Grapevine December 8, 2019: London showcase

A roundup of news from around Israel.

The St Pancras clock tower is seen by an Underground tube sign, London, Britain, January 26, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS)
The St Pancras clock tower is seen by an Underground tube sign, London, Britain, January 26, 2018
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Tel Aviv went British last week with the Virgin Atlantic Festival showcasing London in Tel Aviv. Organized by Mark Worth and Tali Zemach, who did something similar in London two years ago when they gave Brits a taste of Tel Aviv, the festival spread its wings through the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center (TAPAC) and included the Opera House, the Cameri Theater, the adjacent Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Romano House in South Tel Aviv. Two of Israel’s now retired former fashion icons, Leah Perez, who for many years was head of the Fashion Design Department at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, and Gideon Oberson, who was one of Israel’s top fashion designers until his retirement earlier this year, happened to bump into each other in the TAPAC lounge area that was created for the relaxation of visitors to the festival.
■ OBERSON RETIRED without being forced by circumstance to do so. Dany Mizrachi, who built up stunning bridal wear empire, unfortunately fell into financial trouble, similar to that experienced by his brother, Nissim Mizrachi, who founded the highly successful fashion chain Rosh Indiani. Dany used to work with Nissim, but after Nissim overstretched himself financially, was in debt for millions of shekels and in 2003 filed for bankruptcy, Dany set out on his own and began creating both classic and sexy bridal wear. But he, too, overstretched himself financially, and unless he can find a way out of the morass, his 2019/2020 collection may be his last.
■ REGULARS AT the Tel Aviv International Salon are in for a treat on Tuesday, December 10, when the guest ambassador who will be addressing them will be Polish Ambassador Marek Magierowski, who, as a long-time journalist before he became a diplomat, was never afraid to step into murky political waters. Once a journalist, always a journalist, even when he’s a diplomat. In conversation with ILTV’s Natasha Kirtchuk at the Alexander Tel Aviv Hotel, Magierowski will discuss Israeli-Polish Relations, the European Union and beyond.
■ CONSERVATION AND preservation enthusiasts are having a tough time protecting old buildings from property developers, who are much more interested in the profits of the future than the prophets of the past.
It’s usually difficult for conservationists to win their battle. At best, in most cases, part of the outer wall or the entrance is permitted to remain, and a modern structure is built around it.
But sometimes the conservationists strike it lucky, despite the overall tendency toward urban renewal.
Examples of old buildings which have been spruced up but allowed to retain their character and their purpose can be seen in three early cities of Jewish settlement and development – Rehovot, Petah Tikva and Ness Ziona – where three synagogues that had fallen into severe neglect have been beautifully restored. All three were originally built more than a century ago, and each played a vital role in the development of the community that it served.
Israel is not the only country in which conservationists are involved in a constant struggle with property developers. Some of these problems will be discussed at the Habimah Theater on Tuesday, December 10, at the conference related to the Fifth International Exhibition for Building Conservation.
The exhibition is being hosted for the first time in Israel, with the participation of international experts from Italy, Portugal and France. The latter will include people who are working on the restoration of the Notre Dame Church, which was severely damaged by fire earlier this year. The plans for rebuilding the church have generated considerable controversy because some people want to see it exactly as it was before the fire, while others want to incorporate more modern elements. Presumably there will be discussion on the different viewpoints with French architect Benjamin Mouton at the conference in Tel Aviv. Italian participants include Prof. Matteo Robiglio from Torino and Dr. David Palterer from Florence. Coming from Portugal, where there also some wonderful old buildings, is Ricardo Rodrigues Guimaraes.
Among the Israelis attending will be Amos Eran and Tamar Tochler from the Council for the Preservation of Heritage Sites, Raanan Kislev, head of the Conservation Administration at the Israel Antiquities Authority; Shira Shapira, deputy head of the Department of Tangible Heritage at the Directorate of Jerusalem and Heritage, plus many other representatives and organizations dedicated to the preservation of heritage in its most tangible form.
Conference discussions will include presentations of projects, methodologies, innovations and disciplines in different countries.
■ WINTER IS coming and in some parts of the country, the weather becomes exceedingly cold. Jerusalem is one of those places, and it is heartbreaking to see how many homeless people take shelter in stairwells more to get away from the rain than the cold. Equally heartbreaking is the realization that children, who are either orphans or products of dysfunctional families that cannot take care of them, are lacking in winter coats.
A heart-warming yet heartbreaking post on Facebook by Linda Roth of New York, informs readers of a wonderful memorial project named for her parents the Eugene and Shirley Roth Coat Closet.
Her Hungarian-born father, Eugene Roth, passed away this year. He attended a yeshiva and a regular school, but his college years were disrupted by the Holocaust. At age 18, he was taken into forced labor. For years afterward, he told his family about the aching bitter cold that he suffered in the quarries of Mauthausen, the two death marches that he had to take, sleeping on the cold, snowy ground without a coat, a scarf or gloves, and very little food to sustain him. Prodded by the Nazis, he and his brothers somehow kept going. Anyone who fell out of line was immediately shot.
Roth’s mother also died earlier this year, and she had been thinking for a while how best to honor the memories of her parents.
Remembering her father’s Mauthausen experiences, she came up with the idea of creating a coat closet for orphans in the names of her parents.
She has done personal research into institutions for orphans and children who are unable to live their families, and after thorough on-site investigations, has decided on two orphanages in Jerusalem: Zion Orphanage for 180 boys ages five to 18, and Bayit Leplitot for 600 girls in the same age group.
“I’ve spent time at these orphanages, I looked at the books, investigated the orphan categorization and am [certain] that many of the children are either orphans, in fact, with one or both parents deceased, or orphans constructively; having absentee or incapable parents,” Roth said. She adds that many of the children arrive with no clothes other than what they are wearing.
“Winters in Jerusalem are bitterly cold,” she writes. “Buildings are made of stone and poorly heated. These kids get cubbies for all their worldly goods not even a foot wide. Many spend the winter coat-less, or with indescribably insufficient thin jackets. I want to clothe them in my dad’s honor.” Her post was originally intended for people in the United States and England who are traveling to Israel. She asked them to fill their suitcases with whatever unwanted warm clothing that they have at home and to distribute them at one of the two orphanages or to call her contact person in Israel, a woman called Harriet, who has both New York and Israeli telephone numbers.
But there is no reason to limit the giving of coats and other warm clothing to generous people from the US and UK. There are plenty of Israelis who discard items from their closets every season to make room for the latest fashions, and they, too, can give these away to orphan children from dysfunctional families.
Roth invites people who want to give clothes to the children to phone her or text her on 1-917-576-0681.
Anyone who wants deliver items personally while in Israel, should go to Zion Orphanage /Blumenthal for boys 14 Hoshea Street, in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim-Geula neighborhood and ask for Itzik Rosenblum, who can also be reached at 052-4569996.
People with clothes for girls should go to Bayit Leplitot and ask for Harriet. The address is 55 Ha’rav Sorotzkin Street in the Matesdorf/Kiryat Sanz neighborhood). Harriet can be reached at 718-971-5296 or 052-763-4839.
Roth asks all donors to say that the clothes are for Eugene Shirley Roth memorial coats closet and that donors were sent by Linda Gisselle Roth.
Aside from doing a good deed, this will be quite an eye opener for donors who have never been to Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, or who have been no further in such neighborhoods than Mea She’arim. The haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enclaves are like an urban village, and anyone traveling by public transport will be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t part of one haredi community or another on the bus. If there is someone who can be distinguished by their attire as not being haredi, it’s usually a caregiver for someone who is.
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