Grapevine: Listening up

Yaron Deckel takes advice from elders at Army Radio; British Embassy staff volunteers; swifts migrate from Tel Aviv.

UK Ambassador Matthew Gould 311 (photo credit: UK Embassy in Israel (YouTube))
UK Ambassador Matthew Gould 311
(photo credit: UK Embassy in Israel (YouTube))
■ ALL TOO often, in his or her haste to make their mark, a newcomer to an executive position erases much of what was done by predecessors in the job. After his first three months as commander in chief of Army Radio, Yaron Deckel, who has a strong sense of history and a deep respect for people who made substantive contributions to history, called together his predecessors for a brainstorming session in the hope that with their combined experience and knowledge, they could come up with some good strategies to enable Army Radio to advance and to continue to be a competitive force against public broadcasting and commercial rivals. Most of the people who went to the station’s studios in Jaffa were actually old enough to be Deckel’s father, and he was smart enough to realize that they could give him good advice. Included in the group were Avi Benayahu, Yitzhak Livni, MK Nachman Shai, Eilon Shalev, Mordechai Naor, Moshe Shlonski and Yitzhak Tunic.
■ INVITEES WHO attended the reception hosted by British Ambassador Matthew Gould and his wife, Celia, in honor of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, could not help but notice the artwork and other decorations along the fence as they stood in line outside the residence waiting their turn for their names to be checked off on the guest list. They were the contribution of Chimes Israel and Akim, nonprofit organizations that provide for the needs of physically and/or mentally challenged children and adults.
The Goulds, together with the staff of the British Embassy, decided to launch a volunteer project together with Chimes professional staff. What this means in essence is that embassy staff will be encouraged to volunteer for up to half a day each month at one of the Chimes centers in Tel Aviv. Volunteers can choose activities with which they feel most comfortable, such as playing with children, helping in the garden or helping with marketing, translating or fund-raising or anything else that Chimes does.
On display inside the residence were a series of crowns – some of them decidedly untraditional – that were created by students of Shenkar College.
■ SOME 100 people, including public figures and leaders of the business community, congregated on the roof of the Green House in Tel Aviv to bid farewell to the swifts, which are migrating from the city until next spring. Swifts are fast-flying birds and cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Their preference is for tropical climates.
They return to Tel Aviv at the same time each year to build their nests and produce new chicks.
Hosting the farewell flight were Ronen and Alon Azouri, joint directors of Azouri Brothers; and Amnon Hahn, chairman of the Friends of the Swifts in Israel. Among the well-known personalities who said bon voyage to the swifts were Tel Aviv City Council member Yael Dayan; Gen. (res.) Doron Almog; Prof. Yossi Leshem; former broadcaster Miki Haimovich and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur.
■ PRIOR TO his death last year, philanthropist Sammy Ofer, who grew up in Haifa and maintained an abiding affection for the city of his youth, donated $25 million to the Rambam Medical Center for the construction of an underground hospital to ensure that patients would not be vulnerable to attacks from across the northern border. Last week, the underground wing that bears his name was officially inaugurated in the presence of his widow, Aviva Ofer; his sons Eyal and Idan and their wives; Udi Angel, the former husband of Sammy Ofer’s niece Liora, who has remained heavily entrenched in the Ofer business enterprises; Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav; Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman; and outgoing CEO of Bank Leumi Galia Maor, among many others.
Sammy Ofer was a generous benefactor to many institutions. A few months before his death, he attended the inauguration of the Sammy Ofer Heart Tower at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv; and before that, he donated $7 million to the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. His donations to all three medical centers were in excess of $77 million.
■ TEL AVIV Hilton director Ronnie Fortis is an avid chess fan who was glued to the television screen during the grueling world championship matches between Israeli chess grandmaster Boris Gelfand and Viswanathan Anand, his friend and rival who succeeded in retaining the title. Fortis invited Gelfand to visit the Hilton, which he did this week. After telling him with what enthusiasm he had watched every move in the games, Fortis presented him with a kit for the frequent traveler so it would be easier for him to pack his luggage when flying to future matches abroad.
Among Gelfand’s other fans are Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has played against him; Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who has also played against him; and Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom the Minsk-born Gelfand – who was junior chess champion of the Soviet Union – met in Moscow at the end of last month. The two may meet up again during Putin’s upcoming lightning visit to Israel for the unveiling in Netanya of the monument to Jewish soldiers who fought in the Red Army during World War II.