Grapevine: Out on their own

  • TEL AVIV is Israel's public relations and advertising capital. It boasts more PR and advertising agencies than the sum total of such agencies in the rest of the country. The Israel Public Relations Association is also headquartered in Tel Aviv, and each year for the past six years it has conducted the Roaring Lion Awards in recognition of the best public relations campaigns. The Roaring Lion, a solid statuette, was awarded this year not only in different categories of PR campaigns but also in a new category - campaign of the year. It would have been a feather in the capital's cap if Jerusalem-based Lone Star Communications, a national PR agency headed by veteran public relations executive Charley Levine, would have scored one lion. But Lone Star was literally awarded a pride of lions. Levine proudly posed for a photograph while he balanced no fewer than six lions! This was indeed a capital coup, as no other agency equaled this number. Better still, a lot of Lone Star's work is done in English, which makes the company's win even sweeter. The Lone Star team is composed exclusively of American expatriates who decided to live in Israel. "We work with wonderful, exciting clients such as President Shimon Peres, top international dignitaries or events and breakthrough archeological discoveries," Levine said. "My team helps communicate fascinating stories through the media not only to the people in Israel but to tens of millions of others worldwide." Lone Star, named for Levine's home state of Texas, received a Roaring Lion in the Tourism category for its publicity launch of the significant new discoveries at the Eila Fortress archeological site near Beit Shemesh. Coverage included prominent features in The New York Times, CNN and the Associated Press. It also received Honorable Mentions accompanied by Roaring Lions for its Facing Tomorrow campaign to publicize the 60th anniversary international conference organized by Peres; media coverage campaign for March of the Living; the best short-term campaign; and American and Israeli coverage of the visit to Israel of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. In addition, Lone Star was awarded a Bronze Lion for its Eila Fortress campaign, which was regarded as one of the three best campaigns of the year.
  • IT SEEMS that this was Jerusalem's year with IPRA, which also singled out Rami Levy, the founder and CEO of Hashikma Marketing as the Manager of the Year. Levy, who now controls an empire of 12 supermarkets, most of them selling at discount prices, and supplies small grocery stores and restaurants in the Jerusalem area, started out a little over 30 years ago with one small store on Mahaneh Yehuda's Rehov Hashikma. In his acceptance speech, Levy said that he was honored to have been recognized for what he does best - selling cheap. Aware of what it means to be part of a non-affluent sector of society, Levy and his wife, Adina, who is also his business partner, twice a year at Rosh Hashana and Pessah distribute coupons to some 5,000 needy families, enabling them to make purchases at any of their stores. The total value of the coupons is NIS 1.5 million. IPRA commended Levy for knowing how to utilize public relations to advance his business interests. Levy responded that during a period of crisis when there was competition in business in general and the retail trade in particular, public relations becomes an essential tool in relaying the message to the masses.
  • RECONCILIATION ACTIVIST and former member of the US Peace Corps Elana Rozenman invited some 20 women to her home on Sunday evening to join her in marking the 24th anniversary of her father's passing. Before reminiscing about the type of person her father was, Rozenman asked each of her guests to say something about their own fathers, and most of the stories that emerged were very touching. It was a wonderful opportunity for each of the women, most of whom had also lost their fathers, to reach back for a memory to share with others. Rozenman also wanted the evening to be a soul-searching learning experience and invited Miriam Rhodes to present a lesson based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Emuna Witt-Halevi, who has spent a large part of her life transcribing and lecturing on the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, to pass on some of his wisdom. Witt-Halevi, who is the mother of 14 children and an ever-growing number of grandchildren, recently married tour guide Reuven Halevi with whom she has set up house in the Old City. Reuven Halevi is also a long-time Carlebach follower and, like Rozenman, a veteran of the US Peace Corps. The most important lesson imparted by Witt-Halevi was that one should never be too busy or too tired to perform a mitzva, nor so wrapped up in oneself that one cannot hear the voice of someone else's need.
  • THE GREAT Synagogue celebrates its 26th anniversary this Shabbat, with services dedicated in memory of Henry Moskowitz, who made many valuable contributions to the State of Israel and particularly to the city of Jerusalem. No doubt the late Maurice Jaffe, who was the moving force behind the establishment of the Great Synagogue, would be delighted with the way that it has developed and with the fact that not only his sons but his grandsons maintain a close and abiding connection with its operations. Joining Cantor Chaim Adler and the synagogue choir conducted by Elli Jaffe will be guest cantor Yitzhak Meir Helfgot, who always plays to a full house at the Great Synagogue, and the Yuval Choir conducted by Dr. Mordechai Sobol.
  • SOME OF the world's greatest Jewish and non-Jewish minds that focus on Jewish subjects will convene at the Hebrew University this Sunday for the 15th World Congress of Jewish Studies at which some 1,400 lectures on a variety of Jewish subjects will be delivered over a five-day period. Subjects to be discussed include Bible, History of the Jewish People, Rabbinic Literature, Jewish Law, Jewish Thought, Liturgy, Medieval Literature, Modern Hebrew Literature, Jewish Literature, Folklore and Ethnography, Hebrew Language, Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic, Ladino, Arts, Music, Theater and Cinema, Holocaust Studies, Jewish Education, Latin American Jewry, the Study of Jewish Names, Contemporary Jewish Society, Jewish Identity and more. In addition to attending lectures, hundreds of participants from more than 30 countries will be able to view screenings of Jewish films from the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive; listen to a series of concerts including a traditional klezmer concert of music played at Jewish weddings in Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus circa 1890-1918; see an art exhibition; tour the university campus and the city of Jerusalem; get a preview of The Princeton University Sefer Hassidim Data Base that will be freely accessible online from August 31; and make Mayor Nir Barkat very happy. Boosting tourism was a major part of the mayor's election platform, and although this congress was organized well before he came into office, there is no doubt that it will make a major contribution to the capital's income from tourism. IT'S BAD news for film lovers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, who will lose several of their movie options. The Globus G.G. banks of movie theaters in the Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv and the Malha Mall in Jerusalem, which also belongs to David Azrieli, are evacuating in favor of the H&M flagship stores that are due to open in time for Pessah. H&M is represented in Israel by the Horesh family, which has also signed up with the Israel Malls Group to open four additional stores in Haifa, Netanya, Petah Tikva and Rehovot. The Globus Group will receive a total of $4 million for moving out of the two Israeli malls prior to the expiration of their rental contracts. DREAMS ARE free, but the pursuit of a dream can be very costly. That's what actor, director, singer and writer Shuli Rand discovered when he and his wife, Michal Batsheva, decided to open a Jewish theater in Jerusalem to give artistic expression to Jewish values. A prize-winning actor who won enormous acclaim for his film Ushpizin, a love story in which he starred with his wife and in which there was no physical contact between them, proving that good drama does not require sex scenes, Rand and his wife had hoped to take that message further through the Jewish theater, which they launched in 2004. In the interim, Rand has released a CD which is selling well, and has had a very successful one-man show. But neither has stopped him from piling up debts which, according to an interview his wife gave to Ma'ariv, are now in the vicinity of NIS 2 million. The Rands, who are Breslauer Hassidim, sold their house to finance their theater and moved into a two-and-a-half room rented apartment with their seven children. Now according to Michal Rand, they don't have enough money for food and are dependent on the goodwill of people in their community. Rand, who was born into a national religious family in Bnei Brak, had a yeshiva education, and following his army service decided that he wanted a career in the theater. He abandoned orthodoxy and became a popular actor. When he decided to return to religion, his wife joined him in that aspiration. For several years, Rand focused on learning, and turned his back on his career. But he really didn't know how to do anything else, and when he asked his mentor Rabbi Shalom Arush whether it was all right for him to return to the entertainment industry, the answer was in the affirmative, with the proviso that it be used as a vehicle for the enhancement of knowledge about Judaism. THE AMAZING Lia van Leer, the founder of the Jerusalem Cinematheque and the Jerusalem Film Festival, continued to be everywhere during the festival, undaunted by advancing age, staircases and the fact that she has to use a walker. A Cinematheque staff member was always in attendance to make sure that Van Leer didn't overdo things, but Van Leer basically does what she wants - and that is to keep an eagle eye on Cinematheque activities and to make sure that everything is running smoothly. One of her aides carries a large violet-hued bag in which Van Leer keeps sachets of lavender from her garden, which she bestows on people she likes. Lavender, lilac and violet are her favorite colors, and one or more items in her garb is almost always in one of those shades. FOR PEOPLE wondering how to spend a Thursday evening most enjoyably, Haya White and Roley Horowitz are conducting guided tours in English in Ein Kerem. The tours include visits to two private garden courtyards and a farmers' market with classical and ethnic music, arts and crafts exhibits and homemade ethnic foods. The tours will take place during August between 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. For information and tickets, call 641-8682 or check out