Grapevine: Celebrating in sign

BGU was recognized for its exceptional support offered to students and staff members who were called up for active reserve duty during the war in Gaza this summer.

Yonatan Roshfeld (photo credit: screenshot)
Yonatan Roshfeld
(photo credit: screenshot)
■ EVERY YEAR, the Israel branch of the Young Israel Movement organizes a bar mitzva and bat mitzva celebration for deaf youngsters from all over the country. This year 46 deaf children, who came from Beersheba in the South to Haifa in the North, wished each other mazal tov in sign language. Notwithstanding the tremendous progress made in providing for the special needs of the deaf, nearly all these children still have major hearing and educational issues, says Daniel Meyer, executive director of the International Young Israel Movement (IYIM) The festive event at the Young Israel of North Netanya (YINN) was organized by IYIM in close partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the National Deaf Association.
The celebrants and their parents were addressed by Avital Laufer, deputy mayor of Netanya; Rabbi Natan Morowitz, rabbi emeritus of YINN; and Rabbi Hanoch Yeres, director of deaf programming at IYIM.
Gifts of prayer shawls, Shabbat candles and watches were presented to the young honorees by YINN chairman Gordon Weinberg and his wife. Each of the boys then received an aliya to the Torah, and the girls were called to the bima to recite “Shema.”
Following a light meal, the youngsters and their parents were taken to Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the History of the Jewish People, where they had an interesting learning experience.
■ AT A ceremony held last week at Tel Aviv University to salute reserve soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev rector Prof. Zvi Hacohen accepted the Magen Hamiluim (Shield of the Reserves) award on behalf of BGU, which was recognized for the exceptional support it offered to students and staff members who were called up for active reserve duty. The ceremony was held in the presence of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon; IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz; IDF brass and senior Defense Ministry officials.
Approximately 2,000 BGU students and staff were called up for reserve duty during Operation Protective Edge, more than any other institution of higher learning or commercial enterprise. Many of these reservists were called up for most of the duration of the 50-day operation, which began just as exams for the spring semester were supposed to commence.
On the return of the student soldiers, the university – together with the Student Union – worked to ensure that they were not penalized for being away. BGU granted those students substantial academic benefits. In addition, they were promised financial aid and given a gift certificate for use in Beersheba restaurants. BGU President Prof.
Rivka Carmi said that she was determined that not a single student would drop out of his or her studies due to the conflict.
In recent years, the Student Union has pressed for improvements in the treatment of students who were serving in reserve duty. A few months ago a reserve duty office was opened on campus, the first of its kind in an academic institution in Israel. The other eight institutions that were recognized are Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.; The Israel Electric Corporation; SanDisk; Meitav Dash Investment House; Emek Hayarden Movers; the law firm of Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal; IDC Herzliya; and The College of Management – Rishon Lezion.
■ IN CELEBRATION of the fifth anniversary of his Tapas restaurant on Ahad Ha’am Street in Tel Aviv, celebrity chef Yonatan Roshfeld invited Nof Otmana-Ismail, a 33-year-old microbiologist from Baka al-Gharbiya in the north of the country, who eight months ago emerged the winner of the fourth season of the reality cooking contest MasterChef, to cook a special meal with him. The two met on the set of MasterChef, where Roshfeld was one of the judges. There was instant chemistry, and in culinary adventures undertaken by the two, they discovered a mutual passion for adding spice or other ingredients to traditional fare and then branching out into the world of experimentation.
The results were often extraordinary and a joy to the palate.
Otmana-Ismail will join Roshfeld on December 21, when the two will cook up a storm of culinary masterpieces based on Arab and global recipes. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at 27 Ahad Ha’am Street. Kosher food connoisseurs will miss out, but those who do not observe the Jewish dietary laws are in for a real treat.
■ DURING HIS visit in 1994 to Beit Gabriel on the edge of the Sea of Galilee for the exchange of documents within the framework of the peace accords between Israel and Jordan, the late King Hussein could not help but notice the large number of artistic works by sculptress Ilana Goor. The monarch was deeply impressed and said as much to Gita Sherover, who had built Beit Gabriel in memory of her son.
Sherover told Goor of the king’s interest in her work and asked her to create a bronze sculpture for him that would symbolize the occasion. Goor designed a dove with outspread wings and an olive branch. Goor subsequently incorporated the king’s dove into a hanukkia, which is one of more than 60 on display at the Ramat Aviv Shopping Mall. The exhibition features the works of several of Israel’s leading and most creative sculptors who work in metal, stone, glass and other materials and who have allowed their imaginations to soar and to dream up some extraordinary wick and candle holders.