella Gaffen, a member of the executive staff. 

After a couple of years, Gaffen decided that she wanted to try another branch of the tourist industry and left the hotel. But in the spirit of what goes around, comes around, she’s back and looking forward to greeting returning guests. The Jerusalem Gate Hotel is one of very few hotels in Israel that have their own mikveh (ritual bath), and the catering is glatt kosher. 

Guests who want to expand their dining choices can go next door to the mall, where there are restaurants and a variety of stores that sell different kinds of merchandise.

Holocaust survivors

■ JERUSALEM-BASED communications strategist Laura Kam, who also has a background in advocacy and diplomacy, will be the guest speaker on Monday, November 21, at 7.30 p.m. at an event hosted by ESRA Modi’in, at the Dimri home, 51 Yigal Yadin St. 

New York-born Kam, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, returned to Israel in April, after almost five years in Germany, where her husband, Jeremy Issacharoff, served as Israel’s ambassador. The couple met when Issachoroff was a young diplomat serving as a member of the Israeli delegation to the UN. Following their marriage, Kam came on aliyah in 1989. She will speak about her experiences in Germany and may also reminisce about her husband’s two postings in Washington.

US Embassy in Jerusalem

■ SOME 30 years ago, Yehud-based architect Leon Charney designed an office building opposite the future US Embassy on Hebron Road. While construction was in progress, Charney received a telephone call from the Jerusalem Municipality informing him that when they issued the building permit, they forgot to mention that the US Embassy was given the site across the street, for when it would eventually move to Jerusalem.

The municipality conveyed a message from the embassy that they wanted the roof to have a projection over the building to prevent access by a possible gunman who would be able to see the windows of the embassy building. The projection is one of the features of the office building.

Rabbi psychology

■ EVERY COMMUNITY rabbi has to be a psychologist of some kind, especially as so many people are seeking psychological and emotional help. At Chabad of Rehavia, Rabbi Levi Diamond, who is an assistant to Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, opened a six-week course “Jewish Secrets of Feeling Good,” which deals with individual and interpersonal issues. 

The course, held on Sundays, from 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m., explores how to deal with negative thoughts, why bad things happen to good people, how to deal with suffering, and at what point people can forgive themselves for their actions or inaction.

The popular course was sold out, and Diamond is now putting together another weekly six-session course (NIS 350). For information, call 055-665-7702.

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