GRAPEVINE: Never too old….

Israeli actors, musciains, and Israeli-Australia relations.

POSTER COUPLE Pamela and Werner Loval toast the New Year.  (photo credit: PAMELA LOVAL / COURTESY)
POSTER COUPLE Pamela and Werner Loval toast the New Year.
(photo credit: PAMELA LOVAL / COURTESY)
She’s 80-plus, he’s 90-plus. She’s originally from England, he’s originally from Germany. They met in Jerusalem and they’ve been married for 62 years.
Moreover, they’ve just become the poster couple for contented living in Nofei Yerushalayim, a retirement facility in which most of their neighbors were once part of the who’s who in Jerusalem, as were Pamela and Werner Loval for most of their married lives. Nofei Yerushalayim is using a photo of them in its advertisements in the Hebrew media. A fellow resident is Tamar Eshel, 98, who still has all her faculties, and who has an incredible history as a spy, an Aliyah Bet and Aliyah Dalet veteran, a diplomat, a member of Knesset, a member of the Jerusalem City Council, secretary-general of Na’amat and more. Most readers will be familiar with Aliyah Bet, which was the means of illegally smuggling Holocaust survivors into the Land of Israel during the remaining years of the British Mandate. But not everyone knows about Aliyah Dalet, which secured false papers for Palestinian Jews who fought in the British Army during the Second World War. Many of these people surrendered their own documents to Holocaust survivors in order to enable them to enter the country legally, but then they were stuck themselves and had to rely on false papers in order to ger back home.
■ FORMER KNESSET speaker Dalia Itzik is the first and only woman to hold that position and also the first and only woman to become acting president of the state when Moshe Katsav had to suspend himself.
In October, she will receive the prestigious Henrietta Szold award to be presented by Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. Itzik has a long association with Hadassah. She and all her children were born at the Hadassah Medical Center, and after she left the Knesset she was honored at a gala Hadassah event in Boston, where she was presented with a Woman of Distinction Award. Itzik is currently the head of Hadassah Israel International.
Presentations such as the Henrietta Szold Award are usually accompanied by a video of the recipient. For this purpose, Barbara Sofer, the spokeswoman for Hadassah Zionist Organization, which is named for Henrietta Szold under her Hebrew name, took Itzik back to her childhood home in Jerusalem’s Romema, where Itzik and her many siblings were raised by an illiterate mother who made sure that all her children received a university education. All of them worked from early childhood to help support the household. Their father was an alcoholic who didn’t work and their mother, no matter how many jobs she took on, could not make enough to support them all. All of the children went from school to do odd jobs. All of them are success stories, but it could be argued that Itzik is the most successful of them all.
■ DURING THE Nazi regime, anyone married to a Jew was more or less treated as a Jew and was harassed, humiliated and persecuted.
That policy seems to have spread from Nazi Germany to Australia. Labour Member of Parliament Mike Kelly, whose wife happens to be Jewish, has become a target for the Australian equivalent of neo-Nazis.
Over the weekend a bag of pig’s entrails was thrown at the door of his front office in Canberra. Early in the month, the office near his home had Antipodean Resistance swastikas stickers stuck on the door. Kelly refuses to be intimidated and says he will continue to defend Israel and support the Jewish community. Hate crimes such as the ones perpetrated against him only spur Kelly toward greater efforts and commitments to Israel and the Jewish people, he says.
■ TEL AVIV Mayor Ron Huldai took time out from his election campaign to attend the launch of the Sagol Center for Epigenetics of Metabolism and Aging, a major collaborative research initiative between Australia’s Melbourne-based Monash University and Tel Aviv University.
Monash University is one of the world’s few top-ranking universities named to honor the memory of a member of the Jewish faith.
General Sir John Monash, who was born in Melbourne in 1865, was a civil engineer and an outstanding soldier. He was a commander in the First World War and fought in the Gallipoli campaign. After the war he became chairman of the State Electricity Commission. He was a scholar of many disciplines, and in addition to being a civil engineer, he was a municipal surveyor and a patent attorney. He also taught and lectured at Melbourne University. As president of the Australian Zionist Federation, he would have been very proud to have his name linked in perpetuity with Tel Aviv University. Among the many guests attending the launch of the Sagol Center were Australian Ambassador Chris Cannan and Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem who is a former Israel ambassador to Australia.
The guest list was naturally top heavy with academics including several who specially came from Melbourne to Tel Aviv for the occasion. Among them were Prof. Paul Zimmet AO, Monash University and honorary president, International Diabetes Federation; Prof. Mark Cooper AO, head of Department of Diabetes, Monash University; Prof. Stephen Jane, head of Monash University’s Central Clinical School; and Prof. Sam El-Osta, Department of Diabetes, Monash University.
El-Osta, who is recognized internationally for his work in epigenetics, will play a major role in overseeing the research.
The Monash professors and scientists from Tel Aviv University spoke at a scientific symposium held immediately after the opening ceremony.
Jane said of the initiative, “It represents a wonderful opportunity for Monash University to establish meaningful collaborations with Tel Aviv Medical Center and Tel Aviv University, further enriching the rich relationships between Israel and Australia.
Professors Zimmet and Cooper have been instrumental in this process, and further discovery into the causation of diabetes through the study of epigenetics has enormous therapeutic potential.”
Among the Israeli academics present were Prof. Ronni Gamzu, director general of the Sourasky Medical Center, and Prof. Naftali Stern, director of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Hypertension at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center.
Zimmet, who helped to facilitate the relationship that turned the initiative into a reality, will become the center’s co-director (albeit in an honorary capacity) together with Stern.
Epigenetics, a burgeoning new field, refers to changes in the genetic material surrounding genes that are induced by the environment.
Zimmet, who is an international leader in diabetes research, believes some of these translate into adult disorders such as aging, obesity and type 2 diabetes and may be passed down between generations or acquired during a lifetime.
“If you think of type 2 diabetes, for example, everyone thinks it’s all genetic,” Zimmet said. “But only about 20% of risk of type 2 diabetes has been shown to be associated with genes. There’s a whole belief now that the role of environment makes up a considerable part of that risk.”
LOVERS OF classical music should save Thursday, October 27, and Saturday, October 29, for a historic concert by the Beersheba Sinfonietta which will mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Beersheba (in tandem with the 70th anniversary celebrations of the proclamation of the State of Israel). But no less important, it will join in the centenary celebrations of the birth of controversial composer, conductor and musician Leonard Bernstein, who in addition to these attributes was also a fervent Zionist.
Ignoring the advice of many good friends, Bernstein directed an Israel Philharmonic Orchestra concert in Beersheba in November 1948, while the War of Independence was still raging. That concert’s same program will be performed on the above-mentioned dates by the Beersheba Sinfonietta. The diverse program includes: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 15 in B Flat Major, K. 450; Cojocaru: world premiere of an original piece (in 1948); Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15; and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
The conductor will be Nir Kabaretti, with Dorel Golan, piano; Asaf Kleinman, piano; Daniel Gortler, piano; and the Tempera Ensemble (Yigal Meltzer, trumpet; Gan Lev, saxophone; Tomer Yariv, percussion; and Amit Dolberg, piano).
The Egyptians saw troops massing in what were, by the standards of the day, large numbers and were convinced that Israel was preparing for an attack on the Negev.
Chaim Weizmann, who very soon after became Israel’s first president, explained the Egyptian evaluation of the situation by asking: “Who would take time during a war to listen to a Mozart concert?
■ NOTWITHSTANDING THE rise in antisemitic incidents in Germany, actor Itai Tiran, one of the great talents of the Israeli stage, is moving there, and not just to appear in a particular production, but because he says that Israel is losing its democratic values, and is therefore no longer a place where he chooses to live. He will therefore make his permanent base in Germany, which has become home to many other Israelis who would rather live in Europe than the Middle East. Also traveling to Germany is actor Dovele Glickman, but he doesn’t plan to stay there. He’s going for a three months stint.
Not so long ago, people fled from persecution in Europe to the Jewish homeland, saying that if they had to die, they wanted to die in their own country. Now they’re fleeing the Jewish homeland to take their chances in Europe. Someone had better wake up soon.
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