Grapevine: The gift of giving

Billionaire Sammy Ofer has recently given 20 million pounds sterling to Britain's National Maritime Museum.

sammy ofer 88 224 (photo credit: )
sammy ofer 88 224
(photo credit: )
Business tycoon, shipping magnate and international philanthropist Sammy Ofer is obviously unaffected by recession fears and continues to give away vast sums. Media outlets in Britain, Israel and other parts of the world have reported widely on his most recent gift of 20 million pounds sterling to Britain's National Maritime Museum. It is the largest single donation ever made to a British cultural project. The Romanian-born Ofer, 86, who grew up in Haifa and made much of his fortune in shipping, served in the Royal Navy. Ofer's donation will pay for a new wing, due to open in 2012 - in time for the London Olympics and the museum's 75th anniversary. Ofer, who last year was ranked 140th on Forbes's list of the world's richest people, is reportedly worth $6.7 billion. Two years ago, Ofer, who is an art collector of international repute, was willing to give the Tel Aviv Museum $20 million to build a new wing, but according to media reports the gift was conditional on the name of the museum being changed to honor Ofer and his wife. While the Tel Aviv Municipality had no objections, people who had given collections to the Tel Aviv Museum, as well as several artists and supporters of the museum, objected vehemently and created such a fuss that Ofer eventually got tired of the whole prospect and backtracked on his pledge. He has, however, given to many other institutions in Israel, and one of his most noteworthy gifts was the creation of a special fund to supply expensive life-saving medicines that have not been included in the health basket. NOTWITHSTANDING HER busy schedule, which includes countless meetings with visiting dignitaries, dealing with affairs of state and frequent trips abroad, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni found time recently to let her hair down and join a large segment of the entertainment industry at the Dada Club in Tel Aviv, where Radio Tel Aviv was celebrating its new season's program lineup along with the 34th birthday of Shai Ben-Maor, the CEO of Radio Tel Aviv. Also taking time out to relax was Yanki Galanti, the Prime Minister's media adviser. Celebrities in attendance included Tal Berman, Aviad Kisos, Yoav Kutner, Idan Alterman and Mickey Gavrielov, who brought his two daughters Michal and Shira - both making their own fine singing careers. THE LARGESSE of international businessman Arkadi Gaydamak has its limits, and Gaydamak has let it be known that he intends to tighten the purse strings for the budget for the Betar soccer team, which he owns. Gaydamak was late recently in arriving for the 30th birthday bash of his right-hand man, Yossi Milstein, at Hangar 11 at the old Tel Aviv Port, and other guests wondered if there might have been a rift between the two. Entertainers Shiri Maimon, Pablo Rosenberg and Shlomi Shabbat had done their thing and Gaydamak had still not put in an appearance. But Gaydamak, who has an innate sense of drama, knew exactly when to make his entrance. When he finally showed up, Milstein was overcome with emotion and told his guests that Gaydamak had changed his life. POLISH AMBASSADOR Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska, together with Honorary Consul for Poland Dr. Jack Fliderbaum, will host a private reception and dinner in Herzliya Pituah on Sunday in honor of Professor Michal Kleiber, the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences and an adviser to the Polish president. Kleiber's CV is so extensive that one wonders when he has time to breathe. Aside from his scientific achievements, he's also done a four-year stint as Minister of Science & Information Society Technologies, and has filled several academic positions in Poland and abroad. In addition, he has acted as a consultant to major business enterprises and is a polyglot - fluent in English, German, French and Russian, in addition to his native Polish. He is one of many distinguished visitors from Poland who have come and will be coming to Israel this year under the auspices of Polish Year in Israel. WHILE she was suspended from working in the Prime Minister's Office while police investigated bribery allegations against her, Shula Zaken, who has been with Ehud Olmert throughout his political career and since he headed a law office in Jerusalem, busied herself volunteering for charitable organizations. She continued to do so after she returned to the Prime Minister's Office, and often takes friends. Thus, when Judy Nir Mozes Shalom came to the capital from Ramat Gan accompanied by actress and singer Michal Yanai, Zaken took them to the Tikva Market to show them how a non-profit organization she works with provides food and toiletries for the poor at prices they can afford, and in a pleasant environment in which they can maintain their dignity. But first and foremost, the trio visited Rachel's Tomb and from there stopped off at the Karshi Judaica store, which belongs to Zaken's family. REAL ESTATE developer Alfred Akirov this week completed his term as President of the Friends of Tel Aviv University and handed over the reins to Cellcom CEO Amos Shapira. Akirov served in the post for six years. Shapira said that it was a great privilege to be elected as head of such a distinguished organization and that he accepted his new role with a sense of mission. NOT ONLY Israel is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, but so is Britain's chief rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, who has been in Israel the past couple of weeks and was presented with a birthday cake by the Humanitarian Network of Hazon Yeshayahu when he and Lady (Elaine) Sacks visited the organization's Ashkelon facility. The chief rabbi arrived with an entourage of 60 singers and musicians, who entertained the needy people who come to the facility to receive hot meals. The birthday cake was a surprise, as Sacks had celebrated his birthday earlier in the month. He was born in London on March 8, 1948, just two months and a week before David Ben-Gurion stood up in Tel Aviv to declare the creation of the sovereign state of Israel.