Grapevine: Tel Avivians of Polish stock

Sa’ar says he had never in his whole career been subjected to as much criticism as that directed against him following his decision to close shops in Tel Aviv on Shabbat.

Visitors form a queue at the entrance to the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Visitors form a queue at the entrance to the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
■ TEL AVIV Deputy Mayor Asaf Zamir filled in for his boss, Ron Huldai, when the latter was unable to attend a special event at the Einav Culture Center dedicated to Polin, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which was officially opened last month on the site of what had been the Warsaw Ghetto.
Zamir, who like so many Tel Avivians is of Polish descent, said he was particularly pleased to be present because he had been to Poland only two months earlier, and for some inexplicable reason had felt instantly Polish and at home on alighting from the plane, despite the fact he is a second-generation Israeli. His grandparents came from Warsaw, but his father was born in Israel and never really spoke about Poland. Zamir had been to Poland once before as a member of a group of high-school students; at the time, his Polish roots were still dormant, and he felt no kinship for the country.
But two months ago he was invited to join a young leadership group traveling to Poland, and once in Warsaw had felt an instant sense of belonging. Zamir got to tour the museum before it was opened to the public, and was greatly impressed to see what Jewish life had been like there before the great catastrophe that devastated the large prewar Jewish population. He said he looked forward to being invited to visit Poland again, especially as his great-grandfather had also been a deputy mayor in the town of Tlumacz.
Incidentally, Huldai is also of Polish stock. His parents were from Lodz, settled on Kibbutz Hulda in the 1920s and adopted the kibbutz name as their own.
■ WHAT DO the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv and the new Payis Arena in Jerusalem have in common, beyond the fact that both are mega-sport, entertainment and exhibition facilities? The answer is Dvir Feldboy, who has the VIP operations and food franchise for both.
Just as there are special VIP boxes in opera houses and theaters, there are also such boxes in the Jerusalem Arena –16 altogether, each seating 16 people. The boxes are accessible from the VIP lounge, with a private elevator that takes people from the lounge to the spectator area; the lounge has a restaurant with an upscale menu.
The VIP boxes are expensive – NIS 200,000 to NIS 250,000 per season for purchasers who only care to watch the basketball matches. For those who want what is tantamount to a comprehensive ticket – namely all events at the arena, including basketball matches and entertainment – the price is NIS 290,000 to NIS 360,000.
Putting his money where his mouth is, Mayor Nir Barkat has purchased a box out of his own pocket. Businessman Simu Tubul, who heads the Tubul Group of companies, and Tzomet Books owner and CEO Avi Shumer have each purchased a box, but the most heartwarming VIP or actually VRP (very rich person) is an anonymous American, who purchased the box not for himself but to ensure that 16 soldiers at a time could watch every basketball match from a really good vantage point.
■ AT THE Wingate Institute – Israel’s National Center for Physical Education and Sport, just south of Netanya, 26 young women – including new immigrants, secular and religious Jews, and a young Arab woman from Nazareth – are training to be part of the country’s first national female football team. Living in boarding-school conditions, the women – all aged under 19 – have a grueling regimen that combines academic studies with football training. They are being coached by Guy Azuri, formerly of Beitar Jerusalem.
The women are really good players, and one from Beersheba even played on a boys’ team when they were short a player and had to swallow their chauvinist pride.
The female players are very determined and their hope is that next July, when Israel hosts the 2015 UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship, the newly formed Israeli national team will make history and take the cup.
■ WHEN REUTH has its gala fund-raiser at Reading 3 in the last week of December, one of the guests of honor will be former communications minister Moshe Kahlon, who currently chairs the Center for Reforms and Leadership. Kahlon has already indicated he is returning to the political arena, and even if he doesn’t exactly use the Reuth event to get his point across, his very presence is indicative of political campaigning.
Proceeds from the event will go towards upgrading the rehabilitation department of the Reuth Medical and Rehabilitation Center.
■ IN ONE of his final acts as interior minister, Gideon Sa’ar, who has taken a break from politics, was made an honorary citizen of Modi’in Illit by Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Gutterman. In accepting the award, Sa’ar said he had never in his whole career been subjected to as much criticism as that which was directed against him following his decision to close shops in Tel Aviv on Shabbat. Nonetheless it was a decision which he did not regret, said Sa’ar, adding that he was pleased to have had the privilege of making a decision that will have a long-term effect on the character of the state.
Gutterman commended Sa’ar for his determination to withstand the flood of opposition to his decision.