Grapevine: An added dimension

For many Maccabiah athletes coming to Israel for the first time seeing the real Israel is an experience like that of people in Birthright groups.

FROM LEFT: Cosmetics queen Pnina Rosenbloom, fashion designer Inbal Or and singer Rita photographed at Beauty City (photo credit: SHUKI COHEN)
FROM LEFT: Cosmetics queen Pnina Rosenbloom, fashion designer Inbal Or and singer Rita photographed at Beauty City
(photo credit: SHUKI COHEN)
What do Sari Nusseibeh, Elizabeth Taylor, Isaac Stern, Golda Meir, Arthur Rubinstein, Casper Weinberger, Marlene Dietrich and Willy Brandt have in common? They all appear in historic photographs that are on view at the visitor center at Teddy Park in Jerusalem, which is one of more than 4,000 projects of the Jerusalem Foundation, which was established just over 50 years ago by legendary Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek and Ruth Cheshin, who headed the organization for 45 years.
Last week another dimension was added to the visitor center with the inauguration of the Teddy Kollek Digital Archive, which was assembled at the initiative and relentless prodding of American Jewish community leaders Kenneth and Ann Bialkin.
The Bialkins, who had been longtime friends of Kollek and supporters of the Jerusalem Foundation since its inception, were unable to come to Israel in January to mark the 10th anniversary of Kollek’s death, but were able to come toward the end of June, which is why the inauguration ceremony of the digital archives was held last week.
Members of the Jerusalem Foundation executive board admitted that without Kenneth Bialkin’s dedication to the project, it would never have gotten off the ground, and many of the interesting things that they learned about Kollek in the process of compiling the archive would have faded into the dust of history.
Kollek’s son, Amos Kollek, an international filmmaker, said that the digital archives are an important means of preserving his father’s name and deeds, because in an Internet age people quickly forget. The implication is that with Google at their fingertips, there’s not much need for people to remember. To a new generation, Ben-Gurion is an international airport, and Begin is the name of a highway, Kollek instanced.
Several speakers noted the cultural institutions that Teddy Kollek had initiated in Jerusalem, saying that they were part of his vision for the city, but his son commented that although Mayor Nir Barkat has likewise been encouraging culture, “at the same time he’s encroaching on Arab neighborhoods.”
Most speakers emphasized that Teddy Park, which is frequented by Arabs and Jews from all sectors and every part of Jerusalem, is one of the best examples of Kollek’s vision of a place for all the residents of the city to enjoy in peace and harmony.
Kollek’s daughter, Osnat, a talented artist, whose portrait of her father hangs in the visitor center, recalled that she was a small child when her father was first elected.
When she asked him what it means to be a mayor, his reply was: “I am the senior street sweeper of Jerusalem.”
Bialkin readily admitted that he had been caught up in the spirit of Kollek’s dedication to making Jerusalem a live and living place. “My dedication cannot compare to what I saw and admired in Teddy and Ruth working as a team,” he said. “They inspired me and helped me in identifying as a Jew and in understanding how important that is.”
A founding member of the board of the Jerusalem Foundation as well as a former chairman of the ADL and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, among many other executive positions that he held, Bialkin said that the relationship between the US and Israel cannot be anything but symbiotic, and he sees Jerusalem as “a symbol of humanity, ambition and determination to spread the doctrine for which we know we stand.Jerusalem is the center of modern cultural society.”
■ AGE IS no deterrent for Ruth Dayan, who celebrated her 100th birthday in March. Though not as spry as she used to be and currently relying a lot on her wheelchair, Dayan, who lives in Tel Aviv, took herself off to Ein Hod Artists’ Village last Friday to look at an exhibition of 100 years of photography in Israel that is being shown at the Shturman gallery. The exhibition includes photos of the Dayan dynasty, whose members have been prominent in Israel’s defense and security, politics, civil rights and the arts. It was a very nostalgic visit for Dayan, who was escorted through the exhibition by museum director Ofra Baram.
■ FOR US Ambassador David Friedman and his wife, Tammy, July 4 is obviously an important date on their calendar, but so is July 5, which happens to be the date of their wedding anniversary. The Friedmans this week attended a wedding in Jerusalem on that date, and toward the end of the evening it was announced that they were celebrating their wedding anniversary, and a large, surprise cake was brought out to mark the occasion.
■ WITHOUT DETRACTING from the glory of any of the star athletes participating in the torch-lighting ceremonies of the 20th Maccabiah Games, which are also part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the reunification of Jerusalem, it’s kind of sad that Mark Spitz, the greatest Jewish athlete of all time, was not part of that illustrious lineup that included four Olympic gold medalists.
Spitz is the greatest Jewish swimmer of all time, and until the advent of Mark Phelps was considered the greatest male swimmer in history. He held that unofficial title up till 2008. The first time that he competed internationally was at the 1965 Maccabiah Games. He returned again in 1969. Spitz won a total of 10 Maccabiah gold medals and 11 Olympic medals, including nine gold, one silver and one bronze. He competed in the 1968 Mexico Olympics and also in the fateful 1972 Munich Olympics, in which 11 members of the Israeli team were killed by Black September terrorists.
Between 1965 and 1972, Spitz set 33 world records.
■ FOR MANY Maccabiah athletes coming to Israel for the first time – some with a sense of trepidation fostered by negative media reports - seeing the real Israel is an experience like that of people in Birthright groups.
The most famous of Maccabiah athletes who opted to make aliya is basketball star Tal Brody, who joined the Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball Club and, as its captain, made history in 1977 when it won the European Cup Basketball Championship, beating CSKA Moscow by 12 points. Carried on the shoulders of delirious Israeli fans, Brody famously yelled in heavily American-accented Hebrew “We are on the map and we will stay on the map.”
Brody was interviewed by Shalom Kittal on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet on Thursday morning, just a few hours before the official opening of the 20th Maccabiah Games, and was asked about the effect of the visit to Israel on the players. Brody replied that they see the real Israel, and this, to some extent, empowers them in “dealing with anti-Israel bias on campus.”
Kittal pursued the matter further and asked how many other Maccabiah athletes from abroad had chosen to live in Israel.
Brody said that there were a lot, but didn’t name any. Kittal then switched the subject to Maccabi Tel Aviv, which is now largely dependent on foreign imports. Brody pointed out that this has been the case for a long time, and cited the illustrious 1977 team that included foreign hoopster luminaries such as Aulcie Perry, Bob Griffin, Jim Boatwright and Lou Silver. To which Kittal shot back: “Yes, but you also had Motti Aroesti and Miki Berkovich.”
■ NOTED EXPERT on the elderly Prof.
Yossi Tamir, the director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Israel operation, addressed a gathering of some 170-plus diplomats on Wednesday, sponsored by the Israel Mission to the UN as part of the UN’s Open-end Working Group on Aging conference. In addition, a photo exhibition – “A New Look at Aging,” featuring original, bold and witty photos from photographer Oren Biran – gave viewers an inventive glimpse of the vibrant lives of Israeli seniors. Asher Kleingold, 87, who was featured in some of the photos, also shared his experiences as an active senior.
Biran was also present, as were JDC CEO David Schizer and Nofei Yerushalayim senior housing director Pnina Sulzbacher, who quoted George Bernard Shaw, who said: “We do not stop playing because we’re getting older, we’re getting older because we stop playing.”
“While there are many challenges that seniors face and innovative solutions that can ensure their independence and dignity,” said Tamir, “Oren Biran’s photography reminds us above all that the elderly remain keen to stay involved in their communities, and our societies are best served by welcoming their talents, wisdom and contribution.”
The photograph’s subjects are all residents of Nofei Yerushalayim in Bayit Vegan. The playful images, reflecting the wistful pleasures and excitement of seniors at play, coupling off and enjoying a party, were aligned with JDC’s ongoing efforts in Israel to contribute to changing attitudes toward the elderly and improving and strengthening the self-image of the elderly themselves.
■ KNOWN INTERNATIONALLY for her dramatic and sexy, body-conscious bridal gowns and evening wear, designer Inbal Dror, a Shenkar graduate who has made it big-time, especially in the United States but also in Europe, always wanted to produce a street-wear collection, and finally did so, together with fellow designer Goldie Sarussi. The collection premiered this week at the Tel Aviv Convention Center at the annual Tel Aviv Beauty City happening sponsored by Super-Pharm.
Among the celebrities who wear Inbal Dror designs are supermodel Bar Refaeli, actress Kat Graham and singers Beyoncé and Rita. The new collection premiered in the presence of leading business executives, socialites and people whose names have celebrity status in Israel’s fashion and beauty industry.
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