Grapevine December 15, 2019: For want of a digital calendar

A roundup of news from around Israel.

Testing a sample in the labs of the Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Dental Medicine.  (photo credit: YANIV BERMAN/IAA)
Testing a sample in the labs of the Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Dental Medicine.
(photo credit: YANIV BERMAN/IAA)
In a country in which there are so many medical and scientific breakthroughs, and other examples of pure genius, one would imagine that someone would have found a solution to working the calendar. For some inexplicable reason, there are days in which there are several events to which many of the invitees are on almost everyone’s list, and there are days on which hardly anything is happening. Surely in a digital age it is not all that difficult to compile a national Internet calendar so that people planning an event can check which dates are still free.
An immediate situation which comes to mind relates to Hadassah Israel’s annual special gifts brunch, and Emunah Jerusalem’s Na’avah Tehilla branch’s annual fall lunch. Both events are in the late morning and early afternoon of Monday, December 16, and as far as English speakers are concerned, there are quite a few who support both Hadassah and Emunah. The latter event is less expensive, and the attraction is historian and author Dr. Michael Oren, a former Member of Knesset and before that Israel’s ambassador to the US.
The Hadassah brunch will honor Ora and Prof. Michael Sela, along with Arthur Spector with the Builders of Jerusalem award; and the attraction is that the event is being held at the Jerusalem Aquarium and includes a guided tour of the facility. Proceeds from the Emunah event are designated for an Emergency Fund for Girls at Emunah College; and those of the Hadassah event for the Rehabilitation Center for Wounded Soldiers and Victims of terrorism at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus. If one of these organizations had moved its event to another day in the same week, both organizations would in all probability have benefited in having greater attendance at each of the two events and more money for their respective causes.
■ THERE ARE several charitable organizations that would like to know the fund-raising secrets of United Hatzalah, which in the space of a week raised the equivalent of $7 million. The sum represents total donations from two gala dinners – one in Florida the week before last, and another in Israel at the Avenue in Airport City at the beginning of last week. United Hatzalah founder Eli Beer was at both events. US Ambassador David Friedman and his wife, Tammy, who are long time Hatzalah supporters, attended the event in Miami.
Some 800 people, including heads of major corporations, attended the Israel gala, which proves how successful the organization has been in penetrating the consciousness of all sectors of the public. Whether one is driving or walking along any street in Israel, sooner or later, a United Hatzalah volunteer will whiz by on an ambucycle in response to an emergency call for any number of medical reasons – a car accident, a heart attack or more happily, a woman who is in labor and who could give birth at any moment.
Some donors have actually personally benefited from the life-saving measures taken by United Hatzalah first responders.
Beer, who spoke at both gala dinners, said that even as a young boy he realized the need for faster, more efficient medical care. This prompted him to found United Hatzalah, and he discovered that there are a lot of people from all walks of life and all faiths who find it rewarding to volunteer to work with and for a life-saving organization. United Hatzalah now has active branches in five countries, which indicates that Beer will eventually spend his time going from gala to gala.
There was an emotional moment at the Israel gala when a tearful family, Yaron, Limor and baby Lior Golan, were reunited with the six United Hatzalah volunteers who performed CPR on an unconscious Limor just two months earlier. At the time, Limor was 39 weeks pregnant with Lior. During the dramatic rescue, not only did the volunteers manage to bring Limor’s pulse back, but they managed to save the baby as well. The volunteers, Aharon Avital, Tomer Tzenani, Yossi Cohen, Naftali Friedman, Adi Avivi and Lior Filshteiner, all had tears in their eyes, as did the Golan family, as Yaron expressed his heartfelt thanks to the organization for saving the lives of his wife and newborn son.
■ AFTER SPENDING his poverty-stricken childhood in one of the poorer areas of Netanya where he had to share a bedroom with several siblings, billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva, after striking it rich moved to a more luxurious abode, but not all that far from the old neighborhood. In recent years, he and his wife, Chaya, have lived in a beautifully appointed apartment in Poleg, south of Netanya. Now, like so many other people who have reached or are approaching retirement age, Tshuva, 71, has been drawn to Tel Aviv and is moving into a NIS 35 million north Tel Aviv apartment built by El-Ad Israel. Tshuva is the chairman of the El-Ad Group. The apartment illustrates just how far the Tripoli, Libya-born Tshuva has come since his first home in Israel, which was a transit camp. Listed by Forbes as one of the 10 richest people in Israel, Tshuva is also chairman of the Delek Group, which inter alia drills for and exports natural gas.
His new apartment in El-Ad’s Park Bavli project was designed by his daughter Gal Naor, who is an architect and interior decorator. She was also responsible for the revamping of New York’s iconic Park Plaza Hotel at the time that Tshuva owned it. Tshuva has not forgotten his beginnings, and each year donates hundreds of scholarships to Netanya Academic College to ensure that students coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds will have the chance to move on and to carve lucrative careers for themselves.
■ EVERY DECEMBER, Bank Hapoalim hosts a major art exhibition with large portions of the profits from sales going to charity. The exhibition is always held on a Friday at the Bank Hapoalim building on Tel Aviv’s Yehuda Halevi Street and is open to invitees only, on December 20. The event, because of its joint cultural and charitable significance, attracts all the Who’s Who of Israel artists who have this year donated around 500 works to the exhibition. Among the artists whose works will be on display are Yigal Tamarkin, Sigalit Landau, Leah Nikel, Uri Gershoni and other top-notch sculptors and painters. Proceeds will go to the Holon Institute of Technology and to Krembo Wings. Artists whose works will be sold will receive 25% of the price received.
■ IN JANUARY, Knesset Members will automatically get a substantial pay raise. This includes people who were elected as recently as September. Several members of Blue and White led by former Health Minister Yael German have said that they will forgo the increase. The question is how this will happen, as the money is automatically deposited into their bank accounts. Will they instruct their banks to pass on the additional sums to various charities, or did they simply make a statement in order to appear noble?
When former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was elected to the Knesset, he wanted to be a shekel-a-year man just as he was as mayor. Barkat is a millionaire, and because he had no need of the salary, he thought that the money could be better utilized for community projects. There was no problem at City Hall in accommodating this request, but at the Knesset, he was told he couldn’t do that. So if Barkat was unable to forfeit his salary, and has presumably found a way to transfer it elsewhere as soon as it gets into his account, it would be of interest to learn who is hanging on to their pay raise and who is diverting it to charity.
For that matter, is there really a way to check?
Recent media reports indicate that 25% of the population is living in poverty, and that a large percentage of the rest of Israel is living on a perpetual overdraft, so much so that banks occasionally place a lien on their accounts or seize their assets.
Yet the Knesset can vote itself all kinds of perqs and there is little that the public can do about it. Despite being the Start-Up Nation, Israel is beginning to look like a banana republic.
■ MOST PEOPLE facing criminal charges want to keep as low a profile as possible, and often come to court with their faces buried inside their T-shirts or their jackets. Not so Inbal Or, a former celebrity real estate agent who has been charged with aggravated fraud, and who is protesting her innocence and casting the blame on her former employees. Because Or was also a prominent socialite, and because her case attracted a lot of media attention, documentary film-maker Nili Tal is interested in making a film about her and wanted to document the court proceedings. Or readily agreed, but not so Judge Dana Amir of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court who presumably did not want her court room to be turned into a film studio.