Grapevine February 26, 2021: Back in the pool

Movers and shakers in Israeli society

Swimming pool (Illustrative) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Swimming pool (Illustrative)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
 ■ FORMER SWIMMING champion and sportscaster Moshe Gertel could hardly wait for the YMCA pool to open for him at 6 a.m. on Sunday so that he could finally do 40 laps again. A junior swimming champion in Israel who held the 100-meter freestyle record for seven years as a youth, and who as a young man won a silver medal in the 100-meter relay at the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1966 and a bronze in the 100-meter relay in Bangkok in 1970, he also won silver and gold medals in the Maccabiah Games in 1965 and 1969, and three gold medals in the Budapest Games for veterans in 2017 when he won the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle competitions. Age has not been a barrier for him. Even though he will turn 75 in May, he is seriously considering training for another veterans’ contest, but because he hasn’t been swimming for several months, he thinks he may have a lot of training to do before he’s good enough to compete.
■ GUEST OF honor at the reopening of the Khan Theater on Tuesday was set to be President Reuven Rivlin, for whom the worst part of the pandemic on a personal level was not being able to go see a play for the best part of a year. He took some comfort in watching Netflix, but it could not compare to sitting in the audience for a live performance. The Khan ensemble had been rehearsing Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit since last July, hoping that theaters would reopen much sooner than was actually the case – but better late than never. Due to Health Ministry restrictions, the auditorium was only half-full and will remain that way for the foreseeable future, but theater lovers are eagerly awaiting their turn to come back. According to Khan director Elisheva Mazya, the theater is booked for the weeks ahead. Rivlin was looking forward  to the event but canceled when learning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would make a last-minute appearance for political purposes.
■ THE GREAT synagogue is renewing a monthly series of Music and Lectures to Enrich Jewish Life and is starting off with a Purim concert featuring Cantors Tzvi Weiss and Avraham Kirschenbaum together with the synagogue’s music arranger, organist and accompanist Raymond Goldstein. Members and friends who wish to influence the series by submitting special requests are invited to do so at [email protected]
■ IT WAS definitely not a case of finders, keepers. This delightful story that appeared in Yediot Aharonot illustrates that honesty is indeed the best policy. Early last week, Jerusalem journalist Liran Tamari lost his wallet containing NIS 1,000 in cash plus his credit card and GPO-issued press card. Tamari looked everywhere and couldn’t find it. Sharing the story of his loss with the driver of Mayor Moshe Lion, with whom he is acquainted through his work, Tamari learned that there is a special prayer for lost objects, which somehow reappear within a relatively short period after the prayer is recited. Tamari decided that it was worth a try, and a few hours later received a message on his Facebook account from a stranger, David Stern, who informed him that he had found his wallet. Tamari wasted no time in contacting Stern. They met, and an extremely grateful Tamari offered Stern some financial recompense for his trouble. Stern, happy to have done a good deed, declined the offer, but two days later received his reward. He won NIS 1,000 on a lottery ticket that he had purchased. The sum was identical to that in Tamari’s wallet.
■ LAST MONTH this column contained an item about a new supermarket, Zol Ubegadol, located in the former Bank Hapoalim building on Hapalmach Street. The supermarket is another link in the chain owned by Jerusalem businessman Avi Yohanan and his wife Sharon. It is one of some 20 branches in Jerusalem plus four in Ashdod. At the time, Yohanan said that he was expanding even further in Jerusalem, and true to his word, he has done so in large premises opposite Davidka Square, previously occupied by a Max Store that dealt primarily in arts and crafts and office supplies, gift wrappings and party accessories. Much of that merchandise has been transferred to the Max Store on Jaffa Road opposite the Clal Building. That store has undergone a massive face lift, although unfortunately the broken tiles in the floor have been ignored. Both the Max Store and its Stock Store competitor directly across the road, were open for the duration of the lockdown.
■ JERUSALEM’S DISCOUNT king Rami Levy, who though he has diverse business interests in real estate, shopping malls and communications in addition to his nationwide chain of supermarkets, is still primarily known in relation to the latter which formed the foundation of his fortune. Although he has gone from strength to strength, there are occasions when his ambitions are thwarted. Levy wants to be a member of the group that owns 45% of Cellcom, and was prepared to invest in 29.9% of the group’s shares. But as Levy is already in the communications business, the Communications Ministry vetoed the proposition, and the group now has to look for another partner.
VACATION PLANNERS have been frustrated by the closure of hotels and the limited ability to go abroad. But AACI, the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, which for some weeks now, has been advertising a vacation to Eilat – which until this week was still a dicey proposition – announced this week in its newsletter that “Eilat is open” and that members can opt for stays of four days midweek and three nights including Shabbat or seven full nights at the Dan Neptune Hotel, which is directly on the boardwalk. The date is March 7-14. Scholar in residence is Rabbi Dr. Aharon Adler. This should not be a turn-off for secular members as the rabbi will be conducting his program only on Shabbat. But one thing worth checking is whether the dining room will be open. A lot of people enjoy sitting with others in the dining room and are not very happy when they have to rely on room service.