Dooo de-do doo doo-doo

Donate NIS 1,000 toward tennis coaching for Arab/Jewish kids, and you can say hi to Cliff Richard.

Sir Cliff Richard has hit a rough patch lately. (photo credit: SUE ANDREWS)
Sir Cliff Richard has hit a rough patch lately.
(photo credit: SUE ANDREWS)
When I was 12, a very long time ago, no one in my class had ever been abroad. Only a few of our South African parents had ever left the country; no one could ski, no one could dive. There was no TV. It was a simpler universe; our pleasures, by today’s standards, seem quaint and tame. Yet we seemed always to be happy.
One especially luminous memory from that golden childhood is our combined bat-mitzva party where we walked from house to house on a warm summer’s night, eating a progressive supper that culminated with an open-air screening of Summer Holiday. Remember: a gang of guys refurbish a London bus and set off to explore Europe. In one memorable scene, the clean-cut crew unwraps home-prepared sandwiches and sings along: “We’re all going on a (beat) Summer Holiday, / No more working for a (beat) week or two …”
Then they almost crash into a carload of gorgeous girls.
Today the movie might raise all sorts of gender issues – there’s a girl-dressed-up-as-a-boy who attracts a young and impossibly beautiful Cliff Richard who’s searching for a girlfriend, but in 1969 it was just fun. I’ve taught that signature song to countless schoolchildren on the last day of term; each time the familiar doo-do-de-doo heats up the airwaves I wonder how many ex-pupils around Israel are singing along.
Sir Cliff has hit a rough patch lately. After the BBC aired what turned out to be false claims of sexual abuse, the 76-year old singer/actor/philanthropist admitted he’s been hurt so badly that he doesn’t think he’ll ever recover. But his millions of devoted fans are having none of it, packing concert venues to show their support and encourage him not to hang up his guitar just yet.
His career statistics are crazy: more than 250 million records sold worldwide, total sales of over 21 million singles in the United Kingdom alone, three Brit Awards – winning Best British Male twice – with his 1958 hit single, “Move It,” often described as Britain’s first authentic rock-and-roll song. John Lennon once claimed that “before Cliff and the Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music.”
For more than 55 years Richard has piled up gold and platinum discs and awards; over 130 of his singles, albums and EPs made the UK Top 20, more than any other artist. His 67 UK top-10 singles is the second highest total for an artist (behind Elvis Presley). And Richard holds the record (with Presley) as the only act to make the UK singles charts in all of its first six decades (the 1950s to the 2000s). Fourteen of his songs topped the charts in the UK; eight in the States, and he’s the only singer with a No. 1 hit single in the UK for five consecutive decades.
See if you can answer the following about such a famous guy:
1) What’s his real name and where was he born?
2) What did his father do?
3) When did he come to England?
4) What sport does he love?
5) And how is he connected to Israel?
Anyone can Google the answers for 1-4: Harry Rodger Webb / Lucknow, India; catering manager servicing the Indian railroads; 1940, aged eight; tennis. But did you know that Cliff Richard has donated tens of thousands of dollars to refurbish the largest Arab tennis school in Israel?
The courts in Nazareth are run by Suliman Hamed, an engineer-turned-mentor to young sportsmen and women. In 2004, looking to improve tennis in the Arab sector, he paid a visit to the late Freddie Krivine, then president of the Israel Tennis Association and one of the founders and trustees of the Israel Tennis Center. Krivine, a dapper Englishman who sported a tie and crisply ironed shirt even during a blistering sharav heat spell, was also the father of women’s tennis in Israel. He realized that no Arab children were playing the game, and started a coexistence program for kids from Caesarea and Jisr e-Zarka as well as projects for children at risk in Jiblin and for disabled kids in Karmiel.
Enter Hamed, with his two dilapidated courts, who asked Krivine for help to upgrade the facility. Krivine consulted daughter Jane, a PR agent for musicians and a British festival director, who had recently come on aliya to help run her father’s tennis programs. Jane didn’t speak Hebrew and knew nothing about tennis, but she suggested turning to Sir Cliff. Almost instantaneously a substantial check arrived.
The story gets better: soon after that, philanthropist Irwin Green from Boca Raton visited the newly refurbished courts and promptly added three more; today the beautiful facility produces Christian, Muslim and Jewish players, some of whom have gone on to win US sports scholarships.
In July 2013 Cliff Richard played two sold-out concerts in Israel and visited “his” courts where every player was kitted out in a “Welcome to Nazareth” T-shirt. The singer donned a shirt himself and spent hours lobbying and volleying with the youngsters before again donating money to the center.
Today Jane Krivine has expanded her dad’s tennis programs into Daliat al-Carmel, Sakhnin, Mi’ilya, Basmat Taboun, Umm el-Fahm and Kibbutz Eshbol, with a coexistence program in Beit Hananya. Obviously, everything is predicated on having suitable coaches, and that all depends on money for courses. In October Sir Cliff is stepping up again – all proceeds from a pre-concert reception for him at the Steele Tennis Club in Herzliya Pituah will benefit Arab/Jewish friendships on and off the courts.
Decades ago, on a balcony in Sun City, I spotted Cliff Richard at the table next to me, sipping his tea. I was much too shy to tell him about our bat-mitzva celebration, or how we knew all his hit songs by heart. Now, in my old age, I’ll get the chance. Donate NIS 1,000 toward tennis coaching for Arab/Jewish kids, and you can say hi to him too.
For more details and tickets, contact Jane Krivine at or 054-740-5047
The writer lectures at Beit Berl and the IDC.