Grapevine: Tears of a clown

Tzipi Shavit, for half a century has made Israelis laugh till they cried, and was feted last week at the Rishon Lezion Music Festival.

clown (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
IT’S SAID that behind the antics of every clown lies personal tragedy. This is the case in regard to actress, comedienne, singer and dancer Tzipi Shavit, who for half a century has made Israelis laugh till they cried, and was feted last week at the Rishon Lezion Music Festival.
Shavit, 66, has been performing since she was a teenager, and was part of the IDF entertainment troupe during her army service. Widowed at age 27, she managed to pick up the pieces of her life, continue with her career and remarry. She and her husband, producer Avishai Dekel, have two children and are also grandparents.
At one stage in her career, Shavit was significantly overweight. While fighting that battle, she made fun of her appearance, thereby evoking a great deal of public empathy. She triumphed in her struggle and for several years has succeeded in maintaining a slim figure.
Among friends and colleagues from the entertainment industry who came to Rishon Lezion to wish her well was former comic actor and comedian Sefi Rivlin, who in 2006 was stricken with throat cancer that gradually deprived him of his voice. Rivlin, who appeared in various productions with Shavit, embraced her and told her in sign language: “My dearest one, I am with you this evening because I came to salute you.”
Even this moment of triumph in her life was tinged with sadness for Shavit, who was a close friend of entertainer and television personality Dudu Topaz. Four years ago, Topaz committed suicide while in prison during his trial on multiple charges of conspiracy to commit a crime. Topaz, who was the same age as Shavit, had seen his previously successful career take a downward spiral, for which he blamed influential figures in the television industry.
Topaz was convinced that his professional downfall could be attributed to the fact that various high-ranking people in the industry had decided to keep him off the small screen. Seeking revenge against them, he arranged for some of them to be violently attacked. Subsequently, when full of remorse but unable to undo what he had done, he took his own life. Shavit, who had been one of his closest friends, said at the time that while she could not condone his criminal actions, she would always remember him as talented, funny, intelligent, hardworking and a devoted father and friend, who while a little crazy, was always willing to help people. Had things worked out differently, Topaz would undoubtedly have been sitting alongside Shavit in Rishon Lezion.
Shavit, who was visibly moved by the tributes she received, was quick to assure the audience that this did not mean her career was at an end – and that she was in the midst of preparing a new children’s show.
TOGETHER WITH the Union of Local Authorities, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry, the Young Adults Centers in Israel, and Yedid, WEPower – which in Hebrew is known as Koah Nashim or by its acronym of Ken, which means “yes” – is holding a pre-municipal election convention at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on Sunday, October 13, with the participation of Ken founder and chairwoman Michal Yudin and Ken CEO Ifat Zamir. The whole Ken team, which includes some 50 women who are competing for mayoral and council positions in the upcoming municipal elections on October 22, will also take part.
While most established political parties support the idea that more women should be included in the decision-making process both at the local and national government level, the haredi communities have not yet been able to come to terms with this concept.
ARGUABLY THE most vociferous legislator who is determined to get rid of illegal immigrants, Likud MK Miri Regev was in south Tel Aviv on Succot eve, promising Israeli residents who are complaining about the invasion of infiltrators from African countries that she would do her utmost to restore their neighborhood to them.
Meanwhile, human rights activists interviewed via electronic media have been saying that if the government were to permit those African immigrants claiming to be refugees to work, there would be a huge reduction in crime. Many are stealing out of desperation because they have no income. Moreover, since they are already in the country and there is a shortage of farm and construction labor, those who have experience in these areas could instantly be absorbed into the workforce on a temporary basis, and those with potential to learn could be trained on the job.
INTERVIEWED BY Yoav Ginai on Reshet Bet on the eve of the annual Storytelling Festival, which takes place during Succot and concludes on Saturday night at the Givatayim Theater, the festival’s founder and legendary moderator Yossi Alfi was asked if there was any particular festival over the past 20 years that lingered in his mind.
Indeed there was: the festival that was held just under a year after the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Alfi had wanted a segment of anecdotes about Rabin, but most of the people he approached refused to participate. He learned then, he said, that the people who are purportedly your friends in life are your true friends only if they continue to honor you in death. A story about a deceased person is like a monument, he said, because it keeps the memory of that person alive.