Medway in the Middle East

Guest at the Gala Dinner at Tel Aviv's David Intercontinental Hotel marking the conclusion of Ivory Coast Week kept asking each other if perhaps they had made a mistake.

GUESTS ATTENDING the Gala Dinner at Tel Aviv's David Intercontinental Hotel marking the conclusion of Ivory Coast Week kept asking each other if perhaps they had made a mistake. Some were invited for 7 p.m., some for 8 p.m., and it still seemed that nothing was happening. Crowds gathered in the huge lobby, but the ballroom remained locked. And then suddenly, at close to 9 p.m., the ballroom doors were flung open, and the real festival began with gourmet food, entertainment by Medway, one of the top singing stars of the Ivory Coast, and a fashion show by Ivory Coast fashion designer Gilles Toure, who produced some stunning gold and jewel-encrusted fashion creations that won wide approval and applause. THE NAME will remain, but the family connection is gone. Eri Steimatzky, whose family name is a byword in Israeli publishing and bookselling circles, is no longer associated with the chain of stores launched by his father Yehezkiel in Jerusalem's Rehov Jaffa in 1925. The senior Steimatzky, born in Russia and living in Germany, had come to Jerusalem for the inauguration of the Hebrew University and decided to stay. He opened his first store in Jerusalem and rapidly expanded to Haifa, Tel Aviv, Beirut, Baghdad, Cairo, Alexandria and Damascus. After 1948, he no longer maintained any bookstores in the Arab world. Eri Steimatzky joined the company in 1963, and 10 years later was general manager. He orchestrated the company's growth, making it the largest bookstore chain in Israel. Anyone who tried to compete simply fell by the wayside until the merger in 2002 of Tzomet Hasefarim and Modan Publishing, which now operate some 40 stores. Two years later, Steimatzky linked up with Keter, and in 2005 sold the company to Markstone Capital Partners for more than $50 million. The deal included some 150 stores and a 49 percent stake in the Steimatzky-Keter publishing company. Eri Steimatzky stayed on as chairman of the company. A year later, Steimatzky stores were operating in 60 Israeli towns and cities, as well as Los Angeles and London. In September this year, Eri Steimatzky announced his retirement, and last week the Markstone people hosted a farewell party for him in Jaffa, inviting all the Who's Who of Israeli publishing. Steimatzky has no intention of resting either on his laurels or his millions. He intends to go to university. WHILE ON the subject of jewels, jewelry designer Nurit Jaglom will show off her new collection and have a Hanukka sale, a large part of the proceeds of which will be devoted to Yeladim - The Child in Placement, an organization for children at risk chaired by Bank Leumi CEO Galia Maor. The exhibition will be held at Beit Atalya in Neveh Tzedek from Thursday, November 29, through Saturday, December 1. ISRAEL PRIZE laureate and controversial artist Menashe Kadishman has sculpted a work of art specially commissioned for the Netanya Academic College (NAC) by Ami and Lizika Saguy, who have also contributed 10 of Kadishman's paintings to the college. The art works were temporarily on display this week at a gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel, Tel Aviv, where Gideon Hamburger, chairman of the Friends of NAC, hosted many members of the business community who are also generous contributors to NAC. Guests of honor at the event were Kadishman, Education Minister Yuli Tamir and Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle. NO MATTER what positions he holds, President Shimon Peres has always made a point of being at Sde Boker to commemorate the anniversary of the passing of his mentor, Israel's founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion. This year was no exception, and Peres, after participating in the commemoration ceremony, went on to Ben-Gurion University to participate in a series of dedications. Prior to going to the university, Peres participated in the dedication ceremony of the David Ben-Gurion Formative Decisions Auditorium at Sde Boker, donated by international businessman Poju Zabludovici and family in memory of his parents Pola and Shlomo Zabludovici. The dedication ceremony was held in the presence of Social Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Vice Premier Haim Ramon, Defense Ministry Director-General Pinhas Bukharis, and relatives, friends and business colleagues of Zabludovici. ALTHOUGH THERE are few outward signs of preparations being made for the 60th anniversary celebrations of the state, the Union of Local Authorities is definitely on the ball and ULA Chairman Adi Eldar, who also happens to be the mayor of Karmiel, last week hosted ambassadors and other representatives from a total of 45 countries to apprise them of the upcoming International Conference of Sister Cities, scheduled to take place in Jerusalem in March 2008. The event, which is held every 10 years, will also mark the 70th anniversary of the ULA. The conference will bring together mayors, governors and other senior officials, as well as representatives of Friendship Associations from some 400 authorities around the globe. Several European mayors have already confirmed their participation.