GRAPEVINE: Remembering Malki

Grief and memory in Jerusalem.

AVITAL SHARANSKY, former US president George W. Bush, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, pose together at a gala dinner in New York honoring the outgoing Jewish Agency chairman (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
AVITAL SHARANSKY, former US president George W. Bush, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, pose together at a gala dinner in New York honoring the outgoing Jewish Agency chairman
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
How do parents best honor the memory of a beloved daughter killed in a terrorist attack?
In the case of Jerusalemites Frimet and Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was killed in the August 2001 attack on the Sbarro pizza parlor, they established a foundation in her name to care for families with children with severe special needs who want to keep those children within the family circle rather than place them in an institution.
The reason for this is that the Roths have another daughter, now aged 23, severely disabled, but living at home, nurtured by Malki, who also cared for other disabled children with special needs. While the government invests a lot of money in institutions that care for such children, it does next to nothing to help parents who care for such children at home, said Arnold Roth at the seventh annual Rainbow of Music concert at the Jerusalem Theater which is another memorial for Malki who was very musical and showed great promise in terms of a musical career. In fact one of her songs ‘A reason to be happy,’ written a few weeks before her death, was sung at the Rainbow of Music concert which was a total sellout.
In the audience were special guests Rosalyn and Stephen Flatow, who specially flew in from the United States. Their 20-year-old daughter Alisa, who had been studying in Israel, was also the victim of a terrorist attack. She was on her way to the beach in Gush Katif in April, 1995, when terrorists bombed the bus in which she was traveling. Her parents established a scholarship fund in her name and at Nishmat where she was studying in Israel – the program for overseas students is in her memory. Her brother Etan enlisted in the IDF in 2008. They are regulars, who have attended all the Rainbow of Music concerts since their inception said this most recent one was the best. The Ramatayim Men’s Choir, headed by ever energetic founder and conductor Richard Shavei Tzion is the staple of every Rainbow of Music concert and its soloists are simply magnificent. In addition, there were the Gat brothers who got a huge cheer from the audience.
Although their grandfather was a famous Cantor, the two haredi siblings prefer Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles and Dire Straits. What was especially moving was a song by singer, composer and player of many instruments Aharon Razel, who was a great fan of Shlomo Carlebach’s and loves to sing his music. After returning from a Seven Blessings party to his home in Jerusalem’s Nahlaot neighborhood, Razel had felt a great need to write to Carlebach to ask him what his secret was in attracting so many people and in bringing those who had strayed back to Jewish tradition.
At the party, he wrote, some 100 yeshiva students had sung Carlebach melodies all night. Razel who recited the text of the letter as he played the keyboard, interspersed the paragraphs with the Carlebach melody to “Shifchi Kamayim Libech” (Pour out your heart like water), which was entirely appropriate given the contents of the letter.
Shavei Zion realized a dream at the concert when Razel performed his own composition Et Achai together with the choir. Shavei Zion had first heard it while walking through Nahlaot on his way to Mahaneh Yehuda market. He had been entranced, and said to himself that one day the Ramatayim Choir would sing it – and that day had finally arrived. Also on the program was young singer Naftali Weiss who performs regularly with the Shalva Band. Shalva is also in the forefront of caring for special needs children.
And then there was popular cantorial and hassidic singer Avremi Roth, who sang both solos and duets as well as with the choir, but what get everyone in the auditorium clapping and singing was the jam session with all the performs at the end of the official program, with most of the songs about Jerusalem.
■ IT’S VERY difficult to persuade outgoing Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky to wear a tie. Even at the gala dinner held for in New York in the presence of former US president George W. Bush and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, plus a host of other dignitaries, Sharansky’s only acquiescence to formality was to wear a suit – but not a tie, although his wife Avital, did wear a black formal gown.
ALTHOUGH HE did not run for another term as Bar-Ilan University president, Rabbi Daniel Hershkowitz, 65, did not exactly go in for early retirement. A former Minister of Science and Technology, he was last week officially appointed chairman of the National Council for Research and Development by President Reuven Rivlin and current Minister for Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis, who said that Hershkowitz is an ideal combination of Jewish learning and academic scholarship, in addition to which he has an in depth knowledge of government and state gleaned from his own inside experience. This overall combination makes him an ideal person for his new role, said Okunis, who was convinced that the NCR&D will make significant progress with Hershkowitz at the helm.
Okunis added that the Council is an important strategic arm of the government, tasked with examining various R&D projects and determining their strength and value to the country. Based on its findings, the Council then makes recommendations to the government. It also conducts surveys on scientific issues to ensure that Israel maintains its brinkmanship.
Haifa-born Hershkowitz is the son of Holocaust survivors. He received rabbinical ordination at Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem. He holds Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in Science from the Haifa Technion where he also served as a professor of mathematics.
Among his former roles are those of head of the Technion Faculty Association, the Faculty of Mathematics dean and head of the Technion Division of Continuing Education and External Studies. He was a member of the 18th Knesset, and during his army days served as a Major in the Intelligence Corps. He continues to serve as Rabbi in the Ahuza neighborhood in Haifa. He and his wife Simona have five children and 11 grandchildren.
■ EVEN NON-Jewish major calendar dates are stretched out in Israel with International Women’s Day events extending way beyond March 8. In Jerusalem, the Museum on the Seam, together with the Association of Women’s Art and Gender Research, will on Tuesday, host a panel discussion with six panelists Naomi Tannhauser, Amira Zhan, Dr. Dalia Bahar, Alicia Shahaf Malia di Kalo and Tzipi Mizrahi. Admission is free of charge, but places are limited and advance reservations are therefore requested. To register call 02-0628 1278. Introductory remarks will be made by Museum executive director Maor Komlosh and Association chair Dr. Tal Dekel.
■ DIPLOMATS SOMETIMES realize that they’ve been in Israel for too long when they start keeping Middle East Mean Time. But Irish Ambassador Allison Kelly has a good excuse for stretching International Women’s Day till next week. She had to get the St. Patrick’s Day festivities out of the way before hosting an International Women’s Day event on behalf of her fellow female ambassadors who are engaged in the Women Wage Peace initiative.
■ THE DIASPORA Affairs Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Sport, has launched an international campaign for selecting a Diaspora torch lighter for the 70th-anniversary celebrations of the State, and in so doing has possibly stepped into a hornet’s next.
Who is the most deserving person – the one who has given the most money to Israel? The one who has spoken up longest and loudest on behalf of Israel and the rest of the Jewish world? The one who has done the most to create a spirit of unity between Diaspora communities and the State of Israel? The one closest to US President Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin or Angela Merkel? It’s a very tough call, and whoever is chosen will have to bear the brunt of the anger of those who were omitted.
Category one includes, but not exclusively Lord Jacob Rothschild, Sheldon Adelson, Roman Abramovich, Ronald Lauder and Charles Bronfman.
Category two includes again not exclusively Malcolm Hoenlein, Abraham Foxman and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
The next one is a little more difficult and demands a lot of head scratching, and as to who is close to which world leader, Chabad always manages to get a foot in the door and in the case of Putin, this is certainly true. He has a very close relationship with Rabbi Berel Lazar.
In Trump’s case, it’s not Chabad, it’s his daughter Ivanka who has already been nominated, and with Merkel, it’s a little dicey between Jewish leadership and wealthy Jewish business people. It would be a lot easier to have a separate seven-pronged beacon for Diaspora Jews with one from each continent, plus a South American representative. This would at least put Diaspora Jewry on a quasi-equal footing with Israel.