Grapevine: Shooting themselves in the foot

Even people who have no Polish connections, feel the need to create greater awareness of the Holocaust

Amichai Greenberg’s Holocaust film ‘The Testament’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
Amichai Greenberg’s Holocaust film ‘The Testament’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israelis who walk in the corridors of power have a remarkable gift for shooting themselves in the foot. We saw it last week with Shas leader Arye Deri, who sought the means of getting MK Yehudah Glick to leave his house of mourning to cast a vote in the Knesset.
When Rabbi Haim Druckman, a former MK and currently the head of Or Etzion Yeshiva was asked in a radio interview about whether according to Halacha it is permissible for Glick to rise from his seat of mourning to go to the Knesset, Druckman said that from his point of view, Halacha didn’t come unto it. It was simply a matter of moral decency. Nothing was so urgent that it couldn’t wait another week, he declared, adding that it was an impertinence to ask a man who had just buried his wife, who had been so precious to him, to leave the seat of mourning to go and vote in the Knesset. Deri has since apologized, saying he was motivated by the desire to preserve the sanctity of the Sabbath, which certain sectors are attempting to violate.
An earlier shot in the foot can be attributed to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who refuses to increase the budget for Jerusalem. Even forgetting for a moment that this is the country’s most populous city, what is the point of US President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital – followed by a Knesset vote on helping to keep Jerusalem undivided– if the Finance Ministry is going to be responsible for turning the jewel in the crown into a sprawling slum? A press release issued last week by the Jerusalem Municipality stated that due to the Finance Ministry’s demand for cutbacks and dismissals, the municipality was preparing for a dramatic budgetary reduction of NIS 350 million. This means, according to the release, that a plan for the construction of 200 classrooms has to be nixed, along with other severe cutbacks in educational and social welfare services. Mayor Nir Barkat says this will cause untold harm to the residents. The dismissal of hundreds of workers will result in damage to the city’s economy, to tourism, to cultural activities, sport and also garbage collection. It’s just as well that Barkat doesn’t take a salary. Otherwise he might have to sack himself along with the hundreds of people who will receive letters of dismissal.
■ NO ONE knows everything and there are gaps in the knowledge of experts in any given subject, including contemporary Israeli history that goes way beyond politics, wars and economics. For instance the songs of a country to a certain extent reflect its history. With this in mind, Kan Gimmel is involving listeners in selecting the 70 top songs in the history of the state.
A panel of musical experts has selected several songs in seven different categories and is asking listeners to indicate on the Kan Facebook page which of the songs in each category they like best. The categories are love songs, memorial songs, patriotic songs, children’s songs, songs that debuted at song festivals, translated songs and protest songs. The top songs, some of which will be aired at 12 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday on Kan Gimmel, in a program hosted by Kobi Menora, are part of a larger project that will have its grand finale on Independence Day, when the most popular song in each category will be broadcast. In addition, in the period leading up to Independence Day, Uri Levy will present a nightly selection of Mabat programs that were broadcast throughout the years on the same date.
Titled A Backward Glimpse, the program will be broadcast at 5 p.m. on Kan 11 on weeknights. This will be followed at 5.30 p.m. with an interview with a personality whose name is indelibly linked with the nation’s history in a program called 70 Faces, with Liat Regev as the interviewer.
Already running for some time on Reshet Bet is Yoav Krakovski’s program Aged 70, which is broadcast on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
■ AMONG THE admirable qualities of the local entertainment industry is that it continues to memorialize performers, composers, lyricists and playwrights who made contributions to the nation’s cultural history. We see it on television with reruns of programs that either featured or were memorial tributes to people such as Dudu Dotan, Arik Lavi, Shoshana Damari, Yaffa Yarkoni, Yossi Banai, Benny Amdurski, Dahn Ben Amotz, Yitzhak Orland, Moshe Wilenski, Sasha Argov, Arik Einstein, Uzi Hitman, Shmulik Kraus, Shaike Ophir, Dzigan and Shumacher, Menachem Golan, Ephraim Kishon, Hanoch Levin and many others whose names were once household words. Among the deceased cultural icons whose work and names are once again being brought to public attention this month are author, poet, playwright, screenwriter and translator Nava Semel, who died last month; and musician and songwriter Naomi Shemer, who died in June 2004, but whose songs are staples in almost every song festival that involves community singing. On January 20, Oded Kotler will direct a performance of Stealers of Kisses, featuring Mei Finegold, Uri Banai and the Moran Choir in memory of Semel at Tzavta in Tel Aviv.
Semel wrote all the songs in the show.
Meanwhile, Habimah has an ongoing production Road Signs: the story of Naomi Shemer, dealing with different periods in her life, and featuring Roni Daloomi, Dafna Dekel, Gila Almagor, and Sandra Sadeh.
■ FOR THE first half of the year, there will be a glut of Holocaust films screened at various cinemas around the country.
Aside from International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a hopeless act of bravery commemorated not only by Jews but by Poles. Representatives of the Polish government and the Warsaw Municipality always attend commemorations of the uprising, because those courageous young men and women who stood up against the Nazis were Polish citizens whose actions and memories were honored even in Communist times.
Even people who have no Polish connections, feel the need to create greater awareness of the Holocaust as the generation of the Holocaust continues to slip away. Extremely active in this respect in Israel is the Austrian Cultural Forum, which frequently co-sponsors screenings of Holocaust-related films. On January 9, it will co-host the Israeli premiere of Amichai Greenberg’s film The Testament, which will be screened at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. The plot centers on an ultra-Orthodox Jewish researcher who is trying to pinpoint the site of a massacre of Jews in Austria. In the process he discovers that his own mother is living on false papers, a factor that propels him into a soul searing identity crisis. The film, which stars Ori Pfeffer, is the first Austrian-Israeli co-production, and won a prize at the Haifa Film Festival.
■ DURING HER long career as a professional tennis player, Shahar Pe’er, who in February last year announced her retirement, traveled across the world to play.
To date, she holds the record for being Israel’s most outstanding female tennis player, and six years prior to her retirement reached No. 11 in the world rankings. In the course of her travels, Pe’er dined in many places and sampled exotic foods, which were part and parcel of the cultures of the countries she visited. Since her retirement, her appetite to study cuisine has grown. She has always been interested in food, but her career did not allow her time to study culinary art. She is now enrolled at a cooking school at the Tel Aviv Port and is enjoying the experience. Who knows, she may become a champion chef.
ON A recent Saturday, United Hatzalah volunteers Miri Shvimmer, Benny Mizrachi, Rachamim Gilboa, Yaakov Yazdi and Lior Eskenasy were each going about their regular Saturday schedules when an emergency alert from the United Hatzalah dispatch center shattered the tranquility of the day. The message on the local radio frequency stated that a 53-year-old man had lost consciousness, and it gave his Holon address. Long experienced in dropping whatever they were doing in order to respond to medical emergencies, they grabbed their helmets, leaped onto their ambucycles and raced to the emergency site. Mizrachi and Gilboa arrived within less than a minute and began checking the vital signs. The situation was not good. Not only was the man unconscious, but he wasn’t breathing either. They immediately began CPR treatment and attached a defibrillator to give him an electric shock, after which they continued CPR. At this point, Shvimmer, Eskenasy and Yazdi entered the apartment and joined the CPR efforts. The man received another six shocks from the defibrillator as well as medical intervention administered by Shvimmer, who is a paramedic.
Miraculously, the man’s heartbeat returned and he began breathing on his own. He was subsequently transported to the hospital in an intensive-care ambulance.
Satisfied that they had once again saved a life, the volunteers wished the man’s family and each other well and went back to their own affairs. Just under a week later, the group got together again to pay a visit to the man whose life they had saved. Edward, the patient, and his family, were delighted to see them and couldn’t thank them enough for having responded to the call so quickly, which was an important factor in saving Edward’s life.
The meeting was so emotional, that everyone present began to cry, but they were tears of joy when they could have so easily been tears of grief.