Grapevine: And justice for all

  • NETANYA COMES to the Jerusalem Hills this weekend or, more accurately, Netanya Academic College's Forum for Justice, Society and Economics comes to the Neve Ilan Hotel with a law conference in which State Prosecutor Moshe Lador will discuss law enforcement and the media against the backdrop of the Moshe Katsav and Ehud Olmert cases. Other speakers at the conference, which opens today, include Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, Justice Minister Daniel Friedman, Deputy Supreme Court President Eliezer Rivlin, Supreme Court Judge Miriam Naor, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and several lawyers and law professors. The weekend agenda promises to provide a lot of food for thought with discussions on the status of the Supreme Court in a democratic society; security and the rule of law; judicial activism and pacifism; crime, corruption and the rights of the accused.
  • THOUGH FREQUENT travelers to London to visit their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, Jerusalemites Chana and Jonathan Sheink, who have just returned from yet another sojourn in London, had a different reason for being there on this occasion. It was the 80th birthday of Jonathan's brother-in-law Greville Janner, better known as Lord Janner of Braunstone, QC. A Labor member of the House of Lords, he was three months late in celebrating the ninth decade of his life, but that didn't seem to bother anyone because any reason for a party is a good reason. And indeed there was more than one party, because Lord Janner knows so many people that it would be impossible to fit them all into one reception hall. One party was held at the House of Lords and another for 400 guests at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge, where Jonathan Sheink was among the speakers who shared anecdotes of their personal experiences of and with Lord Janner. In an emotional address, Lord Janner reviewed some of his manifold activities on behalf of Britain and the Jewish people in a life of service that spans more than 60 years. At 18, he joined the army and became the youngest war crimes investigator in the British Army of the Rhine, and spent his weekends with survivors in the Bergen-Belsen DP camp. He is a former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the founder and president of the Commonwealth Jewish Council, a vice president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Lord Forte Charitable Trust. He is a frequent visitor to Israel both in a private capacity and as a vice-chairman of the British Israel Parliamentary Group. He also visits Jewish communities around the world and is a strong advocate for mutual understanding and respect between people of different faiths. A talented linguist and magician, he speaks nine languages and is a member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians. One of the people that he counts among his good friends is spoon bender Uri Geller.
  • REALIZING THAT there were a lot of American visitors staying in the hotel - most of them African Americans - Regency Hotel pastry chef Tzachi Ben-Shabat decided to surprise them. In the aftermath of the US elections, he created an Obama cake in honor of the president-elect that featured a marzipan portrait of Barack Obama and the American flag. One of the guests commented that the cake was very sweet but that Obama's victory was sweeter.
  • PRIOR TO the elections, mayoral candidate Arkadi Gaydamak was the consummate man about town. He accepted invitations to numerous events where he could meet voters and try to convince them that his way was the best way. One of the places that he was seen last week was at the Akirov Mamilla Mall for the opening of the first Columbia Concept Store in Israel. The international franchise chose to start its Israel operations in Jerusalem. Gaydamak was accompanied by his daughter Katia and his faithful aide Yossi Millstein. Some of the players from Gaydamak's Betar football team also showed up as did the Zaken family, who are among the most loyal Betar supporters, and Momi Dehan, the proprietor of the Eldan Hotel and Eldan Cars. The store is owned by Tomer Ben-Senior and Aviad Tsebari.
  • THE GENDER Studies Awards Committee of the Association of Jewish Studies has selected Dr. Elisheva Baumgarten, of the Department of Jewish History and the Gender Studies Program at Bar-Ilan University, as the first recipient of its Jordan Schnitzer Book Award, adding to the prestigious prizes she has won in the past for her writings. In selecting Dr. Baumgarten's book, Mothers and Children: Jewish Family Life in Medieval Europe (Princeton University Press, 2004), the Prize Committee wrote: "The Gender Studies Awards Committee agreed that this groundbreaking work of original scholarship, focused on birth rituals and the care of infants and young children in France and Germany, definitively demonstrates that gender is a required category of analysis for understanding Jewish history and culture in any era. Working with a wide range of primary documents, Baumgarten's beautifully written book also convincingly uncovers the significant parallels between Jewish and Christian childbirth and nurturing practices, revealing both her impressive control of medieval Christian and Jewish sources and the reality that the Jews of the Middle Ages were an active part of a larger social context." In addition to her position in the Department of Jewish History and the Gender Studies Graduate Program at BIU, Baumgarten also serves as director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Center for the Study of Jewish Women at Bar-Ilan. A social historian, she specializes in the history of the Jews in medieval Germany and northern France.
  • THE NAME of former prime minister Ariel Sharon does not come up very often these days, though it most certainly will at the end of February when he turns 80, and even earlier in the aftermath of the general elections if Kadima flops. But it will also be mentioned before then at the 30th anniversary celebrations on November 30 of Beth Hatefutsoth, the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, which is located on the campus of Tel Aviv University. Natan Sharansky, chairman of the museum's board of directors, will pay special tribute to Sharon, who as prime minister prevented the closure of the museum which was operating under a huge deficit. In 2003 Likud MK Inbal Gavrieli initiated a bill that would give Beth Hatefutsoth the status of a national institution, thereby guaranteeing funding and other resources for its activities, including research. The bill was endorsed by Sharon, and the Beth Hatefutsoth Law was passed in the final legislative session of the 16th Knesset. Sharon had been approached by former Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat, who was then chairman of the museum's board of directors, and by Leonid Nevzlin, chairman of the international board of governors, who has given a large chunk of his own money to Beth Hatefutsoth. Without Sharon's help, the institution might no longer exist.