Grapevine: Crimson Tide rolls in to Ashkelon

Former governor of Alabama Forrest James and his wife, recently visited the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

forrest james 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy )
forrest james 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Israel's reputation for advancements in medicine and medical equipment is so widespread that many high ranking visitors from abroad make it a point to see at least one Israeli medical center during their visits. Former governor of Alabama Forrest (Fob) James and his wife, Bobbie, chose to visit the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where they were briefed by the Center's director Dr. Shimon Scharf who introduced them to new developments in treatments for various life-threatening illnesses as well as to the myriad activities in which the Center is engaged. James, a two-term governor, who is a proven friend of Israel, was particularly interested in treatments given to victims of Kassam rocket attacks. James and his wife toured the children's ward and the emergency ward and admired how the hospital functioned. James pledged to support the Center in any way possible back in his home state. THE MONTH of May will be chock-full of festivities related to Israel's 60th Independence Day. It will also provide an opportunity for current and former members of Zionist youth movements to get together and reminisce, as well as to explore their Zionist identities. One of the groups planning such a reunion is Betar of South Africa, and the venue, naturally enough, is Jabotinsky Park at Shuni, near Binyamina. Over the years South African Betarim have held small reunions usually geared to specific age groups. But now the idea is to get all South Africans who were ever associated with Betar to come together in Israel. More than 50 former Betarim who live abroad have confirmed their attendance, and many participants will be thrilled to renew acquaintance with Yechiel and Esther Kadishai who were Betar shlihim to South Africa in the 1950s. Yechiel Kadishai went on to become the bureau chief of the prime minister's office under Menachem Begin. Also attending will be Jewish Agency chairman Zeev Bielski, the former mayor of Ra'anana, who as an aliya shaliah in South Africa met his wife Caron. Bielski and Kadishai will be among the speakers at the event as will Harry Hurwitz, the driving force behind the Begin Heritage Center, who even though he lives in Jerusalem, remains a leader of South African Jewry. The reunion will offer more than a trip down memory lane. Several other events have been planned around it from May 1-8, with the reunion itself scheduled for May 4. Former South African Betarim who wish to participate should e-mail [email protected] stating full name, previous name where applicable, year of birth, e-mail address and home address, or log into www.sa-betar-reunion.com and register there. MANY OF the residents of Palace, the upscale retirement facility in Tel Aviv, were once members of the city's high society, and today can be regarded as the high society of the third age. Most of them are active in various organizations, still like to socialize and are extremely conscious of their appearance. With this in mind, veteran fashion designer Shoshana Ben-Tzur ,who has dressed most of the wives of the presidents of Israel and who caters to a large number of members of the diplomatic community, has organized a fashion show with residents as models. The show, in the Palace events hall, 18 Weizmann Street, Tel Aviv, will take place this coming Saturday evening, January 18 at 5:30 p.m. with the participation of both male and female residents. All the models will be septuagenarians and octogenarians who have been trained by international model Hani Perry, who at 50 plus continues to model not only for Ben-Tzur but also for other designers, and who proves that a sexy woman remains a sexy woman regardless of age. NOT ALL famous people travel with an entourage. Thus, when internationally celebrated Croatian pianist Ivo Pogarelic came to Israel and checked in at the Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel & Towers, he arrived unaccompanied and was in need of a little orientation to get his bearings. To make it easy for him, the hotel's general manager Jean-Louis Ripoche presented him with a City Guide to Tel Aviv. Pogorelic was in Israel to perform at the Israel Jazz Festival. YOU SEE him here, you see him there, you see him everywhere. No, it's not the Scarlet Pimpernel. It's business tycoon, philanthropist and budding politician Arkadi Gaydamak, who this week excited media attention as the lone spectator in the stands when his Betar Jerusalem soccer team was defeated by B'nei Sakhnin. Gaydamak had a few choice words to say in criticism of the Israel Football Association's tribunal, which decided that the Betar-Sakhnin match would be played in an empty stadium to penalize Betar supporters who had shouted racist abuse at Sakhnin players during a previous match. In Gaydamak's view, the Betar team, rather than its fans, had been penalized. Although he was a lone figure in the stands, he was certainly not alone at a reception by UniCtredit, which this week established a presence in Israel. Gaydamak, together with his new chief operator, Uri Shani, was among the cream of Israel's business community that gathered at a reception hosted by UniCredit at Arca on the Tel Aviv Port. The two were seen chatting with Sergio Ermotti, deputy CEO of the UniCredit Group. The occasion also gave invitees an opportunity to meet with and listen to Lech Walesa, the founder of Solidarity and the first democratically elected president of Poland.