Grapevine: A festive birthday and a warm welcome

  • WHAT WAS initially intended as a charity fundraiser and birthday party for insurance agent and businesswoman-cum-social columnist Michal Isaacs at her home in Ramot Motza, also evolved into a welcome reception for Moshe Leon, the new chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority, who was hailed by both Gad Lior, the Jerusalem bureau chief and economics correspondent for Yediot Aharonot, and opposition leader Nir Barkat as a vital asset to the city and above all "a mensch." Apologizing for the fact that he doesn't actually live in the capital, Leon sang its praises and said that he was very pleased to be working to advance its economy. The overall event was sponsored by Beit Yair, which is building a prestigious neighborhood on the site of what was once the Foreign Ministry compound at the entrance to the city. The company's CEO, Eyal Hendler, disclosed that Leon was in negotiation to buy one of the apartments there - "but not to live in, just as an investment." Lior, who in previous years was the volunteer moderator of the Jerusalem Economic Forum established by Isaacs and her late husband Israel, announced that the forum, which was suspended during Israel Isaacs's illness, was to be revived by Michal Isaacs because Jerusalem desperately needs an organization of this kind.
  • THERE HAS been a lot of media attention paid in recent days to children who come from families that are too poor to pay for schoolbags for the new school year. Aware of this, Supersol CEO Effi Rosenheus, basketball coach Pini Gershon and Chabad Rabbi Ya'acov Gloiberman, spiritual mentor of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team and director of Yad Beyad, a non-profit organization that provides goods and services for the needy, got together and launched a project to provide school bags to needy kids. The outcome: they now have 40,000 school bags to distribute. As large a number as this may be, it covers only a fraction of those children whose families do not have the means to give them a new school bag. So Supersol is running a special campaign in all its branches from August 19-29 to raise money from its customers in an attempt to bridge the gap.
  • EL AL has joined forces with the Akim association for the rehabilitation of the mentally handicapped, in a multi-faceted fundraising project that will benefit both Akim and the people involved in the project. Some 60 dolls designed by well-known personalities, including El Al CEO Haim Romano, went on exhibition this week in El Al's King David lounge at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Among those who designed dolls were Guy Pines, Ninette Tayeb, Yehuda Levy, Shiraz Tal, Michael Lewis, Eli Yatzpan, celebrity chef Aviv Moshe, Corinne Allal, Shalom Asayag and Harel Skaat. The dolls will be sold by public auction at the end of the month. El Al chairman Israel Borovich said that it was important for the community to contribute to Akim, and that the doll exhibition was one way of creating awareness among El Al's business travelers.
  • AMONG THE first functions that Sandro de Bernardin attended in Jerusalem after he took up his position as Italian ambassador was the annual Italian Food Festival held in the courtyard of the Italian Jewish Museum. Even though the Italian Embassy is listed among the patrons of this year's festival, there will be no Italian ambassador present, although there may be an Italian diplomat of lower rank. De Bernardin returned to Italy a few days ago, and his successor Luigi Mattiolo is not due to arrive until the end of August. Meanwhile, the festival billed as "Art and Pasta" will open on August 12, and will feature an exhibition of Venetian glass objects created by contemporary Israeli artists, as well as the culinary arts of local Italian chefs and restaurateurs.
  • IT IS customary for President Shimon Peres to pose for a group photo with representatives of organizations and institutions that are having a function at Beit Hanassi. In winter, the photos are usually taken inside the building, and in summer outside. His visitors this week included the Israeli National Team which will go to Beijing next month for the Paralympics. Peres waited for them to arrange their wheelchairs before he came out to join them, and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a chorus of the Hebrew version of "Happy Birthday To You" led by Danny Ben Abu, chairman of the Israel Sports Association for the Disabled. Peres, who celebrated his 85th birthday the previous day on August 2, grinned from ear to ear.
  • MOST PREGNANT women who go into labor want to get it over with as quickly as possible. Not so Tzilla Amidror, who did her utmost to drag it out for as long as possible so that her son could be born in a free and independent State of Israel. The story was told by Gen. (Res.) Ya'acov Amidror, who delivered the annual Jabotinsky address at the Jabotinsky Institute. Prior to the state ceremony held each year in Jabotinsky's memory on Mount Herzl, there is always another held at the Jabotinsky Institute in Tel Aviv. Amidror might not have spoken of his mother's going into labor but for the fact that Jabotinsky Institute director Yossi Ahimeir, when introducing him, noted that he was born on May 16, 1948, the day after the proclamation of independence. In dedicating the address to his mother, Amidror noted that she had been an Irgun fighter, but long before that, at age 10 or 11, she had crossed through many streets in Tel Aviv to listen to Jabotinsky. When his mother learned that he was giving the Jabotinsky address, said Amidror, she was even more excited than he was.