Grapevine: Batsheva jubilee

A gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Batsheva Dance Company was held in Tel Aviv.

The Batsheva Dance Company performs ‘Mamootot’ (photo credit: GADI DAGON COURTESY BATSHEVA)
The Batsheva Dance Company performs ‘Mamootot’
■ It was a grand reunion for past and present dancers, choreographers, and costume and set designers, who gathered at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center on Saturday night for the gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Batsheva Dance Company. Chief choreographer and artistic director Ohad Naharin created a special new jubilee repertoire for the occasion.
■ The Arab city of Kalansuwa this month held a fund-raising event called A Smile of Hope, for leading Israeli therapeutic facility Beit Issie Shapiro and its Sindian Center, which serves the Arab community in the Southern Triangle.
Beit Issie Shapiro has developed groundbreaking therapies for children and adults with various disabilities. The event raised a record-breaking NIS 300,000 and was attended by 700 people; it is believed to be the largest fund-raiser of its kind in an Arab community for an established Israeli charity.
Organizer Nawaf Zmiro is a lifelong campaigner for people with disabilities in the Arab community, and a recipient of the President’s Prize for Volunteerism.
“As someone with a disability myself, I have a great appreciation for Beit Issie Shapiro,” said Zmiro. “Together, we do such good work for the population with disabilities in the Southern Triangle. The social change needed is already being felt in a very impressive way, because we have been working for so long and so hard on inclusion. Beit Issie Shapiro has helped me realize my ambitions, and to show my own abilities.”
Jean Judes, executive director of Beit Issie Shapiro, remembered, “When we first started working in Kalansuwa, there was great stigma towards the people with disabilities. Today, the situation is reversed.”
The fund-raiser was moderated by well-known Arab news and sports reporter Zohir Baalul, with speakers in addition to Judes including Nasser Abu Safia, the Arab affairs adviser to the education minister; Kalansuwa Mayor Albassat Slama; and Dr. Zeid Abou Moch, head of the Interior Ministry’s Islamic department.
Also present was MK Ahmed Tibi, leader of United Arab List-Ta’al.
“It was moving and emotional to see everyone working together as partners towards a joint mission, as well as the commitment to ensuring the financial sustainability of this important community service,” said Judes.
“We felt that, in addition to raising funds, we were creating an unprecedented cross-cultural dialogue between Jews and Arabs, and between people with disabilities and without,” added Zmiro. “We all have a common goal and want our children to be healthy and happy, through a language understood by all, Jews and Arabs united under the common banner of giving.”
■ What do politics, diplomacy and football have in common? Perhaps Italian Ambassador Francesco Maria Talo has the answer. Talo hosted a reception at his Ramat Gan residence on Tuesday in honor of Italian Senate President Pietro Grasso.
The event included a buffet dinner and screening of the World Cup match between Italy and Uruguay.
■ Not everyone is thinking of soccer with regard to sport these days. David Blatt, the Israeli-American basketball coach, whose strategy was a significant factor in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s triumph in the European Cup Championship, became the talk of the town when he landed a three year contract with the possible option of an extra year to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.
For the American-born, Princeton-educated Blatt, 55, it was a dream come true – every American basketball coach wants to coach an NBA team. The multimillions he will receive for doing so only helps sweeten the deal.
Thus, Blatt becomes one of the very few people to refuse a request by President Shimon Peres. After the victorious Maccabi Tel Aviv team returned home from Europe, they brought the cup to Jerusalem for Peres to see and presented him with a miniature version for himself. At that time, Peres asked Blatt to stay in Israel.
Blatt was noncommittal – but who knows, he may decide to come back when his contract expires – unless, of course, it is renewed.
That will depend on whether he can work the same wonders with the Cleveland Cavaliers as he did with Maccabi Tel Aviv.
■ Several embassies in Tel Aviv are allied with the cultural institutes of their countries, making it possible for expatriates living in Israel to continue to attend events in their native languages, and keep their fingers on the pulse of cultural and political developments in their native countries. Among the embassies that work with their cultural institutes is the Japanese Embassy, which has regular Friday lectures on its premises in the Museum Tower in Tel Aviv.
Today, June 27, the lecture will be held in Hebrew and the lecturer will be Dr. Ayelet Zohar of Tel Aviv University. She will be talking about famed Japanese photographer Yasumasa Morimura, considered to be one of Japan’s most significant figures in the world of photography. Morimura is the director of the Fifth Triennale of Yokohama, which opens on August 1 and continues until November 3 at the museum on the pier of Yokohama