Grapevine: A new city rises

Student City at Tel Aviv University is a building of dormitory towers that will substantially increase the number of rooms for students.

Various branches of the Safra family have for many years contributed to a variety of projects in Israel, thus enshrining in perpetuity the name of the famous Safra banking brothers with different fields of endeavor here. The most recent was this week with the dedication of Student City at Tel Aviv University. Student City is a building of dormitory towers that will substantially increase the number of rooms for students and will enable the university to take in more students from peripheral parts of the country. The new facility will also provide accommodation for doctoral students and young staff members of the university. The first building in Student City will be named for Chella and Moishe Safra of Brazil in appreciation of their extremely generous donation to the project, the cornerstone of which was laid this week at a ceremony attended by members of the University's Board of Governors, senior staff, students and people who are close to the Safras. Chella and Moishe Safra, like other members of their family, have an admirable record of philanthropic activity. They support numerous and varied projects and causes in Brazil, Israel and around the globe. Their generosity includes contributing to the establishment of Chairs at Harvard University and the Einstein College of Medicine in New York. They are also benefactors of the Tel Aviv Museum, the Israel Musum in Jerusalem and Keren Hayesod. They attach great importance to strengthening Jewish identity and tradition in Brazil and beyond. ALTHOUGH HE may not be the most popular president his country has ever had, George W. Bush certainly has a vast following in Israel, as evidenced by the huge applause that accompanied his appearance at various events during his visit. In fact he's so popular in Israel that a square was named in his honor by the municipality of Givat Shmuel adjacent to Bar Ilan University. Givat Shmuel Mayor Zamir Ben Ari convened the municipality's committee for names and proposed that the square at the entrance to Givat Shmuel be named George Walker Bush Square. The proposal was accepted in recognition of Bush's contribution to the peace and security of Israel. Ben Ari personally supervised the work involved and said that it was appropriate for Givat Shmuel - which this year was recognized as a city in Israel - to pay tribute to "Israel's great American friend" on the occasion of the state's 60th anniversary, especially since America has been supportive of Israel since day one of the state's existence. ISRAELIS WILL not quickly forget the impact of Bush's visit to Masada either, who in his address at the Knesset declared that the ancient fortress will not fall again. He was not the only visiting president to scale Masada. According to the Chabad News Service, Albanian President Bamir Topi was there the previous day and at the same time a busload of University of Michigan students traveling with Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Alter Goldstein as part of their free Mayanot-provided Taglit-birthright Israel tour. Topi was about to leave when Goldstein approached him and introduced himself. At the end of the exchange, Topi asked the rabbi, who co-directs the campus-based Chabad House at Michigan, to stay for a picture. Apparently it's much easier to get past Albanian security than American. AS A rule, they're a doubles team, but today (Friday), tennis champions Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich will play against each other at the Ramat Hasharon Tennis Center. No, it's not a charity match, nor is it likely to be a full match. At best it will be a set or two at 10 a.m. to launch a new business venture. Because many members of the business community are sports fans, and because tennis is considered to be an elitist sport, etrader has enlisted the services of the tennis duo to celebrate the launch of its new Internet site. The game will not be open to the general public, but if all those who were specifically invited show up, the game will be watched by a thousand spectators. Chairing etrader's Board of Directors is former Income Tax Commissioner Tali Yaron Eldar, who will welcome the guests, and presumably announce the winner. FOR THOSE who prefer community singing to tennis, or even if they like both, they can have the opportunity to join Anat Sarouf, one of the stars of the community singing circuit at 5:30 p.m. this evening (Friday) at Kfar Hayarok. The event, which will include several celebrities such as Lihi Lapid, Rami Kleinstein, Shimon Buskila, Uri Banai, Oded Menashe and other household names, is a benefit show on behalf of children in foster care at Kfar Hayarok. Organized and sponsored by the Ramat Hasharon Municipality, it will also feature singing Mayor Itzik Rochberger. All the celebrity performers are giving their services gratis said Deputy Mayor Nurit Avner. Tickets to the benefit show are NIS 100 each. ONE WAY to create public awareness about your brand name is to sponsor an exciting sporting event, which is what Advil did when it created a 4,000-meter go-cart track at Tel Aviv University and launched a Go-Cart 'Grand Prix.' The winner was Ilan Cohen, deputy manager for consumer goods at NewPharm. Contestants in the race included celebrities such as television personality Rodrigo Gonzales, whose fame was rekindled after he recounted his experiences in the Second Lebanon War, in which he fought as a reserves soldier. Gonzales came second, literally on Cohen's tail, so Cohen turned around and presented him with his winning medal. STILL IN the world of sport, but better late then never will be Maccabi Tel Aviv's tribute to Ralph Klein, considered to be one of the best all-time basketball coaches in Israel's history. Thirty-one years after coaching the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team toward its first European Cup triumph, Klein will receive a replica of the cup at a gala tribute in his honor, which is scheduled for this coming Sunday with coaches and players from all over the world coming to Tel Aviv to pay their respects. Though battling for several years now against cancer, the 77-year-old Klein has never allowed his illness to conquer his spirit, and continues to coach the champion Even Yehuda Girls Basketball Team as well as other teams. USUALLY ON hand when Tel Aviv-based Yiddishpiel goes on tour, the company's PR officer Shuli Mansfeld was absent when Yiddishpiel staged its current production, The Big Win, in Jerusalem last Monday. The reason? It was her birthday, and she wanted to celebrate at home. Actor Andrei Kashkar didn't have that privilege. It just so happened that it was his 50th birthday, but in the spirit of the show must go on, he was on stage at the Sherover Theater. But at the end of the show, Yiddishpiel founder and director Shmuel Atzmon came on stage with a huge bouquet of flowers and said that Russian-born Kashkar, who had grown up in Belarus, had arrived in Israel 13 years ago knowing neither Hebrew nor Yiddish. A graduate of the Belarus Higher Institute of Drama, he acted with the Gorky Theater in Minsk. Like so many others in his profession, he could not get work in the established Hebrew theaters because he didn't know the language. The only theater which was willing to give him a chance was Yiddishpiel, which has a policy of taking in actors from the former Soviet Union. Initially the actors learn the lines by rote, but don't really understand the text even though it has been explained to them. Most begin to study Yiddish so that they can put more feeling into their roles. Their relatives and friends who come to see them perform start out by reading the simultaneous translation, but in numerous cases they are curious about the nuances of the Yiddish text, especially when something humorous is lost in translation. So they too begin to study Yiddish. Kashkar, whose Hebrew and Yiddish are now fluent, comes from a totally assimilated background. It was only in Israel that he became attached to his Jewish roots. Atzmon disclosed that in the dressing room Kashkar had said to him that in coming to Israel he had twice been reborn as a Jew - first when he learned Yiddish, and again when he learned Hebrew.