Grapevine: All in the family

This week in social news.

THE HEAD OF the Azrieli Foundation and Azrieli Group in Israel, Danna Azrieli, and her husband, Budo for Peace founder Danny Hakim (photo credit: Courtesy)
THE HEAD OF the Azrieli Foundation and Azrieli Group in Israel, Danna Azrieli, and her husband, Budo for Peace founder Danny Hakim
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sometimes, when wealthy businesspeople who are also generous philanthropists die, the next generation does not necessarily follow the same path. Hardearned money is frittered away and philanthropy becomes no more than a word in the dictionary.
This is not the case with the Azrieli family, whose members are following in the footsteps of the late David Azrieli, the pioneer of shopping malls in Israel, an astute businessman with diversified interests and an extraordinarily generous philanthropist, who contributed to numerous causes including scientific and medical research, higher education, Holocaust education, youth empowerment and school perseverance, music and the arts, architecture, and quality of life initiatives for people with developmental disabilities.
For more than quarter of a century, the Azrieli Foundation – whose members include Azrieli’s daughters, Naomi, Danna and Sharon – has been supporting projects in the above-mentioned categories in Canada and Israel.
David Azrieli was a benefactor of Tel Aviv University; the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa; Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art; the Weizmann Institute of Science; Yad Vashem; the Jerusalem Foundation; the Israel Museum; the Tel Aviv Museum; the Haifa Museum and of other organizations in Israel, as well as of even more in Canada. Since his death in 2014, the Azrieli Foundation has continued to support these institutions as well as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University.
Most recently, the Azrieli Foundation donated $1.3 million, via the Canada-Israel Cultural Foundation, to the America-Israel Cultural Foundation for the purpose of maintaining and expanding grant programs to encourage Israeli artistic talent. Sharon Azrieli, who is an international operatic and folk singer, said that members of the foundation have a strong desire to encourage creative young Israeli artists and to help them advance in their careers.
Danna Azrieli, who heads both the Azrieli Group and the Azrieli Foundation in Israel, is building retirement complexes in addition to overseeing the management of more than a dozen shopping malls in Israel, as well as the progress of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine on Bar-Ilan’s Galilee campus in Safed, to which the foundation donated $50m. last year, and the David Azrieli School of Architecture at Tel Aviv University, for which the corner stone was also laid last year.
■ CONTRIBUTING IN an altogether different area, Danna Azrieli’s husband, martial arts champion Danny Hakim, founded Budo for Peace, an organization that trains young Israelis and Palestinians from all sects of society in the martial arts, to be used in the service of peace.
Budo for Peace will host the Fourth International Martial Arts Seminar for Peace next week, with the participation of martial arts masters from Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Japan and the Palestinian Authority. Among them is Japan’s Kancho Nabuaki, Jordan’s Emad Khalil and Turkey’s Mikdat Kahraman, who are coming to Israel to help promote peace, mutual respect and harmonious coexistence.
On the first day of the seminar, set to take place in Ra’anana, they will train advanced practitioners, and on the second day they will train more than 200 children, including those from Jewish secular, ultra-Orthodox and Ethiopian communities, Israeli Beduin and Druse, and Palestinians. The children will practice in mixed groups and will experience seven different types of martial arts.
Also attending seminar events will be Japanese Ambassador Koji Tomita, Turkish Ambassador Kamal Okem, whose wife and son are martial arts exponents, Australian Ambassador Chris Cannon, who will be attend because Hakim is from Australia, and Ra’anana Mayor Ze’ev Bielski.
■ APROPOS MAYORS, the longest serving mayor in Israel, Mayor of Ma’alot-Tarshiha Shlomo Buhbut, who has held office since 1976 and who was also a Knesset member during the time when it was permitted to be both an MK and a mayor, said in an interview on Reshet Bet with Shalom Kittal this week that the biggest mistake of the mayors of Galilee towns was that they had failed to form a Galilee political party to run in the Knesset elections and thereby promote the interests of the region. Although towns in the Galilee and towns in the south of the country have made impressive progress, he said, they would have done so sooner had they been well-represented in the legislature.
■ THE GOVERNMENT of France began awarding all surviving veterans of the Normandy landings with the Legion d’Honneur in 2004, on the 60th anniversary of the landings, to recognize the selfless acts of heroism and determination displayed by them during this and other campaigns in 1944. The effort was intensified in 2014, which marked the 70th anniversary year, as old soldiers began to fade away in greater numbers.
Working with the defense ministries in the countries of the allied armies, French embassies traced down veterans who were eligible for the honor, and continue to do so. Numerous organizations of ex-service personnel made information available through their bulletins and websites to enable octogenarians and nonagenarians to apply and receive the honor due to them.
Next week, on February 15, the honor will be conferred in Israel, when nonagenarian Walter Bingham, who was born in Germany before traveling to England as a teenager on a kindertransport and subsequently joining the British Army, will receive France’s highest decoration aboard a French anti-submarine frigate, Jean deVienne, that is currently moored in Haifa Port.
Bingham, who is both a British and Israeli citizen, served with the British Royal Army Service Corps. The past year has been an exciting one for Bingham, who celebrated his 94th birthday in January.
Bingham, who presents a regular talk show, Walter’s World on Arutz Sheva, was officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living radio talk show host. Straight-backed and walking without a cane, he can be seen at important news events with his tape recorder and microphone, and often manages to enter into conversations with dignitaries whose bodyguards do not allow other reporters to approach.
There are sometimes benefits in belonging to the category of senior citizens, especially for those who are still young in heart and spirit.
■ IT SHOULD not come as a surprise to anyone that Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev has chosen “Hallelujah,” the song that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1979, as the key song for the 70th anniversary celebrations of the State of Israel. After all, it was originally sung by Gali Atari, who represents the Mizrahi entertainers whose images Regev is so keen to boost. Kobi Oshrat, who composed the music for the song, is Sephardi, although Shimrit Or, responsible for the lyrics, is not.
■ A SONG CALLED “Hallelujah” from a different genre will be the central theme of an event at Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People next week, as part of a tribute to composer and singer Leonard Cohen, who died in November 2016. At the event to be held in conjunction with the Canadian Embassy, a special concert will be performed by Ari Gorali, Sivan Tadmor and Gal Nisman. The occasion, in the presence of Canadian Ambassador Deborah Lyons, will also be used to inaugurate “Hineni,” a special video art display created in Cohen’s memory.