Grapevine: A roaring success

Danny, a five-year-old male lion, was flown to his new home at the Belgian zoological park.

Bibi netanyahu (photo credit: JPost Staff)
Bibi netanyahu
(photo credit: JPost Staff)
■ THE RAMAT Gan Safari, also known as Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan Zoological Center, recently carried out a cooperation project with a new zoological park in southern Belgium, and the construction is nearing completion. Toward the end of last week, Danny, a five-year-old male lion, was flown to his new home at the Belgian zoological park. Two female lions from the Netherlands will be joining him.
Staff from the Belgian park studied the care and keeping of lions with their Israeli counterparts. The decision to move Danny out of the safari resulted from his increasingly strained relations with Jacob, another male lion at the park. It is hoped that Danny will be able to sire descendants at his new home in Belgium. It’s a whole different level of public diplomacy.
■ TEL AVIV tour guide and researcher of Yiddish culture Ya’ad Biran dreamed up the idea of a walking tour that he called “From Yiddishland to Altneuland.” The first of these tours took place last Friday and was fully booked.
Retracing the footsteps of Yiddish writers who lived in or visited Tel Aviv, Biran discussed writers such as Sholem Asch and Haim Nahman Bialik, Jewish organizations such as the Bund and Poalei Zion, and the Yiddish theatrical performances that took place regardless of David Ben-Gurion’s ban. There was the famous Schund Theater, and there were marvelous satirical performances by the Yiddish comedy team of Dzigan and Shumacher, who were already famous in Poland long before they came to Israel. There were other Yiddish entertainment outlets, as well as Yiddish publications.
It was simply a language that refused to disappear.
Further tours will take place on May 18, June 6, July 7 and August 4. The meeting place is the founders’ monument on Rothschild Boulevard at 10 a.m.
■ FOR DECADES, Reader’s Digest magazine has run a regular feature under the heading “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” Yediot Aharonot published proof of this contention last week in the heartwarming story of soldier Nadav Shmueli, who was seriously injured when the car he was driving overturned. Shmueli, now 23, suffered a severe brain injury, and for a year and a half – during which time he was moved from one hospital to another – he displayed no sign of communication or awareness of his environment. Then, one day, his sister played him a videotape of the comedy team Ma Kashur (What’s the Connection?), and for the first time he smiled.
He continued to respond progressively to other videos by the trio – Zion Baruch, Shalom Michashvili and Assi Israeloff – and it reached the stage where he was laughing. His mother got in touch with the trio’s agent, relayed the story and asked if it were possible for them to come and meet him. When the three comedians heard about the effect that their act had had on Shmueli, they were extremely moved and agreed to put on a live performance at the hospital especially for him. While they were there, they told him about themselves and joked with him. Given his condition, the contact was amazing, and has continued. Shmueli has been getting better ever since.
Even though he is likely to be classified as disabled for the rest of his life, he is not in a vegetative state – and it’s all because laughter was indeed his best medicine.
■ ONE OF the popular tourist attractions in Tel Aviv on Tuesdays and Fridays is singer Miri Aloni, who sits at the entrance to the Carmel Market by the path that leads along Nahalat Binyamin – the site of a flourishing arts and crafts fair that takes place on the same days. But the people at City Hall are not happy to have Aloni perform in this particular area and are apparently trying to get her off the street by insisting that she needs a license.
Aloni is best known these days for having sung the “Song of Peace” with former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin only minutes before his assassination. Since then, she has frequently sung it at memorial events for Rabin, and people who come to her street performances often ask her to sing it.
The real reason City Hall wants Aloni off the street likely has something to do with plans to upgrade Nahalat Binyamin, which received a partial face-lift in time for Tel Aviv’s centennial. Some of the beautiful old buildings that were repaired and repainted have added a sense of grandeur to Nahalat Binyamin, prompting the concept of a boutique mall with a boutique hotel and boutique stores selling unusual merchandise.
Aloni is not exactly compatible with the new image of the proposed outdoor mall, so the powers that be, it seems, are trying to adopt an out of sight, out of mind policy.
■ APROPOS RABIN, members of Labor’s young guard and working youth, together with leading Labor Party figures headed by Shelly Yacimovich, Isaac Herzog and Amir Peretz, gathered at Rabin’s memorial near the site of his assassination on Friday as Hagai Amir, the brother of assassin Yigal Amir, was released from prison.
Neither of the Amir brothers has expressed remorse over the murder of the prime minister.