Next in line?

NISSIM MISHAL, Yehuda Poliker and Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes (photo credit: OR GEFEN)
NISSIM MISHAL, Yehuda Poliker and Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes
(photo credit: OR GEFEN)
As you reap so shall you sow, goes the time honored proverb, and judging by reactions to the morning show hosted by Orly Vilnai and Guy Meroz on Channel 13, the couple might soon find themselves on the unemployment line. Leading Israeli chefs and people in the communications industry were livid over their program this week dedicated to former celebrity chef Raphi Cohen, who, after a meteoric rise to fame, and opening a popular upscale restaurant called Raphael, fell on hard times, went bankrupt, lost everything for which he had worked so hard and is reportedly sleeping in an old jalopy.
Apparently, he was also a victim of the gray market, which in the final analysis did not solve his financial problems and caused him a bigger headache than he had before.
He’s not the first celebrity to fall from glory. It can happen to anyone. Just pick up a bunch of newspapers from 10 years ago, and see how many people who used to be household names have fallen below the radar.
Orly Vilnai and Guy Meroz, who are a couple in private life as well as professionally, claimed that they wanted to help Cohen, but never interviewed him, perhaps because they couldn’t find him. Whatever their intentions were, the message came across as a negative not a positive, and sparked the ire of Cohen’s fellow chefs, including Israel Aharoni, arguably the most famous of them all, who on his Facebook account, in a criticism of Vilnai and Meroz, wrote “Shame, Shame Shame” many times. The word in Hebrew is boosha, which somehow sounds worse than shame – perhaps because of the first syllable. Several journalists and entertainers were also highly critical of Vilnai and Meroz and some who had appeared on other programs which they hosted, wrote that it had been a bad experience because they had been assured that certain conditions, which the interviewees had asked for in order to appear, were in the final analysis not respected.
The old adage that it doesn’t matter what they say about you so long as they spell your name right may still hold good for the moment, but if there are enough complaints about the way in which the show is run, and there is a significant drop in the ratings, Vilnai and Meroz could find themselves outside the studio, and possibly the subjects of a similar investigative report titled: “What happened to Orly and Guy?”
WHEN HE leaves the stage after speaking at the upcoming annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on November 21, Paul Packer, chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, is likely to be inundated by Egyptian-born Jews now living in Israel, who want him to also deal with the restoration of Jewish community assets, especially synagogues that remain in Egypt. There are hardly any Jews left in Egypt these days, and Jews with roots in Egypt are worried that Jewish holy sites in the land of the Nile may be defaced or destroyed, or simply collapse due to neglect.
LACK OF government is not the only reason for the crisis in Israel’s health system. Even when there was a functioning government, there simply weren’t sufficient budgetary allocations to meet all the hospital needs. Doctors and nurses are working overtime; there are insufficient hospital beds. The corridors are filled with people suffering an incredible variety of ailments – and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Of course, that’s not the only area in which the government, even when it is in office is not meeting its obligations to the public. As the population grows, so do the number of needy children. According to broadcaster Nissim Mishal, who is the president of HOM, the Association for Hungry Children, there are 870,000 children in Israel who are living below the poverty line, and because the government does not attend to their needs, certainly as far as nourishment is concerned, private individuals and business enterprises have had to step in to virtually save these children from malnutrition and starvation.
HOM also provides clothing and footwear, blankets and heaters in winter, school bags and stationery, help in purchasing medications and much more.
There has been a significant rise in the number of requests for help from needy families, says Mishal who, together with television, radio and print media personality Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, joined the efforts of the educators who were among the HOM founders. Mishal and Shalom Nir-Mozes have better access to financial sources than do the educators, so in addition to actually helping with the physical work involved in amassing data about children from economically disadvantaged families and collecting and providing food for them, they are the prime fund raisers.
They managed to collect tens of thousands of shekels from hundreds of people who attended the annual HOM benefit concert at Hangar 11 on the Port of Tel Aviv in which the performers were Yehuda Poliker, who never forgets his Greek heritage, and Pirchei Yerushalayim, the cute Jerusalem Boys’ Song and Dance Troupe. Amongst the donors for the evening were Zvi Neta, chairman of the Movement Equipment Group, Shufersal CEO Itzik Abercohen, Doron Halperin, Bank Hapoalim, El Al, Negev Ceramics, Tempo, Superpharm, Dudi Wisman, Amos Luzon, Eyal Ravid and many more.
All of the above support various charitable causes on a regular basis, because the government’s budgetary allocations are elsewhere.
 ALTHOUGH THE Jewish community of India is shrinking, quite a number of synagogues in India, including ancient structures dating back to the 16th century, are still standing. Several Indian synagogues can be seen in paintings currently on display at Bar-Ilan University.
Among the synagogues in India, there are some that are fully functional, some that are open yet marginally active, some that are closed but still intact, and others that are decommissioned, or being used for other purposes.
The buildings vary in design and scale from the large and grand, to the modest single-room and were erected on urban, suburban or rural sites.
They are in different styles and spatial arrangements influenced by many design precedents, climatic considerations and construction traditions. They currently have varying levels of upkeep and preservation.
The synagogues were established by five distinct communities of Jews living in India. Three of the communities have long-established Jewish roots in the country – the Bene Israel, the Cochini, and the Baghdadi. The Bnei Menashe and Bene Ephraim were more recently organized and therefore have less defined histories.
The rich diversity of these synagogues is highlighted in a publication: The Synagogues of India: Architecture, History and Communities authored by Harvard and Cornell University-educated architect and academic Jay A. Waronker, whose scholarship over the past 30 years has focused on the documentation, study and preservation of synagogues and other Jewish architecture in India, Myanmar and sub-Saharan Africa.
Eighteen of his paintings are currently on display at the Department of Jewish Art at Bar-Ilan.
“With his steady hand of an architect and passion of a devoted admirer of flamboyant Indian Jewish culture, Waronker has created a series of images of synagogues combining a photographic precision of details with the spirit of empathy and sincere devotion,” says Prof. Ilia Rodov, chairman of Bar-Ilan’s Department of Jewish Art and an expert in synagogue architecture and design. “Shown mostly with closed gates, dark windows and unpopulated interiors, the synagogues evoke in us a sense of nostalgia and vanishing grandeur.”
The exhibition, courtesy of the painter, was organized in cooperation with the Indian Jewish Heritage Center of Israel and the Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv.
ANYONE WHO regularly watches television, be it on local or overseas channels, cannot help but notice that female news readers, anchors and regular panelists all have to be attractive, well-dressed and immaculately groomed. Many of them have changing hairstyles and make-up, and a different outfit for every on-screen appearance. But male news readers, anchors and panelists don’t have to be good looking, don’t have to wear a suit though most of them do, and those who are shlumpy are permitted to appear that way. Unlike their female colleagues, they don’t have to look graceful either.
On the other hand, it’s comforting to see that several of Israel’s top-notch female singers of yesteryear, who today are in their 60s, 70s and even 80s are still in demand on stage, are producing new albums and are attracting young audiences. Among them are Riki Gal, 69, Ophira Gluska, 70, Chava Alberstein, 71, Miri Aloni, 69, Yardena Arazi, 68, Rivka Zohar, 71, Nurit Galron, 68, Ilanit (Hannah Dresner), 72, Shuli Natan, 72, Esther Ofarim, 78, Rika Zarai, 81, and Margalit Tzan’ani, 70. There are also several working actresses in the same age group – among them Rivka Michaeli, 81, Liora Rivlin, who will be 75 on November 18, Hana Laszlo, 66, and Lea Koenig, 89.