Grapevine: Many happy returns

Not everyone can boast of having the president of Israel at their milestone birthday party.

sara netanyahu 248.88 (photo credit: )
sara netanyahu 248.88
(photo credit: )
n NOT EVERYONE can boast of having the president of Israel at their milestone birthday party. Even fewer people can boast having two presidents of Israel come to offer their congratulations. But then again, not every 80-year-old is the widow of a former prime minister whom both Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Navon worked with and knew well. Navon had served as deputy speaker of the Knesset during Levi Eshkol's tenure, and Peres had been deputy defense minister for part of the time and an MK for the rest. Levi Eshkol died in office of a heart attack in February 1969. At that time he was married to Miriam Eshkol, his third wife. Tama, the third of his four daughters, is married to former finance minister Avraham (Beiga) Shohat. Many of the guests who flocked to Miriam Eshkol's Rehavia apartment to help her celebrate were among the pioneers of the state. They included a handful of people from Tel Aviv and beyond such as Liova Eliav, Raya Jaglom and ex-Jerusalemite Michal Smoira-Cohn, who bemoaned the fact that she had moved away; and, closer to home, retired Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar. Also present was Sarah Netanyahu, the wife of the prime minister, whose official and private residences are only a few minutes' walk from the home of the birthday lady. n WHEN YOU say 101 in Israel, it usually refers to the special forces unit of the IDF, founded and commanded by Ariel Sharon at the behest of David Ben-Gurion in 1953 to deal effectively with fedayeen assaults. But in this case, 101 is the age of Dorothy Rogers, a resident of Bayit Balev, an assisted living facility in Jerusalem, where her birthday was celebrated last week. Notwithstanding her age, Rogers is fairly independent, full of zest and likes to chat with her fellow residents. She also makes a point of keeping her finger on the pulse of Hadassah - not so much the medical center as the women's organization that supports the medical center. A teacher by profession, the American-born Rogers had a happy marriage and did a lot of traveling with her husband before she was widowed. She settled in Israel 25 years ago, and until eight months ago traveled on her own each month to Beersheba to participate in the meetings of an English-language book club. n TO SOME people familiar with his factual reporting under the byline of Lachlan Shaw, the name David Shaw will not ring any bells. But veteran Australian journalist and foreign correspondent Lachlan Shaw, who made aliya some 20 years ago, prefers to be known as David in Israel, although his friends still tend to call him Lachie. After decades of reporting fact, Shaw finally turned to fiction and last year came out with his first novel, The Cry of the Hornbill, published by Melbourne Books. Set in the jungles of Borneo, the plot has ingredients of war, love and intrigue that will appeal to diverse tastes. The Israeli launch of the book will take place on June 25 in Abu Tor at the home of his good friends Marva and Bill Levine. Lachlan's wife, Barbara Shaw, is a well-known Jerusalem-based producer of home wares and gift items. When she started her initial gift wares enterprise, she gave a lot of work to new immigrants, thereby contributing to their integration into Israeli society. Having grown up in a family of fused cultures, she is delighted to be in Jerusalem, where she can derive inspiration from old and new, from Judaism, Christianity and Islam and from the natural environment. Creativity seems to run in the family. Of the three Shaw sons, Simon is a musician. The other two, Amos and Boaz, are in the army and will be more forthcoming in their creative efforts after completing their military service. n IN THE literary vein, the Hebrew University's European Forum, together with the Department of Romance and Latin American Studies, the Polish Institute, Institute Francais and the French Embassy, will host an international conference on Sunday on Writing the Holocaust and World War II, based on Jonathan Littell's award-winning provocative and controversial novel Les Bienveillantes (The Kindly Ones) told from the perspective of a fictional Nazi officer. Littell is an American Jewish author who writes in French. His book has opened the door to a new genre of Holocaust writing and has sparked much global debate. The conference will be held in the Rabin Building on the Mount Scopus campus.