Grapevine: On storytelling and schoolbags

Get your book bags out, because it is almost time to go back to school!

Back to School (photo credit: Wikicommons)
Back to School
(photo credit: Wikicommons)
■ WITH SUCCOT only a month and a half away, regular attendees at the annual Storytelling Festival in Givatayim are already contemplating the purchase of tickets.
This is the 19th year that the festival, traditionally held during Hol Hamoed, is taking place. The star attraction among some 700 storytellers this year will be President Shimon Peres, who will reveal some of the secrets behind the corridors of power.
The festival format is that of a discussion panel, with occasional interjections by the moderator – usually Yossi Alfi, the founder of the festival. In all likelihood, Peres will not appear with a panel but will engage in conversation with Alfi and his son, Guri, a well-known panelist on satirical television shows. It will be interesting to see to what extent the younger Alfi will keep the satirical side of his personality in check in deference to the president.
Peres will not be the first Israeli president to appear at the Storytelling Festival, although he will be the first still in office to do so. Israel’s fifth president Yitzhak Navon, who is a great raconteur, appeared two years ago. Navon and Peres – who are both disciples of David Ben-Gurion, and who have maintained a decades-long friendship – seldom miss an opportunity to recall their mentor.
■ IT’S COUNTDOWN time to the opening of the new school year on August 27, so last Thursday Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar took a trip to Rehovot to inspect the new kindergartens that were established as part of implementation of the law on free education from age three.
They met with youngsters and parents; both found it refreshing to talk to children who are still too young to be anything other than candid.
Netanyahu told parents that the revolutionary legislation will not only save them money – NIS 800 per child, per month – but will provide equal opportunity for all children from kindergarten to higher education. Sa’ar updated the prime minister that in the coming year approximately 270,000 children aged three and four will be entering kindergarten throughout the country. To meet their needs, 800 kindergartens and 910 teachers have been added.
Meanwhile, as happens every year, journalists have been busy inspecting educational facilities and found them sorely wanting. Scores of schools will not have a security guard at the opening of the new year – at a time when it has become apparent that Israel has a very high rate of pedophiles, not to mention the usual fears of terrorist infiltration. Aside from that, educational facilities all over the country are in a sorry state of neglect – with broken windows and drinking fountains, filthy toilets and playing fields that have fallen into disrepair. In some places, parents are refusing to send their children to school unless the situation is remedied.
■ PROBLEMS OF this kind aside, Zoglobek, the veteran food processing company, is continuing its tradition of providing schoolbags for first-grade pupils in the northern development town of Shlomi, which has repeatedly been the target of Hezbollah-fired rockets. Seven-year-old Maya Zoglobek, the fourth generation of Zoglobeks in Israel, was inducted into the family’s tradition of communal responsibility and helped distribute schoolbags to youngsters only a year her junior. The recipients gathered at the ORT High School in Shlomi along with members of the Shlomi Local Council, whose head, Gabi Na’aman, said the family’s involvement strengthened the existing bonds between the company and the people of Shlomi, several of whom are employed by Zoglobek.
In response, Eli Zoglobek – who in addition to being Maya’s father is the chairman of the Zoglobek Group – said the entire family was pleased to be part of something new that would benefit the children of Shlomi, especially a project that symbolizes equality. He voiced the hope that when these children complete high school and the army, Zoglobek will be there to help them enter the world of academia.
■ DAMAGE TO one’s home under any circumstances is unpleasant, but to have it destroyed by fire is traumatic because so little is left to salvage. That’s what happened to Naomi Lachman of Kiryat Tivon last Thursday. When fires broke out in the North, Lachman was advised by firefighters to evacuate her home. When she asked what to bring with her, she was told to take only herself. Returning after the fire was under control, she discovered she was homeless – and to make matters worse, her husband was scheduled to go abroad that night for 10 days, leaving her to make arrangements for rebuilding their home. Lachman told Israel Radio that she called Fire and Rescue Services as soon as she smelled smoke, but it took roughly half an hour for anyone to arrive.
■ TIBERIAS MAYOR Zohar Oved was seriously injured in a traffic accident on Highway 90 south of Berniki Beach last week. His car collided with a commercial vehicle, causing serious injury to the driver. Both men were hospitalized.